Two Sides Of Committal
In the face of afflictions and persecutions for Christ’s sake, bound in prison and anticipating martyrdom, the vibrant joy of the apostle Paul is seen beautifully in his second epistle to Timothy; and what believer can fail to admire the calm magnificence of his witness in chapter 1:12, “Nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that Day.” No tremor of fear or of discouragement can penetrate the armor of his confidence in the living God. It was not a matter of “what” he had believed, but “whom.” True doctrine is good, but only as it springs from Him who is true, the person who is the fountain of all truth, the living Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, Upholder of all things.
To Him Paul had committed everything that concerned his well-being in its every possible aspect, whether for the present time or for eternity. This committal of course involves trusting this blessed person. How can we say we trust Him for our eternal welfare, then as regards our present life fail to put this confidence in practical exercise? The expression is rendered in the J.N.Darby translation, “the deposit I have entrusted to Him.” It was as though Paul had deposited unconditionally with God everything concerning himself: therefore no possible doubt could exist as to its being securely held. In fact we may say more: who can doubt that in such hands the interest from this deposit will multiply immeasurably? It is told of John Wesley that in the midst of his diligent labors for Christ, he was falsely made the object of a cruel scandal. But he made no mention of it in preaching, as he went on his service for the Lord. He was chided for this, as to why he did not publicly refute these charges. He simply answered, “When I committed my life to the Lord, I committed my reputation to Him too.” It was not long before the scandalous charges ceased.
But our verse quoted (2 Tim. 1:12) is a solid basis upon which Paul may address to Timothy the stirring exhortation of the two following verses. The latter of these (v. 14) speaks of committal of a different kind, that which is committed by God to Timothy, or a “deposit entrusted.” Since it is impossible for God to fail in His trust, how stirring an incentive is this for the young man to prove faithful in his! And if that which is entrusted to God multiplies with immeasurable interest, and we have been entrusted with the true riches, that which is in itself of infinite value, is it not only right and becoming that God should expect some interest on so great a deposit? Compare Luke 19:23. At least, in this parable of the pounds, one servant could say his pound had gained ten pounds, another five. But if we should feel insufficient and helpless in responding to such a trust, let us remember the power of the Spirit of God is present in every believer, to enable his keeping this precious trust. He dwells in us, a holy, abiding Presence: let us therefore allow Him His own place and the exercise of His power in relation to us. But it is to be insisted that the one effective way of keeping this trust is by using it for the Master.
Moreover, let us return to quote the intervening verse: “Have an outline of sounds words, which [words] thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which [are] in Christ Jesus.” (J.N.D. trans.).
In considering the preceding and following verses, we can surely readily discern the vital importance of this verse in its place. To be rightly held, the deposit entrusted to Timothy should be understood by him in some real measure: he was to hold a clear outline (or pattern) of sound words. Paul had communicated these things to him, but he was not to take them merely as a disjointed, unrelated collection of good words. To hold them in the soul, in orderly form, as sound words forming a united pattern, is of great importance. For the truth of God is one. It is true that one may see those things connected in a little different way than another sees; and it is no mere formal creed here advocated for the acceptance of everybody, no mere “Bible course,” but the exercise of the individual in having sound words formed in his soul in a pattern of consistency with the entire Word of God. This personal enjoyment and comprehension of the Word can be likened to the honeycomb. The Word itself is “sweeter also than honey, and the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:10), but honey is symbolical of the ministry of the Word, and the honeycomb would speak of that ministry stored up for use in orderly form, -- just the thing that is here urged upon Timothy. But sound words are not to be dry or cold: they are to be liberally mixed with “faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Faith, the reality of confidence in the living God, will effectually banish dryness; and love, the warmth of unfeigned affection, is the total opposite of coldness. More than this, being “in Christ Jesus” lifts the whole matter as high as heaven is above the earth, giving precious balance and substance which makes for a fullness with nothing lacking.
Let every young believer who desires to be of help to others, pay serious attention to this admonition to Timothy. Search the Word, to discern its perfect unity, to properly understand the character of each book and its place in relation to other books, to rightly connect its parts in consistency with the whole, and to know how to rightly divide it, so that each part is kept in its proper place.
Again, however, let us insist that we must have no thoughts of conforming simply to a system of interpretation, which would make our “outline” a mere stereotyped creed; but each must have his own outline in living, fresh power of the Spirit of God. This will make for wonderful diversity in the understanding and ministry of various saints; though certainly it will not rightly produce contrary thoughts, for the Spirit of God cannot contradict Himself; and if two have conflicting views, then at least one of them is wrong. In this case, I must closely check my own thoughts by the Word of God, with lowly, earnest exercise to correct what may be lacking. This in itself may be of great value in more properly forming an “outline of sound words” for myself, and to be of use to others. This exercise to rightly assess and value the deposit entrusted will have much to do with keeping it.