Todays readings.. Nehemiah 12, Amos 4, 2 Timothy 1
We started reading Paul’s final letter today; “the time of my departure” from this life “has come’ [4 v.6] he tells Timothy. Since his dramatic conversion his life had been filled with doing a great many works in carrying his saviour’s name to a great many places. But his ultimate salvation will not be because of this! We cannot ‘earn’ salvation through “works” – rather we are “working together with him” [2 Cor. 6 v.1] “for,” as Paul told the Philippians, ” it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Our “works” should be the result of our totally committed love for Christ, the result of realizing that this life, although remarkable in so many ways, is a preparation for the transition to the ‘real’ endless life that is to come. There are ‘burdens’ in this life, and Paul fully experienced these, but, as he told the Corinthians, “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” [2 Cor. 4 v.17,18]
Paul reminds Timothy in his last letter to him (and us) of the ‘spirit’ of mind they shared together in serving Christ. We should notice and try to absorb into our own thinking the point he makes, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” [v.7] This is the end result of developing a genuine relationship with God, fully sensing that “in him we live and move and have our being.” [Acts 17 v.28]
With this wonderful relationship, which is impossible to fully comprehend, we are motivated to work in his vineyard, Paul being an outstanding example for us in doing this. And yet, may we all fully realize, as Paul tells Timothy [v.9] it is ” not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus …”
It is a challenge for us to comprehend how Paul had become so conscious of the eternal timeless nature of the Creator for which the word, ‘omniscience’ has been created by men. Paul perceives that, in God’s consciousness, this “holy calling” was given “us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” but “has now has been manifested through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” [v.9,10]
It is God alone who “knows the end from the beginning” [Isa. 46 v.10]. In Rev. 21 v.5,6, the one on the throne says, he is “the beginning and the end.” So he has, already in his all-seeing ‘knowing’ seen death as being “abolished.”
This is far beyond normal understanding and provokes thought challenging meditation on the infinite nature of the Creator we serve. Let us join with Paul in saying, as he told Timothy, “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me” [v.12]. May we use our minds to “follow the pattern of the sound words” [v.13] that can only be found in the scriptures “which is (are) at work in you believers.” [1 Thess 2 v.13] – but only if we continue to feed our minds on them every day.