• johned@aibi.ph

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Eternity 72 - A Solemn Charge

1 Timothy 6:13-16 ASV I charge thee in the sight of God, who giveth life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession; (14) that thou keep the commandment, without spot, without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: (15) which in its own times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; (16) who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power eternal. Amen.

It was the days of persecution by Rome, Paul was in jail, and he knew Timothy was inclined to be timid and that the pressure was great. He had to say something to put steel into his disciple, to make him able to stand the pressure of Jewish troublemakers, the Roman persecutors and those at Ephesus who would become "wolves not sparing the flock" (Acts 20). Paul starts with the phrase "I charge" - in other words 'I lay upon you this responsibility which you cannot ever leave until I dis-charge you from it". Its more than an exhortation, its a solemn and serious requirement that must be fulfilled, an expectation, a responsibility, a destiny.

Paul charges Timothy "in the sight of God" - in the awareness that Timothy was under divine observation and that God would be watching Timothy to make sure the charge was carried out. Any cowardice, any backing down, any running away from the call to courageously pastor God's church in the midst of persecution would be seen and noted in Heaven. This God "giveth life to all things" - even the dead. It is God who gives life, Rome may take it away, but that's all. Rome cannot give life to anything, the true generative power is with God alone. And God will give eternal life. Even those in dungeons, even those being tortured, even those so humiliated by the rigors and conditions of their apostolic calling that they seem as the "offscouring" of this world can be quickened by God and made to live and to triumph.

Paul then points to Jesus who "witnessed the good confession" before Pilate. What was this "good confession"?Was it a fine and noble speech? Not really, Jesus did not say much to Pilate at all, the synoptic gospels have him saying "not a word" other than a few cryptic phrases and the conversation recorded in John would have only lasted maybe fifteen seconds. Thus the good confession was not a bunch of eloquent words but an uncompromising obedience in the face or persecution. The good confession was a spiritual steadfastness, a knowing of Himself and His Father, a refusing to give an inch before authority that bore the sword and was about to crucify Him. Paul was saying to Timothy - be strong as Jesus was strong. Show by your strength and your actions that Caesar has no claim on you - only Christ.

Paul then moves on to the central charge, the verbs, the action required "that thou keep the commandment, without spot, without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:" The particular commandment is not specified but a quick glance through this phrase in the NT (e.g Romans 16:26, 2 John 1:6) hows that "the commandment" when used in a general sense means "the Christian faith and lifestyle" the confession of Jesus as Lord and Saviour and living in a Christian manner full of purity, love and righteousness. Its one package, one commanded way of living. Keeping the commandment without spot and without reproach means to keep the Jesus lifestyle in a transparent and real way without backing down on any point. When Christian leaders make cowardly compromises on major matters of doctrine, faith, lifestyle or morals it brings great reproach on Christ. Timothy was to be above that, a true soldier, a leader whose life was untarnished, strong and good. Even persecution, prison and death were not to move him from the commandment of God.

Finally Paul brings in the big perspective, and turns to the return of Christ - which would show who really was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus not Caesar would be shown to be boss. Every knee would bow, not to a Roman standard but to Jesus Christ. Paul points out that Jesus alone is immortal, not Zeus, not Neptune, not Diana, not any Greek or Roman God, and certainly no Emperor. Jesus is the immortal one because only He has triumphed over death - and thus also over the injustice and persecution that preceded His death. Jesus is not only immortal but unapproachable and enthroned in absolute power. No human Emperor can topple Him! He is now far beyond the pressures and injustices and persecutions that afflict Timothy - but nonetheless is vitally concerned about them. Thus the final and absolute power is on the side of the righteous. Timothy can stand strong because his God is strong and because Christ in him is strong.

Are you tempted to compromise? Are you afraid of the government? Of your boss? Of your family? Can people push you out of line, and cause you to deny Christ or disobey His commandments? God is watching - and wants you to stand and make a "good confession". God honors those who honor Him but a compromised Christian is a sad sight. "Proverbs 25:26 GNB A good person who gives in to someone who is evil reminds you of a polluted spring or a poisoned well." Compromise may relieve our circumstances - but defiles our spirit. When we stand up for Jesus, we are also standing up for ourselves. When we resist compromise under pressure we purify ourselves and receive great reward. The Romans may have come and gone but pressures and persecutions remain. Its a serious thing to be a Christian leader. You have a charge. Now keep it in the sight of God.


John Edmiston


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