Paul’s final letter, the one he wrote to Timothy, is probably the most personally challenging one for believers – and that surely includes us today! He is warning and advising Timothy about some “who have swerved from the truth …” [2 v.18] this problem has plagued believers ever since – it is the reason why so many different churches exist. Those who ‘swerved’ were “upsetting the faith of some” – sadly, it continues today.
We can stop our faith from swerving by diligently reading God’s word and prayerfully comparing scripture with scripture, then we will see with increasing clarity how it all fits together into a harmonious message and becomes the foundation for us as we “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” [v.22]
The challenge that faced Timothy was to teach and guide others to do this. How wonderfully satisfying when we, in all humility and thankfulness, are able to accomplish this. Paul told Timothy, at the start of his first letter to him; “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” [1 v.5]
What wonderful advice he gives him, advice that we ourselves should follow, that “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.” [2 v.24,25]
There is only one truth, the original gospel and good news that spread through the Roman Empire – and ultimately to the whole world. This is discussed – and practiced as far as is humanly possible – by all “who call on the Lord from a pure heart” [v.22] as they “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace” [same verse] This is the original gospel, it is “the faith” Paul taught and kept to the end!
Paul stresses “the faith” – and we note he uses this phrase 14 times in his letters to Timothy. Almost the final words he wrote as he neared the end of his life are in ch. 4. What sincerity was in his heart as he told believers, “the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” [v.6-8]
May the “pure heart” we are developing, lead us to “call on the Lord” every day – and so be worthy, but only by his grace, of “the crown of righteousness” that is also “laid up” for us when Jesus returns – and we see the wonder of being “blessed” to “inherit the earth” [Matt. 5 v.5] – How soon now!
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