Second Timothy - Provision for Perilous Times

The house which, in the first epistle, was looked at in its rule, is here contemplated in its ruin. The church, as an economy set up on the earth, like every other economy, had utterly failed. Man fails in everything. The apostle seems, as it were, to be weeping over the ruins of that once beautiful structure. He calls to remembrance the tears of his beloved Timothy. He is glad to have even one sympathizing bosom into which to pour his sorrows.

Who can fail to see that our lot is cast in the very midst of the evils and dangers here contemplated? Why should we desire to blind our eyes as to the truth? Why deceive ourselves with vain dreams of increasing light and spiritual prosperity? Is it not better far to look the true condition of things straight in the face? Why should we imagine that man, under the Christian dispensation, would prove a single whit better than man under all the dispensations which have gone before, or under the millennial dispensation which is yet to follow? Let my reader ponder these things, and then accompany me, while I seek by the grace of God, to unfold some of the divine provisions for "perilous times."

THE UNFEIGNED FAITH (1:5)

This connects the soul immediately with Christ, in the power of a link which must, of necessity, be placed in front of all ecclesiastical associations however important they may be in their due place. It is a link which shall endure when all earthly associations shall have been dissolved for ever. Timothy had this faith dwelling in him before ever he entered the house of God. He was connected with the God of the house previous to his manifested association with the house of God. If a man be destitute of this faith, he must, sooner or later, break down. He may be urged on, for a time, by the impulses of surrounding circumstances and their influence, but the perilous times will soon rise to a head, and then will come the awful crisis of judgment, from which none can escape save the happy possessors of "unfeigned faith."

THE SURE FOUNDATION (2:19)

The soul that is built upon this, in the divine energy of "unfeigned faith," is able to resist the rapidly rising tide of evil and is divinely furnished for the most appalling times. The church may go to pieces, and all who love that church may have to sit down and weep over its ruins; but there stands that imperishable foundation, laid by God’s own hand, against which the surging tide of error and evil may roll with all its fury, and have no effect, save to prove the eternal stability of that rock and of all who are built thereon. If we suffer our feet to be moved from the rock, if we surrender ourselves to the impulse of surrounding circumstances and influences, we shall never be able to make head against the special forms of evil and error in these "perilous times."

THE HOLY SCRIPTURES (3:15)

We must hold truth directly from God, through the medium, and on the authority of "the holy Scriptures." God may use a man to show me certain things in the Word; but I do not hold them from man, but from God. It is in the very midst of the perils of the "last days," that one has the most urgent need of "unfeigned faith" and "the holy Scriptures." We cannot get on without them. When every heart is full to overflowing of deep and earnest attachment to the Person and cause of Christ, then it is comparatively easy to get on. But the condition of things in Second Timothy is the very reverse of all this. Unless one is abiding in unquestionable knowledge of "the holy Scriptures", he must assuredly make shipwreck. Let us never stoop to purchase fellowship at the heavy price of all that is "lovely and of good report" (Phil. 4:8).

THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (4:8)

The venerable pilgrim looks back over the course which he had run and over the battlefield whereon he had fought. He stands on the confines of the earth and in the very midst of the ruins of that church whose rise and progress he had watched with such intense solicitude. He had poured forth the tears of tender though disappointed affection over its decline and fall. He fixes his eye on the goal of immortality which no power of the enemy can prevent his reaching in triumph. It teaches us that the more vivdly we enter into the glories of heaven, the more faithfully shall we discharge the functions of earth - the more we realize the nearness of eternity, the more effectively shall we order the things of time.