The Reinforcement of Spirituality
Paul's Letters To Timothy: A Critical Point
Now it is with such a turning-point in the Church's history, and with the Lord's way of handling it, that we are confronted when we take up Paul's two letters to Timothy. We find ourselves at one of the major turning-points in the history of the Church - a turning-point fraught with momentous issues; and those issues have thrown their shadows right down the centuries to the present day. We need to know what was God's provision - which remains as His provision - to meet that which came in at the turn of the road then. For the values that have been given us here in these two letters - and you will never call them "little" letters again, if ever you have - were meant to cover this whole age, because the Holy Spirit, who gave these letters through Paul, foresaw the far-reaching effects of what was happening. And what is of general and comprehensive importance here has its own application to all those minor crises that occur in our own personal lives, or in our life together as God's people.
Such a crisis, then, was the occasion of Paul writing these two letters to Timothy. And may I say again, for I do want t make it clear this very, very important thing: this is an inclusive and comprehensive example of all crises in the spiritual life, an example in principle and in nature: that is, it has all the features of any spiritual crisis, and it therefore contains all God's method and means of meeting any spiritual crisis. We are not just dealing with Church history - we are dealing with our own history. We need to be met at that very point in our own spiritual lives.
Inclusively, then, the Divine method of meeting any critical situation is - what? It is the reinforcement of fundamental and essential realities. That is what these two letters contain. The reinforcement of the boards at the corner, in the re-enforcement - and enforcement, if you like, for Paul commands here, as well as exhorts - of fundamental and essential realities, is God's inclusive method of dealing with any threat, or any possibility, or any actual change in the course of things. And there is one all-comprehending fundamental of true Christianity, and that is spirituality - its essentially spiritual nature. So that God's method in meeting any critical situation in the Christian life is to reinforce, or to recover, spirituality.
Christianity Wholly Spiritual
For true Christianity, from its very beginning, through all its growth, to its final perfecting, is wholly spiritual. A true Christian is fundamentally and essentially, by his very being and existence, a spiritual person. All our growth in grace is not the growth of time, of years, or of the acquiring of knowledge about the things of God. True growth is just our own spiritual growth, and before God there is no other stature, no other growth. God takes infinite pains to see that our growth is spiritual growth. And the consummation and the perfecting of the life of the Christian is a wholly spiritual thing. For the consummation is a spiritual body. "If there is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural" (1 Corinthians 15:44, 46). Those words, as you know, apply to the resurrection body. "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body". So it needs a spiritual person to occupy a spiritual body; and if the spiritual body is the consummation of the Christian life, then the Lord would have, not a poor, little spiritual person occupying a consummate body; He would have us full-grown, so that the perfecting of the Christian life is in keeping with its consummation: it must be spiritual.
(continued with # 37)