The Reinforcement of Spirituality (continued)
Spiritual Strength of Christians At the Beginning (continued)
Look at the strength of the human "boards"! Was it just human strength? Think of Peter only a very little while before: how much could he take, by that fire in the courtyard, with the finger of the maid pointing at him? He just crumpled under it! But look at him - and the others - now! Are these men on their feet? Are they standing upright? They are not only standing on their feet in the Lord - they are putting other people on their feet! Look at that poor fellow who has been lying there at the gate all those years, unable to use his feet (Acts 3). Peter takes him by the right hand, and up he comes - he is on his feet right enough! The same thing happens again later (Acts 14:8): they are putting people on their feet.
And out of that grew the rich ministry that we have in the New Testament about being "established". Being established just mean "standing up". You and I will be no good to the testimony of the Lord unless we are spiritually on our feet, standing up. When we lose our feet, when we break down, when we let go, it means that the testimony is let down. If you have lost your feet, been knocked off your feet, or if you have not been on your feet for a long time, or if you have been up and down over a long period, you will have a crisis over this. You have got to get around that corner. All that has been is in the balances with this present issue; all that the Lord would have in the future is made possible, or will be all wrong, unless you get around this corner quickly, and get your feet in the Lord.
You know what I mean by "getting on your feet in the Lord": it is having what Paul calls "full assurance" - assurance, that is, about your salvation. For these boards, as you know, were founded in two basic things - two sockets - made of silver. Now silver signifies redemption, and the double testimony under their feet emphasized or reinforced this twice a over. Two is always sufficiency of testimony, is it not? - and they were in that. We need to have assurance of our salvation, certainty about this matter. Until that is so, there is no strength and there is no uprightness; there is no endurance, no stature, no measure. And that applies to many other things besides our foundation, our confidence, our faith, our certainty with the Lord. These are things which must really characterize the true Christian. These are the constituents of a spiritual man, or a spiritual Church.
A Dispensational Crisis
Now, if you have been thinking in Timothy's letters, if you know those letters at all, does it not all come back to you? Paul's Lord was making him write those letters on these very things at a time of tremendous crisis. The whole crisis in Christianity, at this turning-point in its history, was focused in this young man himself. These letters to Timothy are nothing less than dispensational in their significance. They contain far more than those favorite texts: "Take thy part in suffering hardship, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:3); or, "Fight the good fight of the faith" (1 Timothy 6:12); or, "That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (2 Timothy 3:17); or "A vessel unto honor ... prepared unto every good work" (2 Timothy 2:21).
How we love these fragments! Yes, but do remember that every one of them is set in the background of a crisis for the dispensation, for, until you recognize that, you have not really got the value of the fragments. Why "take your share of hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus"? Because the dispensation hangs upon it, Timothy! This is not only for you, but for the future. Why be "a vessel unto honor", why "lay hold on eternal life", why "fight the good fight"? There are far, far-reaching issues at stake, right on to the end of Christianity's history - that is why! These letters were not written to Timothy just for Timothy's sake, for the time being, to help this young fellow along in his own Christian life. And they were certainly not written just to give us nice fragments for our own Christian life. These letters were written at a most critical time in Christianity's history, and all their fragments relate to that.
(continued with # 40 - (Imminent Departure of Paul)