Sermon 3331. Knowing and Believing
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1912.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 30, 1866.
"I know whom I have believed." 2 Timothy 1:12.
THE text is wholly taken up with three things-with knowing, with believing and with the Person who is known and believed.And upon both the knowing and the believing, Paul is very decided. He puts in no, "if," no word of change. He does not say,"I hope so," or, "I trust so," but, "I know I have believed and I know whom I have believed." It is all assurance and nota shadow of doubt! Let us imitate the Apostle, or ask for Grace to be able to imitate him, that we may shake off the dubiousphraseology which is so common among Christians, nowadays, and may be able to speak with Apostolic confidence upon a matterupon which we ought to be confident if anywhere at all, namely-our own salvation!
As the text is thus taken up with knowing and believing, these two matters will be the subject of our meditation at this time.My first remark drawn from the text shall be-
I. THE ONLY RELIGIOUS KNOWING AND BELIEVING WHICH ARE OF A SAVING CHARACTER CONCERN THE PERSON OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. "Iknow," says the Apostle-not, "what"-but, " whomI have believed." He does not say, "I know the Catechism which I have believed,"nor, "I know the Institutes of Calvin," nor, "I know the body and system of theology," but, "I know whom I have believed."Both the knowing and the believing center around the wondrous Person who for our sakes left His starry Throne and became aMan. Knowing whom is a saving knowledge and trusting whom is a saving trust-of which all other knowing and believing fallshort!
Observe, then, that all other knowledge may be useful enough in itself, but if it does not concern Christ, it cannot be calledsaving knowledge. Some persons know a great deal about Doctrine. Perhaps they have taken up with the Calvinis-tic theology,or even with the hyper-Calvinistic and they really understand the system thoroughly well-and they certainly hold it with quiteenough tenacity, if not too much. We know some who we believe would very cheerfully go to the stake in defense of some pointsof Doctrine so convinced are they of the orthodoxy of what they have received! Others take up another theory and go upon theArminian principle-and they, too, know their set of doctrines and know them well. But, dear Friends, I may know all the Doctrinesin the Bible, but unless I know Christ, there is not one of them that can save me! I may know Election, but if I cannot seemyself as chosen in Christ Jesus, election will do me no good. I may know the Doctrine of the Final Perseverance of the Saints,but if I am not in Christ, I would only persevere in my sins- and such a final perseverance will be dreadful, indeed! It isone thing to know the Doctrine of Justification by Faith, but it is quite another thing to be justified by faith and to havepeace with God! You may stand up for Imputed Righteousness and fight for it, and yet the righteousness of Christ may neverbe imputed to you! It is not knowingthe creed, though that is well, that can save the soul-the knowledge that is needed isto know Him whom Paul believed!
And, again, a man may know something more than Doctrine. He may know a great deal about experience. There is a class of personswho sneer at Doctrine. They call the doctrinal preacher a mere "letterman." As for themselves, they talk about deep experience.They have a consciousness of having a corrupt heart. They have discovered that they have evil tempers (by the way, other people,too, have discovered it)! They have discovered that they have defiled natures and everybody can see that they are not perfectlyfree from sin. But, strange delusion, because they know the disease, they fancy they have been healed! Because they have perceptionenough to see they are spiritually bankrupt, they, therefore, imagine that their debts are paid! Because they feelthemselvesto be in the Slough of Despond, they dream they are on the Rock!
But there is a vast difference between the two things. A man may think he has an experience of his own emptiness- no, he maytruly possess it-but if it does not drive him to Christ, if he does not come and rest on the Lord Jesus, all his experiencesare of no saving value! The foundation of the soul's salvation is not experience of any or every kind, but the finished work,the meritorious blood and righteousness of our Lord and Savior!
There are some, too, who not only know experience and Doctrine, but who also know how to talk of them. They have mingled withChristian people until they can get up their phraseology and, as some Christians have cant expressions, these people can "cant"in any quantity and to any extent. They can talk about their "poor souls" and about, "the dear Lord," and use all those otherprecious phrases of hypocrisy which lard some religious publications and which are to be found in the conversation of somepeople who ought to know better. They use these expressions and then, when they get in among the people of God, they are receivedwith open arms! And they fancy that because they can talk as Christians talk, it is all well with them! But, oh, rememberthat if a parrot could call you, "father," it would not, for all that, have become a child of yours! A foreigner may learnthe language of an Englishman but never be an Englishman, but still remain a foreigner. So, too, you may take up the languageof a Christian, but may never have within you the Spirit of God and, therefore, be none of His. You must know Him. "Know yourself,"said the heathen philosopher. That is well, but that knowledge may only lead a man to Hell. "Know Christ," says the Christianphilosopher, "know Him and then you shall know yourself"-and this shall certainly lead you to Heaven, for the knowledge ofChrist Jesus is savingknow-ledge-"whom to know is life eternal."
In addition to these valuable pieces of information, there are some who know a great deal ABOUT Christ, but here I must remindyou that the text does not say, "I know about Christ," but, "I know Him." Ah, dear Hearer, you may have heard the Gospel fromyour youth up, so that the whole history of Christ is at your fingertips! But you may not know Him, for there is a deal ofdifference between knowing about Him, and knowing Him. You may know about a medicine, but still die of the disease which themedicine might have cured. The prisoner may know about liberty and yet lie and pine in his dungeon until, as John Bunyan putit, "the moss grows on his eyelids." The traveler may know about the home which he hopes to reach and yet may be left outat nightfall in the midst of the forest. Many a man of business knows about wealth, or even concerning the millions of theBank of England, and yet is a bankrupt or on the verge of poverty. Many a sailor knows about the port, but his ship driftsupon the rocks and all hands go down. It is not enough to know aboutChrist, it is knowing Christ, Himself,that alone savesthe soul!
And, over and above, and in addition to all this, you may know the Scriptures from youth up. I suppose I have some-perhapsmany-before me who are well acquainted with almost every Chapter in the. Bible. You could not be questioned upon any partof it so as to be really nonplussed. You have read the Book and you continue to read it-and I approve of your wise choicein so doing-and beg you to always continue in so excellent a practice! But remember, if you have not the Word of God in yourheartit is of small use to have it merely in your head. Oh, to know Christ is our supreme and tragic need! Not to merely knowtexts and Scripture, for-"the letter kills, it is only the Spirit that quick-ens"-and unless you know Christ you do not knowthe vital Spirit of the Word of God! The only saving knowledge, then, is knowing Christ.
Well, now, so is it with the exercise of faith. You may know a great deal about faith, but the only saving faith is beliefconcerning Christ. "I know whom I have believed." To believe Doctrine will not save a man. You may hold all the creed andbe orthodox-and then be no better than the devil, for I suppose that the devil is a very sound theologian. He surely knowsthe Truth. He believes and trembles! But you may know it and nottremble-and so you may fall short of one virtue which eventhe devil possesses! A firm belief in what is preached to you is well enough in its way, but to believe a Doctrine as suchcannot save you. Some have a belief in their minister-and I suppose that is so flattering to us that you will hardly expectus to speak against it-but of all vices, it is one most surely to be dreaded because it is so very dangerous! We charge youin the sight of God, always weigh what we have to say to you-and if it is not according to Scripture, cast it away as youcast away refuse! Take nothing merely because we say it! Let nothing that we preach be received upon our ipse dixit, but letit be tried and tested by the Word of God, for otherwise you may be led by the blind. And "if the blind lead the blind, theyshall both fall into the ditch." Ah, what multitudes of persons there are in England who are beginning to get their fellowman to perform their religion for them! They are too lazy to think! They are too idle to use whatever brains they have andso they get some mere simpleton who thinks that God is pleased with his
putting on a white gown or a blue dress, or a black gown or green dress, a scarlet gown or mauve dress, is pleased with burningcandles in the daylight and pleased with making a pungent odor in the church-they get such a creature as this to do theirreligion for them and then they lie down at night to rest, feeling perfectly satisfied that God is satisfied and they areall right! Oh, I charge you, believe not this delusion! It is not believing in a priest that will save you! Believing in thepriest may be your ruin, but believing in Christ is the really vital point-the one thing that truly matters. He that believesin Christ is saved! But he that believes even the Pope of Rome shall find that he believes to his own eternal ruin!
Then again, it is not believing in ourselves. Many persons believe thoroughly in themselves. The doctrine of self-relianceis preached in many quarters now-a-days. I suppose that what is meant by the term is a good mercantile possession, a businessvirtue, but it is a Christian vice as towards spiritual things and emphatically towards the soul's salvation! Self-reliancein this matter always ruins those who practice it. Rely on self? Let night rely on her darkness to find a light! Let emptinessrely on its insufficiency to find its fullness! Let death rely on the worms to give it immortality! Let Hell rely upon itsfire to make it into Heaven-such trusts as these would be equally strong with those of the sinner who relies upon himselffor salvation! Your belief must not be that you can force your way to Heaven, but you must believe Him, for anything elseis an unsaving faith.
You see, then, that the knowledge which saves, and the belief which saves, both hang upon the Cross. They both look to thewounds of that dear Man, that blessed God who was there the Propitiation for our sins and who suffered in our place. My Hearer,are you trusting Christ? Are you hanging upon Him as the vessel hangs upon the nail? Do you know Him as a man knows his friend?Do you seek to know more of Him? Is He all your salvation and all your desire? If not, take home this solemn warning-whateverelse you know, you are still ignorant, and whatever else you believe, you are still an unbeliever-unless you know and believein Him who is the Savior of men!
I pass on now to a second point, which is this-
II. THAT KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT FAITH IS VAIN.
This is to try to balance with but one scale-to run a chariot on one wheel. You have the double matter here. "I know whomI have believed." It is good to know, but knowledge must be crowned with faith! It has been remarked that Paul does not say,"I know of whom I have heard." He does not say, "I know of whom I have read." He does not say, "I know of whom I have preached,"but, "I know whom I have believed." Here he hits the nail on the head. Knowledge is useful in the bud. Mere reading, preaching,too, are well as an exercise-but believingis the fruit which must grow upon the Tree of Knowledge or else the knowledge willbe of little use to us!
Now, my dear Friends, I know that I am addressing many of your class, many who know Christ in a certain sense. Know much aboutHim. You know of His Nature, you believe Him to be true Deity. You know Him to be Human like yourselves and for man's sakemade Man. You know His life. You have often read it. You often like to dwell upon the incidents of it. It is a genuine andgreat pleasure to sing of Bethlehem and its manger, of Cana and its marriage. You have turned over the pages of that Lifeof lives and felt enraptured with this matchless masterpiece of biography. You are well acquainted, too, with His death-ithas often drawn tears to your eyes when you have thought of the shame and the spitting and the crown of thorns. You know somethingconcerning His expiring cries. Your imagination has often pictured to you the wounded body of that dread Sufferer. You havethought that if you had been there, you would have wet His feet with your tears, you did so sympathize with Him. You knowof His burial and of His Resurrection, too, and you have sweetly joined with us when we have been singing-
"Angels, roll the rock away, Jesus Christ is risen today"
and you have not been lacking when we have been singing of His Ascension! Your eyes have flushed with fire when you have heardthe words-
"They brought His chariot from on high, To bear Him to His Throne, Clapped their triumphant wings and cried, 'The gloriouswork is done.'"
You know that He reigns in Heaven! You know that He has prepared mansions for His people. You know that He intercedes forsinners. You expect that He will come. You believe in His Second Advent and when the Te Deum has been sung
in your hearing-"We believe that You shall come to be our Judge," you have said, "Yes! I do-I do-I believe it." Now, if youknow all this, you know that which it is very important to be known, but if you stop short here, where are you? Why, I haveno doubt there have been hundreds who knew this, but who have given their bodies and souls to the devil and have lived inopen sin, day by day! If you could go to the condemned cell tonight, I would not wonder if the wretch confined there knowsall this. If you were to go into the flaunting gin palaces which are scattered to our shame and curse all over London-wheremen and women are drinking liquid fire at this very moment-you would find that half of them know all this, but they do notdrink any the less for it! If you were to go into the lairs of vice, you would find that the most abandoned know all this,but it does them no good! And I will add also this-that the lost spirits in Hell went there knowing all this! And the devil,himself, knows it all, but he still remains a devil! Ah, my Hearer, I charge you before God, do not sit down and say, "I know,I know, I know." Do you believe? Do you BELIEVE?
The common answer given very frequently to the city missionary is just this-men say to them, "There is no need for you tocome here and tell me anything. I know all about it." Ah, but do you believe in Jesus What is the good of your knowing unlessyou believe? I do not think that the most of you who go to places of worship need so much instruction in Divine Truth as youneed an earnest appeal to your hearts not to stop short at instruction! You do know, and that, indeed, shall be, indeed, partof your damnation-that you had the light but you would not see! That Jesus came into your street and came near to you, butyou would not have Him! The medicine was there, but you died because you would not take it! The food was on the table, butyou would sooner perish with hunger than receive it as the free gift of Heaven! Ah, my Hearer, your knowing will not benefityou, but will be a plague to you! The poor savage in his kraal in Central Africa who never heard the name of Jesus shall diewith at least this mitigating circumstance-that he never rejected the Savior's love! The million a month who die in China,for a million do die every month in China-the million who die every month in China die with this one solace, at any rate,that they never sinned against the light of Christianity, nor rejected the Truth as it is in Jesus! This is more than youcan say! This will never help to make a dainty couch for you, when you make your bed in Hell! The responsibility of havingknown shall add remorse to the whips of accusing conscience and make Hell still more terrible! Oh, may God grant that we maynot stop short with knowledge, alone, but may know Christ as Him whom we have believed! But still we have in the next place-
III. FAITH WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE IS BUT A BIRD WITH ONE WING. The old faith of the fuller is coming back in some places today.You remember what the fuller said, "Yes, he believed" He believed-what did he believe? He believed, "What the Church believed."And what did the Church believe? "Well, the Church believed-well, what he believed." And, pray tell, what did he and the Church,together, believe? "Why, they both believed the same thing." Ah, how many there are of that sort today! They say, "We thinkhe ought to be sincere, you know, and if he is sincere, it does not matter much whether it is absolutely true. He need nottrouble greatly to enquire whether what he believes is Scriptural or not, or whether it is according to God's Revelation-thatwill take up too much of his time and thought-and look too much like being obedient to God's will. Just be sincere, you know,and then, hit or miss, whatever your mother or father happened to be in religious character, go at it with all your mightand it will be all right."
Now, unfortunately, that does not happen to be the Truth of God-and we do not find people in this world getting on in proportionto their sincerity. I suppose our friends who bought Overend and Gurney's shares were sincere enough in their belief thatthey were buying a good thing, but I should fancy that their opinions have undergone a change of late! No doubt there havebeen persons who have taken prussic acid, sincerely believing that it would benefit them, but I suppose it has killed them,notwithstanding their sincerity. If a man should travel due south in order to get to the Orkney Islands, however sincere hemight be, he would probably discover himself in the Bay of Biscay before long. The fact is, it is not sincerity, alone-itis the studious endeavor to find out what the right is and what the Truth is-that is the only safe way for us! We do not,therefore, ask you to believe without knowing what you are to believe. It is impossible. Do not think a man can hold in hishands four or five doctrines and say to you, "Do you believe them?" "Well, but what are they?" "Never mind! You are a trueBeliever and you must believe then without knowing them." A man who has no power of belief at all says, "Oh, yes, I believe.I will kiss your feet if necessary, or do anything you like to tell me." But the thoughtful man, the man who is likely tobe saved, says at once, "I find it impossible to believe until I first know what I am to believe."
I have sometimes thought when I have heard addresses from some revival Brothers who had kept on saying time after time, "Believe,believe, believe," that I would like to have known for myself what it was we were to believe in order to our salvation. Thereis, I fear, a great deal of vagueness and crudeness about this matter. I have heard it often asserted that if you believethat Jesus Christ died for you, you will be saved. My dear Hearer, do not be deluded by such an idea! You may believe thatJesus Christ died for you and may believe what is not true! You may believe that which will bring you no sort of good whatever.That is not saving faith! The man who has saving faith attains to the conviction that Christ died for him afterwards, butit is not of the essence of saving faith. Do not get that into your head or it will ruin you! Do not say, "I believe thatJesus Christ died for me," and because of that feel that you are saved! I pray you to remember that the genuine faith thatsaves the soul has for its main element-trust-absolute rest of the whole soul-on the Lord Jesus Christ to save me, whetherHe died in particular or in special to save me or not and, relying as I am, wholly and alone on Him, I am saved! AfterwardsI come to perceive that I have a special interest in the Savior's blood, but if I think I have perceived that before I havebelieved in Christ, then I have inverted the Scriptural order of things and I have taken as a fruit of my faith that whichis only to be obtained by rights-by the man who absolutely trusts in Christ, and Christ alone, to save!
The matter, then, which saves is this-a man trustsChrist, but he trusts Christ because he knowsHim. See! He knows Christ and,therefore, he trusts Him. How does he come to know Him? Well, he has heard of Him, he has read of Him, he seeks Him in prayerand when he has learned His Character, he trusts Him. Occasionally young converts will say to us, "Sir, I cannot trust Christ."I never try to argue with them about it, but say, "Then you do not know Him, because to truly know Christ is sure to bringtrust." I believe there are some men in the world whom you have only to know to trust because they are so transparently honest,so clearly truthful that you must trust them! The Savior is such a Person as that. Let me tell you, Sinner, God was made fleshand dwelt among us-do you believe that? "Yes." He lived a holy life. He died a painful death. The merit of His life and deathis set to the account of everyone who trusts in Him and He declares that if you trust in Him, He will save you. Now surelyyou can trust Him! You say, "No, I cannot." Why not? Is He not able? He is Divine-therefore you cannot raise the question.Is He not willing? He died-that argues willingness surely to do a lesser thing, since He has done the greater! Surely youcannot doubt that! The life of the Lord Jesus Christ is an answer to every form of doubt. Do you know, I feel with regardto Christ, myself, that instead of its being any difficulty to trust Him, I find it very difficult not to trust Him if I cannotfind any reason why I should distrust Him. I was turning over the other day some odds and ends of my own brain to see if Icould find any reason why Christ should not receive my soul. Well, I could not find half a one, but I could think of 20,000reasons why I should believe in Him to save me, even if I had a million souls! I feel as if His way of saving is so magnificentand the working of it out so Divinely generous, that His offerings were so great, His Person is so glorious, that I couldnot only cast my one soul on Him, but 50,000 souls if I had them! Why, I cannot find any reasonable ground for doubting Him!Soul, I would to God that you would think of Him in the same light!-
"He is able, He is willing- Doubt no more!"
You know something of Him. Oh, may God give the Grace to add to your knowledge, trust, and then shall you have true savingfaith!
Let it be remarked here that in proportion as our genuine knowledge of Christ increases, so we shall find that our trust inHim will increase, too. The more we know Christ, the more we shall trust Him because every new piece of knowledge will givenew arguments for immovable confidence in Him! Oh, if you have not seen Christ, I can understand your doubting Him, but ifyou have leaned your head upon His bosom, if He has ever kissed you with the kisses of His lips, if He has ever taken youinto His banqueting house and waved His banner of love over you, I know you will feel, "Doubt You, Jesus, doubt You? Why,how can I? I know the power of Your arm. I know the love of Your heart. I know the efficacy of Your blood. I know the Gloryof Your Person. I know the faithfulness of Your Word. I know the Immutability of Your oath and I can trust You and, eithersink or swim, my soul casts herself upon You, You blessed Savior!"
But now there may be some present who are saying, "I cannot say I know whom I have believed."
IV. "HOW CAN I KNOW THAT I MAY BELIEVE IN HIM?" The answer is, search the Word of God with a desire to find Him. Seek outthe most Christ-exalting ministry in your neighborhood, in whatever denomination you can find
it, and listen to it with all your ears and with all your heart. Get to your chamber and there seek the Lord to illuminateyou in the matter of the Lord Jesus Christ! Ask Him to reveal His Son in you. I tell you this-faith comes by hearing and byhearing the Word of God-and when to these is added earnest seeking, you shall not be long without finding Him! They who seekChrist are already being sought of Him. You who desire Him shall have Him! You who want Him shall not be long without Him.It is to have Christ to some degree, to hunger and to thirst after Him-and when you feel that you cannot be content withoutHim, He will not let you be, but will soon come to you! I believe there are some who will get peace with Christ tonight! Doyou understand it, dear Friend? You have nothing to do. You have nothing to be. You have not even anything to learn, exceptthat Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and that He is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto Godby Him! You know that. Now, trust Him, and if you do, it is all done and you are saved! If you have trusted in Him whom Godhas revealed as your Savior, it is not a matter of twenty minutes nor much less a matter of months, but you are saved at once!-
"The moment a sinner believes,
And trusts in his crucified God,
His pardon at once he receives,
Salvation in full through Christ's blood." When a man once gets into the lifeboat, if it were certain that the lifeboat wouldnever sink, he is saved as soon as he gets in. Now, the act of faith does, as it were, put us into the lifeboat of ChristJesus and we are saved immediately! You may have many a tossing, but you will get safely to land at last. If you want faithyou must get it, as I have told you, by knowing Him, studying the Word of God, listening to it and seeking His face. But makeuse of what you know, or else what you know will be like the stale manna and will be of no use to you. Believe it as you knowit. Use it up as you get it. And if you already know Christ to be a sinner's Savior, and know that you are a sinner, thencome tonight and put your trust in Him! And be of good cheer because He will never, never, never cast you away! And now, lastly,I should like to ask a question, and it is this-
V. HOW MANY ARE THERE WHO DO KNOW CHRIST?
We all know something of which we are a little proud, but, "I know, I know, I know," is a very poor thing to say when youdo not know Christ! "I know," says my young friend over there who has been to Oxford or Cambridge University, "I know So-and-So.""I know," says another, "such-and-such a special line of distinguished thinking." But do you know Christ, my dear Friend?"Ah, thank God," says one upstairs, and another good soul below, "we can hardly read, Sir, but we do know Him." I would changeplaces with you, Friends, much sooner than I would with the most learned of men who do not know Christ, because when theycome to the gates of death, you know, he who keeps the gate will not say, "Do you know the classics? Have you read Horace?Have you studied Homer? Do you know mathematics? Do you understand logarithms or conic sections?" No, but he will say, "Doyou know Christ?" And if you scarcely even know your own native tongue, yet if you know Christ, the gates of Heaven shallfly open to let you in!
Now, do you know Christ? Do let the question go round to each one, "Do I know Christ?" Well, then, do you believe Christ?Do you trust Christ? "Yes, thank God!" says one, "with all my imperfections I can sing the hymn-
"On Christ the solid Rock I stand All other ground is sinking sand." Oh, then, Brothers and Sisters, let us be of good cheer,for, trusting Him, He will never fail us! Believing Him, He will never leave us! We shall see His face in Glory. Oh, thatthe day were come! But when it does, to His name shall be all the praise! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 2 TIMOTHY 4:1-11.
Verses 1, 2. I charge you, therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at Hisappearing and His Kingdom, preach the Word of God. We are not to use such strong language as this unless there is some sufficientreason for it. We must not be too hot upon cold matters, but even this is better than to be cold upon matters that requireheat. When John Calvin wished to leave Geneva to complete his studies elsewhere, that man of God, Farrell, knowing how necessaryit was for the Church that Calvin should remain at Geneva, charged him before God that
he dared not go-and hoped that a curse might light upon all his studies, if for the sake of them he should forsake what heheld to be his duty. So sometimes, like the Apostle, we may before the Judge of the quick and dead, charge men not to forsaketheir work and calling.
2. Be instant in season and out of season. The Greek word means, "Stand up to it," as when a man is determined to finish hiswork, he stands right up to it. Stand over your work, putting your whole strength into it-standing up over it. "In seasonand out of season," because the Gospel is a fruit which is in season all the year round! Sometimes these "out of season" sermons,preached at night or at some unusual time, have been of more service than the regular ordinances of God's House. Mr. Grimshawused to ride on horseback from village to village throughout the more desolate parts of Yorkshire and wherever he met withten or a dozen people, he would preach on horseback to them, preaching sometimes as many as 24 sermons in a week! That wasbeing instant "out of season" as well as "in season." So should God's Timothys be and, indeed, all of us!
2. Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and Doctrine. That is, do not exhort with mere declamation, but put someargument into your exhortation! Some men think it quite enough to appear to be in earnest, though they have nothing to say.Let such exhorters remember that they are to exhort with Doctrine-with solid teaching!
2. For the time will come when they will not endure sound Doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselvesteachers, having itching ears. When men have not good preachers, they are sure to have a great many of them! Those nationswhich have the worst priests always have them in swarms. So let us be thankful if God sends us a glowing and zealous minister,for even those who count it an affliction to have a minister, would be more afflicted if they had not a good one! But howevil it is when men get itching ears, when they need someone to be perpetually tickling them, giving them some pretty things,some fine pretentious intellectualism! In all congregations there is good to be done, except in a congregation having itchingears. From this may God deliver us!
4. And they shall turn away their ears from the Truth, and shall be turned unto fables. When a man will not believe the Truthof God, he is sure, before long, to be a greedy believer of lies! No persons are so credulous as skeptics. There is no absurdityso gross but what an unbeliever will very soon be brought to receive it, though he rejectsthe Truth of God!
5, 6. But watch you in all things, endure affliction, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry For Iam now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. How complacently he talks about it! It is only a departure,though Caesar's sword might smite his head from his body! And truly death to the Believer is no frightful thing. "Go up,"said God to Moses, and the Prophet went up, and God took away his soul to Him-and Moses was blessed! And so, "Come up," saysGod to the Christian, and the Christian goes up, first to his chamber and then from his chamber to Paradise!
7, 8. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crownof righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give Me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them alsothat love His appearing. This seems, then, to be a distinguishing mark of a true child of God-he loves the appearing of Christ!Now there are some professors who never think of the Second Advent at all. It never gives them the slightest joy to believethat-
"Jesus the King will come, To take His people up To their eternal home."
Truly they are mistaken and are surely wrong, for was not this the very comfort that Christ gave to His disciples? "If I goaway, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there you may be also." I trust, dear Friends, we areamong those "who love His appearing," and if we are, it is a sure prophecy that we shall have a crown of righteousness!
9, 10. Do your diligence to come shortly unto me: for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departedunto Thessalonica.Demas was once almost a martyr! He was upon the very edge of suffering, but now you see he goes back tothe world-he is not content to lie in the dungeon and rot with Paul, but will rather seek his own ease. Alas, Demas, how haveyou dishonored yourself forever, for every man who reads this passage, as he passes by flings another stone at the heap whichis the memorial of one cowardly spirit who fled from Paul in danger!
10. Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. It is likely that Paul had sent Crescens and Titus away upon a mission, butnow, from certain intimations, the Apostle is sure that his time of death is coming on and so, indeed, it was, for his headwas struck off by Nero's orders a few weeks after the writing of this Epistle-and now he somewhat laments that he had sentthem away. And would not you and I want the consolation of kind faces round about us, and the sweet music of loving voicesin our ears if we were about to be offered up?
11. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with you for he is profitable to me for the ministry. That is one of theprettiest verses in the Bible! You remember that the Apostle Paul quarreled with Barnabas about this very Mark, because JohnMark would not go into Bythinia to preach the Word, but left Paul and Barnabas. Therefore Paul would not have Mark with himanymore because he had turned in the day of trouble. But now Paul is about to die and he wishes to be perfectly at peace witheveryone. He has quite forgiven poor John Mark for his former weakness. He sees Divine Grace in him and so he is afraid lestJohn Mark should be under some apprehensions of the Apostle's anger. And so he puts in this very kind passage, without seemingto have any reference at all to the past, but he gives him this great praise-"for he is profitable to me for the ministry."