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He Remains Faithful
(2 Tim. 2:11-13)

by E.H. CLayton


 
 

"Faithful is the saying: "For if we died together, we shall be living together also—if we are enduring, we shall be reigning together also: if we are disowning, He also will be disowning us: if we are disbelieving, He is remaining faithful—He cannot disown Himself."

Surely from the words of verse thirteen of second Timothy chapter two, we should not conclude that any believer, who is a member of the ecclesia which is His body, will not reign with Christ. Is it not rather that this verse is expressing the same truth as does Romans 3:3:

"For what if some of them disbelieve ? Will not their
unbelief nullify the faithfulness of God ?
(4) May it not be coming to that. . . "

which verse speaks in reference to matters concerning the effect of the unbelief of Israel upon God ? So also, the unbelief of the nations, producing feigned or sham faith and consequent apostasy, it does not nullify the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. In the present administration of grace, there is only one allotment. It is the allotment which God allots to Christ. It is this allotment we come to enjoy. All must reign with Him in that allotment. No saint can be in a different allotment to that of any other saint of His body. In the matter of sound words, the plural, allotments, should not be used in such a connection. Any plural has regard to the number of enjoyers, and this encompasses all believers in the present administration, for all are of His body, the ecclesia.

Our expectation is not a matter which depends upon our attainments, either in respect of knowledge or of service. True it is that wreaths may now be in the making, but they must not diminish, in any sense or degree, that God is our All. All satisfaction from the wreath will consist in the reality of the spiritual import that God has glorified Himself in us. Participation in the evangel is the using of God's righteousness which the evangel bestows: this is its own prize, and will become especially so in the eonian glory which every believer will enjoy, when spots and wrinkles no longer persist in and amongst the saints. Then will He truly have presented to Himself a glorified ecclesia. What is true of our expectation, is true also of our enjoyment of the allotment. Any seeming qualification gives no advantage, and mature understanding is rejoicing that this is so. The mature one finds joy in thanking his God and Father for the privilege to share spiritual values with all fellow believers. The reality of the joy consists in the realisation that God is glorified in such participating. To think or teach otherwise is subversive of the gracious basis of salvation in this economy. That basis admits of no regulation in respect of that for which we are saved, for the believer is blessed with the glory of the glorious outlook of God's consummation.

The context of the faithful saying is "my evangel" (v. 8). We require to take into consideration from verse eight to verse thirteen. Paul here shows that his evangel is not overcome by apostasy. That is, indeed, even as in the case of Israel's unbelief. God is faithful and will achieve in Israel (Romans 3:3). It is not proper to refer the "disbelieve" of verse thirteen to the matter of Ephesians 1:17.

". . . that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may be giving you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the realization of Him . . "

The context in Timothy does not allow that. The faithful saying is related to the fact that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, has been roused. To this fact is related the "disbelieving." The rousing of Jesus Christ contains the fact that the believer is "living together" with Him, for we "died together" with Him. Involved in this is the present enduring and then the future reigning. Jesus Christ remains faithful to all the details to which His Own faith led Him. To disown Him signifies to deny these facts around Him. This is disbelieving and such have no part in Him in the present administration.

The skeleton of 2 Timothy 2:8-13 will confirm these relationships, and will thus contribute to make clear what is the outlook in this epistle to Timothy: in fact, that in both epistles, the apostle is concerned with the continuance of his ministry. The first epistle concludes Paul's itinerant ministry, and is immediate to his apprehension in Jerusalem. The second epistle is the final stage, for his course is finished.

In this second epistle, the ecclesia is designated as a great house. The first epistle showed that as God's house, it should be distinguished by that devoutness which the evangel created in the spirit of those called out by it (see 1 Tim. 3:15). In its fidelity to that character which flows only from the evangel as it is unfeignedly believed, the ecclesia has the ideal distinction of being the pillar and base of the truth of God's present administering and dispensing (see 1 Tim. 3:16).

Insofar as the ecclesia lacks that most serious spiritual regard and expression which corresponds to the concerns of God, indicated in His evangel, heralded through Paul's commission, then the ecclesia is a great house, with utensils for honour and dishonour. (see 2 Tim, 2:19-21). These details signify that God's House is, in large measure, lacking both the understanding of the secret of devoutness and its display. The term 'ecclesia' makes clear God's intention amidst the unbelief which exists amongst the nations. In large measure, the nations are apostate from God's evangel. So, too, in God's House are feigned believers. This is why apostasy can be, and it is also the warning enshrined in this "faithful saying." God's House is not necessarily the exact equivalent of His body. God's House is the outward aspect , covering all, feigned or unfeigned, but His body figures the spiritual unity of those chosen for His glory, and this is defined in the term 'ecclesia,' or 'out-called.'

E.H.C.


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