Author Dane Ortlund wrote: “When my two-year-old Benjamin begins to wade into the gentle slope of the zero-entry swimming pool near our home, he instinctively grabs hold of my hand. He holds on tight as the water gradually gets deeper. But a two-year-old’s grip is not very strong. Before long it is not he holding on to me but me holding on to him.” (Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly, loc 807)
I love that picture of a man holding his child by the hand and keeping him safe as he wades into deeper water. It’s a great picture of what GOD does for us. If you are a Christian, you can be confident that God is holding you by the hand and He is keeping you, and NOTHING can separate you from Him. That’s the truth that is expressed in our verse for today:
“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”
Paul, who was writing from prison, says he has confidence, even in his suffering, because he KNOWS God is guarding what he has entrusted to Him. How could he have such confidence? How can WE have it today?
I. It Begins With Knowing Him
He prefaces His confidence by saying, “For I KNOW WHOM I have believed.” Paul said, I am confident in the Lord, because I know Him. Confidence comes from familiarity with the Lord.
Paul had walked with the Lord since the day he met Him on the road to Damascus. He had walked with Him through numerous life episodes; highs like the vision of the 3rd heaven in II Corinthians 12, and lows like he shares here in :15 where he told Timothy, “you are aware that all who are in Asia have turned away from me.” What a discouraging turn of events! But through all of this, he had come to know the Lord better: through each day, through each victory; through each trial, he grew in the knowledge of Him. He said, “I KNOW HIM … and I am convinced that He is able.”
When you know someone well, you know what they are capable of.
When Franklin Roosevelt suddenly passed away in April of 1945, Vice President Harry Truman was sworn in as our new President. Many people were depressed and discouraged about it. The “common wisdom” was that Senators did not make good Presidents, as they didn’t have executive experience like Governors do, and that Truman was a political hack, a compromise candidate as Vice President, and was not up to the challenge of being President. General George Patton wrote: “It seems very unfortunate that in order to secure political preference, people are made Vice President who are never intended, neither by Party nor by the Lord to be Presidents.’”
But Truman biographer David McCullough writes: “There were some, however, who, facing the prospect of a Truman presidency, felt confident the country was in good hands. They knew the man, they said. They understood his origins. They had seen how he handled responsibility and knew the inner resources he could draw on. As before and later in his life, confidence in Harry Truman was greatest among those who knew him best.”
I love that line of McCullough’s: “Confidence in Harry Truman was greatest among those who knew him best.” When I read that, I thought, that is how it is with the Lord, too. Confidence in Him is greatest among those who know Him best:
— If we know Him, we will be confident in Him.
— As we get to know Him better, we will grow in our confidence in Him.
— If we get to know Him VERY well, then we will be VERY confident in Him.
The question is: DO YOU KNOW HIM?
This is what God made you for: to know Him. Remember Jesus said in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they may KNOW THEE, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”
God designed us to know Him, and to thrive on that relationship with Him — but we sinned against Him, which obscured our knowledge of Him. In Ephesians 4 Paul speaks of people who are lost, and he says they are “darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.” He says, their HEART, which has turned against God in sin, has rendered them IGNORANT of Him; and excluded them from His eternal life. Our sin separates us from the knowledge of God.
This is why Jesus came: to die on the cross and pay for our sins, to bring us back to God, so as Jesus said in John 17, we may “know Him,” which is eternal life.
Has this happened to you? DO you know Him? Have you repented of your sins and put your trust in Jesus as your Lord & Savior? If you have, then you have at least started down the road of knowing Him. If you haven’t, you will NEVER know God until you do.
And if you would say that you HAVE done that, and you DO know Him, are you growing in your relationship with Him? Are you getting to know Him better every day? HOW can know Him better? You get to know Him by spending time with Him every day in His word and prayer.
- Jesus said in John 8:31, “If you continue in My word you are truly My disciple”
- I Peter 2:2 says “long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow”
If we really want to know God better, we must spend time with Him in His word. This is why this New Year we are going to be reading through the Bible together as a church family. I’ll share some more of the details as we get closer in December, but we’ll have a flexible plan with 3 different readings for each day that gives you a variety as you read, and you can choose to use it to read through the whole Bible in a year, or use just one of the three, and you’ll read through the New Testament. Then every Sunday morning we will also have a testimony from someone in our church family who got something special out of their reading that week, and every Sunday next year, I will preach from one of the passages we have read together that week. There is something special about reading through the Bible together that will help knit us together as a church family.
But as we do this next year, we need to keep in mind:
— THE GOAL FOR 2022 IS NOT JUST TO GET CLOSER TO EACH OTHER;
— THE GOAL FOR 2022 IS NOT JUST TO READ THE BIBLE THROUGH; — THE GOAL IS TO GET TO KNOW GOD BETTER!
If reading through the Bible makes you proud of your religious accomplishment, that will only take you further away from God than you were before, because God says He opposes the proud! We need to make sure we read with humility — and especially that we are reading for the purpose of knowing Him.
We will know Him better, as we walk with Him through His word, every day, and especially as we apply His word in our lives through the trials we face. We need to realize that God purposefully brings or allows things into our lives, for the purpose of getting us to seek Him, and getting to know Him better.
But that’s the goal: knowing Him. That’s what He made us for. When we sinned, it’s what He saved us for. That’s what we should get out of the Bible and from our trials and experiences in life; that’s what eternal life is all about: knowing Him.
If you don’t yet know Him, I hope you’ll ask Him into your life today. And if you DO know Him, I hope you’ll be committed to walk with Him in His word every day, to get to know Him better. That is what it is all about: knowing Him.
II. It Leads To Trusting Him
Paul says, “I know whom I have believed, AND I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him.” Because Paul knew the Lord, he says, I KNOW that He is able to guard what I give to Him.
The English words here ‘what I have entrusted to Him” are from just one word in the Greek Bible: “paratheke”, which means “deposit.” The picture here is of a man who goes on a journey and deposits with a friend his most precious possessions. To return such a deposit unharmed was among the most sacred obligations recognized at the time. ‘To the ancient world there was nothing more sacred than the duty to return that which had been entrusted, and to return it in safety.” (NAS)
Paul says, I have entrusted some things to God — and I know He will be faithful to guard them and keep them.
Colonel Edmund Starling served for many years as Secret Service security for five Presidents of the United States, from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt. Even during his first presidential assignment, to Woodrow Wilson, Starling had gotten the reputation for diligence in his care of the Presidents.
Once Starling accompanied President Wilson to a play. Afterwards, a woman asked him, “Mr. Starling, did you see the show?” He said, No, I didn’t, I was on duty behind the box. To see the stage I would have had to peep through curtains. “I was not interested in the show as much as in keeping my eye on the President,” I said. She said, “I should have known that …Mrs. Wilson appreciates your loyalty. When the President left his box tonight I asked Edith (Mrs. Wilson) where he was going and she replied, ‘I don’t know but Mr. Starling has got him and I know he will be safe.’” (E.W. Starling and Thomas Sugrue, Starling of the White House, p. 115)
What is true of a faithful man like that is ultimately more true of the Lord. When He has “got us,” we will be safe. Whatever we entrust to Him, will be kept safe. He is faithful to KEEP whatever we entrust to Him.
So what are some of the things that we can entrust to the Lord? There are many things:
— First of all, as we just talked about, we can commit our own souls to Him. I think that’s the primary thing Paul was referring to here. He was in prison when he wrote this; as we shall see, his life was on the line. But in that critical situation, he could write: “I am confident … He will keep what I have entrusted to Him” — my very soul!
This is one of the great verses in the Bible regarding the eternal security of the believer in Christ; that once we are saved, we will always be saved. When we repent of our sins and trust Jesus as our Savior, we are committing ourselves into His hands — just like when Jesus prayed: “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit,” so when we give our lives to Jesus, we are committing our souls into God’s hands. AND WHAT WE COMMIT TO GOD, HE WILL NOT LOSE! HE WILL KEEP IT UNTIL THAT DAY!
If ever anything was ever secure, the soul which is entrusted to Jesus is secure. Jesus said in John 10:27-28, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
Like the old song says: “The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to his foes. That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake”! When you give your soul to Jesus, you don’t have to worry about ever losing it again. When God has got your soul, it will be safe! He will keep it until that day.
— Last week we talked about the riches that God has blessed us with, and how when we give to the church and help people, and give to missions, we are sending our money ahead to our “heavenly 401k.” But whenever a person invests their money, one of the first things they want to know is: How SAFE is this investment? We don’t want to put all this money into something and lose it. But that can happen with earthly investments, can’t it?
I told you a few weeks ago how when Cheryl & I took our first church, the treasurer wisely advised us to start putting $100 per month (which we didn’t think we could afford, since we were making only $13,000 a year!) and put it in the Southern Baptist Annuity Board. I remember when I put that first $100 it, I said to myself: “Don’t put your trust in it. One day the economy may crash, and you may never see it.” This earth is not where our true riches are. That’s how we have to look at earthly investments. They are not 100% guaranteed. Whenever you invest in something, it usually comes with warnings and caveats, that markets can go down, that nothing is guaranteed. But how safe is what we send ahead to heaven to our “heavenly 401k? It is SAFE!! They are as safe as the hands of God! How do you know that? “I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to KEEP that which I have entrusted to Him against that day”! He will keep for eternity everything we invest in the Kingdom of God.
— Some of us have committed even more precious things to God than our money. We have committed our loved ones to Him in the ultimate way: we have committed them into His hands as they passed from this life. And our prayer was something like, “Lord You take them; You keep them, until I see them again one day in heaven with You.” We committed them to Him. And because we know the Lord, we have every confidence that He will do just that. He is holding our loved ones in His hands, and He will KEEP those whom we have committed to Him until that day!
It is true of whatever God asks of us. If He asks us to give up something, or give Him something, or entrust Him with something, we can be confident that that person or that thing is not “lost.” He is holding them for us. He will KEEP whatever we have entrusted to him until that day!
So it begins with Knowing Him; it leads to Trusting Him, and finally:
III. It Ends Standing Before Him.
Paul says here that God will keep what I have trusted to Him, “until that day.” What “day” is he talking about?
— He uses that expression “that day” again in :17, where he writes of Onesiphorus, “the Lord grant to him mercy from the Lord on THAT DAY.”
— And then again here in II Timothy in 4:8, “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day;”
So three times here in II Timothy Paul uses the expression, “that day.” But what did he mean when he used that term?
Jesus actually used this term first in the New Testament, in Matthew 7:22, “Many will say to Me on THAT DAY, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’” He’s talking about the day when people stand before Him for judgment or reward.
II Thessalonians 1:10 “when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.”
In context this is speaking of the return of the Lord. He said in :7 “When the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire … (:8) “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. …”
So it is speaking of the day of the return of the Lord, and the judgment of all. The day when Christians will be united with Him, and reunited with our Christian loved ones in His presence. That will be a day like no other; when, as Revelation 1:7 says, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him” when He returns.
In Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson he writes that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was such a massive event in history because the unprecedented coverage it had in the media. He says:
“Television in the average American home was tuned to the Kennedy funeral ceremonies for almost eight hours a day. The events in modem American history most comparable in their impact on the public, social scientists found, were Pearl Harbor and Franklin Roosevelt’s death, but, the scientists also found that because these events had occurred before the television age, they were not in fact comparable. The pervasiveness as well as the immediacy of television coverage—“There were times during those days when a majority of all Americans were apparently looking at the same events and hearing the same words. . .participating together… In a great national event,” the scientists concluded; “Nothing like this on such a scale had ever occurred before”—made the assassination and the ceremonies following it an event “probably without parallel in history.”
(Robert A. Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Passage of Power, p. xii)
That is, unparalleled in history SO FAR. For there is coming a day, the Bible says, when the trumpet shall sound, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, and all of us who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; thus we shall always be with the Lord.” , “and EVERY EYE WILL SEE HIM.” THAT will be the event “without parallel in history”!
And when He comes, the Bible says we’ll stand before His throne, to receive rewards for everything we have done for Him, given to Him, and suffered for Him here on earth. And everything we have entrusted to Him, will be paid back to us, many times over (with COMPOUND interest!)!
And on “THAT DAY” we will say with this great verse: “I KNOW (now!) Whom I have believed — and I am persuaded that He WAS able to keep ALL that I entrusted to Him, until this day!
What is your feeling about a day like that, when Jesus returns — or when you face death? If you were suddenly to hear the sound of a great trumpet, and Jesus should return, what would be your very first, gut-instinct reaction? Fear? Or joy?
Paul says I face that day with joy. In fact, he WAS facing it with joy. If you read to the end of this book of II Timothy, you’ll see that Paul is about to leave this world, and he knows it. He writes in Chapter 4:6, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me ON THAT DAY — and not only to me, but also to ALL who have loved His appearing.”
We need to realize that when Paul was writing this letter, he was facing certain death: He said in :17 that he’d been “saved out of the lion’s mouth,” but now he says in :6, “the time of my departure has come.” There is a strong historical tradition that says that just after he wrote this letter, around A.D. 65 under the persecution of Nero, the Apostle Paul was beheaded in Rome.
It’s sobering to think that Paul KNEW that was going to happen, when he was writing this book. We need to keep that in mind whenever we read it. Here he was, facing sure death — but even then he could write these confident words: “For I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”
May God give each one of us that same confidence, to entrust to Him whatever He asks of us, until that day.
What is it that you need to trust God with today?
– a certain situation in your life
- your riches
- Your loved ones
- Your own soul, for the very first time …
Maybe you’d = you DO know Him, but you’d = you need to grow in the knowledge of Him in His word … start now; be sure to join us as we begin 2022 “In the Word” together as a church family.