What Have You Deposited for Eternity?
For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed,
for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able
to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 2Ti 1:12
In this verse, we find some very relevant lessons for our lives in these times of uncertainty and turmoil. Remember that God chose Paul—among other things—to be a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life (2Ti 1:16).
As God had revealed at the very beginning of his calling (Act 9:16), Paul’s life proved to be one long, drawn out martyrdom. The verb phrase, "I … suffer," according to the Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, indicates "a continual action which was going on at the present time." In fact, we know that Paul is writing during his final imprisonment and knows he is about to be executed (2Ti 4:6). However, his thoughts are neither morbid nor self-pitying. Rather, he is exulting in his anticipation of his finished work and sure reward (2Ti 2:11–13, 4:7–8).
Bold Spiritual Advance
In the face of deception by false brethren, and intense and unrelenting persecution by both Jewish and Roman authorities, Paul was sustained by the power of God to be resolutely "unashamed" in his continued spiritual advance. Satan uses shame to paralyze and neutralize the effective believer. Those who have never had to stand in the face of continual accusation and incrimination can scarcely fathom the courage required to overcome the natural human tendency to fall into self-pity, self-recrimination, and ultimate surrender to the hate-filled assault of self-assured and self-righteous enemies. This is why one of the tactics of communist prison camps has been the use of a group "therapy" in which one prisoner is singled out for "blame," every other prisoner finding fault and accusing him for faults, real or imagined. Most people under this constant withering of accusation will ultimately conclude that they are wrong, and the "majority" must be right, and succumb to meek submission. What Paul endured throughout his life went far beyond any of these sessions, yet his faith sustained him, enabling him not only to stand unashamed, but to grow stronger still by the revelations of his weakness (2Co 12:7–10). Should you ever find yourself falsely accused and imprisoned, this would be a good lesson to have in mind.
Faith with Conviction
Contrary to Satan’s attempts to shame and silence him, Paul used the pressure to focus all the more on the object of His faith: the Lord Jesus Christ. The phrase "I know whom I have believed," uses the word oida, speaking of knowledge gained by perception (gnosis), sharpened through experience (epignosis), until it had matured into a rock-solid conviction. Though Paul had "believed" in Christ years ago, his continual occupation with Jesus Christ on a daily basis had grown into an unshakable conviction, "I am persuaded." Paul was not content to rest in his assurance of eternal life. He boldly chose to face the opposition to his spiritual growth and ministry, face down his enemies, and publicly proclaim the victory of the cross of Christ— to his own harm. Since Paul was chosen by God to be a “pattern” for all succeeding generations, should we not follow his example?
Today I know of many believers who are doing this very thing. Not only—as may be expected—in India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Peru, China, Burma, and Papua New Guinea, but also in Australia and America. There are so many who have faced death threats designed to stop their effective ministries, others who have faced the soul-shattering loss of loved ones, or the “death sentence” of terminal illness, or the often more crushing blows of one’s own sinfulness and failure. Yet in every case, regardless of the source of the “shame,” they continue to rise up. How do they do it? They “know whom [they] have believed,” but much more than this, they have come by growth and experience, to be “persuaded that He is able,” and that makes all the difference.
Deposit of Personal Treasures
All too often what Paul declares in this verse has been much misunderstood. It has been assumed that in saying “to keep what I have committed to Him against that day” refers simply to his soul’s salvation. However, the Apostle’s full intent is so much greater and more glorious. The word translated “committed” is from paratithemi, which speaks of the act of depositing something of great value with one who is capable of guarding it against loss. To quote the Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament again, “It is a legal term connoting something which one person places on trust in another’s keeping.” The same word is used by Paul in v. 14 where he says, “That good thing which was ‘committed’ to you, kept by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” Here he refers to Timothy’s gift, and the ministry of the Word of God.
The implications here are amazing. God deposits something of great value in every believer, a spiritual gift, with corresponding ministry (see 1Co 12:4–7) for safekeeping. The only way to guard it is to effectively use it, as is implied in Paul’s later statement, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2Ti 4:7). When a believer persists in spiritual growth and becomes effective in the service of his/her gift, they are guarding God’s precious deposit. At the same time, they are entrusting to Him their treasure—their service—which has corresponding eternal reward. Thus, what Paul was committing to the Lord Jesus Christ for safekeeping was his life of service. What that would mean in eternity is eternal reward, with interest, Paul’s “crown of righteousness” (cf. 2Ti 4:8 with Mat 19:29).
Living for The Day
Paul mentions “the Day” three times in Second Timothy. The “Day” in question is the Bema Seat of Jesus Christ, the place of accountability and either reward or loss (1Co 3:10–15) for every believer. First, Paul knows that what he has entrusted to our Lord will prove eternally secure on that day (2Ti 1:12). Second, he implies that mercy shown in this life may also enhance the mercy one receives at the Bema Seat (2Ti 2:16–17; cf. Mat 5:7 and Jam 2:13). Finally, he looks forward with anticipation to receiving the crown of righteousness (2Ti 4:8), which God has shown him to be among his eternal treasures. Paul had learned to live for “the Day” each and every day of his life. We would do well to do the same.
In light of the above, it should be a delight for each of us to serve according to our gift and capacity. Remember that God gives to each believer his own work (Mar 13:34), and that work is matched to our spiritual ability (Mat 25:15). Each of us has a God-given “sphere" of influence (2Co 10:12–17). Let’s make our life an offering that is acceptable and rewardable (Rom 12:1–2)!
Papua New Guinea
We had a wonderful two weeks with the believers of Numba Village and surrounding villages. It is always great to return and see what God is doing in the lives of these wonderful people. While I taught the Ese Bible Institute students the course in Teaching Principles and Methods, Nan and her team went out to the villages for children’s programs and health clinics. It is exciting to see the believers who have graduated from the Institute now reaching out to more and more remote villages. Many who have attended the school are now forming mission teams, under the guidance of Pastor Michael, the school principal, and his second in command, Chiruru. These men are also leading some of these teams into areas that are malaria infested along the coast, so we ask that you pray for them. The form of malaria in this area is very deadly.
We were blessed to have four great helpers, all from Pennsylvania. Dr. Chris Sepic (orthodontist) brought thousands of free samples of tooth brushes and tooth paste. He taught classes on dental health and hygiene, as well as acting as a visiting doctor, caring for hundreds of cases of sickness, infections, etc. Also helping in all the children’s programs and health clinics were Jonathan Gallo, a teacher, Blair Buselli, an electrician, and Elizabeth Preston, one of Nan’s trusted helpers in India and a very accomplished violinist.
It is always rewarding to watch how our Lord brings teams together, with varying skills, abilities, and gifts, and molds them together into a team. In addition to his dental and medical skills, Chris brought along a good supply of fishing line and hooks. Small as this may seem, these are commodities that are very difficult to get in the jungle villages, and it was fun watching so many people making up a roll of line with a few hooks, and seeing the big smiles on their faces.
At one point the water system in the house broke down due to a worn out pressure valve. Blair went to work and rigged an alternate system, so that we continued to have solar-powered showers. In addition, he was often out on the front porch, challenging Eavik, the local strongman, to contests of push-ups and pull-ups.
Jonathan joined in all the activities, was a big hit with his great sense of humor, and was always involved in some activity with the kids of the village. His obvious joy of life affected everyone, and when he was around, everyone was having a good time.
Nan and I always feel so privileged that God permitted us to be involved in the great ministry of Jim and Jaki Parlier, who invested their lives in the Managalasi people. They have certainly deposited much with the Master through their dedicated service, and it is an honor to be involved in their work.
After coming out of the jungle, we were able to visit Wil, Kristy, and their two children, Ari and Ashiel in Sydney. It was good to get to know our grandchildren a bit more. Our separation from children and grandchildren is difficult, but part of the price of our calling. It is always richly rewarding to spend time with each one of them.
We also went to Canberra for our first weekend Bible conference there. Around 30 people joined us—some from Perth and Brisbane—for a study of the book of Titus, on the theme of “Living in Light of the Cross.” It was great to see friends and fellow-believers of past acquaintance. One family had come to hear me teach when I first visited Australia in 1992! We had some good study and wonderful fellowship together.
The conference was planned and organized by our dear friend, Tanya Horton who—along with her helpers—did a real bang-up job, finding a great venue, providing food and refreshments, and making everyone feel welcome. We look forward to our next opportunity to return. We will be sure next time to include a visit to the great Military Museum there, which I have visited but Nan has not. If you ever visit Australia, I highly recommend it to you.
We cannot help but give thanks for all of you who uphold us in your prayers and by your offerings. We are very aware that every journey we undertake involves each one of you, and that we represent—not only our Lord first and foremost—but also those who are unknown and unsung, but who by their support are making investments in eternity. One day you will see that the Lord’s interest rates are far beyond your expectations. Thank you all and may God continue to guide, strengthen, and refine you for His greater purpose!
Gene and Nan