By Chaplain (Maj.) Austin Vann, Medical Recruiting BrigadeApril 13, 2018
"That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day." 2 Timothy 1:12 (NIV)
In this season of Easter when we focus on the theological and spiritual ramifications of Jesus' life and ministry on earth -- His death, burial and resurrection -- it seems that people struggle to experience Him in a tactile world. My definition of a tactile world is a world attainable by touch.
The disciple Thomas would have fit in well in this tactile-focused world. He needed something he could hold and experience, much like the devices that are always with us. Without something tangible, admittedly, we can be slightly lost or unsure. God provides us a tool to overcome this Thomasonian dilemma: the same faith of Abraham.
Part of the way we remain calm in a tactile world is by guarding of the good deposit of faith in Christ and the implanted Spirit of God that exists in us. What Jesus accomplished in the past should propel every Christian forward through this object dependent world, calmly, knowing God deposited something good in us that we don't need to have in our hand or clothing pocket, but have in our heart.
I remember a family trip to New England when I was in high school. All we had back then was a Mapsco map of New England to navigate an unknown world. Mind you, we were from Georgia, you see, and knew nothing about the highways and byways in those parts. It was how anyone navigated our world before the advent of the MapQuest print out or Google maps. Admittedly, it took a little bit of faith to visualize that little grey line on a map was actually the road you were traveling. But, you always made it to your destination, just the same, even if a little bit after when you planned or a lot later. Christians never know when we will arrive home, but we are encouraged to remain faithful to the very end. The book of Hebrews is an encouragement to a group of Christians to keep the faith no matter how long it takes for Christ's return. The character, Christian from Pilgrim's Progress, experiences many detours but eventually makes it to the City of Zion.
Conversely, we can lack conviction and calm when we do not know the way or have the right tactile tool to help us navigate the way. As I editorialize, this is not a very good testimony to an unbelieving world. Paul says to Timothy: "…because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day." This is the testimony of the believer that we want to embody with God's help. "In life," I lectured my boys recently, "you should always cultivate the ability to find your way using what God has given us." What I was referring to was related to terrain association, but in the spiritual life I'm envisioning the good deposit of faith in Christ and the deposited Holy Spirit.
Think on this fact: the Holy Spirit's regenerative work of the soul is not the end of our spiritual experience -- it is the beginning. It is heart tactile. But it is bolstered by the truths upheld by the Holy Spirit and Scripture. Everything does not fade into darkness. The darkness is rather erased by the rising light of the hope that Jesus' forgiveness and salvation brings. You and I can trust God to guard the thing that we have put our trust in. Amen? 1 Peter 3:18 says in affirmation: "For Christ also suffered once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit."
It must be said, all believers receive the righteousness of Christ by faith (Ephesians 3:23). All believers receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at the point of conversion when we are beckoned by Sovereign God to come broken to the foot of the cross of Christ to receive forgiveness for our lowly state caused by sin. By faith, we believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ for salvation. By faith, we open our hearts to God's working through the Holy Spirit. By faith, we accept God's provision for our sins detailed in Holy Scriptures (John 3:16). The conversion of our soul is purely the work of God by the faithful obedience of the Son, Christ Jesus, providing every soul with a way back to Him. Guard this at all costs. Paul understands this as he encourages Timothy to guard the good deposit God in Christ bestowed on the young minister.
Timothy is encouraged to cease from taking for granted God's good deposit in Him. If he does take it for granted even still God will guard His good deposit until Christ's glorious return. We have this promise. Are you and I forgetting God has invested much in the spiritual regeneration of our soul? He sacrificed His Son "while we were still sinners" (Romans 5:8).
When Christ comes in the clouds (Mark 13:26) to gather the elect, Church, we will no longer need to fret about the good deposit because we will be in the presence of our King. He will have arrived in all His glory. All will be brought back into the fullness of what God always intended but did not want to force. What Timothy has been given, is the most important thing in his life. He must treasure it above all things. It is so important that is it worth selling everything else. It is worth getting rid of every other thing that would try to distract from it (Matthew 13:44). It is a treasure that goes with us wherever we go and in whatever we do. Guard the good deposit!