Charles Simeon Commentary - 2 Timothy 2:1 - 2:1

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 2 Timothy 2:1 - 2:1


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STRENGTH IN THE GRACE OF CHRIST

2Ti_2:1. My son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

HOW shall it be that all of us, who are assembled here this day, should ever get to heaven, so weak as we are, and so corrupt, and in the midst of so many and great dangers? I look back to the Apostle’s days; and find, that when he was in prison at Rome, “all the converts that were of Asia, turned away from him;” but that one pious man, “Onesiphorus, sought him out with great diligence,” to relieve his necessities, and to comfort his soul [Note: 2Ti_1:15-18.]. Now, if reduced to such straits as the Apostle Paul was, for the Gospel’s sake, how should we hope to stand? How should we avoid the apostasy of the many, and retain the fidelity of the few? This instruction the Apostle gives to his beloved Timothy: “Thou, therefore, my son, (seeing how hard it is to stand in times of severe trial,) be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus:” that is, ‘know that there is grace treasured up for thee in Christ: and, in dependence upon that, thou shalt be able to sustain all the trials that shall come upon thee.’

To elucidate these words, I will shew,

I.       What a fulness of grace there is treasured up for us in Christ—

But how can I present this to your minds in any intelligible shape? Methinks it can be done only in a way of illustration. Take, then, some scriptural illustrations; by means of which you may apprehend, in some considerable degree, the mysterious truth which I wish to submit to you.

Consider Christ, then,

1.       As a Vine—

[This is our Lord’s own suggestion: “I am the Vine; ye are the branches [Note: Joh_15:5.].” Now we know, that every branch derives all its sap and nourishment from the vine; and that, if separated from the vine, it can bring forth no fruit whatever. This, then, will convey a very just idea of the connexion that subsists between Christ and his people; and of their entire dependence on him for every fresh supply of grace — — —

But an husbandman prunes the luxuriant branches of his vine; lest the sap being too widely diffused, its influence be weakened, and its fructifying power be abridged. In this, therefore, the image altogether fails: and we must look for one more suitable, by regarding Christ,]

2.       As a Sun—

[This supplies the whole universe with light: and every individual of mankind, when exposed to its rays, enjoys as much of it as if he alone existed upon earth. Nor has he the less of its influence from its being extended to all the millions of mankind. Thus has every believer as much of Christ’s gracious influence as his soul can need; having it neither increased by the paucity of those who partake of it, nor diminished by the numbers — — — “The Sun of Righteousness” is alike sufficient for all — — —

Yet the sun affords us not the same genial warmth in winter, as in the summer months; and at night it is altogether hid from us. In these respects, therefore, this image also fails. But we shall find an illustration more complete, if we consider Christ,]

3.       As a Fountain—

[Under this character our blessed Lord commends himself to us: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” But especially is he compared with the rock smitten in the wilderness, “from whence gushed rivers of water,” for the supply of all the people of Israel; and which followed them in very abundant streams, through all their journeying in the wilderness [Note: 1Co_10:4.]. Here then we have a more appropriate image: for as He is the only source of grace to every living soul, so may every one have access to him at all times, to obtain a supply fully commensurate with his utmost necessities. And in this does this image pre-eminently display the fulness that is in Christ Jesus, and the benefit to be derived from it; because “every soul that drinks of that living water has within himself a well of water, springing up to everlasting life:” so that, having Christ within him, he can never thirst again, nor want any other source, either of strength or comfort [Note: Joh_4:13-14; Joh_7:37-38.] — — —

Without attempting to give any further illustration of what, after all, can never be adequately comprehended, I will only observe, that the representation is truly scriptural; since we are expressly told, that “it hath pleased the Father that in Christ should all fulness dwell [Note: Col_1:19.],” and that all his people are said to “ receive, out of his fulness, grace for grace [Note: Joh_1:16.].”]

Let us then consider,

II.      Our duty in relation to it—

We are to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus;” that is,

1.       We are to apply to him for it with simplicity—

[We should have it as a settled principle in our minds, that there is no strength in man, nor any other source of grace than Christ Jesus: and without hesitation we should go to him from day to day, and from hour to hour, to receive it out of his fulness. We should not dream of meriting it at his hands, or of earning it by any thing that we can do: we should receive it as freely as the Israelites did the waters that issued from the rock; and should go to it as the only source of all that we need. Did the Israelites, think you, attempt to dig wells in the wilderness, when they had access to that stream? So then should we go to Christ for grace continually, and derive from him all that our necessities require — — —]

2.       We are to rely upon it with confidence—

[We should never, for a moment, entertain doubts or fears respecting Christ’s sufficiency to supply our wants. Whatever dangers threaten us, we should say, “There be more with us than with them [Note: 2Ch_32:7.]:” and, “If God be for us, who can be against us [Note: Rom_8:31.]?” He has told us, that, whatever be our necessities, “his grace is sufficient for us:” and therefore, instead of dreading trials, lest we should be vanquished by them, we should “take pleasure in them, that the power of Christ may rest upon us, and his strength be magnified in our weakness [Note: 2Co_12:10.]” — — — “ Knowing in whom we have believed,” we should look upon “our enemies as bread for us [Note: Num_14:9.],” and view their assaults as preludes only to victory and triumph — — —]

Let me now add,

1.       A word of caution—

[The circumstance of there being such a fulness treasured up for you in Christ does not in the least degree supersede the necessity for exertion on your part; no, nor of fear and watchfulness. To your latest hour you must be like Paul, who “kept his body under, and brought it into subjection; lest by any means, after having preached to others, he himself should be a cast-away [Note: 1Co_9:27.].” You will see in the context, that you are to “endure hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ [Note: ver. 4.]:” and your strength in Christ is not to render you forgetful of, but to fit you for, the warfare, which he has called you to maintain [Note: Eph_6:10-11.] — — —]

2.       A word of encouragement—

[Now, for eighteen hundred years has grace been flowing from the Lord Jesus for the supply of all his people. But do you suppose that his power to communicate is therefore lessened? When “virtue went forth from him,” in the days of his flesh, “to heal all the multitudes that waited on him,” was there less virtue in him than before? or has the sun lost any of its splendour by all the rays that it has emitted these six thousand years? Know, then, that Christ is still as able to save as ever, and that the very weakest amongst you all is authorized to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me [Note: Php_4:13.].”]