Notes on Service

A correspondent sends us a letter from a reader of "Scripture Truth" in China, from which we quote: "The major part of my work here in China is that of helping young evangelists in the study of the Word, any suggestions would be most gratefully received."

"Do the work of an evangelist" is one of the many exhortations that Paul gave to his son Timothy in his farewell letter to him (2 Tim. 4:5), and we should suggest that when the gospel by which men have to be evangelized is known no part of the New Testament could be of greater value to the servant of the Lord than this short Epistle; it should be well read and carefully studied. The following simple notes may help.

As to himself, Timothy was A MAN OF UNFEIGNED FAITH. He was a real man in his faith in God. Of what use could a man be in the service of God who had not faith? The work is God's work, a work of faith, and those who labour in it must not walk by sight, or before men, but by faith and before God. Faith carries the servant of God to God Himself, and "without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb. 10:6). Strange evangelists they are who desire to be men-pleasers or self-pleasers and not pleasers of God, hence faith is the first great essential.

He had to be A MAN OF ENERGY and not indolent (v. 6), for an idle servant of the Lord is an abomination to Him, but true energy is not mere natural energy, it is the energy of the Spirit, described here as the Spirit of power, and of love and of a sound mind. This Spirit has been given by God to every true servant. Power is given because of the enemy that opposes and the evil that has to be met. Love because the servant of the Lord must display in his service the very nature of the One who has sent him, or he belies his message and mission. A sound mind — "wise discretion" because apart from wisdom given from above, he will, by his own folly, mar the service and bring discredit on the Lord's Name. And this wisdom is "first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (Jas. 3:17). The Spirit of power, love and wise discretion is the Holy Ghost; none can do the work of an evangelist apart from the Holy Ghost.

He had to be A MAN OF COURAGE and not a coward (v. 8). "Spirit of fear" in verse 7 is really the spirit of cowardice. If he thought of men and their opinions he would come under the fear of men and he would be useless and would be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, which is not popular with men. The Lord is rejected by the world, and the testimony has to be proclaimed in any enemies' land, the heralds of it cannot look for support or expect the patronage of the world, hence the afflictions of the Gospel. Natural courage will give way before these afflictions and fly the field, but the power of God can make His servant triumph through them and fight the good fight until the victory is won.

He had to HOLD FAST the form of sound words. The Gospel in the whole scope of it had to be clearly before his mind, and to it he had to hold fast. It is by words that men are saved (Acts 11:14), and it is sound words that the devil most fears and hates — the pure Word of God (Luke 8:11-12). If the Word of God is set aside and men's opinions substituted for it the devil does not care. But an evangelist is one who carries God's message of grace to men, and He must carry it as God sends it and not change it in anywise for another message, or he becomes a false witness of God. And those who preach "modernism" have become this. They do not sow the incorruptible seed, the word of God, by which men are born again (1 Peter 1), but corruptible seed, the thoughts of men. They serve the devil and not God, they destroy men's souls and do not save them.

He had to be STRONG IN THE GRACE THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS (chap. 2:1). It was necessary for him to know where was the base of his supply, and he could not war a good warfare unless he kept in communication with his base. All the evangelist's supplies are in Christ Jesus — the risen, glorified Lord. The servant of God who is strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus is undismayed and invincible and he carries on his service in confidence and hope, and like a tree planted by the waters he flourishes, and whatsoever he does prospers.