Continue Thou

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How wonderful is the word of the Lord, when we hear Him speaking to us! In these verses He speaks, then, two things. Let us hearken to Him. They are His words by the Spirit in the midst of the circumstances of these last days. The evil is fully described, then the word is, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” Yes, the Lord says, “Continue thou.” Satan would say continuance is all over now, evil so abounds there is nothing left, and thus fill our hearts with gloom and unbelief. The Lord speaks at such a time, at this time, “Continue thou.”
If Timothy had learned the things in which he was to continue by the Spirit’s teaching from Paul, have we not learned the same truths by the same Spirit in the Word? Are they the theories of men, or have we not been gathered to the Person of the Lord Jesus, by the Holy Spirit? Have we not been separated from every organization of men to own the authority and presence of the Lord Jesus in the assembly? Have we not been assured of this? Do we not know who has taught us what the church, His body, is to Him?
Well do I remember the morning when the Lord opened my eyes to see by faith, and own HIMSELF in the midst of the few gathered to His name. And as so many years have passed on, years of failure on my part, since that day, yet I can say His presence in the midst of His saints has been more and more precious to my soul. And are we to give all this up, all the precious things we have learned and enjoyed for forty or fifty years? No! No! Sweet to our souls are the words, “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned.” Yes, the word from our Lord is, “Continue.” And that word is spoken to us in the midst of all the evil of these last days. That word from the Lord is enough for us. Nothing must be given up that we have learned from Him. He says, “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Let us remember that long after these last days evils had been described, and told in these two Epistles of Timothy, the Holy Spirit left on record that wonderful chapter, John 17. Words spoken before He departed, but how they do reveal the desires of the Lord for those the Father hath given to Him! Surely the tender desires of Christ for us repeat the word “Continue.” Yes, the more we know the changeless love of His dear heart, the more shall we also desire to “continue in the things which thou hast learned.” Do these desires of Christ give us the thought, now that evil and failure have come in, that we should sink into individuality, and cease to manifest to the world even our oneness with Him, and with each other? Individual faithfulness there must be: and also individual responsibility there is in the very midst of the evil to “continue in the things which we have learned.”
Now let us note the beautiful order of these verses in 2 Timothy. First, the instruction to “continue,” and then, secondly, the charge to do the work of the evangelist — to preach the word, and so forth. We must not reverse this order. Poor and feeble though we be, the Lord has given us a great responsibility to the whole church of God. What a time for faith. Oh, to rise above all the present efforts of Satan! Yes, to rise up to the gulf-stream of the love of Christ to the whole church. And the love of God to flow through us also in the gospel to the whole world.
Continuance in the things that we have learned: not a Jot of the precious testimony given up; and then, dear brethren, a wider range of preaching the word, and the work of an evangelist. Should we not in principle go into a town or village as Timothy? What is there in that town for us? The church of God, and the world. How little we rise up to this. We have seen in John 17 how the Lord’s heart takes in all the Father hath given to Him! And this after all the evil had come in to the professing church. Should not we also then in the love of Christ take in all that are His? He will show us how, while purging ourselves from vessels of dishonor, at the same time to serve all in love that are His. But the one word I heard the Lord as it were speaking to us all, in the midst of the present confusion and effort of the enemy, is “Continue.” May that word long — yea, ever — abide in our hearts.
From Words of Faith, 1882, vol. 1, pp. 45-47. m