“Life Is At Stake”

By Randy Harshbarger

In 2 Timothy 2:2 the Apostle Paul instructs the younger preacher Timothy by saying, “And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” Timothy had been entrusted by Paul with the important task of teaching, charging, and exhorting various churches in order to turn them from moral and religious apostasy (cf. Timothy’s work in Corinth, 1 Cor. 4:17). While the responsibility to preach was great, Timothy also had to encourage other faithful men who could be entrusted with the truth, to go forth and engage in the good work of preaching the gospel.

Of course, Paul’s instructions to Timothy impress upon us the need for men to come forth and commit themselves to the proclamation of God’s word. In fact, this is needed more than ever, as we continue to observe the passing of stalwart soldiers of the cross, men who gave themselves to the Lord’s work for years and years, but now, they are no longer with us. Someone must step forward to fill in the gaps. Those who are younger must come forth and preach the gospel in an uncompromising way. No one knows what the future may hold as the times in which we live are troubled and perilous. Surely we can see the need to stand for the truth, that we and our children will be fortified in the faith. May future generations be encouraged because of our stand now, to stay with the Lord and His word in times to come.

We find this lesson forcefully presented, as a change in the leadership of ancient Israel takes place in Deuteronomy chapters 31 and 32. For many years, Moses had been leading God’s people, but the time for change had arrived. Moses commissions Joshua, God’s chosen replacement. Joshua could lead Israel with courage because the Lord was with him. Moses said, “Set you hearts unto all the words, which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do . . . because it is your life . . . ” (Deut. 32:46-47). Amid the changing scenes of life, Moses tells Joshua and God’s children that they must continue to unite upon God’s word. Their lives to a certain extent physically, but especially spiritually, were linked inseparably to the hearing and obeying of God’s word.

Past and present generations must unite together upon God’s word. May we ever remember that God’s word must always take the place of the works of men. What we have came from God, inspired and profitable. A message of grace? Yes, but also a message of faith and obedience. The gospel is the one thing that young and old alike can place their trust in as they meet the challenges of life. Moses said, “It is your life.” We derive faith and hope from God’s message while living; we take comfort in it in times of death.

Of course, the message of Jesus is greater than the message of Moses. We find terror at Sinai, but tenderness at the cross. Moses speaks in thunderings, but Jesus pleads with tears. Yet, we must not mistake tenderness for weakness, or gentleness for a lack of authority. Jesus is the greatest lawgiver, the greatest prophet, and the only Savior the world will ever know. Can we see the need to stay with the Lord and what He tells us to do?

Uniting upon God’s word gives life meaning and value. And, in order to have hope for a better world to come, we must involve our “lives” each day with God’s message. “It is your life,” Moses said. All we are, all we shall be, or ever hope to be is bound up in God’s will for our lives. Peace with God (Rom. 5:1), our growth as Christians (2 Pet. 1), true enjoyment of life depends upon our loyalty to God. And, consider the awful possibilities that await those who refuse to yield to God.

How shall we escape if we turn away?

Regardless of how many men preach the gospel, regardless of how long this old earth stands, may we ever remember that God will never send one greater than Jesus and no message will ever do what the gospel does. With the passing of Moses, an older generation passes too. Joshua and a new generation rise to fill in the ranks. But, the new generation must hold on to the same message from God that was so dear to an older generation. So it is, that we who are younger must be committed to the preaching of God’s word, and then entrust it to others before we too, pass from the scene. Is your life safe and secure? Can you see the promised land? May God help us all to see that life is at stake!

Guardian of Truth XXIX: 8, p. 231
April 18, 1985