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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 31: Paul's Last Letter.

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Part:  A  B  C

Paul continues his charge: "Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." Now that Paul is called to finish his course, he would have Timothy supply his place, and guard the churches from the fables and heresies with which Satan and his agents would in various ways endeavor to seduce them from the simplicity of the truth. He therefore admonishes him to shun all temporal pursuits and entanglements which would prevent him from giving himself wholly to this work; to endure with cheerfulness the opposition, reproach, and persecution to which his faithfulness would expose him; to "make full proof of his ministry," by employing to the uttermost every means of doing good to the souls of men for whom Christ died.

Paul had never been afraid or ashamed to confess Christ before men. He had stood in no doubtful position, but under all circumstances had unhesitatingly committed himself upon the side of justice and righteousness. His own life [p. 326] was a living illustration of the truths he taught; and herein lay his power with the people. The voice of duty was to him the voice of God. Cherishing in his own soul the principles of truth, he never shrank from maintaining them in full view of the world. His soul was ever pervaded with a deep and abiding sense of his responsibility before God; and he lived in close and constant communion with Him who is the fountain of justice, mercy, and truth. He clung to the cross of Christ as the only guarantee of success. The love of Christ was the omnipotent, undying motive which upheld him in his conflicts with self and the power of Satan, in his struggles with spiritual wickedness in high places, in his life-long labors, as he pressed forward against the unfriendliness of the world and the burden of his own infirmities.

What the church needs in these days of peril is an army of workers, who, like Paul, have educated themselves for usefulness, who have a deep experience in the things of God, and who are inspired with earnestness and zeal in his service. Cultivated, refined, sanctified, self-sacrificing men are needed; men who will not shun trial and responsibility, but who will lift the burdens wherever they may find them; men who are brave, who are true; men who have Christ formed within them, and who, with lips touched with holy fire, "will preach the word" amid the thousands who are preaching fables. For the want of such workers, the cause of God, languishes, and fatal errors, like a deadly poison, taint the morals and blight the hopes of a large part of the human race.

As the faithful, toil-worn standard-bearers [p. 327] are offering up their lives for the truth's sake, who will come forward to take their places? Will our young men accept the holy trust at the hand of their fathers? Are they now preparing to fill the vacancies made by the death of the faithful? Will the apostle's charge be heeded, the call to duty be heard, amid the incitements to selfishness and ambition which allure the youth?

Paul concludes his letter with various personal messages, and again and again repeats the urgent request that Timothy use all diligence to come to him soon, and if possible to come before winter. He describes his loneliness from the desertion of some friends and the necessary absence of others, and lest Timothy should still hesitate, fearing that the church at Ephesus demanded his labors, he states that he has already despatched Tychicus to fill the place of Timothy in his absence. And then he adds the touching request, "The cloke that I left at Troas, with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments." At his second arrest, Paul was seized and hurried away so suddenly that he had no opportunity to gather up his few "books and parchments," or even to take with him his cloak. And now winter was coming on, and he knew that he would suffer with cold in his damp prison-cell. He had no money to buy another garment, he knew that his end might come at any moment, and with his usual self-forgetfulness and fear to burden the church, he desired that no expense should be incurred on his account.

After describing the scenes of the trial already past, the desertion of his brethren, and the sustaining grace of a covenant-keeping God, and [p. 328] sending greeting to faithful fellow-laborers, Paul closes by commending his beloved Timothy to the guardianship of the Chief Shepherd, who, though the under-shepherds might be stricken down, would still care for his servants and his flock.

Part:  A  B  C

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