ETERNAL LIFE: THE NEXT GREAT CHAPTER
“On the final page of the final book of The Chronicles of Narnia, some of the children who have been to Narnia lament that they once again must return to their homeland—the Shadow-Lands. But Aslan (the lion who represents Jesus) has the best news of all for them:
[Aslan spoke to the children,] “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.”
Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often.”
“No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?”
Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.
“There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are—as you used to call it in the Shadow-Lands—dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream has ended; this is morning.”
And as he spoke he no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” (Citation: C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (Thorndike Press, 2001); submitted by Eugene Maddox, Interlachen, Florida) (From Perfect Illustrations). <Rom.8:18; 1 Cor.2:9>
A study of 2 Tim.4:6-22.
Paul changes the emphasis of his message to Timothy as he now verbalizes personal matters. He anticipates his approaching death <2 Tim.4:6-8> and compares himself to a “drink offering”; “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.” <2 Tim.4:6 (NIV)>; let us examine the significance of the drink offering. It is the offering of wine poured around the base of the Altar when the sacrificial animal was offered as the Burnt Offering <see Ex.29:38-43; Num.28:7>. Paul uses it here to describe that his approaching death is like the pouring out of his life as an offering of thanksgiving to Christ <see Phil.2:17>. The drink offering consisted only of the best wine that one could offer, and we have seen that Paul’s whole life was presented to God as a living sacrifice <Rom.12:1>, and now his death will be compared to the pouring out of the wine. The wine was to be poured out upon the Altar and not to be consumed by the offeror, which teaches us that we serve God with the best that we have until we take our last breath.
Paul continues to express his hope in Christ as he faces the end of his life; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” <2 Tim.4:7-8 (NIV)>. As he looked back at his life he could say (like an athlete) to Timothy that he had fully obeyed the rules of the contest <see 2 Tim.2:5>, so as to encourage Timothy (and all believers in Christ) to do the same in serving Christ. Similar to the winner of any athletic competition the prize is presented, and here Paul refers to his prize as “the crown of righteousness” that Christ will present to him on the coming day of accountability <Rom.14:12; 1 Cor.9:25>. We can all look forward to this reward for Paul adds that it will be available to all who yearn for Christ’s appearing. Can you face death with such confidence? As you look back at your life on earth can you truthfully say that you have finished the course to the best of your ability?
Expressing his situation in Prison, he comments that Demas has deserted because he loved this world and all that it has to offer; a warning to all believers; we all need to learn to resist the devil’s temptations by the help of the Holy Spirit <Jas.4:7>. Titus and Crescens (Crescens mentioned only here – NIV Study Bible), have gone elsewhere, and only Luke is with Paul. He further states that “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.” <2 Tim.4:16 (NIV)>, certainly a helpless feeling and one that our Lord Jesus Christ experienced at His trial; and like Christ, Paul asks that their absenteeism would not be held against them. One other individual, Alexander, Paul states that “…The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.” <2 Tim.4:14-15 (NIV)>; his strong opposition to the gospel message, presented by Paul then, is still being exhibited by individuals today, and will be dealt with by Christ – this is not our responsibility.
Like Paul, we can all be assured of God’s presence with us when we are called to defend our faith in Him: “…the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” <2 Tim.4:17 (NIV)>, Christ will be our defense so that the gospel message will continue to be preached. Paul ends this section with the statement: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” <2 Tim.4:18 (NIV)>; Paul was certain of this; for us it may not be a rescue from a physical attack but certainly from any and every spiritual attack that Satan my launch at us <Jn.17:15>, so that all the glory will be given to Christ both presently and in the ages to come. Do you have this confidence as you live in this world of uncertainties? One does not know what the next minute of time will bring, as disasters occur without warning and life is cut short. As we serve our Lord Jesus Christ, let us do so with the confidence that our reward will far surpass all the difficulties we face in this life.
Paul concludes his letter to Timothy with greetings to those of his friends who had helped him in his past journeys: Priscilla and Aquila who he had first met in Corinth <Acts 18:1-3>; Onesiphorus and his family who helped Paul and were not ashamed of his imprisonment <2 Tim.1:16>; Erastus, the city director of public works in Corinth <Rom.16:23>; Trophimus, an Ephesian believer (gentile) who accompanied Paul on his last visit to Jerusalem <Acts 21:29>; he also requests that Timothy does his best to come and visit him before winter, bringing his coat and scrolls <2 Tim.4:13>.
His closing comment reminds us of God’s grace: “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” <2 Tim.4:22 (NIV)>; the grace of God; grace that none of us deserve, but as His children we are always sheltered by His grace <see Jonah 4:2; Gal.1:3-4>. This is God’s promise to all His children all throughout our life and even in death <see Deut.31:6; Jos.1:5; Heb.13:5b; Rom.8:38-39>.