Robert C Trotter
2 Thessalonians 2: 13-17
2 Timothy 1: 13-14
I had these scriptures in mind, beloved hearers, and our brother’s word has confirmed my thought a little. I am not able to open up as our brother has in relation to the presence of the Holy Spirit and His part in the Godhead, but what I had more in mind is the way that the Spirit is a help to us in our wilderness pathway. So in Thessalonians we have, “But we ought to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, that God has chosen you from the beginning to salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth”. We are in a wilderness pathway, and that is what tests us. But God has provided richly for the wilderness pathway, and the ups and the downs of it. God has richly provided for that, and that would be, speaking reverently, in the Spirit. I often quote that word in the minor prophets, “The word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, and my Spirit, remain among you”, Hag 2: 5. That is what our brother has been labouring at, that the Spirit remains. So it speaks here about “sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth”, these two matters: how important they are. But it goes on to say, “whereto he has called you by our glad tidings, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm, and hold fast the instructions which ye have been taught”.
The Thessalonians were a young company; Acts 17 would bring out how young they were. It gives some idea of the entering in that Paul had to them: “And according to Paul's custom he went in among them, and on three sabbaths reasoned with them from the scriptures, opening and laying down that the Christ must have suffered and risen up from among the dead, and that this is the Christ, Jesus whom I announce to you”, v 3. It was according to his custom; what a service he rendered to them. I cannot say much about it, but I just have this in mind that there is help available to us for our pathway with its ups and downs. Some know more about the rigours of the way than others. The wilderness pathway of the children of Israel would teach us much as we think of it.
But how favoured we are, because it says here in Thessalonians, “But we ought to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, that God has chosen you from the beginning”. Acts 17 was their beginning; what it is to have a right beginning. They had a right beginning - Paul saw to that. We know, of course, that the end is vital as well. There is the beginning, but there is what is in between, and that is what I really have in mind in relation to the Spirit remaining among us; how we need that. I need it. Our brother has been stressing the need of it while we are in assembly. But we need it day by day too, and He is with us: God has richly provided for us.
I read in Jude. The references to the Spirit in the epistle are few, but here he says, “These are they who set themselves apart, natural men, not having the Spirit”; how sad that is! We are in the midst of a line of things that has been spoken of as apostate, a giving up. How busy the enemy is in relation to giving up. But it says here, “But ye, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God”. “Praying in the Holy Spirit …”: we pray privately too; praying is a wonderful matter, praying to God. It is a line of dependence; it was seen so much in our Lord Jesus. In Luke’s gospel there are many references to Him in prayer. So, as it says here, “But ye, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit”. I would love to know more of that. There may be things naturally that we desire and we may pray about them. But are we praying in the Holy Spirit? “Keep yourselves in the love of God”; what things these are, beloved brethren. The teaching of Romans is that the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, chap 5: 5. But here it says, “praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God”. It points to an ability by the Spirit. “Keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life”. There are the great matters of mercy and eternal life. I was impressed by these things. There is what is natural, not having the Spirit: how sad that is. “But ye, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit...” We think of the prayers of many, and Daniel comes to mind especially; it was characteristic of him. In chapter 6 where it says, “prayed and gave thanks before his God as he did aforetime”, v 10. He was driven into God’s presence, but he was a praying man characteristically. Sometimes there are things that drive us into God’s presence to pray; but how are we characteristically?
Think of the Spirit descending as a dove on the Lord Jesus; how wonderful! I was impressed with that character or type of the Holy Spirit in relation to Noah, Gen 8: 6-12. We see Noah’s tenderness with regard to the dove. He put out his hand and took her to him.
I would just like to touch on 2 Timothy verse 14, “Keep by the Holy Spirit that dwells in us the good deposit entrusted”; wonderful matter! As our brother said, we are vessels of weakness and frailty, but the Spirit is here. I think it has been said that that is some reference here to the new covenant. I feel my measure as to these things, dear brethren, but I trust what has been said may be an encouragement to us; how I feel I need it anyway, day by day, for the effort of the enemy is to draw us away, to give up, so that we have to keep the deposit “by the Holy Spirit”. The Spirit would help us; He would help us to keep these things. It is right to be a depository. There is that in the believer that is divinely given; what we have along these lines is what God has given Himself. There is to be a return, but as one could say, “of that which is from thy hand have we given thee”, 1 Chron 29: 14. But I was just impressed with these scriptures. There is treasure in the earthen vessel, a vessel of frailty.
I leave these few simple words with us; may we be encouraged, for His Name’s sake.
Word in meeting for ministry, Edinburgh
16th February 2016