By Elizabeth Prata
Paul tenderly gives a spiritual charge to his spiritual son, Timothy,
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:1-2).
Paul can be seen as the spiritual patient zero, who took Timothy under his wing, the next generation, who is now charging Timothy to relate the truth to those who heard him, 3rd generation, who will turn around and give it to the upcoming generation. Four spiritual generations passing the baton of truth on down.
That was an insight I learned from my elder at my weekly Bible Study. It got me thinking just how much Christianity is a multiplying faith. The Lord works through us via the pneuma, the Holy Spirit’s metaphorical breath. If you picture when you share a biblical truth with someone, the Holy Spirit in us pushing the words out out with His own breath, which rest on and are wafted by the Spirit-driven breeze, and supernaturally land on a heart that Lord with His own hands is is opening, (Acts 16:14), you have a good visual of the power of sharing truth.
Christianity has run a relay race since the moment that the Holy Spirit descended upon the first ones in the upper room. They fanned out in the courtyards, the city, and then the world, bringing the Good News to all who would hear. Many were persecuted and were killed for their faith, but they were diligent in the relay to ensure their careful obedience to the Spirit so that there would be a baton to hand to the next generation. The Lord makes sure of this.
Here is Gill’s Exposition on the 2 Timothy verse-
the same commit thou to faithful men; who not only have received the grace of God, and are true believers in Christ, but are men of great uprightness and integrity; who having the word of God, will speak it out boldly, and faithfully, and keep back nothing that is profitable, but declare the whole counsel of God, without any mixture or adulteration; for the Gospel being committed to their trust, they would become stewards, and of such it is required that they be faithful; and therefore this is mentioned as a necessary and requisite qualification in them
The second wave of Christians, no longer witnesses to the earthly Glory of Jesus, walked and preached and shared the Good News in their homes and churches and on the streets. They ran their race, fought the good fight, and they handed the baton to the next generation to carry on, even as they expired their last as the lions roared in the rings or were stoned like dogs by rabid crowds. And so it went, through the decades and the millennia.
The race was run through the early years until Christianity was adopted by Constantine in 312. It ran through the bloody, plague years of the Dark Ages, brothers and sisters killed as they insisted on their right to carry a personal Bible or to relate the Gospel themselves and not through a priest. The relay was run through the Renaissance years when art and music began to shift to Godly representations instead of pagan ones. The baton was handed to the missionaries of the 1700 and 1800s, who went to the four corners of the earth, proclaiming and sharing. The baton was handed to the next, the Greatest Generation we are told, who lived Godly lives and won wars and shared the Good News in joy. Finally, through all the eons and years and travails, we, perhaps the last generation, now have the baton. We are running our race now.
Each generation lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangled them, and they ran with endurance the race that was set before them. They were obedient to the Spirit who gave them strength to hold the baton with steadfastness and in so doing kept the flame of faith alive.
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith
Can we see the finish line? Paul could see his own finish line, the verse above betrays his knowledge of it and weariness of this life. Will we faint before we cross it? Will we stop sharing the Good News, preferring tickled ears? Will we be diligent enough to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God in the face of hatred and persecution we know is coming? Will we stumble?
Let it not be so! We must finish the course with faith, working till the last. We must not drop the baton. We must finish the course, the Christian race that our forefathers and mothers ran. We are part of the same body and in the same race. Race on, brothers and sisters! Hold fast to the baton of faith, carrying it joyfully as we cross the line and then kneel at His feet forever! Jesus waits to greet us as He proclaims the course finished and to say “Well done good and faithful servants!” For when Jesus calls us home, in joy and solemnity, we can hand the baton back to Him closing the circle from the first Saints who shared the faith.