2 Timothy 1:10-14
10 [God’s own purpose and grace] now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
The tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility is a paradox we see throughout scripture. By a paradox, I simply mean something that appears self-contradictory, absurd, and false, but is in fact true. When we approach this passage with the question, “Who will guard what God has entrusted to us?” — then we arrive at a paradox. For we see that Jesus Christ, the one “who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (v. 10) holds all the power necessary to guard this deposit. We trust that he will protect and preserve the ministry to which each of us has been appointed (v. 11). Paul had confidence that the churches he planted would continue strong even after his death. He knew that they were under the care of Jesus Christ, who knows best how to care for his own.
Yet we ourselves are responsible to guard this deposit (v. 14). We can’t simply “let go and let God.” This requires effort on our part — effort drawing on the strength of “the Holy Spirit who dwells within us” (v. 14). How do we guard our ministries? We “follow the pattern of the sound words” (v. 13) that we have been taught. We are not called to be doctrinal innovators but rather doctrinal preservers. By guarding the truth of Jesus Christ, we guard the source of our life. We are called to do this “in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (v. 13). We guard not with fierce words, impatience, and scorn, but in faith that Christ will preserve his own and in the love that he has for them.
It is critical to protect other believers from false teaching. The apostle James wrote, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). How thrilled we should be to stand on guard for one another’s soul! May God grant us this love and an unshakable trust that he will never forsake his children!