Summary: The message explores what Paul meant when he urged Timothy to guard the good deposit. Preachers are point men in the battle to stand firm against error, but the congregation must join them in this task.

“By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” [1]

Servants of Christ demonstrate a dynamic interplay of divine sovereignty and human responsibility in the exercise of the ministry God has assigned each one. One writer, citing an old maxim of the Faith, reminds us that “God does what only He can do as I, in reliance upon the Holy Spirit, do what He requires me to do.” [2] The text exalts the grace of God, speaking as it does of mere mortals as “God’s fellow workers” [see 1 CORINTHIANS 3:9]. Always and ever, as we work together with God [see 2 CORINTHIANS 6:1], His power and His grace are revealed through mere humans. This is especially true as we point others to life in Christ Jesus; this work is to the praise of His glory.

God does assign those whom He wills to deliver His message to the congregations. The preacher must always bear in mind that he is appointed to his holy labour by Christ the Lord. The message the preacher brings is settled—he can neither embellish that message nor detract from what he has received. The man of God is not responsible to enhance what God has said, attempting to make it more palatable to those to whom it is delivered, nor is he to temper the challenge arising from presentation of the Word. He is charged with protecting what God has entrusted to his oversight. That entrusted to him is spoken of as invaluable, a treasure nonpareil. Questions naturally arise in light of the Apostle’s words to Timothy. What is this treasure that is to be guarded? How does the man of God guard the treasure that is entrusted to him? I wish to explore these and other questions in the message for this day.

THE GOOD DEPOSIT — “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” Before discussing the challenge Paul issues and the means by which the command is to be kept, it seems reasonable to identify what is deposited. Is that which is deposited entrusted to Timothy alone? Or is this a deposit entrusted to all elders? Is it possible that the deposit in question is entrusted to the whole of the faithful? The question will prove essential if we are to understand what God is saying.

Paul refers to this deposit, a treasure, if you will, several times in these letters to Timothy. In 1 TIMOTHY 6:20 the Apostle admonishes Timothy, “Guard the deposit entrusted to you.” He previously made reference to this treasure in 2 TIMOTHY 1:12, when he wrote, “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.” Now, the Apostle urges Timothy, “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you” [2 TIMOTHY 1:14].

Each of the instances when Paul uses this word is found in these Pastoral Letters. Whenever the Apostle speaks of this particular deposit, he speaks of a something quite definite. In 1 TIMOTHY 1:11, he speaks of something entrusted to him. In 2 TIMOTHY 1:12 Paul writes of a deposit entrusted to him. In 2 TIMOTHY 1:14, he speaks of “the good deposit” entrusted to Timothy. Timothy is a steward of this deposit, just as Paul is a guardian of that same deposit. From this, it is obvious that the deposit is not left in the care of only one individual.

In an earlier message delivered from this pulpit, I addressed this deposit. Quoting from that earlier study, I stated, “The Apostle speaks of a definite deposit—he speaks of ‘my deposit’; or in addressing Timothy, Paul speaks of ‘the good deposit.’ Timothy is a steward or guardian of this deposit, just as Paul is a steward or guardian of that same deposit. Obviously, the deposit is not restricted to one individual; God has entrusted to all elders a deposit of some sort. In the opening paragraphs of this First Letter to Timothy, Paul speaks of ‘the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted’ [1 TIMOTHY 1:11]. Moreover, as we [have already seen], Paul admonished Timothy, ‘By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you’ [2 TIMOTHY 1:14]. Finally, Paul instructed Timothy ‘What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also’ [2 TIMOTHY 2:2].

“Taken together, this leads to the conclusion that ‘the good deposit’ is the Gospel and all its accompanying truth revealed in Scripture. The one thing entrusted to each elder is the Gospel of Christ. J. N. D. Kelly writes, ‘The noun translated trust … is a legal term connoting something which is placed on trust in another man’s keeping. The suggestion is that the Christian message (“the faith” or “the truth”, as it is so often called in these letters) is not something which the church’s minister works out for himself or is entitled to add to; it is a divine revelation which has been committed to his care, and which it is his bounden duty to pass on unimpaired to others.’ [3]

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