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The Lion’s Mouth

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
November 13, 2021 3:00 am

The Lion’s Mouth

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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November 13, 2021 3:00 am

When life hits rock bottom, we may be tempted to think God’s abandoned us. But Paul’s final days in a Roman dungeon tell a different story, reminding us that God is present and will accomplish His purposes. Learn more on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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The when life gets complicated. Things seem impossible. We can be tempted to think that God has abandoned us. But the apostle Paul's final days in a Roman dungeon tell a completely different story today on Truth for Life weekend. Alistair Begg reminds us that in every circumstance we can take comfort knowing that God's presence will accomplish his purpose while we turn for the penultimate time I think to second Timothy and we are looking to get out of the verses that begin 14 all the way through to verse 18. I think we understand now, given the fact that Paul is in jail that he is living under the threat of his execution that the Roman government was no friend to Paul be also true to say that the Roman government was not Paul's enemy but it had zero tolerance for anyone who was going to proclaim another king, even as Paul had so clearly been proclaiming that Jesus Christ is a king, and that he is establishing a heavenly kingdom and that he, although born as a Jew I encountered Jesus been encountered by him, and as a result of that Jesus was now Lord of his life. It was on account of that and nothing else that he found himself where he was in this situation in a Roman dungeon, and there had been various attempts to this point in his life for the monster is aware for the lien to devour him. Whatever that metaphor means it's clear when you read the life of Paul. You wake make your way through the acts of the apostles. Every attempts weatherwise by the state or whoever it was to devour him had been unsuccessful because, as he tells us here. He had been rescued from the lion's mouth will come back to that as we end. He has told Timothy already that his suffering as a prisoner in chains should be understood in light of the fact that although he himself is chained that God's word is not changed and when he makes his defense before the various authorities in prospect of his arrival at Rome, he declares unashamedly and unequivocally his allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He who is as he says in first Timothy 615 the king of kings and Lord of lords. Very important and vital reminder on every day but not least of all. Today when these closing comments. It is very obvious to you that Paul is not a one-man band that he is surrounded by some of estimated as many as 100 men and women who would form part if you like of the extended team, making possible the effective ministry of Paul, and that's why when you read his letters that are always names scattered throughout.

Because these were his companions in the gospel. No one lives to himself and dies to himself were always better together than any of us are on our own and in the vast majority of cases, these people are mentioned on account of this the fact that they were a source of encouragement to but there were exceptions. One of the exceptions we notice a couple of weeks ago in Dimas in verse 10, who in love with the present world had deserted Paul and gone to Thessalonica and now in verse 14 are introduced to another character, namely Alexander the coppersmith as I read and reread these verses and and and move them around on my sheet. I determined that the only way that I could come to terms with this was by employing four verbs to help me view Paul in this context.

And here they are. First of all we see him opposed then we see him deserted.

Then we see him strengthened and then we see him rescued. First of all, then Paul as he describes himself opposed nares being opposed by Alexander the coppersmith that's not a great deal of help to visit. Do you know who Alexander the coppersmith is very mention how you clearly haven't, but this was presumably by designation away for Paul to let the initial readers know that he was referring to this particular Alexander rather than that particular Alexander in the same way that somebody might say John is able which John you mean. And then we would apply some designation to help us. What we do know and what Paul wants us to know is that this Alexander, whoever he was dear to him. Great harm, not a rebate of harm, but great harm he really harmed him now. What did he do to we don't know what we do know is that he harmed them greatly, and how Paul responded to the harm that he knew and the answer to that is in the balance. Verse 14 the Lord will repay him. According to his deeds. You will notice that that is a statement it's not a prayer there's nothing vindictive in Paul's responses as I was greatly harmed by Alexander the coppersmith or the metalworker and the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.

This is not an unfamiliar notion. Jesus makes this clear in his ministry, and you find it scattered throughout the Bible. For example Paul in Romans chapter 2, and in verse five because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of Rockford.

God's righteous judgment will be revealed, God will actually execute a righteous judgment and here's verse six he will render to each one according to his works. He will render to each one according to his works. Are you find the same thing in second Corinthians 11 you find it scattered throughout the Psalms you find it in the teaching of Jesus. In other words, the judge of all the earth will do right. There is a higher throne is a higher court in the highest courts of the empires of the world, and on that day when the accounts are settled, then you may be confident that the judge of all the earth will do right.

He is the one who judges justly and what may be less than, we hope for today nevertheless will be resolved in the purposes of God. So he says I have been harmed by him. I been opposed by him.

The Lord will repay him according to his deeds but I want you verse 15 Timothy to beware of him yourself. We see Paul's great concern is not personal injury. Paul's great concern throughout this whole letter is the gospel the message of the gospel.

That's what he's been on about from the beginning. I want you to keep as a pattern of sound doctrine, God the good deposit.

Make sure that you don't deviate from course make sure that you teach this so that other people understand it and so on so makes perfect sense that when opposition comes to the message of the gospel to the gospel itself. He's concerned last Timothy Schuetz succumbed to anything that reaches him by way of this kind of opposition is an important point.

There is not because we already saw a week or two back that there was a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas. But it was a disagreement about the gospel is a disagreement about whether John Mark was a good fellow to take on the next missionary journey that could come and go.

That could be resolved in different ways, but the concern here is opposition to the message beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our mass each. That's why it's so important loved ones that we understand together what this message is what the gospel really is and what it encompasses in its entirety that it is opposition ultimately to the truth of the gospel in Jesus that is the great opposition opposed. Secondly, deserted deserted verse 16. My first offense. Presumably, this preliminary hearing. Would you legal folks know about before. Finally, to go to trial. At the preliminary hearing. I take it that no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me.

What a lonely experience quite hard to imagine why Paul was left alone is not why he was abandoned in that moment. After all, the legal system allowed for an advocate to speak in his on his behalf. It allowed for witnesses to be called for the defense again to stand within as the government brother charges against them.

I had it was nobody there that says plumber. Amazingly among all the Christians in Rome, there was not one who would stand.

It is cited in court, either to speak on his behalf or to advise them in the conduct of his case or to support him by a demonstration of sympathy but notice once again, as with Alexander, he doesn't he doesn't respond by saying I'll get him back. The Lord will take care of that nowadays is my first offense and we can stand by me. They all deserted me. I noticed his response may not be charged against that is only grace that allows you to respond in that way. He had been deserted, but he wasn't disgruntled and some of us have been deserted and it just made his disgruntled some of us find ourselves alone and became an occasion of bitterness someone is actually this morning may have been limping our way through the last little period of our lives because of resentment in relationship to the fact that someone was not where they needed to be when I thought they needed to be there, especially in support of me in my circumstances, whatever they might be. Now you see you stand and you look at this or you said and you gaze at you say what an amazing thing. How amazing is the grace of God. What leads a man chained in a dungeon prior deserted by his friends to say father, don't charge the I wonder if in his mind's eye. He went to the scene at the end of our chapter 7 where around his feet.

The cloaks and garments of those who were stoning Stephen Wang in his ear. He can only hear the sound of stones in the soft body of Stephen and how as he views the scene as Stephen lifts his eyes to heaven, presumably Saul of Tarsus could not believe his ears as the man cried out, Lord. Do not hold this charge against them for Stephen was walking away of Jesus. They all deserted him and fled on the night of Gethsemane. That's what Mark tells us, and on the cross nailed there deserted by his friends, and opposed by the authorities. He prayed father forgive them because they don't know what they're doing and to say a word. Parenthetically, word to myself. A word to you to versus perhaps to anchor in our thinking as we view this example. And as we gauge our own lives against it. Hebrews 1215.

See to it that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble. See to it. In Paul's words in Ephesians 4. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander put away from you, with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you such a high standard. How could we ever do this apart from the grace of God. Only in the awareness of the fire that I have so much, for which I need to be forgiven that God in the immensity of his love heist is taken and credited me the righteousness of Jesus Christ. A credit that is entirely undeserved. Why would I then do anything other than grantor people as something of that same measure of forgiveness. You know, Paul says that the guard is entrusted us with a message of reconciliation that God was in Christ, not counting their sins against them because he was counting their sins against his son Jesus really hard to think about going out to proclaim the message of reconciliation to a war-torn world. If we can even be reconciled to one another within a family within her church within her community sees it is and is not is not.

It just doesn't work. That's why this is so compelling I was. I was opposed. The Lord will take care of it. I was deserted may not be held against. Thirdly, strengthened the absence of human support made the presence of Jesus. All the more precious the Lord stood by me and strengthened me wonderful pictures that you can read it in the acts of the apostles as well. He's not saying I experienced what I urge you to experience Timothy. He began chapter 2. You then my son I think it was you that my child be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus Timothy must've said okay. I definitely need the grace and the strength is in Christ Jesus. And now, as he is words to come and join him in this dungeon. He's not coming to meet some dispirited disgruntled old soldier, but he's coming to meet somebody who under the shadow of execution is praying forgiveness on those who have deserted him is entrusting those who have opposed them to the justice of God and who is longing for the companionship of this fellow and in the meantime he is experiencing. The enabling strengthening power of God, the Lord stood by and gave me strength you. You can read of this in the acts of the apostles as well ask chapter 2380 when he is taken out of a situation of chaos and put in the barracks and he's there by himself and once again in his extremity.

The word of the Lord came to him and spoke to them and strengthened him and helped him.

The Lord stood by him and spoke courage to him and you will notice that the reason for his presence with them is in order to fulfill his purpose. Through him, the Lord, and stand by him and strengthen him just so that he would feel okay. He did it in order that through him through me. He says the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it was the reason for Paul's existence was so that the Gentile world and kings and the children of Israel would hear the gospel. That is why God created him. That is why God had saved him and that was why God had brought them all the way through all of these circumstances and brought them from the experience of a dungeon in Jerusalem out to a dungeon in Rome so that he would be able to affirm the testimony of the psalmist.

My flesh in my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever is flashing his heart was feeling. He is under that the shadow of execution is walking through the valley of the shadow of death, says Calvin, it was no small confirmation of his ministry that when the whole world formed in madness against him, and all human assistance failed him.

Still, he remained unshaken. So from the outside. All hell is let loose against them. He turns around looking for companionship and Holly meets his silence.

But the Lord stood by, she this is the gospel.

This is what it means to be embraced by the gospel. This is what it means when all the other stuff begins to be paired away from us as it will one day be paired away from us as we face death.

All of the things we been able to do and accomplish and that the things that we have on our walls that say, while significant, we are all of those things that are not irrelevant but it will all be gone and what will be then be able to say I have one defense. The Lord, he stands by me and I made as he moved to the final word and briefly just make this point. Again, that the presence of the Lord with him is directly related to the purpose of the Lord for him so that it's not it's it's a henna closing Greek. It is the Lord stood by me and said to me in order that through me.

The message might be fully proclaimed. Why would babies arise.

Remember what Jesus said nice as well as I want you to grind all the while allowing you to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations, and behold I am with you always, to the very end of the age so the promise of the Lord's presence was directly related to the fulfillment of the Lord's purpose. Remember when Paul was converted. Ananias was told.

Listen Ananias, I know you're different about this project but you need to know that this guy Saul of Tarsus is a chosen instrument for me end by me to bear my name before the Gentiles and you see what is being described here is a magnificent scene is possible for as almost a miss it at my first offense.

Nobody was around.

But the Lord was around he helped me so that I could preach, so it doesn't say. And the Lord came and give me strength and so I made a big appeal for clemency in the login by give me strength. I say give me this prison.

Would you or is said that I can use again, you have a few people come and help me know. He says the reason the Lord stood by, we was in order that I might do what I was put on the earth to do in order that the gospel message might be fully proclaimed an amazing opportunity Rome, the center of it all. A representative city and a representative Empire full of all these people, the Gentiles of the world the kings and the authorities the Negroes and the people of power of execution and so on. And here they bring up this little converted Jew and what is he do in the flocculant in his final opportunities as well.

I thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak. Let me tell you, I want to tell you today I want to tell you that Jesus is the Messiah that Jesus is Lord and King. I want to tell you that forgiveness is found in him. I want you to know that he is raised from the dead, and that God is appointed a day of judgment that we will all face and his proof is in the resurrection of his son.

I met him I can tell you it's true and this Jesus is ascended and he is glorified and one day he will return to imagine as a people sat there and said You ever heard anything like this in your life in the shadow of death. This is what he darts the Lord stood by me and gave me strength so that through me. The message might be proclaimed in all the Gentiles might hear it. You see, the word would go out from there. The people went home at the end of that hearing. They said we had a hearing without Paul fellow. What did he say or you're not going to believe it and someone met someone and they said you know what he said and you know what he said before you know the message is spreading again and again and again because one man was prepared to do what God had called them to do strengthened by the presence of the God would call them opposed deserted, strengthened that we come full circle with rescued because I would back at the lion's mouth. I was rescued from the lion's mouth, whatever that meant for means is I say we know that whatever was in specific terms.

Paul, like Daniel in the den had been rescued. I wonder did he have that in mind I don't know what a scene that was incident legal back to Daniel. If it had a cane coming down, shouting in the morning and God shut the lion's mouth. God is able to shut the mouths of lions. God can do what he does and so he says I am confident that I will be rescued from every evil deed is on me that nothing bad will ever happen to me again that I'm not going to die, know that nothing that God has notes that nothing ago doesn't one for me will happen to me for can harm you.

When everything passes through the hand of a loving father and of the way the ends to him be the glory forever and ever.

Amen. Imagine them saying to himself to God be the glory, great things he has to so loved the world that he gave his son, who yielded his life an atonement for sin and open the life gate that I could go with praise the Lord to great summary is not Paul.

I think by his example encourages us to remember always the presence of God to find our rest always in the will of God, and to direct all of our endeavors to the glory of God.

We can find great comfort in knowing that God is always with us listening to Truth for Life weakened the message from Alistair Begg in her series titled guard the truth if you're looking for a study to do with your small group we want to recommend to you. One of Truth for Life's most popular series titled pathway to freedom. It's a study of the 10 Commandments comes on the USB. It includes 12 messages from Alastair that will challenge you to obey and follow God's law is also a corresponding study guide that contains key Scriptures commentary and questions for each of Alistair's messages.

The pathway to freedom USB and study guide can be used for personal reflection but let me suggest that it's ideal for group discussion, particularly for students and young adults who need to understand the relevance of God's law find both the study guide and the USB when you visit us online at Truth for while you're there, be sure to check out Alistair's book on the 10 Commandments.

By the same name pathway to freedom little challenge you to think long and hard about the significance of God's law, but this is the last weekend.

I'll mention this book on our program, so be sure to visit our website Truth for to learn more about Lapine. Thanks for listing. I hope you'll join us next weekend for the final message in her series called guard the truth as we consider three simple but enduring lessons from the apostle Paul's postscript in second Timothy Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life Learning is for Living

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