Share This Episode
Truth for Life Alistair Begg Logo

Mr. Temporary?

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
October 30, 2021 4:00 am

Mr. Temporary?

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1303 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

October 30, 2021 4:00 am

We can all learn from our mistakes—but it’s also helpful to learn from the mistakes of others. Hear about an example we shouldn’t imitate, on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
A New Beginning
Greg Laurie
Insight for Living
Chuck Swindoll
Clearview Today
Abidan Shah
Focus on the Family
Jim Daly
Grace To You
John MacArthur

All of us hopefully will learn from our own mistakes, but it's also helpful to learn from the mistakes of others, especially if that can keep you in mind. The significance of the conversation is on account of the fact that this particular individual had made a great protestation of his desire to reach the celestial city, that he had embarked on the pathway, leaving behind him all that had represented him before, and yet now he was nowhere to be found. He had disappeared entirely from the path. And in conversation with one another, Hopeful explains that amongst the various reasons for this having happened in this man's life—which, of course, is an allegory of the Christian life itself—among those reasons is this. He says he is like a number of people who, quote, though the consciousness of such men are awakened, yet their minds are not changed, and sooner or later they return to their old course. Where is Mr.

Temporary? Now, Demas, to whom we're introduced here in verse 10, as we're going to see, fits this bill almost to a T. And what we've come to are the personal instructions that Paul concludes his letter with. In verse 9, Paul makes a request. In verse 10, he explains the reason for his request.

It's as straightforward as that, and we will notice both in turn. First of all, then, the request contained in verse 9. A few words—"Do your best to come to me soon."

Not hard to understand and easy for us to interact with. For Paul to be in a cold and dark dungeon in Rome was obviously a lonely existence. And in that context, you will remember he had penned this letter to Timothy, his young friend. And at the beginning of the letter, you can see this in verse 4 of chapter 1, the compassion of Paul and his interest in Timothy comes across as he says, I remember your tears, and I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. Well, here we have just finished verse 8, where he describes the longing of his heart and the love of his heart for the crown of righteousness which the righteous judge is going to give him. So in other words, he has this longing for the appearing of the one who will bring the crown of righteousness, but that does not remove his interest in the arrival of Timothy. Now, there's a simple lesson in this that some of us need to learn, because every so often we seek to impress one another with our great transcendent longings, you know. Well, I'm only looking for this. I'm only longing for that, you know.

And it doesn't really matter if you come for vacation or if anything happens along those lines at all. Well, then I shall fight a longing for the appearing of Jesus ought to make far more precious the arrival of friends. You see, Paul's heart may be in heaven, but his feet are firmly on the ground.

We might say that his head is still in the game. He has declared that his mission has been accomplished, but he doesn't then go on and say, And because my mission is accomplished, all these other things are irrelevant. In fact, because his mission is accomplished, they seem to be even more relevant. Because all that we have in Christ transforms all that we have everywhere else. You see, so that the engagement with the transcendent reality of divinity does not take us up and out.

It brings us down and in, so that the scientist should be a better scientist because he is a Christian, the grasscutter a better grasscutter. Because he doesn't simply say, Isn't it amazing that grass grows? He says, Isn't it amazing, God, that you clothe the grass of the field, which is here today and is now cast off from here? So Paul says, I am longing for this crown that will come, but also, I need a cloak, because I'm freezing.

I need some books and parchments, because I'm bored. And I need you to get here, Timothy, because I'm lonely. I'm helped by that, and I hope you are too. And he uses one of his familiar phrases, Do your best. Do your best. Now, there's a lesson in this as well, and I want you to see what it is.

The way that Timothy's going to get to Rome is not as a result of some kind of mystical experience, not as a result of some kind of emotional journey, but as a result of being sensible, being practical, and making preparation for the journey that could last as long as two months to get there. I'm just making a plea for some down-to-earth practical Christianity. That's all. Do your best. You're going to have to think it out. You're going to have to be sensible. You're going to have to be practical. You're going to have to figure these things out.

It really is a shame when the Christian population talks as if, somehow or another, we're above and beyond this, because none of us are. Now, he wants him to come soon. In verse 21, he's hoping that he'll get there before winter.

Now, if you're thinking—which narrows the group down significantly—but if you are thinking, you will be saying to yourself, Well, wait a minute. He spent all this time explaining why it's so important for him to be in Ephesus. And now he doesn't want him to be in Ephesus. Now he wants him to come to Rome. You mean you don't think God can look after Ephesus in the absence of the pastor?

Do you think he's that crucial? Do you think the problems will dissipate while he's gone or we'll be waiting for him when he gets back? Now, he understands perfectly, doesn't he? You come and get here as quickly as you can, because it's important to me.

And then, with a conjunction, which begins verse 10, he gives us the reason for his request. Demas has fallen in love with the present world. He's deserted me, and he's gone to Thessalonica. Now, here's where Mr.

Temporary comes in. Where is Demas? Well, he's gone. Well, wasn't he part of things? Wasn't he around in Colossians 4, in Philemon 24, in Paul's first imprisonment when he was under house arrest in Rome? Well, yes, he was. We can read of it there.

But sadly, that's no longer the case. And so Paul gives us the bottom line. And the bottom line is that Demas has left him in the lurch.

And consequently, the prospect of the company of Timothy will go a long way to offsetting the sadness that he feels. Demas has broken my heart, he says. This is not judgment on the part of Paul. Paul, if you like, is Demas's colleague, but he is also his pastor. He's the one who has mentored him, he's the one who's influenced him, he's the one who has benefited from his company, and so now he says, look, Demas has fallen in love with his present world. In other words, he has reoriented his affections, and this has got him off track.

This is what happened to him. Now, he's not saying here that Demas has loved the cosmos in all of its creative beauty. He's using this terminology in the way that you find it used, for example, in James 4 or in 1 John 2. In other words, the ordering of the present age, the view of a world that has disrupted its interest in God.

Romans 1, if you like, that although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their foolish hearts became darkened, and they began to worship the created things rather than the Creator himself, and the whole thing was flipped. It was out of that world that Demas had come. But now apparently he has actually fallen back in love with all those kind of notions. He's in love with it. Now, we're not told specifically what this meant for him. What did it mean for him to be in love with the present world? How did it express itself? Well, one of the ways it expressed itself was that he was no longer keeping company with Paul. Now, don't be naïve about this, loved ones. This is here in the Bible as a warning. Paul, the writer of the letter, said of himself that he was concerned about himself, lest having preached to others, he might become a castaway. So it is naivety on our part to think that somehow or another we will not become temporary, that our assurance of the promises of God remove us from the realm where there is even a possibility.

They don't. Because the preservation of God is directly tied to the perseverance of you. He preserves as we persevere. And it is that reality which needs to be framed and burned into our psyche so as, when we are tempted to step off the pathway, for whatever reason, to love things that we have decided they're no longer worth loving, when the attraction and pull of that is so strong, we're just saying, well, it wouldn't matter once, or it doesn't really matter, or it's only a small lie, or it doesn't… And every sin is an inside job. Every sin is an inside job. You can't play the Tom Sawyer card, The Devil Made Me Do It, and Paulie.

No, the devil cannot make you do it. But the devil does come and insinuate, eh, why are you still hanging around with those people after all this time? Why do you still do these things? Why do you still care?

Does it really matter? Look at what I've got for you over here, if you'll just draw back from some of that stuff. So the appeal is to the sinful propensities which are still within us, even in Christ. Sin no longer reigns, but it remains. And so the evil one comes, seeking to bring to us all these sights and sounds and attractions and possibilities and say, you really don't need to keep going the way you've been going. You don't need to be as strong as you once were, and so on.

And that's why the real test is finishing. Demas is in love with his present world, and he has deserted me. He's deserted me. He's forsaken me.

The word is the same word you find in Psalm 22. And the forsaking was—the geographical aspect of it was secondary to the fact that Demas had forsaken the very convictions that underlay his companionship with Paul. Paul was focused on the then, and it changed his view of the now. Demas now has begun to focus on the now, and it has altered his view of the then.

Now, when you look on, you see that there are other placements and replacements to come, but this was a different matter. Apparently, the affection and the loyalty that Paul had once enjoyed from Demas and perhaps with Demas has now evaporated. In love with his present world, he's deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Well, why has he gone to Thessalonica?

I don't know. And neither do you, because it doesn't tell us. But he's gone, physically gone, and his physical departure is representative of the fact that he's fallen in love with the present world. And here is what we know. Demas, in love with the present world, has deserted me, and he's gone to Thessalonica.

Here is what we do not know. We do not know whether his desertion was a temporary lapse or a total collapse. Was it the result of a small compromise here and there? A diminished interest in the crown that is kept?

A reluctance to face the inevitable cost? Was Demas merely backslidden, or was he apostate? You see, Demas is here in Scripture as a warning, isn't he? The very fact that we don't know the final answer to that question is purposeful, presumably, because it causes the reader of the Bible to say, Now, wait a minute.

If someone like Demas can become Mr. Temporary, if he fades from the biblical record without our ability to know whether he has actually faded from the pathway of faith in its entirety, we better learn from this. We better think about it. And that's what we're supposed to do. When people who were once here turn their backs on the gospel that they have professed, as they do, it is actually virtually impossible to tell whether they are backslidden and will recover, or whether they are apostate and will be lost forever.

Because, you see, there comes a time when, from a human perspective, those two realities are indistinguishable. It should be no surprise to you that we as elders pray routinely for this congregation. And in our prayers for the congregation, there is a significant section that contains the names of those who once walked with us and who no longer do. Our concern is not whether they are part of Parkside Church, per se, but whether they are walking with the Lord Jesus Christ, whom they professed at one point to love and to serve. But for now, there is no indication at all that what they began, they are continuing and will complete.

We don't know. So we pray. Paul himself has already said to Timothy, listen, in a big house there are vessels of gold and precious vessels, and then there are other vessels. He says, we want you to make sure that you are the precious vessels. And then he says, the Lord knows them that are his. Let those who name the name of the Lord depart from iniquity. From iniquity. So God knows.

We don't. But we do know that those who belong to the Lord, who are his, depart from iniquity. So when I no longer depart from iniquity, when I no longer take seriously the framework of the law of God, which is there not to impoverish my life but to keep me married, to keep me safe, to keep me wholesome, to keep me in line—the stop sign is there to keep me, not to prevent me—when I begin to say, But it doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter what speed you go. It doesn't matter where you drive. The pavement is the pavement.

The road is the road. It's just a suggestion. You can do whatever you want. As soon as I begin to do that, then I'm in great grave danger.

And that is the warning that is here. I say to you again, the preservation of God does not take place outside of the perseverance of the sense. Let me come back to Mr. Temporary as we finish. In the conversation between Christian and Hopeful, Christian says, How does a person get like Mr.

Temporary? Hopeful says, I can tell you. And then he tells him. Number one, they cease to think seriously about God, about death, and about the coming judgment. Number two, they cast off, as he says, by degrees—not wholesaley, but slowly—they cast off their private duties, private duties such as prayer, the reading of Scripture, the curbing of lusts, sorrow for sin, and so on. Then, thirdly, they shun the company of lively and warm Christians. I don't want to be around those crazy people anymore.

I used to enjoy it, but I don't enjoy them. And then, after that, they grow cold to public duty. In other words, they say, Yeah, I get to church whenever I need to.

I could do the things and so on. Fifthly, then they begin to pick holes in Christians, and they begin to pick holes in the Bible. Then they begin to adhere to and associate themselves with carnal, loose, and wanton men.

There's it from another century. Carnal, loose, and wanton men. Then they give way to carnal and wanton discourses in secret, and they're glad if they can encourage others to do the same. Then they begin to play with little sins openly, and then, being hardened, they show themselves as they are.

Thus, being launched again into the gulf of misery, unless a miracle of grace prevent it, they everlastingly perish in their own deceivings. We could have approached this in a different way. We could have tracked this along the line of who loves what and when. Because you have the love of the appearing of Jesus set in distinct contrast to Demas, who's in love with the present world. He's already, in chapter 3, talked about those who love themselves rather than loving God. And so the real question at this level is, Who or what do I love?

Do I love? We're not talking just emotion here, but we're not talking absent emotion either. You see, when a person falls in love, it's a really unhinging experience, because it dismantles certain things and begins to construct other things.

Little things, simple things, but they're evidences. Now, what's happened in reverse? The same thing happens in reverse. You start to love the world, you stop loving this. You start to love sin, you don't love righteousness. You start to love hanging with bad people, you don't want to hang with good people. What do you love? Demas presumably had started out on the journey with Nat King Cole. If I fall in love, it will be forever, or I'll never fall in love.

If I give my heart, it will be completely, or I'll never give my heart. That's the great profession, and where is he today? Where are these people? It's very salutary, isn't it? Let me finish with this.

At the end of this letter, you have Pudens and Linus and Claudia. And every time I read this, I think Charlie Brown. I have to be honest, I did again this morning.

It's not a very spiritual thought, but it is dead honest. And as I was reading it again this week, I said, well, look, I've just got to go with a Charlie Brown motif, at least for once. And the one Charlie Brown, the one Schulz thing that I remember more than any other is a picture of either Charlie Brown or Linus—I can't remember which of the two—but they have their PJs on, they're ready for bed, and they're taking a drink from a water fountain. And having pressed the button, the water completely misses the character's mouth and just soaks his pajamas. And then the caption says, I don't mind how the day begins. It's how it ends up that bothers me. So, Demas, Demas, I know how you began, but really, it's how it's going to end up that ought to bother you, and it ought to bother us too. As we go on, we will see that the warning in Demas is more than matched by the encouragement that is present in John Mark. And we'll get to notice that there is restoration for the deserter, there is forgiveness for the backslider, and there is hope for the hopeless. But don't run too quick to the encouragement.

Face straight on the warning. That is Alistair Begg urging us to heed the warning of Scripture so we can finish well. You're listening to Truth for Life Weekend.

Our message today is titled, Mr. Temporary, and it serves as an alarming reminder that not all who start strong in the Gospel persevere to the end. And sadly, it's not only church members who walk away from the faith. All too often, it's the case for those in positions of Christian leadership as well. This is one of the reasons why we think your pastor or youth leader or anyone involved in Christian ministry will be encouraged by Rico Tice's new book, which is titled Faithful Leaders and the Things That Matter Most. Rico turns to Scripture in the book to show us what it takes to live a life and to lead a ministry in a way that's pleasing to God. This is the last weekend we're mentioning the book, so be sure to visit our website to learn more. I'm Bob Lapine. Few of us would pick the word vulnerable to describe the Apostle Paul, and yet his final letter reveals his deep need for others. We'll see why friendship matters as we listen next weekend. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-29 18:52:10 / 2023-07-29 19:00:48 / 9

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime