November 5, 2023 Brought Safely to the Kingdom


Brought Safely to the Kingdom

November 5, 2023

16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. [1]


The apostle Paul writes this letter to Timothy while he is in prison for the last time. It is about 67 or 68 AD and, soon after this letter is sent out, he will be beheaded for his faith.


He had more than one trial. He says in verse 16 that at his first trial (“first defense”) no one came to stand next to him. This phrase, “stand by me,” signifies the advocates that one was permitted to have at a trial to speak on one’s behalf. This was a firmly established and honored tradition in Roman law. So much so, that even emperors would appear at the trials of their friends and speak on their behalf!


Here is on of the greatest men of faith of all time, the apostle Paul,


  • who brought so many countless people to saving faith,
  • who established churches,
  • who worked at tent-making so as not to be a burden to any church,
  • who poured out his life, nearly dying on behalf of the gospel,
  • who had many partners in the sharing of the gospel,


Yet, no one came to his assistance. No one came to support him!


Have you ever been left alone? When you needed help did you ever find that there was no one to help you? I’ve had this experience before. It is so demoralizing and disheartening! Even though such a condition can leave one in despondency, we are in good company!


Consider Paul’s attitude towards his many friends, not one of whom came to help him. What would your feelings be like towards those whom you had hoped would come to your help but who abandoned you? I think you would be exceptionally aware of negative feelings towards them! You may even be tempted to end a friendship.


But the apostle Paul writes, “May it not be charged against them!” What a heart he had! “Lord, give us a heart like that of the apostle! May we never hold on to the failings of our friends, our fiancée’s, our husbands, our wives, our children. Give us a heart of forgiveness and love! Amen.”


This experience was not unique to Paul. The Lord Jesus was also abandoned at his trial, and he also forgave his own disciples who had abandoned him. Oh! Jesus and Paul are our examples! When you have been left alone, even by the person closest to you we ought to have the same disposition as Paul: “May it not be charged against them.” Charge is another word for blame. Paul is saying that they should not be blamed. Blamed by whom? He certainly has God in mind. Paul is praying that God does not blame them for deserting Paul.


Paul was so much for his closest friends. He cared for them.  But this attitude of not blaming is certainly a revelation of Paul’s heart, too! He didn’t blame his friends! If only we could be more like Paul! This is indeed God’s will!


Yes, it is a forlorn condition to be left alone in a time of great need. Although no one else stood by Paul, the Lord stood by him and strengthened him! This truth extends to every follower of Christ. We are not as faithful as Paul was, but the Lord loves us not because of our faithfulness, but he loves us in spite of our lack of faithfulness!

22    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

23    they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

24    “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.” [2]


  • His love never ceases, even when the person you counted on has ceased.
  • His love never ceases even when you have fallen into sin
  • His mercies never come to an end, even if you come to the end of your strivings and hopes. His mercy is there!
  • His mercy is new to you in the morning.
  • But not just this morning…every morning!
  • God’s faithfulness to you is great! Do you see it? It is not just good, not just available. It is great!!
  • The Lord was Jeremiah’s portion. He was Paul’s portion.
  • And, he is your portion!


So what do we do? “Therefore, I hope in him.” You hope in God. Indeed, he is our only hope!


Returning to our passage in 2 Timothy, the Lord strengthened him for a purpose. What is his purpose?


See verse 17:


17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.[3]


The Lord’s presence in Paul’s situation and the strength which he imparted to Paul was not just to make him feel good. It was so that the message of Christ would continue to be proclaimed.


You all have been taught this before, many times, but it is too important not to revisit once more, especially in the context of Paul’s statement.


Certain ones have the gift of evangelism. They do well in speaking to others and in explaining the simplicity of the gospel. They feel compelled to do so because it is their gift. Even though some have this special gift, the accountability for telling others about Christ is the possession of every Christian.


We have seen previously that the Great Commission in Matthew 28 was not just for the original twelve disciples nor just for people with that gift, but the Great Commission is for you! It is a command to you!


When you are going through a difficult time and the Lord brings you through it, there is a purpose for you. He doesn’t bring you through just to give you relief. Of course, the Lord does want you to have relief (Psalm 34:18), but that is not the sole reason he delivers you. He delivers you, among other things,[4] so that you will speak the message!


Maybe you are in a trial right now. Keep praying. The Lord will deliver you. Once he delivers you, fulfill your purpose and speak to others. Maybe he drew you out of troubled waters a year ago, three years ago, however long ago….what have you been doing? “Well, Pastor, I still thank the Lord for that deliverance. He sustained me and lifted me.” Good! I still thank the Lord for the times he delivered me, too! But, let us show our appreciation by opening our mouths!


You are grateful that the Lord rescued you from some ineffable situation. You can just tell people about it! That would be an unveiling of God working in your life. After that, you can tell someone that God allows us to experience appalling situations because he is trying to open our eyes to our own sinfulness. There is a door for the gospel! In other words, your own deliverance is an ideally suited experience to talk to other about.


When Paul writes that he was rescued from the lion’s mouth, he means that literally. Under Nero, the extremely wicked Roman Emperor during Paul’s imprisonment, Christians were thrown to the lions in the Roman Coliseum for entertainment! Now I think that would be a horrible way to die. When you watch those nature videos of lions taking down their prey, the animal doesn’t die immediately. In fact the lions start eating it while it is still alive.


So, Paul was rescued from that agony. He would be beheaded. At least in Roman times, it was swift. You died instantly. (Unlike Muslim beheadings wherein they purposely make it slow and painful, displaying their extremely wicked heart, showing themselves to be more wicked than pagans.)


 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. [5]


What does Paul mean by being rescued from every evil deed? What he does not mean is that he would have a supernatural shield that would prevent any harm coming to him. We know he did not mean that because in verse 6 of this same chapter he expected to be executed soon and he would be.


What he meant was that he would be rescued from every evil deed that sought to separate him from the love and care of Christ, which might ultimately cause him to miss the heavenly kingdom. This promise is true for us, too!


If you have been paying attention to my preaching and the preaching of Pastor Faust, some may be thinking, “Wait, I thought a Christian could miss the millennial kingdom if they are not overcoming the world, the flesh, and the devil.” This is true. If you are not sure about it, just read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters five through seven) and the letters to the seven churches in Revelation (chapters two and three).


If this is so, why is Paul certain that he will be in it? It is because he has been serving the Lord! He is proclaiming (verse 17)! If we are serving the Lord and practicing the two directions that he gave to Timothy in his first epistle (holding faith and a clear conscience) then we too can have confidence that we will enter and participate in the coming kingdom. (See the sermon, Two Essential Directions for Every Christian.[6])


Paul was serving the Lord. This is why he had confidence.


Our passage ends with: To God “be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” It is a prayer. Paul’s heart was for God’s glory! Oh! That every disciple would have such a heart! We would heave fewer problems. We would have more joy. We would understand our purpose, if only God’s glory was on our hearts as it was for Paul!


Indeed, this is the purpose of life itself! To glorify God because He is the most wonderful and perfect Person in the universe. Thus, he is so worthy of glory!


Allow me to close with the same words that Paul closed this letter:


22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.[7]


The Lord be with your spirit! You have a human spirit! If you were born again then the Spirit of the Lord Jesus came to dwell there, in your spirit. But there is a measure, a gradation, a positive intensity of this presence.


Think of it this way: You own a property. On this property is a house. Your father lives in the house with you. Maybe he spends all his time in his bedroom and you hardly see him. Or, maybe he has free reign of the house and you have sweet fellowship with him in the living room, in the kitchen, everywhere in your house. The fellowship is sweet because you love your dad and he loves you.


The house represents your human spirit. Is the Lord tucked away in a bedroom or closet? Or, does he have free reign in you? I think this is what Paul means by desiring that the Lord be with the spirit of his readers. He wants them to experience the sweetness of the Lord’s presence.


What have we learned today?


We learned four things:


  • We must not hold anything against those who have abandoned us, neglected us, or failed to support us. What ought we to do? We simply forgive them and continue loving them, even if we feel they do not love us adequately in return. This was the apostle’s disposition. It must be ours.
  • We remember that the Lord Himself will stand by us and strengthen us. What ought we to do? We remember this truth by reading and praying those verses that promise this. Some would be our passage this morning: 2 Timothy 4:17. And, Lamentations 3:22-24. Pray them!
  • We proclaim the truths of God to others. We open our mouths! How can we overcome our closed mouths? We confess and repent of our failure to speak on the Lord’s behalf. Then, we resolve to speak to someone today! And, tomorrow.
  • We glorify God in all that we do. How? When faced with decisions (we make many each day), we can ask ourselves what course of action will bring more glory to God. It’s easy to know. Then, we walk down the path that will do that.


Can we really do these four things? Yes! If we turn to our spirit, where the Lord is, then these things will not be difficult. They will even be enjoyable! Our lives will be transformed when we do these simple things!


Not only transformed, but we will be brought safely into the kingdom that is coming! Don’t miss the kingdom!


May the Lord be with your spirit this very day!




[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Ti 4:16–18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (La 3:22–24). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Ti 4:17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] One of which is to transform you, so you will be a changed person after your trial.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Ti 4:17–18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Ti 4:22). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.