By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
2 Timothy 1:14
During my senior year of high school, I worked as a “utility clerk” at a local grocery store. (“Utility Clerk” is just a fancy name for “bagger.”)
The empty glass pop bottles were brought into the store because there was a 10¢ “deposit” on each bottle.
You have to be of a certain age and generation to know what and why this was. It was the 1980’s and when you bought an 8-pack of cola, root beer, etc., you were charge an extra 80¢ but you would get that money back when you brought the empties back (intact, of course).
That extra 10¢ was the deposit. You gave the store that money to use. But then they returned it to you when you requested it back (by bringing back the empty bottles).
The “good deposit” in today’s Scripture text is the Gospel. But not just the Gospel as in “the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension” of Jesus for our salvation. It is the Gospel in a wider sense, meaning what we believe, teach, and confess to the entire world.
What Paul is encouraging Timothy to do is to continue the work of the Gospel with which he has been entrusted.
Paul has been entrusted with the same deposit. But as he writes these letters to Timothy, he is apparently closer to physical death and the time when the deposit will be returned to God.
Which brings us to an interesting point about the Gospel in this wider sense.
God has deposited the Gospel in us. Out of his fatherly divine goodness and mercy he has saved us from all our sins, from death, and from the power of the devil through the sacrifice of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus deposited this Gospel in us in order to “go and make disciples of all nations” (see Matthew 28:19-20).
Here’s where it might get a little uncomfortable.
God saves us by grace alone through faith alone. There is nothing we do or don’t do in order to merit this salvation.
But that doesn’t mean that we don’t do something.
It isn’t enough to just think we are saved by grace alone through faith alone and we don’t have to do anything at all – even go to worship, read the Bible, participate in Bible studies with other Christians, have daily devotions, or even pray regularly (that is, without ceasing – see 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
It is very “fashionable” today to berate going to church, being a part of a congregation, and the like, as “religious” and, therefore, not what Jesus came to give us. This is nothing but a heinous heresy that will doom many to hell unless corrected!
When Paul tells Timothy – and us – to “guard the good deposit” he is telling him – and us – to use the Gospel as it was intended to be used.
He is telling us to proclaim it through our words, our actions, and our very lives.
He is telling us to live the Gospel 24/7/365.
Sound hard? It is actually impossible. Which is why Paul prefaces his words with “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us….”
Because the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we can “guard the good deposit” and do the work that God has entrusted us with.
But we need to actually do the work! Not in order to be saved, but because we are saved!
Almighty God, you have called your people to guard the good deposit of the Gospel, which is that we are reconciled to yourself through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Grant that by your Holy Spirit we may proclaim the good news of your salvation so that all who hear it may receive the gift of salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
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