Where Faith is Focused
Will your theology bring you confidence when you are in prison? What kind of peace will your testimony give to you when you are in trouble? Are your answers able to fill you with joy, as you endure a long and difficult trial? We will see the answers more clearly if we think about what Paul doesn’t say. He doesn’t say…
“I know what I have believed…”
That is the language of systematic theology. It is important to know what you believe. We set out what we believe in a statement of faith—what we believe about God, and Christ and salvation and justification by faith and the return of Christ.
Paul knew all about these things. He wrote the book of Romans! But when he finds himself in a black hole, you don’t find him saying “I know my doctrine.” You find him saying “I know Jesus Christ.” It’s not what I believe. It’s whom I believe.
“I know when I believed…”
That is the language of personal testimony. Every Christian has a story of how you came to faith in Christ. You may not know an exact time and place, but every Christian has a personal story of how the Lord has drawn you to faith in Himself.
The Apostle Paul has an impressive story. He could have said “I am not ashamed, because thirty years ago Christ appeared to me on the Damascus road. That was when I knelt by the roadside and received Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior.”
He could have said that, but he didn’t. If you are to stand in this uncertain and changing world, you will need more than your personal testimony. You can’t face a faith crisis today on the basis of a faith journey yesterday. You can’t face today’s problems with yesterday’s experience. Paul isn’t living in the past. It’s not “I know when I believed.” It’s “I know whom I have believed.”
“I know why I have believed…”
That’s the language of evidential apologetics. Throughout history, Christian thinkers have set out the evidence for the Christian faith, showing why it is a reasonable and rational thing to believe. It is a good thing to know why you believe. Christian faith is not a blind leap in the dark. There are good reasons for believing that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus is the Son of God.
Paul had one of the greatest intellects in history. Trained in the school of Gamaliel, he could debate with Greek philosophers and with the Jewish rabbis. It’s a good thing to have answers. But when Paul finds himself in a black hole, he doesn’t find strength in rational arguments about faith. Notice what He does say:
“I know whom I have believed…” (v12)
That’s the language of biblical faith. Christian faith is focused on a person—the blessed person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is uniquely Christian. Other religions can offer you a way of life, an ethic, or a set of spiritual disciplines. Christianity offers a person, and His name is Jesus.
No matter what you face in life, this person will be with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. He is able to guide you through life. He will walk with you through death. He will bring you into eternity in the presence of Almighty God. He is supremely competent. You can trust Him completely.
This week's Scripture: I know whom I have believed. 2 Timothy 2:12 (NIV)
This LifeKey is based on the message “Supreme Competence,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith on June 11, 2006, from the series “One Thing I Know.” Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.
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