S16P13 – Personal lessons from Paul: faith solidified by relationship

2 Tim. 1:9b-12

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

There is a vast difference between knowing someone and simply knowing of someone. I know of celebrities and politicians, athletes and royalty. The details of their lives are readily available for all to read and see. But no matter how many of these details I compile about the well-known people of the world, I only know about them. I don’t actually know them. What’s more, they don’t know I even exist. I may have a factual knowledge of their existence, but we have no relationship. I only know facts or characteristics of the person. With relationship, however, we move from mere knowledge to true understanding of the individual.

When Paul suffered imprisonment for his faith, one thing sustained him. He says in this verse that the reason his imprisonment is no cause for shame is that he knows whom he has believed. This is a statement not of factually knowing of Jesus Christ but of personally knowing him. They have a relationship. And because Paul knows Christ, he is convinced that He will guard the precious thing Paul has entrusted to him. What Paul has entrusted to Jesus is what we all have entrusted to him from the moment of salvation. We have placed in Christ our faith and hope, and they have not been misplaced. Our hope is that Jesus will one day deliver us from this imperfect world and into the perfect existence He has promised, and that hope is secure. Our faith is that our sufferings for the sake of Christ will not be in vain, and that faith is secure. Paul is convinced of the truth of his faith and hope because he knows Jesus, and Jesus is faithful to complete what He has promised.

Paul’s faith in the faithfulness of Christ is not based on hearsay or rumor. Paul knows the character of Christ through relationship, and that is why he can say that there is no shame in his suffering. Trusting in the teachings of Jesus, he finds joy and pride in suffering for God’s kingdom. He knows that this time has been appointed for a divine purpose, and he trusts in this purpose. Father, strengthen our relationships with You so that we may have the confidence Paul had in faithfully trusting You with our hope and faith during times of suffering, knowing that You will complete all that You have promised for your good purposes.