An Unwavering Faith
“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
It was as a prisoner that the Apostle Paul penned these dramatic words intended to provide encouragement for his son in the faith, the young evangelist Timothy, as he went about doing the work Paul had assigned him.
The faith Paul proclaims in this verse easily divides itself into two parts: a firm belief in God and a decided action on the part of the apostle. Paul’s faith was so solid that he never wavered; and with that faith, he had the confidence he could face any challenge with which he was confronted.
And Paul’s faith was not passive: in fact, as scripture records his life as a Christian, it lays out for us a person who committed much to the Lord and His Cause—Paul laid up for himself an abundance of spiritual treasurers in his work as an apostle and an evangelist, thus leaving us a pattern for service to the Master.
A Spiritual Fortress
“Great peace have those who love your law, And nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165).
Context is everything when we are seeking to understand the true meaning of scripture, and this passage is no exception. Two critical points come out of this verse: finding peace with God and maintaining a relationship with Him.
The psalmist minces no words for either of these points. Simply put, we find “great” peace by loving God’s law. Of course, a love for God’s law, by the very nature of the statement, includes following the instruction found in it. So, peace with God comes when we obey His Word.
The wording about maintaining a relationship with God could cause some to have a false sense of security. It cannot mean we can do nothing to disrupt our relationship with God; otherwise, much of the teaching in the New Testament is foolish and unnecessary.
It can mean that, through loving God’s law and internalizing it within our hearts and minds, we can develop a strong faith. This strong faith, then, becomes a spiritual fortress against giving in to Satan’s wiles and doing things that will break our relationship with God.
Love For Others.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
The blazing mark of distinction for a true child of God is that he has a deep, abiding
love for other people. In scripture, the command to love is not conditional, based on
the actions or reactions of others: it is absolute, even for those who don’t care for us
or who treat us badly.
This love is not the kind that refers to passion nor is it the kind that refers to familial
relationships. Rather, it is the kind that reaches to that lofty level of deep concern
for the welfare of others: it encompasses the idea of “self-sacrifice, self-denial, and
self-devotion.” John speaks of this kind of love in this passage.
Love is not a condition for obeying the gospel, but it is a condition for attaining the
goal of every devoted Christian: heaven. John says only a truly converted Christian
can demonstrate the kind of love he is talking about, for it is the embodiment of all
that God is and for all that He did in giving Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
Looking at this verse alone fails to yield the desperation of the message the writer intends in view of the crisis that was facing Jews who had been converted to Christ. Persecution had pointed some toward the direction of returning to Judaism.
The writer emphasizes the need for a firm commitment to the Cause they had espoused: he says stay with your confession of Jesus as God’s Son, remember the hope of eternal life in heaven, and don’t leave the faith in spite of the persecution.
Such encouragement is appropriate at any time, but it seems especially appropriate during a time of crisis such as we are encountering now. Within the heart of every Christian, there needs to be a firm voice saying that regardless of what happens, we will keep the faith. After all, God will keep His promise of a home with Him if we remain faithful.
“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).
Written to Christians surrounded by the false teaching of the Gnostics, this passage gives a passionate presentation of the love relationship we are to have with God. He loves us because He is love, and we are to abide in Him if we truly love Him.
The Gnostics aggressively promoted the idea that true Christianity needed far more than the gospel Jesus offered if one wanted to find God. The gospel was okay, but it just wasn’t enough; thus, John writes this message to cultivate the idea that the Gnostics are wrong.
The gracious, sacrificial love of God, even for sinful mankind, underlies all that He has done for us, even though our finite minds cannot fully understand that kind of love.
The highest revelation and the most complete proof of that love is the offer of redemption. That offer stands today, as it has through the past two thousand years, just waiting for us to reciprocate in kind.
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