A Verbal Microcosm (7)
…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
Faith in action
As we’ve seen from Paul’s testimony, believing in Jesus is not a passive matter. There’s an awful lot of action that goes into believing Christ and knowing His salvation.
Like Paul, one who would be saved must submit to what God reveals about Jesus in His Word (cf. Eph. 3.1-3). That means time in the Word, hearing the Good News of Jesus, thinking it through, and acting on it in faith, believing in Jesus and expressing that belief with words of repentance and submission to God (cf. Acts 2.38; Rom. 10.9).
Those to whom God reveals Jesus, so that they believe in Him, are just beginning to work out the salvation they have graciously received (Phil. 2.12). Working out our salvation – not for it – entails more action on our part, indeed, the kind of action which demonstrates “holding fast” in faith and love to Jesus (2 Tim. 1.13). Thus, believing in Jesus entails committing to Him all that we are and have. We are not our own; we have been bought with a price, and everything we have is now offered to God for His Kingdom and glory (1 Cor. 6.19, 20; 1 Cor. 10.31; 1 Thess. 2.12). Such committing of ourselves to Jesus, Who saved us, is a daily and ongoing activity, and those who have truly come to believe in Him take it up gladly.
Such commitment draws us closer to Jesus, and makes room for Him to grow and stretch out within us, so we come to know Him better and more intimately and truly. Increasing the knowledge of Jesus deepens faith and commitment, so that we become more firmly persuaded of our salvation and all the promises and obligations it entails (cf. Eph. 2.8-10). The more we are persuaded of Jesus and our salvation, the more His Spirit brings forth fruit, gifts, and power for witness in us (Gal. 5.22, 23; 1 Cor. 12.7-11; Acts 1.8). As our faith becomes more public, the life of Christ within us overflows to touch others with His grace (Jn. 7.37-39). But this is not always a welcome touch, so we need to be prepared to suffer unashamed and to rejoice in our sufferings, be they ever so slight or severe.
Paul assumes that those who read him will follow his example in the life of faith (1 Cor. 11.1). They will understand that the revelation of Jesus that leads us to believe in Him will continue to work in us that we may lay aside our old life and learn Jesus and His ways for everything we do (Eph. 4.17-24). Saving faith leads to the works of salvation. Works do not save us; grace alone can do that. But the grace that brings salvation leads to good works in those who truly believe, good works that issue from believing in Jesus unto greater commitment to Him, increased knowledge of Him, more resolute persuasion about Him, and a life of following Him even through such sufferings as may come.
On guard for your salvation
The verbs Paul used to describe his experience of Christ and salvation are active verbs; they imply that all to whom God has revealed Jesus for salvation will devote themselves in particular ways to gaining more of that salvation, more of the prize of Jesus, as they apply themselves to seeking and serving Him day by day. Elsewhere Paul likened his faith to fighting a fight, running a race, managing a farm, building a temple, and being poured out like water as a sacrifice to the Lord.
Should we expect our experience of Christ and His salvation to be anything less than this?
But how can we keep this up? It sounds so constant, so unremitting and all-engrossing, and therefore so exhausting. How can we keep at believing, committing, knowing, being persuaded, and suffering, day-in and day-out.
Well, we don’t have to worry about how that happens. Because Jesus will keep our commitment, keep it safe and strong and vibrant and growing until He comes again to take us to Himself. The One Whose action begins our salvation – God reveals Jesus – is the One Whose action keeps our salvation until He brings us at last unto Himself in glory.
The Greek word here is a guard. Jesus guards our salvation; and that’s a bit stronger than merely keeping it. All kinds of forces and powers want to deprive us of the joy of our great salvation – even, if it were possible, to cause us to abandon our salvation and seek happiness and fulfillment elsewhere.
But for those who have truly believed and committed themselves to Jesus, who are growing in the knowledge of Christ and of full persuasion concerning Him, Jesus guards their commitment, so that, like a deposit in a bank, it bears interest continuously for Christ, His glory, and His Kingdom.
Keep at it
Paul ended this section of his second letter to Timothy with these words: “That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us” (2 Tim. 1.14). Jesus keeps and guards what we have deposited with Him. Our duty is to keep and guard “that good thing” which Jesus has committed to us. That “good thing” is the gift of eternal life and the calling to God’s Kingdom and glory that gift entails (Jn. 17.3; 1 Thess. 2.12). We are to guard the treasure of the Gospel and the calling to God’s Kingdom and glory so that it bears interest and fruit in our lives day by day.
But we must rely on the Holy Spirit for this – to lead us into all truth, remind us of all that Jesus has taught us, convict us of sin and righteousness and judgment, transform us into the likeness of Jesus, empower us for Kingdom-living witness, and keep us focused on the unseen things of Christ. Paul calls us to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5.18-21), to walk in the Spirit in all we do (Gal. 5.16-23), to avoid quenching the Spirit’s power through unbelief and disobedience (1 Thess. 5.19), and to take up the actions incumbent upon us each day to work with the Spirit in working out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2.12, 13).
Jesus keeps what we have committed to Him. Our duty is to keep what He has committed to us. If we will, His salvation will blossom and flourish in and through us, and we will realize more of His Presence, promise, and power in us at all times, in everything we do.
For reflection or discussion
1. Review the verbs considered in this series which Paul used to describe his experience of salvation. Which of these needs firming-up in your walk with and work for the Lord?
2. Why does salvation necessarily lead to action, and not just to passivity?
3. Meditate on Hebrews 10.24. How can you encourage your fellow believers to take up the actions that are essential to growing in salvation?
Next steps – Preparation: Pray through all the verbs we considered in this brief study. Recommit yourself to the Lord with each one of these.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.