“… and have firmly believed”

Today we completed reading Paul’s letters to Timothy whom he calls “my true child in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2). Paul writes in a most passionate way. It is a very intimate letter revealing the bond of service to Christ that had grown up between them. He tells him, “You however [in contrast to some others] have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions …” (3:10,11).

He then makes the point – which has been true in various degrees in all ages – but is not true in countries such as ours, well not in recent decades. Paul states, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (verse 12). but what he then adds is true today – everywhere! “… evil people … will go from bad to worse” (verse 13).

The words that come next jump out as a message especially for us. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed”. There must be no doubt in our minds about the foundations of our faith. It must be based, as Timothy’s was, on our being thoroughly “acquainted with the sacred writings [the Old Testament] which are able you make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (verse 15). Of course the New Testament was in the process of being written – and that now adds an extra plank to the foundation of our faith. Peter acknowledges the wisdom God gave to Paul in his writings (2 Peter 3:15)

We are not saved through knowledge, but through the wisdom and belief that our knowing the word of God imparts. The scripture, says Paul, has been “breathed out [i.e., inspired] by God”. It is “profitable” in many ways, “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (verse 16).

The result of doing this is so that the man and woman “of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (verse 17). Are you becoming so equipped? If you “have firmly believed” you will realise that knowing God and his word, is not just to acquire head knowledge, but to become competent in using it every day, in at least some small way, in a “good work” or word – of some kind.

We are “known” by our works, just as much as by our words – together they become a witness to others of the reality of our faith.