Finishing Well

The Bible uses a number of different pictures to illustrate the Christian life. Sometimes it talks about the Christian life as a battle—a battle against all the forces that would try to hinder us on our way to heaven. Other times it likens the Christian life to a building: laying the foundation, and then going on and continuing to build the superstructure of our lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

Other times the Bible talks about the Christian life as a race. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews tells us to “run with patience the race that is set before us.” The word patience here indicates that the Christian race is not a 100 yard dash or a sprint, but rather a marathon. When we start out in the Christian race, we must make every effort to stay in the race.

Starting something is generally much easier than continuing in it. If you’ve ever started a diet you know how true that is. You start out with great enthusiasm. You have a goal to lose so many pounds in a certain length of time and the first 5 or 10 pounds just drop off pretty easily and there’s excitement and a sense of achievement. But then as the weeks go by and the newness wears off and the enthusiasm dies down, it becomes harder to stay the course. Your body metabolism gets into a routine with the new diet and it becomes more difficult to lose each pound. Eventually you give up and go back to your old eating habits. It’s much easier to start well than it is to finish well.

Continue reading

But I Know Whom I Have Believed!

“But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

These words are familiar to us as the words of the chorus of a popular hymn as well as a verse of Scripture: 2 Tim. 1:12. But what do you think of when you hear them? What’s the “that” that God is able to keep? It might not be what you think. Or put another way, what comes to your mind may not be what was in Paul’s mind when he wrote them. Let me explain.

As with any other verse in the Bible, in order to understand what’s being said we must investigate and understand the context. When writing this passage Paul was in prison on death row in Rome. He knew that his days were numbered. In this letter he is passing on the baton to Timothy. His heart is torn by the fact that many of the people he had led to Christ in Asia (Ephesus and surrounding areas) had turned against him. He’s encouraging Timothy that now more than ever he must hold on to the truths of the gospel handed to him by Paul.

Continue reading