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Confidence of knowing Christ (2 Timothy 1:12)

by Julia Bruce
CEO, Author, and Conference Speaker

If you are familiar with the old hymns in Baptist Churches, you probably sang 2 Timothy 1:12 more often than reading it. I couldn’t help but sing it as I typed it, but maybe that’s because of all the years I played piano in church. Sometimes we sing these older songs that we have grown up with so often that the meaning of the words get lost. In other words, we sing them without taking the time to contemplate what we are singing. Yet those old songs, grounded in the truths of the Bible, hold so much of God’s promises to us.

Waiting for execution, Paul still has confidence of knowing Christ

The small book of 2 Timothy in the New Testament, is Paul’s second letter to his “son in the faith,” Timothy, giving him the encouragement that he could live with the confidence of knowing Christ. It was most likely written while Paul was in prison waiting for his execution. When you take that into consideration, the words Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:12, have an even deeper meaning. In this verse, Paul gives Timothy two reasons that he is not ashamed for the sufferings he has endured, even his pending death.

Confidence in knowing whom I have believed

Paul says, “I know whom I have believed.” This isn’t like the weatherman on TV knowing what tomorrow’s weather is going to be like. He can take all the meteorological data available to him and make an educated guess, but he can not tell us with certainty what the weather will be like tomorrow. God is in control of the weather and one little adjustment of wind can change the weather’s entire prediction.

For Paul, when he said, “I know” he has 100% – all in – certainty of who he has placed his faith and trust in. He knows who he has believed in – Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

Confidence without doubts

There isn’t any doubt in Paul’s mind about his faith or who Jesus is. From the moment he met Jesus on the Damascus Road, Paul was 100% sold out to advancing the gospel of Christ. He endured beatings, chains, loneliness, persecutions, and prison because of his faith in Christ. He also had a pretty good idea that he would not leave this prison alive. Yet in Philippians 3:8-10, Paul wrote to the church at Philippi:

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

Risking it all for the Gospel is worth it

To Paul, everything he endured for the sake of the gospel was worth knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection. Because of his certainty of whom he had believed, Paul was not afraid to die. I imagine like most of us, it wasn’t that he wished to die, but he also wasn’t afraid. He knew his eternity would be with the one in whom he had believed.

Confidence in knowing Christ is able to keep and protect our souls

The second thing Paul said to Timothy was that he believed Christ was able to keep what Paul had committed to him against that day. Paul had confidence that God would both protect the gospel once Paul had died and that God would protect his soul.

Paul knew that the sovereign, omnipotent God would, in all His power, keep his soul safe and he was at peace with himself and God as he awaited the moment his life on earth would end.

To the church at Corinth, Paul wrote:

“For we know that if our temporary, earthly dwelling is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands…So, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight, and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord. ” (2 Corinthians 5:1, 6-8)

Paul knew the very second that his soul stepped out of the earthly confines of his human body he would be in heaven with Jesus.

Confidence in Christ’s return

So Paul is confident in whom he believes in and he knew that his eternal soul was in the safe keeping of the one in whom he believed. But what is the day that Paul is talking about when he says, “against that day?” Paul is referring to the “day of the Lord.” This is a day in future history that has not yet occurred. It is the day that Christ returns to earth “like a thief in the night” (Zephaniah 1:14-15, 2 Thessalonians 2:2). The writers of the New Testament was looking for this day even back then. Yet here we are now, in 2020, and “the day of the Lord” has not happened.

Based on how people live today, I believe that Christians have lost their expectations of this day. We don’t live our lives each day as if today could be the day that Christ returns and gathers all the believers in the moment, in a twinkling of an eye.   

If Christ were to return ten minutes from now, what would you be doing? Would you be ashamed of what you were doing in that moment? We need to be ready – expectantly ready – always watching, for Christ could come at any moment.

Do you have Paul’s confidence?

Can you say with the same confidence that Paul did that you know whom you have believed? Do you have as much faith and trust as Paul did that Christ will keep and safeguard your soul until the day that he returns? If not,  2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “today is the day of salvation.”

Don’t wait. Christ could return before you finish reading this post. Make your confidence in Christ as certain as Paul’s. If you need to have Paul’s kind of confidence, pray the prayer below:

Dear God, I need you. I am humbly calling out to you. I’m tired of doing things my way and I want to have the same kind of confidence in You that Paul did. I confess that I am a sinner and ask you to forgive me and cleanse me of my sin. Help me to live according to your Word and follow Your plan for my life. I surrender all that I am to you – my faults, failures, sin, dreams, and hopes – and invite you into my life to be my Lord and Savior. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to trust you, love you, serve you, and live my life for your glory. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you prayed that with a sincere heart, then you can now have the same confidence as Paul. If you are not already part of a local, evangelical church, I encourage you to find one and talk with the pastor about the prayer you just prayed. He can help direct you in your next steps as a child of God – and welcome to the family, dear brother or sister.

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