He Is Able!
By Jon W. Quinn
It was from Paul's final home on earth - a prison cell in the city of Rome - that, as he was closing in on his final hour, he wrote the following words:
“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Notice how that Paul, in this statement, progresses from the past to the present tense. He says “I know Him” (present tense) “whom I have believed” (past tense). There had been a time, or perhaps many times, in the past that Paul had placed his trust and confidence in the promises of Jesus and the power of God. At the time he writes, he is able to confidently affirm that he now knows that his past decisions in behalf of Christ were correct. His faith had been well placed.
He also knows that he will shortly be leaving this world. He talks of his approaching execution in very plain terms, but not with complaint or a sense of dread. Instead, it is all just the way things are, but it is all O.K. because there is an overwhelming anticipation of complete and eternal victory just beyond the final struggle (see 2 Timothy 4:6-8; 18).
The most awful and devastating tragedy is not to leave this world, but to leave this world unprepared to meet and stand before God in judgment. That is the danger! But, thanks unto Jesus, Paul had placed his confidence in Him and now death has lost it's sting.
“I Have Believed Him”
The object of Paul's faith and confidence was Jesus Himself. The giving of Jesus on the cross was powerful demonstration of the Father's as well as the Son's love for us (John 3:16). Paul believed the claims that Jesus had made about being the true light of men (John 1:19) and that Paul's life had been so very productive and purposeful because Jesus had given it meaning (John 15:4). He believed in Jesus as “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28) and that He was indeed the only way to the Father (John 14:6).
Paul had believed the truth of Jesus' message that being prepared to leave this world was more important than anything else. Jesus wanted all of us to know this and so used some of the most graphic language you can imagine to get His point across. Read His words and you will find it difficult to forget them! He meant it to be that way (Mark 9:42-48).
Paul believed that the Lord would watch over him and never, ever allow him to be tempted beyond his ability to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13).
We can have this same kind of confidence, but we must also be aware that without Jesus, any such confidence is built upon false hope. To come to God, we must believe that He is and believe in His promises given through His Son (Hebrews 11:6; John 8:21;24). And believing in Jesus means obeying Jesus (Luke 6:46).
“I Know Him”
Paul's own relationship with Jesus had turned his belief into knowledge. It had been like climbing up a mountain. The higher one goes, the farther he can see. The farther he can see, the more he knows. The more Paul had seen in his life, the more he knew that placing his confidence in Jesus was the best choice he had ever made. With us as well, knowledge like this comes from drawing near to God. As we draw near, we too will begin thinking and speaking more in terms of forever as our goals take on eternity in their scope. “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25).
Even as Paul had come to know some things, so can we. John examines many things we can know in his first epistle. We can know Jesus and know that we are in Him (1 John 2;4,5). We can know that He is righteous (1 John 2;29). We can know that we will be like Him when He returns if we will purify ourselves now (1 John 3:1-3). We can know the love of God (1 John 4:16). We can know that we are of God (1 John 5:19; 4:1,6). We can know that the son of God has come (1 John 5:20).
There are definitely some things that we cannot know at this time, but there is plenty that we can know for sure. If one's relationship with God is so shallow that he or she does not know anything for sure, then it is not what it ought to be. These are things we can know and they are extremely useful things to know. They are things that we come to know when we come to “know Him whom we have believed.”
“He Is Able”
Our God is an awesome God and all powerful. Just because He allows man to “strut his stuff” and choose his own course, even when the choices are extremely wicked, this does not mean He lacks power. It only means He affords us by His mercy and grace to have repeated opportunities to make correction and do what is right. We must not, as people often do, confuse God's mercy and patience with a lack of power or will to execute judgment in His own appointed time.
Jesus is able to “guard” or “keep” that which we commit to Him. This means to keep safe what we commit to His care. When we commit the eternal well being of our souls unto Him, we need to know that He is able to keep our eternal salvation safe and secure. Our souls are protected by God's power through our faith. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5).
Another reason for Paul's confidence is that Jesus is not only able to “save” but to “save forever” those who “draw near” (Hebrews 7:25). As long as we live by faith God's power will keep us safe. We therefore must not give up our faith, for if we leave it, we will also be without it's security. We, as His sheep, must continue to follow His voice (John 10:27-29). James tells us that drawing near to God involves both submitting to His will as well as resisting Satan (James 4:7,8).
From the Bradley
Our confidence in the Lord needs to be as strong as Paul's. We, too, need to believe that “He is able”. Recall how once a father pleaded unto Jesus in behalf of his ailing and possessed son, “But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" Jesus responded, “If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes." (See Mark 9:19-27). The man needed not have any doubt; Jesus could do whatever was needed. He can do likewise for us spiritually and eternally. Let our perspective, trust and confidence be as Paul's was. It will help us to live in hope today, tomorrow and bring us to the day of forever when that for which we hope will become our eternal victory.