Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Theologians sometimes distinguish between two different views of faith. They will do it in Latin, not surprisingly. I’ll do it in English, because that’s easier for most of us.
We talk about the “faith by which you are saved.” This is your trust in God, your confidence that the Gospel is true, your acknowledgement that when Jesus says he is giving his life for you, that includes you, specifically.
The apostle Paul reminds Timothy that he, as well as his mother and grandmother, have trusted in Christ. They have this kind of faith. They are God’s children through Christ. This should bring Timothy a lot of comfort and encouragement. Yet the text seems to indicate that Timothy is a at least a little bit tentative. In verses six and seven Paul reminds him of the gifts of God which he has received and urges him not to be afraid.
For this reason, we come to the other type of faith. This is the “faith which is believed.” It doesn’t mean that we have faith in faith itself. That is dangerous. It falls apart all too easily. It is a weak foundation and leaves us depending on ourselves and our feelings. No, the “faith which is believed” is the very Christian faith. It’s the whole message of God’s law and gospel. It’s the Christian faith which we confess in the creeds. That’s what Paul reminds Timothy of. God calls his people to himself to be saved. It’s by God’s grace, and it existed before time did. It’s a message that remembers Jesus has risen from the dead and abolished death. It’s the faith that Jesus can keep us in until the very end. This should bring hope and confidence to Timothy, even when he is afraid.
Maybe we come face to face with our fears. Maybe we are likely to doubt, especially when others run us down and disrespect us. Maybe we are ready to flinch when someone confronts us with questions we haven’t thought about before. There’s no need to fear. God has delivered us the Christian faith, that Jesus, perfect God and perfect man, has borne our sins to death, has risen from the dead, has ascended to heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father making prayers for us. He will raise us as well in the last day. What’s left to fear? Not a thing.
Take courage, Timothy! Take courage, reader.
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