2 Timothy 1:12
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed…
"Whom" Paul says. Quite another thing from "what." "I know what I have believed"; that is good. "I know whom I have believed"; that is better — best. Such believing has easily its advantages, several of them. When the thing we believe is a person, our believing, creed, becomes simple and coherent; the lines of our thinking all gather at a point, our creed is made one, like grapes growing in one cluster from one stem. I am interested on occasion to ask Christian people what their Christian belief is. It is instructive to note the wide divergence of answer. One believes one thing, another, another thing. "I know whom I have believed." To be a Christian is to believe in Christ. And what is it to believe in Christ? We reach too high for our answers; necessary truth grows on low branches. The boy says — "I believe in my father." All is told that needs to be told. Another thing about this creed with a person in it is, that it gives something for all our faculties to do. "I know what I believe." Such a creed is only intellectual; it is an affair of thinking, reasoning, inference. Theological thought and discussion works so far only on the same lines as scientific. Mind only works; no heart, nothing volitional. A creed that gathers directly about person yields keen thinking, but yields much beside. It starts feeling, sets the affections in play, draws out the will and puts it to work. We each of us have one or more men that we believe in, with all our mind, heart and strength — men that are so far forth our creed; and they stir and stimulate us in every way, clearing our ideas, to be sure, but firing our hearts and making our resolutions sinewy and nervy. Christ made Paul a man of profound thinking, but a man of fervid passion and giant purpose — gave every faculty in him something to do. He was great all over. A third and consequent advantage in a personal creed is that it is the only kind that can produce effects, and work within us substantial alteration. I am not criticising creeds. It is an excellent thing to know what we believe, and to be able with conciseness and effect to state it. Paul does not say 1 know what I believe, but I know whom I believe, which goes wider and higher. Such a creed is not one that Paul holds, but one that holds Paul, and can do something with him therefore. No quantity of correct idea about the sun can take the place of standing and living where the sun shines; and standing and living where the sun shines will save from fatal results a vast amount of incorrect ideas about the sun. Belief in person works back upon me as an energy, alters me, builds me up or tears me down — at any rate never leaves me alone; it works as gravity does among the stars; keeps everything on the move. Such belief is not mental attitude, but moral appropriation; it is the bee clinging to the clover-blossom and sucking out the sweet. It is regulative and constructive. We are determined by thee person we believe in. Belief makes him my possession. Belief breaks down his walls and widens him out till he contains me. His thoughts reappear as my thoughts; his ways, manners, feelings, hopes, impulses, motives, become mine. I know whom I have believed. We make our ordinary creeds, and revise and amend and repeal them. Personal creeds make us, and revise, amend and repeal us. No picture of a friend can be accurate enough to begin to take the friend's place or do the friend's work. No idea of a person can ever be enough like the person to serve as substitute. Knowing what God is to perfection would never become the equivalent of knowing God. If we bring this to the level of common life, its workings are simple and manifest. It is in the home. The mother is the child's first creed. He believes in her .before he believes what she says, and it is by his belief in her that he grows and ripens. If we cannot tell it all out in words what this believing in a mother or father means, we feel the meaning of it, and the deep sense is worth more than the wordy paragraph, any time. Education is an affair of person — person meeting person. Pupils do not become wise by being told things. Wisdom is not the accumulation of specific cognitions. It is men that educate. Person is the true schoolmaster. Even an encyclopaedia does not become an educator by being dressed in gentlemen's clothes. What best helps a boy to become a man is to have somebody to look up to; which is like our text — "I know whom I have believed." And out on the broader fields of social and national life we encounter the same principle over again. The present wealth of a people depends largely upon its commerce and productive industries. The stability of a people and its promise for the future, depends quite as much upon the quality of the men upon whom the masses allow their regards to fix and their loyalty to fasten. "I know whom I have believed." And believing in Christ in this way to begin with, issued in Paul's believing a host of particular facts in regard to Christ, and Paul's theology is his blossomed piety. No amount of faith in Christ's words will add up into faith in Him. You must have noticed bow full all Christ's teachings are of the personal pronoun "I." Paul's Christianity began on the road to Damascus. The only man that can truly inform me is the man that can form himself in me; that is what information means — immensely personal again, you see, as everything of much account is. And it is so everywhere. Religious matters, in this respect, step in the same ranks with other matters. The grandest convictions that we receive from other people are not constructed in us by their logic, but created in us by their personal inspiration. The gospel is not the Divine book, but the Divine Man, and a great many miniature copies of that gospel are around us, working still effects along personal lines. We make Christianity hard by crumbling it up into impersonal propositions. It is no part of our genius to like a truth apart from its flesh and blood incarnation in some live man. It is a hard and awkward thing for me to believe in the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, for instance. I do not like the doctrine; my intellect abhors it. No logic could persuade me of its truth, and I should never think of trying to syllogise anybody else into a possession of it. But my father is immortal and I know it. Your mother is immortal, and you cannot start in your mind a suspicion to the contrary. From all this we gather that a man who gets called an unbeliever, and even calls himself such, may believe a great deal more than he suspects. Unconscious orthodoxy is a factor of the times that needs to be taken into earnest account. There are quantities of unutilised and unsuspected faith. You do not believe in immortality. Did you ever see anybody that you had some little idea had about him something or other that death could not touch? Let alone the abstract and come close to the concrete and personal, and let it work. You reject the doctrine of a change of heart; and it is a doctrine repugnant to our natures and a conundrum to our intelligence. Did you ever see anybody who stopped being what he had been and commenced being what he had not been? If you find it hard work to square your opinions with the catechism, see whether you do not draw into a little closer coincidence with men and women whose lives transparently embody the gospel, and then draw your inference. To another class of uncertain hearers I want to add, Do not try to get your religious ideas all arranged and your doctrinal notions balanced. There is a great deal of that kind that is best taken care of when it is left to take care of itself. There is no advantage in borrowing some one's else opinion and no use in hurrying your own opinion. Begin with what is personal, as he did — "I know whom I have believed." Try to know the Lord. Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." There is no other way of beginning to be a Christian but the old way — "Come unto Me." And you and I, fellow Christians, owe it to these unsettled people among us and about us to help them to strong anchorage upon Christ; and our qualifications for the work will be our own thorough rest in and establishment upon Christ and an ineffable commixture of love and tact, and fact considered not as a natural talent, but as a heavenly grace. In our relations to these people, there is another thing fur us to remember of a more positive character, which is, as we have seen, that there is nothing that tells upon men and their convictions like life. Men believe in the personal. Truth pure and simple goes but a little way, except as it is lived. Abstractions are not current outside of the schools. The best preaching of a change of heart is a heart that is changed. These people are not going to he touched by anything that has not breath and a pulse. Living is the best teaching. So that if you and I are going to help these people to be conscious and pronounced Christians, we are not going to accomplish it by merely telling them about Christ and compounding before them feeble dilutions of Divine biography, but by being ourselves so personally charged with the personal Spirit of God in Christ that in our words they shall hear Him, in our love they shall feel Him, in our behaviour they shall be witnesses of Him, and in this way He become to them the Way, Truth and Life, all-invigorating power, all-comprehensive creed.
(C. H. Parkhurst.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for 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.
WEB: For this cause I also suffer these things. Yet I am not ashamed, for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed to him against that day.