And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle–I am telling the truth, I am not lying–and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. (1 Timothy 2:7)
The apostle Paul was called by the Lord Jesus to share His message of grace with everyone, Jew and Gentile, but especially with the Gentiles. He was a “herald” (preacher) and an “apostle” (one who is sent). With these credentials, why did Paul make such a big deal out of the truthfulness of his message?
There may have been those who were calling his credibility into question. But mostly, I think Paul was comparing himself to those who were distorting the gospel, and had not been called as heralds or apostles.
The distorters were pulling people back into a salvation by works mentality, and burdening them with Old Testament rules and regulations. Their motives were selfish and their methods were deceptive. Specifically, Paul might have been thinking of Hymnenaeus and Alexander, who had shipwrecked and been turned over to Satan for a time of reflection and repentance.
I probably should offer a word of caution regarding Paul’s term “true faith.” Once, a member of a church I was serving found a little boy roaming in its building. When the member asked him if he was a part of the church he said, “Oh no…we go to the church down the road where they preach the real gospel.”
To some people the “true faith” involves a particular translation of the Bible, a method of ministry, a view of the end times and standards for dress and conduct. I am not saying these are not important matters, but I don’t think they have much to do with the “true faith.”
The “true faith” is that salvation comes by grace, through faith in Jesus. It is not a result of our own works, but rather God working in us. One can proclaim this faith in many different venues. You will find it in the inner city, the suburbs and the country. You will experience it in church buildings, mission storefronts, third world shacks and behind prison walls. It reaches every people group, in every place, in the midst of every circumstance.
But you won’t find it where people are trying to earn their way in heaven. You also won’t find it where people are proclaiming self-righteousness and judging those who fail to live up to their standards.
I am not one to put a lot of weight in feelings, because things are often not what they seem. On the other hand, I have learned the difference between the “true faith” and anything else can be experienced. So if your walk with the Lord “feels” like something is missing, you might consider whether you are trying to earn our own salvation, or receive it as a free gift from God. Your conclusion could change your life.
Dear God, help me live with true faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.