Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shipwrecked Faith

As I continue my study of 1 Timothy chapter one, I have come upon the infamous reference to “shipwrecked” faith.
Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. – 1 Timothy 1:18-20
What does it mean to shipwreck your faith? To begin answering this question, I asked the following two questions: (1) what are the possible results of an actual shipwreck and (2) what causes a shipwreck?

(1) What are the possible results of an actual shipwreck?
In most cases the probable result is drowning – death. However, if you survive, then the other possibilities might include: never reaching your destination, the progress of your journey is stalled (or altogether finished), you lose all you have, or serious injury can occur. The bottom line is that it is not a good situation. It is something you definitely want to avoid. It’s not one of those life-experiences you would purposely seek out.

(2) What causes a shipwreck? How does this happen?
Shipwrecks typically occur because of improper navigation or not being prepared and able to weather a storm. Other contributing factors might include sailing into unknown waters, a lack of visibility, getting off course, equipment malfunction, or because you can’t see below the surface.

Paul used this analogy of a shipwreck on purpose. He is letting us know that when we get off-course and stray from the true gospel message (like the Gnostics and Judaizers in Ephesus) it puts our spiritual journey in serious peril. In fact, the result could mean never reaching our final destination. We must be prepared for the storms and know how to navigate the waters. We must know God’s Word and have it firmly planted in our hearts.

After reading this warning by Paul, I am pretty sure Timothy read the rest of the letter with urgency. I think we also should be anxious to understand Paul’s instructions and apply them to our lives. We should take great care in not “straying from the faith” or the Gospel message. We should be “fighting the good fight” daily for our faith.

1 comment:

Shaun said...

In this particular portion Paul refers to two things, holding onto faith and a good conscience. Faith seems to be a good anchor and the conscience which is the leading part of the spirit is a good guide or rudder. Should you loose the anchor of your soul you could go adrift. The completed work of the cross is the faith. The conscience is the vital part that gets enlightened with the light of the word. A tender conscience is a conscience that can be guided by the Lord. When we deny the conscience it can get seared - a seared conscience has a calousness that is not responsive to the Spirit. This leads to drifting and being tossed to and fro by winds of doctrine and eventually leads to being shipwrecked. Being handed over to Satan is a strong measure of discipline for the destruction of the flesh that the soul may be saved in judgement. It takes maturity and true spiritual apostolic authority to apply these measures. The safe guide is to feed on the finished work of the cross and let your conscience be guded by a spirit filled love walk. Respond to the voice of your conscience quickly.