The two pictures of a fight and a race illustrate what is involved in keeping the faith. But before we go into what is involved in keeping the faith I better say something brief about the nature of faith itself. The faith that Paul has kept is not faith in himself, or in any mere man. It is faith in Christ Jesus. In chapter 3, verse 15, he said to Timothy that the Scriptures “are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” And when you have faith in somebody, it means you take them at their word, you count on them to live up to what they say, you trust their counsel, you have confidence in their promises. When Paul said, “I have kept the faith,” he meant, therefore, “I have kept on taking Christ at his word, I have kept on counting on what he said, I have kept on trusting his counsel, I have kept on having confidence in his promises.”
Faith in Christ Jesus, therefore, is most fully explained as faith in his word. Of course, this will include confidence that through his death he purchased the forgiveness for our sins, because he said, “The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). And, of course, faith in his word will include confidence that his resurrection gives us eternal hope, because he said, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). And, of course, faith in his word includes confidence in his present power to work for us, because he said, “My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in weakness.” If we were to focus on any of these—Christ’s death, his resurrection, his power—and say, “This is what you must have confidence in, in order to be saved,” we would be saying something true, but incomplete. Saving faith is a joining of ourselves to Christ as one who iswholly trustworthy, one who has infinite integrity and infinite power and who therefore will do all that he said. If we say that we have confidence in his death for the forgiveness of our sins but we continually act as though much of what he promised is untrue (e.g., the promise that if you seek the kingdom first, all other necessities will be added to you), then we are not trusting Christ.