“…holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
—1 Timothy 1:19–20
How does a person shipwreck their faith? This question has massive implications for us and those that we are sharing the Gospel with and attending church alongside. How many times have we all had experiences with people that we know and love who seem to be walking in the faith of Jesus Christ, only to abandon that faith and renounce Jesus Christ? What do with do we that? How do we explain their departure? Is Christ powerless to keep those who are his?
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
Surely the “shipwrecking” of Hymenaeus and Alexander doesn’t nullify the power of God to keep those who were chosen “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).
It helps to look at the literal rendering of the word shipwreck (nauageō in the Greek), which translates as “drive away from one’s self; repudiate; reject; refuse.” This text isn’t illustrating for us a faith that was possessed as saving and then run aground from sin, neglect and mis-use. Rather, the picture is painted of a wholesale rejecting of faith, vividly portrayed as being “repudiated”, “rejected”, and even “driven away”.
“The case of the two men mentioned is sad, for the shipwreck was caused by a definite rejection of faith.”
—D.A. Carson from the New Bible Commentary.
May our hearts be warmed by the truth that if we are secure in Christ through faith, that no worldly trial or sin or failure can remove us from grace. But let us and those we share with receive the sober warning of Paul, that although we may claim fellowship with the saints and appear in all form outwardly to be Christian, we must not drive faith away, but embrace it, treasuring Christ for all the beauty and glory that He is.