The indispensability of grace and the insufficiency of the works of the law is a teaching that is virtually synonymous with Paul; and yet, in writing to Timothy, Paul sounds as though he is boasting and even being presumptuous: I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me. However, in the very next paragraph Paul qualifies this apparent boasting with the words: The Lord stood by me and gave me strength. . . . And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. And Paul concludes by saying that the Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. In other words, Paul’s apparent boasting is an instance of what he himself called boasting in the Lord. His confidence is not in his own strength but rather in the fidelity and trustworthiness of the one whose strength is made perfect in our weakness. Somewhat surprisingly, it seems that greater sinfulness has the potential to propel us more urgently towards Christ—Paul’s own experience of having been a persecutor of the church is one significant example of this. The frightening revelation that he had in fact been persecuting the Lord and not zealously defending the true faith of Israel is something that marked Paul indelibly—just as Peter’s triple denial forever changed Peter’s assessment of himself and his relationship to Christ. It is, paradoxically, when one has experienced intimately the depths of one’s weakness and one’s capacity for evil, that one can truly rely exclusively on Christ’s strength and grace and thus boast in the Lord. Given the merciful fidelity of the Lord, our eternal salvation should never be something that is in doubt. For, both Peter and Paul remind us that it is not personal strength or virtue that gives us this assurance, but the painful and humbling experience of weakness.