I Know Whom I have Believed
I know not why God's wondrous grace to me he hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love redeemed me for his own.
Refrain: But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able
to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day.
2. I know not how this saving faith to me he did impart,
Nor how believing in his word wrought peace within my heart.
3. I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing us of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the word, creating faith in him.
4. I know not when my Lord may come, at night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with him, or meet him in the air.
Daniel Webster Whittle and James McGranahan, author and composer of this hymn, supplied many other choice gospel songs, including "There Shall Be Showers of Blessing," "The Banner of the Cross," and "Christ Liveth in Me." Whittle was a Civil War veteran who accompanied Union general William Sherman on his march through Georgia. Whittle reached the rank of major in the American civil war, and for the rest of his life was known as “Major” Whittle. During the war, Whittle lost his right arm, and ended up in a prisoner of war camp. Recovering from his wounds in the hospital, he looked for something to read, and found a New Testament. Though its words resonated with him, he was still not ready to accept Christ. Shortly after, a hospital orderly woke him and said a dying prisoner wanted someone to pray with him. Whittle demurred, but the orderly said, “But I thought you were a Christian; I have seen you reading your Bible.” Whittle then agreed to go. He recorded what took place at the dying youth’s bed side:
I dropped on my knees and held the boy’s hand in mine. In a few broken words I confessed my sins and asked Christ to forgive me. I believed right there that He did forgive me. I then prayed earnestly for the boy. He became quiet and pressed my hand as I prayed and pleaded God’s promises. When I arose from my knees, he was dead. A look of peace had come over his troubled face, and I cannot but believe that God who used him to bring me to the Savior, used me to lead him to trust Christ’sprecious blood and find pardon. I hope to meet him in heaven.
After the war he returned to Chicago, where he became
treasurer of the Elgin Watch Company. In 1873, at the urging of D. L.
Moody, the major left his successful position to become an evangelist.
He enjoyed a most effective ministry for the rest of his life. He was
ably assisted musically by P.P. Bliss and later James McGranahan. Many
of Whittle's hymns bear the pseudonym "El Nathan." The piece "I Know
Whom I Have Believed" is known by that name.
James McGranahan had a limited formal education, but at the age of nineteen he was teaching in singing schools throughout the East. He became known for his beautiful tenor voice and commanding personality. After Bliss died in 1877, McGranahan became music director for Major Whittle's evangelistic campaigns in England and North America. McGranahan was a pioneer in his use of male choruses. He collaborated with Ira Sankey and other musicians in many gospel publications. in addition to supplying the music for many of Major Whittle's texts, McGranahan composed the music for such gospel favorites as "My Redeemer," "Christ Returneth," "Christ Receiveth Sinful Men," "Verily, I Say unto You," and "Go Ye into All the World."
There is much about the spiritual life we do not fully understand, but we can still live with certainty and triumphant faith. The apostle Paul understood when he exclaimed, "I know whom [not merely what] I have believed" (2 Tim. 1:12a). Note that the chorus of this testimonial song repeats the apostle Paul's statement to young Timothy, "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day, " (2 Tim. 1-12 AV). Make this Scripture a personal statement of faith. Another poet expressed the same confession this way:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand.