Text: 1. Timothy 1: 15-16
There is a certain System of Theology known as Calvinism. This idea sprung from a man named, John Calvin. Calvin developed a system known as the five points of Calvinism, where he gave his philosophical conception of salvation. One of those tenets is called, Limited Atonement: Christ Redemptive work applies only to the elect.” (p. 682). Such a concept is biblically accurate. For the bible does teach that Christ died for a select few. , the bible teaches that Christ for the whole world in principle. Now, of course, there will be people who will not accept God’s perfect plan for man’s redemption, but his sacrifice is not limited to the elect. For if that be the case, who are the elect? How do we know that we are the chosen? Certainly, God knows who will accept and who will reject, but that does not give man any right to develop a system of theology that makes no practical sense. To make it plain, Christ work on the cross was for the entire universe; because it is the will of God that man come to repentance. Thus, Salvation is for everybody!
Paul points out to Timothy his responsibility to guard the church from foolish teachings which have no biblical validity. This is the job of the present day church; we must guard the souls of men and women from the snares of the enemy, and those who practice deception. Thus Paul says to Timothy
According to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, this was committed to my trust. (1. Timothy 1:11, KJV)
This Gospel that Paul was commanding Timothy to preach was something that found a special place in the heart of the Apostle, and something that was entrusted to him. The message that comes forth from the preacher’s lips is a message must be given to him by God, not merely an Educational institution; because this system will not give the believer the perseverance needed to make through the struggles of life. However, the Gospel must be a spiritual substance grounded in the reality God and his word. Paul takes a personal reflection on his ministry, and out of his flows a rivers thanksgiving. Listen to this word:
And I Thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who have enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into ministry. (1. Timothy 1:12, KJV)
When you understand the work of Christ in your life, that revelation should cause you to burst forth into joy. This joy is not predicated based on receiving a blessing, but rather, thanking him for the privilege of being given ability and strength to serve the Lord in ministry. Furthermore, Paul demonstrates an attitude of unworthiness, by showing us clearly his past religious perspective of the church of Jesus Christ.
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. (1. Timothy 1:13, KJV)
It is amazing that God can go beyond who we are externally. He knows how to reach into the inner-most parts of our emotion, and to influence us, by his spirit, to change a way. Paul suggests this.
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. (1. Timothy 1:14, KJV)
God Grace, found only in Christ, plays a major role in our Conversion to the faith of God in Christ Jesus. Our experience with God will allow us to speak on behalf of God in Jesus Christ. Our passage gives us three things for consideration.
1. Universal Proclamation: (15a) “this is a faithful saying.” The term can be defined in his way.
Faithful: “worthy of trust.”(p.175) “Faith directed to the word which is proclaimed by Jesus, and which proclaims Him, brings salvation. This is expressed in constantly repeated and varied to the effect that the believer has (everlasting) last.” (p. 223)
What gives the concept that Paul is preparing to unfold a sense of trustworthiness, it was already experienced? This proclamation was not an abstract concept, but a practical reality. What gave this saying practical implication? The answer is found in the phrase, “Christ Jesus came into the world…” That statement is enough. We have a God who became incarnate in flesh, and became active in history. He is not a mere illusion, but he is a reality. Those who talk about Muhammad, he made great contribution to his time. The Brahman made a contribution in his philosophical school. John Calvin made a great deal of contribution in his time. Finally, Martin Luther made a great contribution to the Christian faith, but these individuals have died, and their corpus can still be found, but Christ, the prophet, priest, and soon coming king, is still alive wielding his influence in the world through his church. He came into the world for a purpose, and that purpose was to “save sinners.” What is a sinner?
Sinner: “The New Testament suggests this, “This may be in the sense of the ungodly of the OT. i.e. a man who lives in conscious or witting opposition to the divine will (Torah) as distinct from the righteous who makes submission to this will the content of his life. (p. 327)
Those who go against the revelation of God found in the Lord Jesus Christ are considered to be sinners. To the contrary, Christ became sin for us, so that we could become righteous through him. Thus, he came to save sinners (universal) that is the practical reality of our faith. We do not serve a God who is theologically abstract, but a God who is real and personal in the lives of those who will embrace him by faith.
2. Personal Application: (15b, 16a) What gives this statement more implication is simply that God’s grace became active in Paul’s life while he was yet in his sins, Paul calls himself the “Chief of Sinners.” This is the proper understanding of the term in biblical literature.
Chief : “Not the Chief Sinner, but the representative instance of God’s long-suffering applied to a high-handed transgressor” (p. 385)
Paul was the model for those who are yet in sin. Here is the message, if God can save the worse of sinners, he can save anybody. God’s mercy does not limit itself to man’s faults. There is no failure greater than the forgiving power of God. If God could give mercy to the crack-head, he can give it to the liar. The same mercy for the preacher is for the deacon, trustee, musicians, and members. We were all stuck in a mess, and God took us up and made something beautiful out our life. He does this to demonstrate his Power in individual. Secondly, to teach man that he is real and active.
3. Corporate Demonstration (16b) Finally Paul shows us that his call to the ministry and the Gospel becoming a reality in his life was simply a pattern of God’s mercy. God makes us a model of his mercy to show the world, not our goodness, but rather, his mercy. Oftentimes, we become so stuck on our own sanctification until we miss out on the blessed commission given to us by our Lord, proclaim his goodness to other people. Many people don’t know how to witness using the Bible, but everyone has a testimony. You will never win the lost with abstract theological genre that makes no philosophical sense. To the contrary, the greatest witness is a relevant witness, and a relevant is a witness who makes the Gospel plain and real for somebody else. And he does this for the Glory of God.