A Case Study in Abundant Grace
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Primary Truth Taught- God’s Truth as highlighted in the Gospel can bring even the worst sinner to life.
We have been introduced to the dangers and the fruit of false teaching. Last time we read down through a sampling of what false teaching and misdirected knowledge pretending to be fro God produce. We’ve also seen the true Gospel and its fruit. We’ve seen what the true Gospel produces in a believer. The true Gospel produces a pure heart, good conscience, and a sincere faith, which in turn manifests godly love among those that have partaken of God’s wonderful grace. The first 11 verses of chapter 1 give us an excellent contrast between truth and false teaching.
Human Need Met
In this section were going to see that through every situation or set of circumstances
1 Timothy 1:12–17 (ESV)
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,
The dominant theme here is thanksgiving. A quick survey of Paul’s letters shows that the dominant theme of Paul’s life was thanksgiving. It should also be seen that his thankfulness is aimed at Someone, namely, Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 5:20–21 (ESV)
20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
When we are thankful for salvation and Jesus Christ the things of this world seem to be a lot less important. Paul could be sitting in prison singing praise songs to Jesus. His thankfulness in all things is a wonderful example for us to follow. When I get feelings of discontentment or begin to grumble or complain I try to quickly catch myself and offer up thanksgiving to God. That is a wonderful antidote for whining.
If we are to follow his example, we must first discover why Paul is thankful…
First, he writes that he is thankful to Jesus because He has given him strength. In the original Greek, this word for strength has the idea of supernatural empowerment to carry out a task. The Apostle knew very well where his success in ministry came from. He knew very well that his abilities and favorable outcome came from the strength Jesus supplied through the Holy Spirit.
Where does your strength come from? Are you relying on the power of God to accomplish various tasks in your life or are you convinced you can do them in your own strength? Notice that the Apostle here expresses the idea that everything he has done in ministry has come about through the power Jesus has supplied. Are you patiently waiting for the Lord’s strength or are you in the habit of rushing on ahead no matter what?
Secondly, he is thankful, because he judged me faithful. There are those who misunderstand this phrase and think that Paul was first faithful then Christ chose him for ministry. This is not correct. Faithful is probably not the best translation. A more accurate word would be trustworthy. The idea is that in the sovereignty of God, He saw that Paul, after conversion, would be a wonderful candidate in which to entrust the Gospel message. God knew that Paul would be a man in which the precious Gospel would be transported to various people while at the same time, remain perfectly pure and intact.
The third reason Paul expresses thanksgiving to Jesus is that He had called Paul and given him a ministry… appointing me to his service
We must not miss the overall thrust of Paul’s use of his testimony. He is showing us what the difference is between one who has been exposed to the true Gospel and saved by Jesus Christ and the false teachers’ version, while they and their listeners go from bad to worse, the true Gospel takes us from bad to completely reborn and remade. We’ll see this very clearly in a minute.
13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,
What he is getting at is the fact that prior to meeting Jesus Christ Paul’s life was characterized by three sins: He was guilty of blasphemy, persecution, deep seated rebellion. It doesn’t tell us but it could be that theses three sins or vices are now replaced with pure heart, good conscience, and a sincere faith. Rather than the old Paul that produced murder and strife, the new Paul produces love toward those he used to hold as enemies. Rather than seeking to silence the Gospel and those who would proclaim it at all costs he becomes the very person he used to hate, he carries the precious message.
14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Here the Apostle gives us a wonderful picture of what salvation looks like. His sins were great and exceedingly abundant but God’s grace is even more abundant, literally, overflowing and swallowing up or neutralizing Paul’s former sin. This is the picture of a flooding river washing away everything in its path and so; it washed away Paul’s sin. And the grace of our Lord overflowed for me.
Have you even been overwhelmed not with God’s grace but the fact that God’s grace overflowed for you??
He writes this way in at least one other letter notice…
Romans 5:20 (ESV)
20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
Here in Romans, the Greek means that sin increased but grace super-abounded. In other words, sin cannot withstand the flood of God’s grace.
Once the Apostle met Christ and Jesus saved him, it resulted in faith and love. Much the same list as earlier. Again this manifestation of grace produced love in Paul and this over against the false teacher’s damnable message that only produces death.
The Apostle Paul continues making his point to those in Ephesus who think that false teaching can compare with the truth of God’s Word…
I pray we never try to improve on God’s Word. There is nothing that can change people like the Gospel can. There is no one so vile and sinful that the Gospel can’t change…
15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
Here is the pinnacle of Paul’s logic. Is the gospel relevant or are the myths and endless stories of the false teachers relevant? Can human, so called, knowledge effect change in a person or is it the Gospel that changes?
What he is about to do is lay out a short and clear summary of the true gospel which, as he has shown, is the only message worthy of complete and full acceptance. The saying that is worthy to be accepted by everyone is, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
This short but clear saying probably was often recited in public gathering of the churches and no doubt was a paraphrase of some of Jesus mission summaries…
Luke 19:10 (ESV)
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Mark 2:17 (ESV)
17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
So, the summary of Jesus’ mission is that He came to this earth to seek out and save the lost.
What does it mean to save sinners?
God requires complete perfection and sinlessness and no one qualifies. He cannot lower His standards or grade on a curve just because no one has ever passed the test. So, God views all humans as dead in trespasses and sins. Remember, we’re not good people from bad homes etc but completely dead in God’s eyes. No human has ever passed the test except for One. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth and lived as a human perfectly. He never sinned even once.
So, Jesus and only Jesus could die for someone else’s sins because He didn’t have to die for His own sin…the wages of sin is death did not apply to One who never sinned. So, when Jesus gave up His own life for others, He saved them from the penalty of God’s just judgment. Jesus paid our death penalty for us. All who trust Jesus and believe that He died for their sins are saved from God’s wrath…
Luke 19:10 (ESV)
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,
Paul’s amazing point here is that if Jesus can save him, the foremost of sinners, He can save anyone. So, Paul was more than a trustworthy evangelist, he was Jesus’ test case in the power of the Gospel. The Apostle makes his point very well…there is no false teaching that contains the power that the Gospel has.
17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
What started with thanksgiving moved to Paul’s personal testimony of God’s amazing grace and now has transformed into worship. Probably do to the fact that Paul realized just how much Christ had forgiven him for often results in his worship. Really, at the end of the day, we too after reflecting on God’s grace shown to us through Christ should result in our worship.
Galatians 1:3–5 (ESV)
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20–21 (ESV)
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Philippians 4:20 (ESV)
20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
So, if we think through the Apostle’s purpose here we conclude that false teaching tries to glorify those false teachers and has no benefit for those who hear. The truth of God’s Word brings glory to God as the message is shared with others that Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Sinners benefit because this message is what God uses to bring them to life and God is glorified.
Primary Truth Taught- God’s Truth as highlighted in the Gospel comes with power saving even the worst of sinners.