Salvation For Sinners -- 1 Timothy 1:12-17; 2:1-7
One of the most important things to be shared by Paul with Timothy as a pastor is the power of the gospel.
That gospel had radically transformed the apostle from a proud Pharisee to a humble disciple of Christ.
These passages are part of the spiritual autobiography of Paul.
The personal confession of the sinfulness of his early life, the contrasts drawn between the former days
and the new life in Christ, and the glow of a passion for others to share this -- here is something
unusual and vital.
In the gospel, Paul rejoiced in (verse 11) he had been given a solemn trust, a commitment
which he took seriously and gladly.
Now he would share with Timothy the soundings at depth of that gospel.
First, we look at a life without Christ -- 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Paul could never get away from that decisive hour on the Damascus Road.
In his conversion he had an experience of divine grace which affected in his entire life thereafter.
In verses 12, 13, we see Paul's black record.
Paul begins by thanking God for his new appointment in the service of Christ.
It was not always so.
God not only appointed him -- He enabled him to accept the new office and carry out its demands.
The service of God is demanding, and Paul found out his need of strength from God.
As he reflected upon his change of life, he related for Timothy the wonder of transforming power
by looking back at his past.
"I was before."
Those little words sum up his dark past and his guilty record.
His life had been stained with sin.
His life had been filled with pride.
Sin has its subtlety and seduction.
In the past Paul had lived selfishly even when he thought he was doing God a service.
His religion was one of hatred and not of love.
He confesses that he was a blasphemer, persecutor, and injurious.
He blasphemed the name of Christ, he persecuted Christian disciples, and he was guilty of deeds of violence.
Perhaps he remembered vividly the attack he made upon Stephen, who was stoned to death.
He remembered the victims of his imprisonment and death sentences for Christians.
He was insolent, implacable, and insulting.
He was a sinner before God.
"I did it ignorantly."
This was his plea when he needed mercy and forgiveness.
In those old days of leading the enemies of Christ, he had a zeal for God in his religious spirit.
After his conversion, his eyes were opened, and now he saw his mistake.
His religious zeal had been selfish and blind.
He had acted for the law, and yet had violated the spirit of the law.
His actions were linked to the ignorance of unbelief.
A person may be sincere in his belief and actions, and yet be wrong.
There is such a thing as blindness of heart.
God was merciful and gracious in forgiving him.
He had acted according to conscience even though his conscience needed light.
Judgment is always relative in moral actions and needs light.
If the light shining on the conscience is candle-light power as in contrast to the sunshine then the judgment
is likely to be weak and insufficient.
Conscience is not infallible.
In verses 14 to 17, we read of a glorious recovery.
Here we see the heart of Paul's exultation of' Spirit.
Remembering what he had been and done he now rejoices in what God has done for him:
The old life has passed away and the new has begun "in Christ."
His language has a lilt to it and an exuberant note is heard.
He magnifies the grace of God in bringing salvation to a sinner.
Here we see grace abounding.
Paul was the first to give utterance to this sublime subject.
As Paul speaks of it, he uses a compound word which is rare in the New Testament, and was unknown
in his classical background.
Abounded exceedingly is the idea with the thought of something overflowing.
It is like the waves of the ocean, one after another without interruption.
The superlative tells us of something far above and beyond anything man could have dreamed of.
We live in a day of the "supermarket" and other "super" involvements.
Paul knew all about that which was "super."
Grace came to Paul as the outgoing love of God.
The law with its demands brought Paul down in judgment and condemnation.
Grace brought him mercy and forgiveness.
Here was the unlimited measure of the out-flow and the over-flow of divine love.
No wonder Paul found language strained to the breaking point when he tried to tell of what this meant.
Language is inadequate.
All he could do was to put words together in a fresh new way to speak in superlatives.
Grace also enabled to Paul to enter the new life in Christ.
The dynamic power and strength which came to him was from God.
Chief of sinners.
Linked to grace is the fact that God's love reaches the sinner and transforms him.
Paul's claim to be chief of sinners is not a rhetorical word.
He believes this to be true in all his sober realism.
Others have challenged him for that title.
John Bunyan was one of those.
Who can speak of his sin like John Newton in his "Amazing Grace."
They felt their guilt and spoke it without reserve.
They were in the same company as Paul in this particular.
Paul in another connection speaks of himself as "less than the least of all saints." (Ephesians 3:8)
It is true that when it came to his position as an apostle he stood up for himself in claiming to be one
equally as the others.
He could stand for his rights as a Roman citizen when necessary.
But he never ceased to counteract his pride in the awareness of his sin.
In this humble spirit he was always ready to acknowledge his state of sin.
That Jesus Christ "came into the world to save sinners" was at the heart of the gospel that Paul preached.
He knew what this meant when he recalled his early years and the sin of persecuting the followers of Jesus.
Sin abounded, but grace abounded much more.
Grace cancels sin.
Love is mightier than hatred.
Life overcomes death.
Paul lived with the remembrance of his sin always before him.
He knew that God had forgiven him, but he would never forget the extent of his sin to give greater glory
for the grace that reached him.
"I obtained mercy."
Almost like a cry of the heart in pain and wounded comes this confession.
Breaking through the telling of what he was and did in those earlier days of sin, Paul wished others to know
how merciful God was.
He also relates how long-suffering God was in those pre-Christian days.
Now he has become "an example" to those who would later believe.
In this Paul sees himself as a "specimen" sinner so that no one need be discouraged concerning
the grace of God.
God has shown forth or demonstrated in him how mercy operated.
Paul is the kind of sinner that Jesus came to save, and therefore no one need despair.
Paul became an object-lesson for others.
If Christ saved him in the face of his terrible sin, then no sinner need hesitate to come to the Saviour
and find salvation as he did.
He was merciless to the followers of Jesus, but God was merciful to him.
It is no wonder that he breaks out in a doxology of praise and thanksgiving.
In verse 17 is found Paul's gratitude for God's grace to him.
"Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.
So let it be!
This is the affirmation in testimony of Paul as he bursts out in glorious song.
There are many doxologies in Paul's writings.
The doxology is appropriate any time.
Every forgiven sinner knows what this means.
Songs and hymns are never far way when the heart is moved with gratitude.
The black record was washed clean in the new life.
Life with Christ, 1 Timothy 2:1-7
Paul contrasted the new life with the old life when he testifies concerning the salvation God enacts for sinners.
The theme is continued in this section.
The personal element is emphasized in the first section, and its complement is shown here.
1. Apostolic instruction (versus 1-4)
In the opening chapter of the Letter Paul had introduced the theme of the grace and mercy of God
in saving sinners.
Now comes the words, "first of all," as though he is about to speak of the most important theme of the Letter.
As he said in chapter 1:3: "I exhort," so now in Chapter 2:1, he says, "I exhort."
The expectation is a call to action and is his instructions to Timothy for the church over which he is pastor.
So prayer is seen as the most vital work of the congregation.
But this praying is linked to the goal of "willing that all men should be saved." (Verse 4)
(a) Prayer for all men.
Directions about prayer are given here.
It is not simply "pray."
It is spelled out in a fourfold manner, "supplications, prayers, intercessions" and linked with "thanksgivings."
To distinguish between these is not easy as each partakes of the other.
Emphasis and stress are here as prayer is offered by the church.
The words themselves point to "petitions," "appeals," intercessions," and "thanks."
Without the last, all prayer is incomplete.
In the knowledge that we are indebted to God for everything the Christian maintains a constant attitude
In Philippians 4:6, Paul uses the three well-known words again,
"In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
If the church is to pray for all men then the prayers must include these distinguishing marks.
We ask God for the salvation of others.
We appeal to God in a family relation.
We agonize in our prayer with God.
We acknowledge with fervent spirit our indebtedness to God.
The scope of such praying reaches out to all without distinction.
Mention is made of different social distinctions, and to the life of the first century, but this is to stir the zeal
of those who pray for others.
In the midst of praying for all men in general it would be easy to omit praying for some in particular.
So Paul instructs Timothy to remember especially the rulers of the State.
That would not be easy when Nero was brought to mind, just as in our days we might think of a dictator.
Nevertheless, the State is part of God's plan for the race and those who are in high places of authority
need our prayers.
We may not always agree with their decisions or the way they govern, but their office commands our respect
and, therefore, they should have a place in our prayers.
While we think of the salvation of men we, should also think of the kind of society we live in.
By prayer for rulers we can expect a social order in which life may be lived in safety and peace.
The Christians lived in a social order disrupted by violence and lawlessness.
Outwardly and inwardly, a Christian could display a spirit undisturbed, one of peace and rest.
(b) Salvation for all.
Prayer results in the absence of all fear in the presence of enemies.
Upheavals can happen in our world, and we as Christians can stand strong and committed.
Prayer is usually associated with "spiritual" ends, but in this case it is used for "social" ends.
The so-called secular order is swayed by the force of prayer far more than we realize.
This is "good and acceptable in the sight of God."
God wishes His children to live in an atmosphere conducive to the best interests of their total life.
Weekdays are as important as Sundays.
The workaday world is linked with worship.
We find life involved in political action, and from time to time we are caught up in the tensions
of rival parties and goals.
Without dropping our political actions as citizens of our country we would do well to follow
Paul’s instructions here.
Prayer is one of the means by which a nation can be influenced to better conditions of life.
The early church had no organization to reshape the Roman Empire or to stamp out slavery,
but it could pray, and out of prayer live godly lives of example which finally will lead to action.
When Paul began this paragraph he said, "first of all," an indication that this subject of prayer
was not just first in order, but first in importance.
His first request merits response by the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In an empire which knew something of power wielded by dictators and military might,
Paul implied a mightier power as a weapon of the Christian.
Our day boasts of its nuclear power and powers of destruction.
We have a greater power to be used and exercised for good and increased life.
In prayer lies mysterious forces of energy barely tapped by the church.
We are novices in the use of this wonderful weapon.
Yet the teaching of Paul to Timothy has in it the most practical counsel ever devised.
What if the church today relied on this weapon of all-prayer?
What mighty deeds could be accomplished?
The good life of any nation or society is dependent on the praying of the church.
Paul urges prayer as the mighty means of usefulness.
The salvation of man is involved, but also their social redemption is implied.
God wishes that everyone would come to the knowledge of the truth and always use the church
as the instrument to bring salvation.
Prayer was action of the most dynamic kind.
Our first aim should be the salvation of man, then their social benefit and blessing.
2. Divine intention (verses 5-7)
As Paul pleads with pastor Timothy to engage in prayer (and through this to teach the church people),
he again stresses the basis for such confidence.
Later he counsels both the men and the women in the congregation to share in the good life allied to prayer.
"Lifting up holy hands" is God's intention for the pastor and church.
Basic are two beliefs.
(a) One mediator and ransom.
The reason for this urgent appeal of Paul lives here.
Jesus Christ is seen as the one between God and men.
There is no other mediator.
He is the way to God.
So prayer for salvation is offered to Him directly in this manner.
The fact that Christ "gave himself a ransom for all" is a means of encouragement and promise.
Looking back to the death on the cross, we find that our Lord Jesus died on behalf of sinners.
He is the Saviour who came to seek and to save the lost.
He has paid the price of man's redemption.
He offers forgiveness and pardon.
In Mark 10:45 our Lord spoke in these terms which are now reiterated by Paul.
The Saviour took the sinner's place according to this figure of speech.
The slave has been set free by this act.
When prayer is offered by the Christian he prays on the basis of this mediatorial work accomplished by Christ
to His death on the cross.
As the representative man, "himself man, Christ Jesus," He has finished the work He came to do.
(b) One message and herald.
Paul knew this as one who had received the benefits of Christ's salvation.
In verse 7 he testifies to being "a preacher and an apostle, a teacher."
These words focus attention on the function of his work.
It is to appeal to sinners to receive salvation, and then to teach them the new life.
He had good news to bring.
He was like the herald blowing the trumpet to announce the good tidings.
Paul could claim that he spoke the truth and no lie in this.
He had known the power of conversion.
He had witnessed the power of the gospel to change the lives of men and women.
He wished Timothy to share in this grand enterprise of the ministry of saving sinners.
The goal of the ministry is just that ‚Ä“ and then to teach and train the converted in the Christian life.
Paul's testimony (verse 6) came at the right time for Timothy.
As our Lord, the Good Shepherd (John 10:7-18), cared for the sheep, so Timothy learned from Paul
that this shepherding began in this way.
This concludes this chapter.
Next is Church Officers -- 1 Timothy 3:1-3