This word is safe
In God’s plan, Paul’s life is an example for those who seek Christ. This is Paul’s point in verses 15 and 16. Paul takes what God had done in him as an example to encourage those who seek God. In these two verses, which are based on what Paul said earlier, Paul makes it clear that Jesus Christ saves sinners, even the worst sinners. Paul’s example was handled by God to show God’s readiness to forgive the worst sinners.
In these verses, Paul declares that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. This word, or this declaration, is sure, and worthy of being fully accepted. Paul presents himself as proof that Jesus saves the worst sinners. Follow along as I read verses 15 and 16.
15 This word is sure and worthy of being fully accepted, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of which I am the first. 16 But for this mercy was given me, so that Jesus Christ would make known in me, first, all his long-suffering, to be an example to those who in the future would believe in him to have eternal life. (1 Timothy 1: 15,16).
Paul had explained the gravity of his sin, which was indeed an enemy of Jesus Christ, a persecutor and violent against the believers of Christ. Despite this, he was fully forgiven, and not just forgiven, but put at the service of Christ. Explaining all this, Paul elevates the immensity of God’s grace in Christ, and God’s readiness to forgive the gravest sinner who repents.
The declaration, here called “the word”, namely that Jesus Christ came into the world to save the sinner, is sure and worthy of being fully accepted. We can fully trust this truth.
The fact that God saves sinner is a sure truth. We can offer forgiveness and salvation to the worst of sinners if they repent as Paul did. No sinner is too far from God that God’s grace in Jesus Christ cannot reach him. This truth is worthy of being fully accepted.
We must fully accept this truth in order to have the faith to evangelize. Only if we know that God can save the worst sinner will we have the faith to proclaim Christ to everyone. So, WE need to know and believe this word, to have the courage to preach to everyone.
To show that Jesus saves even the worst sinner if he repents, Paul presents himself as the first of the sinners . Calling himself the first of sinners, Paul declares that his guilt was worse than the others. Paul raises the gravity of his guilt, of his sin, to show the greatness of God’s forgiveness.
In fact, in verse 16 Paul declares that God has shown mercy to him to show in Paul God’s long-suffering towards repenting sinners.
In fact, Paul declares that he is an example for those who in the future would have believed in Christ to have eternal life. In other words, when we preach the gospel to people, and the Holy Spirit strikes someone’s heart, and that person feels too sinful to receive forgiveness from God, we can use Paul’s example to show that God is ready to forgive that person too! We can help the person understand that because Paul was forgiven, that person too can be forgiven. Where sin abounds, God’s grace in Christ abounds.
Since God saved the first of sinners, that is, the worst, by saving Paul, we can proclaim Christ to everyone.
Whoever repents and believes in Christ will be saved, even if his sins are many. Who does NOT repent and does not place his faith in Christ will NOT be saved, even if his sins are few.
We use Paul as an example when we preach, and when we have doubts about our salvation. Those who repent and believe receive forgiveness and eternal life.
Glory to God
As he often does, Paul pauses at this point to give glory to God. Considering the immensity of God’s grace in Christ, and that even a sinner like him can be forgiven, Paul gives glory and honor to God. I read verse 17 .
17 Now to the eternal, immortal, invisible King, to the one wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. (1 Timothy 1:17)
Repeatedly in his Epistles Paul glorifies God. Here, he stops to attribute honor and glory to God for ever and ever.
Notice how Paul describes God. He states:
Eternal King: God is eternal, he has always existed and forever. And it is always the king, the sovereign.
Immortal: God cannot die, God is life.
Invisible: God is spirit, he is not limited by a body.
One God: God alone is God, there are no other gods.
Wise: God is absolutely wise in everything. All knowledge and science and wisdom belongs to God.
To this glorious God Paul attributes honor and glory forever.
And I pray that we too will live like this, constantly giving glory and honor to God. This will be our privilege for all eternity. Let’s start now.
Thank God for this passage which reminds us more of the immensity of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Where sin abounds, grace abounds. Even the worst sinner can be saved if he repents and believes in Jesus Christ. We must never believe that one is too sinful to be saved. God’s grace is greater than sin. Let us preach the sure and fully accepted word: Jesus Christ came to save sinners! Thank God that he saved us too. Let us commit ourselves to preach to everyone, so that salvation also reaches others. We thank God for the grace in our life. We thank God who not only saved us, but considered us worthy of trust, placing us at his service. We live, full of love and faith.