Why do people go where they go on vacation? Lots of people go to the coasts of Florida, because they love the warmth of the sun and sand and the smell of salt water in the air. There are many who love the grandeur of the Rockies, so they travel out to Colorado. Some like the finger lakes of New York or the hills of Tennessee and some like the bayous of Louisiana or the islands of Hawaii. Sixteen years ago, I was very foolish. My wife wanted to go to see the beauty of Yellowstone National Park for our 20th anniversary in December on snowmobiles. She loves the snow. Now 16 years later, our bodies are not really excited about doing something like that. I should have agreed to go to Yellowstone back then.
If you roll up all those into one place it’s called—the Garden of Eden. It was perfect temperature, perfect environment, perfect food, and a perfect mate. Then there was Genesis 3 – sin. God provided the perfect of everything we could ever want and it was the Garden of Eden, but we chose to reject what was perfect, because we weren’t satisfied. What was the personal result? It happened to all of us. For Paul, he wrote, “…although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man.” (1 Tim. 1:13 NKJ) When we reject God, we sin. Paul could see that if it had not been for Jesus, he would have remained in miserable sin, but Jesus transformed him. So Paul said,
12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. 1:12-14 NKJ)
Paul said, “I thank Christ…” and he exalts with praise in 1 Timothy 1:14. Now in verse fifteen, Paul continues to burst forth to explain why Jesus is so great! Why should we burst forth declaring Jesus? In bursting forth, Paul describes the purpose of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
1) Jesus is the Savior of the world 1:15
15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. (1 Tim. 1:15 NKJ)
This verse is packed! Paul uses the expression “This is a faithful saying” five times to introduce concise summaries of truths. It was used for hymns of praise. It could be translated, “This is a trustworthy statement.” Just like the beauty of creation we enjoy to see, God sent Jesus for all to stand in awe of God’s majesty. Paul said the saying is “worthy of all acceptance.” It is acceptable, not because we find it acceptable, but because it satisfied the holiness of God. Therefore, it will satisfy us, when we are humbly in awe of Him.
Christ Jesus came out of the glory of heaven to earth. That would be like going from a clean house and going out and getting inside your full trash bin. Jesus didn’t come to visit. If Jesus came just to visit He might have said, “Whoa, I see your trouble. This is a tough mess. You might be beyond hope. But you’ll get better and then I can help you. I wish I could do something for you.” He didn’t come to visit.
What was Jesus’ purpose? His purpose was to save sinners. What should be done for sinners? They should be punished. But, instead God punishes His own Son. That’s holiness satisfied. That’s the glory of the gospel. That’s our loving God punishing sin in Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21).
But let me ask you, “Who does the world think will save or deliver them?” I’m not talking about you, but who does the world think will save or deliver them? That’s easy, by their actions, the world thinks the government will save them. And what do people want deliverance from? People are hungry, so they depend on the government for food stamps; they need shelter, so they depend on the government for section eight housing; they want clean environment, so they depend on EPA laws, which some are needed; and many are sad about because they don’t have a cell phone, so they depend on the government to give them a cell phone. The government can ONLY provide temporary relief. The government will never deliver what God can His way. In fact, if we polled America, how would America respond with a choice of either providing Medicare and social security OR churches and freedom to worship? I suspect, America would choose Medicare and social security over freedom to worship. There is only one Savior. Now do not get discouraged if you are in one of those situations. If you are able to work, keep looking for work, so you can be dependent on God rather than the government.
Notice the last thing Paul mentioned, “”Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” This is most unusual in our psychobabble culture. Interestingly, Paul said in 53 A.D. in his letter to the Corinthians (15:9), “I am the least of the apostles.” That’s understandable, because he was a kind of Johnny-come-lately. After all, the disciples were with Jesus for three and one half years and Paul had been killing Christians. So saying he was “the least of the apostles” was almost expected. But then eight years later in his letter to the church of Ephesus, in 61 A.D. he said he was “the least of the saints.” (Eph. 3:8) Wow! That’s a pretty significant drop in personal perspective. I thought we were supposed to have a higher self esteem as we go in life! Then it gets worst, because in our passage, which is three years later in 64 A.D., he told Timothy that he is the “chief of sinners!” And not only that, He does not say, “I WAS chief,” but he said, “I am chief.” Is he overdramatic? He knows others are vile.
Paul knows that he is not deserving of God’s mercy and teaches no one is too deep in sin to save. God will save those who turn to Him. Paul doesn’t grovel. He knows it’s not about Paul. It’s about Jesus. When you give a testimony, don’t give the sordid details of your past. It just draws attention to you, not Jesus. Paul knows he’s forgiven and that’s what he emphasizes, not his muddy past.
Why should we burst forth declaring Jesus? Because Jesus is the Savior of the whole, entire, world! He died for all men. Yes Jesus, “is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10 NKJ)
2) Jesus is merciful and longsuffering 1:16
16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
Paul said, “I am the chief sinner, but I obtained mercy to show God’s longsuffering.” Notice, Jesus showed Paul patience so that Paul would repent and do things God’s way and others would see Jesus’ patience. Paul showed that God can save anyone. The worst sinner became one of the greatest saints. Why? God gets the glory.
When you were born, there was one thing on your mind – self. My third granddaughter, Liberty, who is only eight months old, is such a neat little girl. She is going to be a wonderful singer some day, although right now she just lets out screeches. Her dad and mom are working to help her realize there is a right way to use her vocal chords, but it takes a while for an eight month old to learn life is not about her.
As we grow up, we reveal God’s patience for those who will believe in Him. Your life is supposed to reveal Jesus. You are a mirror of what God is like to others. Listen to what Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20 NKJ) I am to consider myself dead, so Christ can live through me. I am supposed to reveal what He is like.
When our lives don’t reveal Jesus or the fruit of the Spirit, then our lives should reveal brokenness to want to please Him in all things. We should reveal utter dependence on His Spirit and consistent dependence on learning God’s Word. This is not “worm theology,” because if people see ungodliness, they should see open brokenness and dependence.
But your brokenness is not about you. It is for those who will believe. We receive salvation by faith in Jesus. We have victory by faith for salvation, but also for life. John wrote,
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5 NKJ)
If I am not overcoming in victory, I am overrun by defeat. If I am not bearing the fruit of the Spirit, I am burdened by the sin of indifference and independence. If Jesus is not my declaration, then self is my devotion.
But your brokenness is not about you. It’s about helping others see the mercy and longsuffering of Jesus. Paul wrote, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17 NKJ)
There are many who will believe, but they must hear. They will see their own sinful state. They need you to go tell them about Jesus.
Jesus is merciful and longsuffering for you to gain freedom from sin. He is merciful and longsuffering, so you can tell others how great He is. Jesus sets you free from sin, so you can set captives free. The government wants to impose power over citizens to force all to live surrounded by sin. In 1792, the government had almost no power over the citizenry. Now it is coming up with laws to make sin abound and anyone who abhors sin are labeled and watched. Government is patient only to figure out how to gain power. Jesus is merciful and longsuffering for glory sake and will be King forever. 1 Tim. 1:17 is a doxology – words of praise. I’ve asked AJ Hillebrand to address this.
3) Jesus is King forever and ever 1:17 note this burst of gratitude! This is a doxology – words of glory!
17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise1, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim. 1:17 NKJ)
- Eternal – lit. King of the Ages – this and next. no beginning or end. He never had to achieve kingship. He exists out of time. Heb. 13:8; Ps. 90:2. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb 13:8) Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (Psa 90:2)
- Immortal – not liable to corruption, imperishable. Everything on earth corrupts, even gold will perish 1 Pet. 1:7.
- Invisible – Jesus is the image of the invisible God and Creator of all things invisible (Col. 1:15,16). By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. (Heb 11:27)
- The Only wise God – WFMS says they areTHE country station. He is the only God. He is wise. There is no one like Him. He is the Only God.
- Rom. 16:27 only wise God
- Jude 1:25 only God our Savior
- Be honor and glory
- Rom. 1:21 the world did not glorify God.
- He is.
- Forever and ever – He will never not be God. (Thanks AJ!)
The government is becoming more powerful all the time instead of Jesus.
Men and women:
You’re here so Jesus can show the world His grace in action!
Instead of trying to see the world, show the world His grace in action!
Instead of trying to capture the world, compel the world to see Jesus!
- Your past is not the issue. All of us are bankrupt before God. Even the “best” people were born condemned and need to be saved. Jesus is the issue.
- Your present reflects the character of God in action. What do you reflect about God? Do your words and actions reflect God, who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all things?
- Your future will always get better, because you’ll be conformed to Christ. Your future may, from the human realm, be difficult and a valley of shadows, but it will be more glorious, because you’ll submit to God’s work. Therefore, burst forth and declare the gospel of our eternal King!
- He will make everything available to you. You get the opportunity to reveal His glory! BURST forth and declare Jesus!
Message Based Discussion Questions
1) What are characteristics you know about God’s character?
2) Can you trust what Paul is saying in 1 Timothy 1:15? _________ Notice the “faithful sayings” of 1 Tim. 3:1; 4:8-9; 2 Tim. 2:11-13; and Titus 3:5-8. What do you learn from these sayings?
3) What are the two key concepts of 1 Timothy 1:15? __________ ________________ and ________________. What are the similarities between 1 Tim. 1:15 and Eph. 2:1-9?
4) Did Paul always put himself down (cf. Gal. 2:6-10)? _________ He did acknowledge his perspective (1 Cor. 15:9; Eph. 3:8; 1 Tim. 1:15; Rom. 7:24; Gal. 1:13; Acts 26:11). What do you learn about Paul? How do you see yourself?
Extra credit: How old do you think God is? __________What do you learn from the following passages regarding God (Ps. 102:27; Dan. 7:9; 2 Pet. 3:8)? What kind of aches and pains do you think He has?
Making application from this message to life:
5) What are three things for which you would offer praise to whom God is and what he has done?
6) What are three perspectives you have that would be helpful for God to change for you to better reflect Him?
7) Are you ready to burst forth to declare the character of Jesus? What could you do to be ready to tell others?