1 Timothy 1
1 Timothy 1 – Jesus came to save sinners! Christianity is unique in this sense, it teaches salvation by grace through faith, apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Eternal life is the gift of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). This is good news for the sinner! However, it all sounds too good to be true, so sometimes, albeit unconsciously, we smuggle works into the salvation equation. This mentality can manifest itself in a number of different ways – we look at some unbelievers and view them as not worthy of salvation (think of those who violently persecute the church), or view others as so bad as to be beyond the hope of salvation; we just cannot see them becoming believers.
In 1 Timothy 1:12-17, the Apostle Paul gives a brief word of testimony that challenges this mentality. Paul confesses that he was once a blasphemer and violent persecutor of the church, no better than those religious extremists today who seek to destroy the church. Indeed, Paul’s past actions were so heinous that he believed that God could only have been merciful to him because he acted in ‘ignorance and unbelief’ (verse 13). Yet God’s grace was ‘poured out…abundantly’ on Paul, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus (verse 14). Paul was a trophy of God’s grace, and proof that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, even the worst of them, like Paul (verse 15). So if God can save the likes of Paul, He can save anyone, no matter how bad or unworthy. It was for this reason, to demonstrate this truth, that Paul was shown mercy that other sinners might be encouraged to believe in Jesus and receive eternal life (verse 16). Paul appropriately concludes his testimony with a doxology that magnifies ‘the only God’ to whom be honour and glory forever and ever because salvation is based solely on His mercy and grace (verse 17).
Paul’s testimony is a wonderful example of the power of the Gospel to save even the worst of sinners (cf. Romans1:16-17). So don’t let your sin prevent you from believing and rejoicing in this Gospel message, and don’t let a works-mentality prevent you from sharing it even with the worst of sinners. This Gospel gives hope to all, no matter how bad or unworthy. As Paul declares in this context: ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ (verse 15).