Churches and businesses often have a “mission statement” to establish their priority. Well here we have God’s “mission statement” that deserves to be fully accepted –
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” It is one of five trustworthy sayings scattered around the so called Pastoral Epistles (see 1 Timothy 3 v 1; 4 v 9; 2 Timothy 2 v 11 – 13 and Titus 3 v 7.) Jesus “came into the world” via virgin birth, his main purpose being to “save sinners” (Luke 5 v 32) because “all have sinned” (Romans 3 v 23) and need to reconnect with God. Then moving swiftly from the general to the particular, Paul shifts gear into testimony mode – “of whom I am the worst.” We shall consider his testimony under three headings:-
1 – The person he was.
Paul uses three phrases to describe his life before he
became a Christian:-
Blasphemer – He spoke evil of Jesus, forcing others to do likewise (Acts 26 v 11.)
Persecutor – He sought to strangle the church at birth via violent persecution (Acts 8 v 3.)
Violent man – He was an arrogant and insolent bully.
Pause 4 thought
– If you, like Paul, are antagonistic and hostile towards Christ and his church, could it be that this is a barrier that you are erecting to protect your insecurity and shield you from your doubts?
2 – The person he met.
Paul uses a number of words to describe how he became a Christian following his encounter with the risen Christ on the Damascus road:-
Mercy – He deserved condemnation, but instead received mercy because God is merciful, in this case being
predisposed because of Paul’s “ignorance and unbelief.”
Grace, faith and love – Grace, the undeserved favour of God, was poured into his life; while unbelief was replaced by faith; and hatred by love.
He was indeed a wonderful example of how God in Christ can change “the worst of sinners” the key being not the
supernatural events that surrounded his conversion, such as the bright light, the heavenly voice and the blindness, but the supernatural change that took place in his life, so dramatic that Paul struggled to gain entry and acceptance even in the local church (Acts 9 v 26 – 31.)
Pause 4 thought
– If Christ can save Paul, “the worst of sinners,” then just think of what he can do for you in terms of change.
3 – The person he became.
The persecutor became a preacher; the murderer a missionary; with the risen Christ – “appointing me to his service.” It did not end with conversion, for Paul was commissioned to become an apostle to the Gentiles, for which he would be equipped with the resources that he most needed:-
Strength & faithfulness – Inner strength and faithfulness to cope with the physical and spiritual demands of such an all consuming ministry (2 Corinthians 11 v 23 – 29.)
Pause 4 thought – You have been saved to serve, with God supplying all the resources needed to be effective.
So moved was Paul by all that Christ has done for him that he book ends his testimony with thanksgiving –
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord” and praise –
“Now to the king eternal…..”
Pause 4 thought – How full of gratitude and praise are you for all that God in Christ has done for you?
Theme: “God’s Mission Statement”
Reading: 1 Timothy 1 v 12 – 17
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes