1 Timothy 1:15
Posted March 31, 2016
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance,that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,of whom I am the foremost.
The apostle Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus was a radical one… Pre-conversion Paul (known as Saul) aggressively sought to imprison and kill off anyone in the early Church who pointed to Jesus as the hope for salvation. Saul believed that the Christian message was a complete lie and sham, and deserved more than complete rejection; it warranted full blown persecution and elimination! The Gospel Transformation Bible describes Saul in these terms: “He was a religious predator whose hands were stained with the blood of Christians—a callous, self-righteous, bigoted murderer hell-bent on a full-scale inquisition (Acts 9:1–2; 26:9–11).”
And yet here in this passage, we find a Paul who tells us the phrase he once sought to eradicate from the earth was one he now held deep within his own heart: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom he was the foremost… What a transformation! In this phrase, we learn something about Christ and something about ourselves:
First, we learn about the purpose of Christ’s mission.
Jesus didn’t come to merely teach students but rather save sinners. Of course, we learn from Him as our Teacher but only after we come to His feet as our Savior and Lord. Jesus knew that all the teaching in the world couldn’t help a hell-bent people whose hearts were dead in their sin. He came to fix the real problem which wasn’t a problem of education but rather separation from God. Humanity needed and needs a Savior, and that’s what Christ came into the world to do!
Second, we see the reality of our sin.
Paul said that he was the foremost of sinners. Was this just a clever phrase to Paul, or did he actually believe he was the foremost of sinners? It seems that, unlike our culture these days, Paul knew of the weight and immensity of his sin. His sin wasn’t a mere theory for him of which a theoretical savior would do; rather his real sin demanded a real savior!
If we believe the second point, then what Christ came to do for us should lead us to great joy! Because our sin is real and weighty and has led us to death, the reality that Jesus came to save sinners should invoke a song of praise and wonder! The gospel isn’t for the healthy and those who’ve figured out how to hold it together… The gospel is for the ones who are sick and have come to realize they can’t hold it together and need a Savior. We don’t have to hide our sin hoping God doesn’t see it and deems us worthy of salvation; rather, because He’s a Savior, we run to Him precisely because we know we are the foremost of sinners!
That a Savior came into the world to save sinners should spark awe, wonder, and worship in those who know they are just that… This saying is trustworthy, friends. It’s deserving not of partial consideration, but rather of full and joyful acceptance.
Song by Grace Point Church (feat. Josh Luna).
Production by Mike Mumford.
Artwork by Lane Geurkink.
Devotional by Joel Limpic.