Thursday, September 08, 2022

2022.09.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 1:12–17

Read 1 Timothy 1:12–17

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does the apostle thank in 1 Timothy 1:12? What has the Lord done to him? Why? Into what did He put Paul? What four things had Paul previously been (1 Timothy 1:13)? But what did the apostle obtain? Why? What was abundant to him (1 Timothy 1:14)? With what two things? In Whom are they found? What two things does he say about what he is about to say in 1 Timothy 1:15? Who came into the world? To do what? For whom? And who was the chief? What had the apostle obtained (1 Timothy 1:16)? For what reason—what would Christ show first in him? In order to show what? For whom? What does 1 Timothy 1:17 now call Christ? with what three attributes? Whom does this make Him? In what is He alone? What two things is He to receive? For how long? 

Why does Christ save and use sinners? 1 Timothy 1:12–17 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the glorious God saves and uses sinners precisely to show that His alone is all the glory and goodness.

The apostle has just been making the point that the law accuses all of us for all our sin (1 Timothy 1:8-10) which makes the gospel that much better, since it is not we who can hope to be good, but the blessed God Himself Whom we can hope to have as our goodness (1 Timothy 1:11).

Now, the apostle presents exhibit A: himself! Christ Jesus, the church’s Lord, has enabled him, accounted him faithful, and put him into the ministry (1 Timothy 1:12). But this certainly wasn’t because there was in Paul any “raw material” to work with. His raw material was blasphemy (direct offense against God), persecution (offense against God by way of His people), and violent arrogance (offense against God by view of himself).

So, what was it that the apostle found in the gospel? An opportunity to turn over a new leaf? An opportunity to make it up to God? No, no, no! He found mercy to be delivered from his ignorant unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13). He found exceedingly abundant grace to produce faith where unbelief had existed and love where ignorance had existed (1 Timothy 1:14). And where/how did he find all of this? In Christ Jesus!

Yes, there is a sense in which the apostle here says that he was a chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). But in the context, he is saying something much more wonderful: he is the chief of what it looks like to be saved from sin. He is a chief of finding mercy. He is a chief of receiving grace. He is a chief of being given faith and love. He is the chief because his salvation is “a pattern” (1 Timothy 1:16). If Christ’s grace can bring even Paul, not just into the faith, but into the ministry, then certainly there is exceedingly abundant grace for all of us!

For all who are going to believe on Christ for eternal life, it is only by grace that they will do so—there is no raw material in them that makes them savable, only divine mercy in God from which He is a Savior.

So the “faithful saying” isn’t so much about the chief example of being-saved as it is about the One Who came into the world as Savior of sinners! He is the Savior (Jesus). He is the King (Christ). He is God (the Lord). 

And for Paul’s salvation, and that of everyone else whom the King is saving, the apostle explodes into the doxology of 1 Timothy 1:17. Jesus is eternal, from outside of time. Jesus is immortal—the word translated here meaning not subject to death or any sort of degeneration… so immortal/incorruptible/unchangeable. Jesus is, before He “came into the world” as a man (1 Timothy 1:15), the invisible God, Who alone is wise. And for Who He is, and what He has done in saving sinners, He will indeed be honored and glorified forever and ever! To this, the apostle gives a hearty “Amen.” And it is the honoring of this glory that Timothy’s reformation work in Ephesus must seek now to preserve.

What about you made/makes you a proper object for Christ’s salvation? How can you hope to be saved? What aspects of God’s character are thus displayed? How are you responding to Him?

Sample prayer:  Lord, to us belong blasphemy against You, mistreatment of others, and too high a view of ourselves. But to You belong mercy and grace to give faith and love. You are the King eternal, immortal, invisible, God only-wise. Forgive us and sanctify us, we pray, unto Your unending honor and glory, Lord Jesus, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH224 “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”

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