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2020-02-16 1 Timothy 1: 12-16 JESUS SAVES (1): THE UNIVERSAL OFFER

1 Timothy  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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IS JESUS SAVES (1): THE UNIVERSAL OFFER (I Tim 1:12-16) February 16, 2020 Read I Tim 1:12-16 – I attended Biola University in La Mirada, CA just after it relocated from downtown LA where it was housed in a tall building with a large neon sign on top that read “Jesus Saves.” You can’t imagine the jokes. Jesus saves – what? Green stamps? Jesus saves where? Great Western? Well, here we have a wonderful answer – Jesus saves sinners. Always relevant. But the false teachers of vv. 3-11 didn’t get that. To them salvation was Jesus plus good works. Having denied that, Paul now gives a real life example – himself. His life proves, “Jesus saves.” But there’s a lot of inspiring nuance in that Paul includes here. So we’ll take a couple of weeks to enjoy what we have in Christ – I. The Source II. The Recipients III. The Message and IV. The Mission of Salvation. Let’s see His beauty in a new and fresh way. I. The Source of Salvation Salvation originates in one place – the Lord Jesus Christ. Nowhere else. 12) “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord.” V. 14) and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” Lord is the OT Jehovah – God. It is sometimes used in the NT of the Father; sometimes Jesus. Bc both are God, both are Jehovah. Here, Jesus is Lord in v. 12. In v. 14 it is the grace of Jehovah – emphasis on the Father – that is exhibited, revealed, implemented through Jesus. This beautifully depicts the work of the whole Trinity in salvation. In his doxology in v. 17, Paul praises “the only God.” Bc, salvation originates – with God! The Law is not the source of salvation. That would require perfection. But God says, Rom 3:10b: “None is righteous, no, not one.” You want salvation by law? Gal 3:10: “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Key word – “All!” You want law to save you? Great. All you have to do is keep it – perfectly. Good luck with that! Ever tell a lie? Ever hate someone so much you’d just as soon see them dead? Ever wish you had that car your neighbor has? Listen – if our thoughts were public, we’d be buried in 2 secs flat! Don’t be fooled you can “good” your way into heaven. Your good enough is just like mine. It isn’t perfect, so it isn’t good enough. God says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 1 This is a tough message for people who know they’re better than most – more loving and compassionate. Their failures are small. But how acceptable would you ladies find a white tablecloth that just has one little red wine stain on it. Not good enough, right? And before God, I’m afraid our little stains are all over the cloth, despite our best efforts. That’s why the law can save no one! “But, why can’t I just pay for my own sins, and then I’m good to go. A thousand years in purgatory or something. Why not that?” Be nice, wouldn’t it? But the Bible knows nothing of purgatory. There is no such place. Worse yet is who our sins offend. It’s not just anybody. We’ve violated an infinitely holy God. And we all know the greater the offended person, the greater the offense and penalty. You spit in my face, and I’ll be offended -- might even take a swing at you. But you spit in the face of the chief of police, you got a real problem. And spit on the president and you’re looking at some serious jail time. Now think of violating an infinitely holy Being – not just once, but repeatedly – dozens of times a day in thought, word and deed. Infinite offense requires infinite penalty. That’s why I can never save myself. Thankfully God has filled the gap that neither the law nor we could fill. Are you a follower of Christ today? That relationship didn’t originate with you. It originated with Him. It feels like we took the first steps – were smart enough to receive Him by faith. But Paul knew, that’s not how it happened at all. So, how? II Thess 2:13) But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” If you’re saved it’s because God chose you. We don’t like to think we’d never have come to Christ apart from His choosing, but the Bible insists: Eph 1:4-5 “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5) he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” Paul reveled in that, and so should we. We are believers this morning because He loved us, chose us, predestined us and adopted us. Bc He wanted to. Rom 8:30: “And whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” He, he, he. He is the source of salvation. No one and nothing else ever could be. Jesus was emphatic about this: Jn 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Apart from the compelling grace of God, no one would come to Christ. You say, “Okay, but He might draw someone who refuses to come.” Not so. Just prior to this, Jesus says in Jn 6:37: “All that the 2 Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” This is a closed circle, Beloved. All that the Father draws come. All that come Jesus receives. And all that Jesus receives will never be cast out. Paul says in Eph 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9) not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” No one can say, “I’m saved bc I was smart enough to accept Christ.” Even the faith to trust Christ was a gift. If salvation didn’t originate with God no one would be saved. Jonah 2:9. “Salvation belongs to the Lord.” It is His to do with as He will and to be chosen by God is priceless. The first day of school in my 5th grade year a pretty new blond girl showed up in our class. I was smitten, but at that age it wasn’t cool to admit you liked a girl, and I had no confidence to talk to her anyway. It took half a year -- after checking with multiple 3rd parties, I sent a note. She sent a note back, and I was chosen. It was great. But that’s nothing compared to being chosen by God. Being chosen set Paul’s soul on fire! II. The Recipients of Salvation Okay, so who can be saved? Who could be among the chosen of God? That’s where Paul goes with his personal testimony. V. 16: “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” Who can be saved? All who believe. Paul says he’s the foremost of sinners, and so, Exhibit One that Christ can save anyone. Jesus can save the worst of humanity. Yet elsewhere Paul shows even the best need God’s saving grace. In a passage that speaks for itself, he says in Phil 3: 4) though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5) circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6) as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” Paul’s saying “I was the best person I knew! I’d put my life up against anyone’s – and I’d win. If the law could do it, I’d be in.” He wasn’t perfect, but he met the law’s demands better than anyone he knew! Yet look. Phil 3:7) But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, 3 but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” Using accounting terms, he says, “To get Christ, I took all the goodness on the asset side of my account. I didn’t just tear it out. I moved it to the debit side. I called my goodness what it was – rubbish, dung, worthless to earn salvation. My best was not good enough; it was keeping me from Christ. I moved it to debit and replaced it with Christ’s perfect record, by faith.” What a transaction, right? Illustrating this principle: “No one is good enough not to need to be saved by grace through faith.” A man on his deathbed said, “Pastor, don’t tell me I need Christ as a Savior and I need the mercy and the grace of God. I don’t: I’m willing to face Him just like I am.” Then he listed all he’d done -- deeply involved with an orphans’ home, faithful at church. On and on. He was a wonderful man. Impeccable record. He thought that would cut it with God. But I promise you, one moment in God’s holy presence and he knew his goodness was badly tainted. It wasn’t perfect. Paul is God’s test case to show even the best people need God’s grace. You’ll know the minute you die you’re not the exception. But Paul also represents the other end of the spectrum. Look at Paul’s history. 13) though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief.” His attempts to keep and honor the law actually led him to be, in his words, the “foremost” of sinners. He was a blasphemer – not bc he spoke directly against God, but he blasphemed Christ, who unknown to him, was God. So he broke the first half of the Ten Commandments which have to do with treating God rightly. And if you think Jesus is any less than God in the flesh, you are in the same boat. Then he was a persecutor – the second half of the law. He was a sadistic murderer. Sadistic? Yes. See the words “insolent opponent” in v. 13? It’s the word ὑβριστής from which we get hubris. The Greek word means someone who mistreats others for pleasure. Paul so hated Xns prior to conversion he took pleasure in seeing them humiliated and persecuted. Not pretty, is it? Was he the worst sinner ever? Worse that Hitler? Worse than Stalin or bin Laden? In terms of sheer numbers, no. But God looks on the heart. By that standard he was as bad as it gets. So, v. 16: “But I received mercy [not earned] for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” “If Christ could save me, He could save anyone. No one’s too bad.” There’s a humorous story about an evil, king who forced his lovely daughter to wear ugly clothing – Just awful. Every time a knight showed up she hoped 4 he’d be the one to free her from her father’s degrading treatment. But every knight was put off by her ugly dress. And each time her father jeered, “See, I told you no knight would rescue a damsel in this dress!” Paul’s point is just the opposite. Despite the ugliness of our hearts, there is a Savior who is just waiting to free us, marry us and take us to Himself. No one is too bad or too ugly to qualify. The recipients of salvation? – Anyone. None to good not to need it; none too bad to not qualify. God’s grace overwhelms all comers. So now the $64,000 question. God’s grace is sufficient for anyone. Great. But what if I’m not chosen? Well, here’s where we need to see that the Bible teaches two sides to this coin. As clearly as it teaches God chooses those who will be saved, it also teaches anyone may come. And we’re all responsible for what they do with His invitation. Human logic can’t quite reconcile those 2 truths – just one more indication God is greater than we. But both are true. Jesus knew about election, but He invited everyone. Lu 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Anyone may come. And while the price is great, the reward is even greater. Mt 11:28: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus invitation is clear and inclusive: Jn 5:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” Rev 3:20 pictures Jesus saying, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” The invitation is for all. Peter says in his Pentecost sermon in Acts 2:21 what we must always say, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The choice is ours. What if you’re not chosen? Then you wouldn’t be worried about it. Spurgeon once said, “Some say, ‘It is unfair for God to choose some and leave others.’ Now, I will ask you one question: Is there any of you here who wishes to be holy, who wishes to be regenerate, to leave off sin and walk in holiness? ‘Yes, there is,’ says someone. ‘I do!’ Then God has chosen you. But another says, ‘No, I don’t want to be holy; I don’t want to give up my lusts and my vices.’ So, you’ve no complaint. By your own confession, you don’t want to be chosen.” Brilliantly said. Conc – So are you in Christ this morning. Then we must together revel in the glory of being chosen by God. It’s a priceless gift. But if you are not, we join Paul is saying II Cor 5:20b: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” The invitation still stands. The decision is yours. 5 Barnhouse used to teach God’s election this way. He would say, “Imagine a cross like the one Jesus died on, only so large that it has a door in it. Over the door are these words from Rev 22:17b ‘Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.’ These words represent the free, universal offer of salvation by grace through faith. For the one who enters, on the other side of the door is a happy surprise, for from the inside, anyone glancing back can see the words written above the door from Eph 1:4: ‘Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.’ Those who will make the decision for Christ find that God made that decision for them in eternity past.” That could be you this morning. Your choice. But know this. Jn 3:16, “For God so loved the world (put your name there) that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” You’ll never be able to say to God, “I had no choice.” By His own word, you do. And so in the words of Rev 22:17a; “The Spirit (God) and the Bride (those already saved) say – “Come.” Come. Come now. Come today. New life in Christ is one heartfelt prayer of commitment away. Let’s pray. 6
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