Overflowing Grace

Text: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

These verses are not as much a theological debate, as much as they are a celebration and a praise of thanksgiving to God for salvation, and His mercy shown to us in Christ. From these verses, Paul uses his personal testimony to affirm and to celebrate three encouraging, unchanging truths about the grace we have received in Jesus…

1. Jesus gives us grace that is undeserved. (1 Timothy 1:12-13)

Paul is grateful to Jesus for giving him strength, the kind of strength needed to serve the Lord, not rooted in Paul’s pedigree or resume, but in the good pleasure of the Lord.

Paul is thankful that Jesus has judged him faithful. Paul is not saying his own faithfulness was that impressive, but that Jesus – through His grace and mercy – chose Paul and empowered Paul to be a faithful and trustworthy servant of the Lord, appointing Paul into Christ’s service.

In the most blunt language in v. 13, Paul describes who he really was…

Blasphemer – to blaspheme is to take was is holy and diminish it. When he was “Saul”, he denied that Christ was Messiah

Persecutor – He actively hunted down Christians and threw them in jail

Insolent opponent (violent) – He condoned the stoning of Stephen, and he made it is personal mission to destroy Christianity and every Christian.

Paul was under no illusion that he had earned or deserved anything from God. He deserved Hell, “BUT”, he says, “I received mercy”.

I deserved punishment…BUT I received mercy.

I deserved to receive the full wrath of God for blaspheming His name, for persecuting His Church, for violently opposing those He loves…

BUT…I….RECEIVED…MERCY!

In his BC life, Saul thought he was doing God’s work. He thought he was rooting out heresy and exposing a false messiah. But it was only by the grace and mercy of God that his eyes were opened to the truth. Saul the Pharisee became Paul the Apostle. Saul the persecutor of Christians became Paul, the bondservant of Christ. All because of the mercy of Jesus.

2. Jesus gives us grace that is abundant. (1 Tim. 1:14-15)

It’s been said that mercy is withholding the bad that I deserve, and grace is giving the good I don’t deserve.

This grace that Paul received was not only undeserved, but it was extravagant, generous, more than enough, overflowing, super-abundance of grace, of God’s divine favor.

And not just grace, but with it came an overflow and an abundance of “the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus”. Paul is saying, along with grace, Jesus caused me to have faith in Him and love for Him.

It’s a beautiful reminder for us, that the grace that Jesus gives us not only saves, but He also empowers us with the faith we need to believe, and with a love that reflects His own, and with the courage and hope and joy we need to live lives that reflect the goodness of the gospel.

“This saying is trustworthy” (v. 15), means it is true to the message and the intent of the one who sent it. This is the heart of the gospel, initiated by God, enacted by the Son, and empowered by the Spirit. And because of that, this message deserves to be fully accepted by all people everywhere.

This is in direct contrast with false teachers who were promoting speculations and myths. They were spreading things they pretended to know, but didn’t. They confused opinion with fact. They traded the solid rock of the gospel for the shifting sand of man-made religion.

And in just one sentence, Paul lays out the glorious truth…“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” And after Paul identified the saying that is trustworthy and true, he added his own testimony…“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost”.

This is not Paul trying to win some self-pity contest or poor self-esteem. This is the right assessment, the sincere, appropriate response of a man that has been overwhelmed by the super abundant overflowing grace of Jesus.

And it’s how each and every person who has experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ should feel. How can this be – I don’t deserve it! I am the worst sinner I know! I don’t know why God saved me, I don’t know why I am the recipient of His abundant grace – but I’m glad I am!!

3. Jesus gives us grace as an example to others. (1 Tim. 1:16-17)

he reveals one of the purposes of God’s grace – the reason He pours out grace on us. And that is to be an example that others would see and glorify God.

[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.

In his testimony of being the foremost of sinners, Paul wasn’t just being self-deprecating. He wasn’t having a pity-party. Paul was setting up the connection between the depth of his sin and the power of God’s grace.

In other words, Paul is saying, “If God can save me – the chief of sinners – He can save anyone. I am an example of that.”

God pours out His mercy and grace for a reason. Yes, He loves us. Yes, He is fulfilling His will and His promise to save His people. But at the end of the day, the greatest purpose of salvation is not just about me and you. The greatest purpose of salvation is to reveal and put on display the amazing patience and mercy and grace of God.

If we think we deserve our salvation, we will take the credit.

If we think we did something to cause it, we get the glory.

When we minimize our sin, we minimize the cross.

But when we see our testimony like Paul did, when we recognize the truth of just how lost we were before we were saved, we will not only recognize the abundance of grace we have received, but we will also help others see just how gracious God is in saving sinners like you and me.

And how should the church respond to these truths? Paul helps us out with the answer. Even as Paul is writing these words, he breaks out into a beautiful doxology, a spontaneous praise to the One who has shown such mercy.

[17] To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul sings out his gratitude to the King of the ages, meaning the one who rules over past, present, and future, who rules over this temporary life as well as the eternal life to come.

And then for good measure, Paul ends with, “Amen!” That means “so be it”. But it’s not only a punctuation of truth. It’s also an invitation to agree. Paul is saying, “This is true. Now, let all who have experienced this mercy say so.”

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