“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (I Timothy 1:15).
Paul the apostle, whose conversion was a classic example, a pattern, as he said himself in verse 16; was shaken to the very core of his being, and changed from being Saul, a persecutor of the church, a hater of Christ, to the greatest advocate of the Christian faith. His pattern was remarkable, and is clear in the word of God, repeated several times in the book of Acts for all to see. Yet, I have heard preachers and teachers say “God doesn’t force anyone to be saved. He won’t violate their will”. Well, it sure looks like to me that God used a bit of force to save Saul of Tarsus! There was a will involved all right, but primarily it was God’s. Read the account in Acts 9 for yourself, and you’ll see that Saul was “made willing” after being blinded, and knocked down to the earth and hearing a voice saying “Saul, Saul Why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4). He then said “Who art thou Lord?” (Acts 9:5) When he heard “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5), Saul said “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?”(Acts 9: 5, 6).
I can use more modern words, one of the new translations, if you like, but it is really not necessary. You understand all right! It is crystal clear! Jesus Christ, whom Saul was persecuting, now was revealed as his Lord. Because Saul was persecuting His church, and in doing so, he persecuted Jesus Christ Himself. Paul later said that Christ was revealed in him. If you are ever saved Christ must be in you.
Note: one quick observation, my friends; when you have a controversy with men, even good men, you may win. But as Saul learned, when you have a controversy with God, YOU LOSE! But in losing, he won!
WORTHY OF ALL ACCEPTATION
This man Saul, who became an apostle better known as Paul, wrote more of the New Testament than anyone. He wrote, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, much that is profound, and that is now the foundation of our doctrinal beliefs. He gave the church most of its teaching on Ecclesiology, on Pnematology, on Soteriology, etc,. but perhaps more important, much of its Christology. But here he uses a simple phrase that captures the essence of the gospel, i.e., the gospel in a nutshell, perhaps more here than anywhere else in the Bible. Paul’s statement is not to be denied. It is to be accepted as complete. Many in this world refuse to hear it, but that does not make it untrue. Everyone from the highest to the lowest must accept this statement, or pay the price. The saying is faithful. This is the first of five times he uses “This is a faithful saying”. He uses it here in I Timothy 1:15, and also in I Timothy 3:1; 4:9; Titus 3:8; II Timothy 2:11. The word faithful (Gr. = pistos), according to Strong’s means trustworthy. It has the reliability of the word of God, spoken by an apostle. He said it is worthy of all acceptance. It is the truth. The statement is worthy (Gr. = axios), or deserving, to be accepted, though all will not accept it. Paul would have never accepted it without God overwhelming him with truth, and then he was never the same. You’ll never be the same either, my friend, after the Holy Ghost overtakes you and arrests you.
CHRIST JESUS CAME
It is very interesting that Paul teaches us so many profound doctrinal things such as election, predestination, justification, sanctification, church order, the calling of preachers and deacons, heaven, hell, prophecy, spiritual gifts, prayer and even evangelism. Yet he speaks of Christ being the primary objective of his teaching. Actually Jesus Christ is the primary objective of the Bible itself, for not only Paul, but Peter, James, and John all center more on Christ than anything else.
A word to preachers: go ahead, Preach election -- it’s in the Bible. Preach on the fullness of the Spirit -- it’s in the Bible. Preach on Biblical inspiration -- the Bible interprets itself and is clearly inspired. Preach and teach on many things, but you had better major on Christ Jesus! When you enter college you have to pick a subject to major in. The major subject of the Bible is Christ. Everything else is a minor, i.e. in second place, or third place, etc... For too long we have “majored on the minors”. Preach Christ, brothers, its all Christ! Remember Mr. Spurgeon told us of Dr. Hawker who found Christ in every verse of the Bible. If that is a fault, it is a good one to have. Preach Christ, Christ and more Christ!
Quoting Spurgeon: “Gentlemen, if you want something full of marrow and fatness, cheering to your own hearts by way of comment, and likely to help you in giving to your hearers’ rich expositions, buy DR. HAWKER'S POOR MAN'S COMMENTARY. Dr. Hawker was the very least of commentators in the matter of criticism; he had no critical capacity, and no ability whatever as an interpreter of the letter; but he sees Jesus, and that is a sacred gift which is most precious whether the owner be a critic or no. It is to be confessed that he occasionally sees Jesus where Jesus is not legitimately to be seen. He allows his reason to be mastered by his affections, which, vice as it is, is not the worst fault in the world.
There is always such a savour of the Lord Jesus Christ in Dr. Hawker that you cannot read him without profit. He has the peculiar idea that Christ is in every Psalm, and this often leads him totally astray, because he attributes expressions to the Saviour which really shock the holy mind to imagine our Lord's using. However, not as a substantial dish, but as a condiment, place the Plymouth vicar's work on the table. His writing is all sugar, and you will know how to use it, not devouring it in lumps, but using it to flavour other things”. Commenting and Commentaries, Online edition, Lecture One: A Chat about Commentaries. First published in 1876.
Why in our text and in several other places is He called “Christ Jesus”- not “Jesus Christ”? Why not simply “Jesus”- or “Christ”? Jesus was his human name. There were many named Jesus in Judea during our lord’s lifetime. According to Origen, the first name of Barabbas was Jesus. Barabbas (son of the father or son of the rabbi), was his surname. This would make Pilate’s question more striking: “Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas or Jesus which is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:17). In other words, which Jesus? But this is an entirely unique “Jesus” we are speaking of- this is Christ Jesus- Messiah Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. “A common name, but so exquisitely rare now that the Saviour bore it” (from Guy King; A Leader Led, Christian Literature Crusade edition, 1983).
INTO THE WORLD
“ The word is ‘that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-- the whole gospel in a sentence -- and, indeed, but a slightly modified form of the original announcement made to Joseph, ‘Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins’” (Matthew 1:21; from Patrick Fairbairn, in Pastoral Epistles, 1874)
He came into this world. He is not of this world. He was rich, but for our sakes became poor. He said of His disciples whom He chose in His great high priestly prayer “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). Yet “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).
TO SAVE SINNERS
He came into the world to do just this-- save sinners. He did not come to make it possible to save sinners, but to save sinners. As in Matthew where he says “He
shall save”, here it says He came to save. Not that He might save, or will probably save, but He completed the work. No doubt the mission was accomplished when at the cross He cried “It is finished” (John 19:30).
“Jesus did all that is included in the great word "save." He did not come to induce us to save ourselves, or to help us to save ourselves, or to enable us to save ourselves. He came to save us. And it is therefore that His name was called Jesus -- because He should save His people from their sins. The glory of our Lord, surpassing all His other glories to usward, is just that He is our actual and complete Saviour; our Saviour to the uttermost” (B.B. Warfield; The Person and Work of Christ).
What kind of sinners did he come to save? All kinds. Since Paul sincerely said he was the chief of sinners, Christ surely has completed the work for lesser sinners. The word “chief” here means “the worst”. If Christ’s sacrifice covered this blasphemer, this persecutor, this self righteous Pharisee, surely He has no problem saving anyone else. But, you may say to me “haven’t you preached that Christ only atoned for the elect and none else?” That’s correct. I believe scripture teaches that. Then you may say “how can I be sure I am elect, and that Christ died for me?” My friend, do you sense that you are a hell deserving sinner? Do you feel the weight of conviction for your sins? Is there a desire in your heart to be forgiven? Are you willing to repent of your sins and trust only in Jesus Christ?
If all this is true of you, election and predestination are not problems for you. Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners. Are you as a sinner able to take Him at His word? He says “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). So what is important is your coming to Christ. Not to an altar, not to shake a preacher’s hand, not trusting in your works, baptism, keeping the law; but trusting Jesus Christ. Then if He has made you willing to come to Him by His Holy Spirit, His will is not to cast you out, but to save you. That is why He came. Trust Him now with all your being. He is the only Saviour of sinners, and He only saves sinners.
by Charles Woodruff - Email:firstname.lastname@example.org