God’s Lavish Grace: pressing sinners into service (1 Timothy 1:12-20)

Sunday, November 5th, 2017
Sermon Series: 1 Timothy, House Rules

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God’s Lavish Grace: Pressing Sinners into Service

1 Timothy 1:12-20

Back in the 80’s, I stayed at this very expensive resort called the Murrieta Hot Springs Resort. Anyone ever stay there? I joined a high school friend’s family on a short vacation here. We lounged in the hot springs, swam, played tennis, took steam baths and watched the Lakers-Celtics NBA Championship in the bar. I remember his mom got a massage and a mud bath here.

I was just there this last week—it’s now called Calvary Bible College. Most of the 80’s teal is gone. The décor has been updated. The place has been expanded. Guest rooms are now dorms. The place has changed so much since I was there last it’s amazing–I heard it had been abandoned.

But really, we all change over time. You get fat or lose weight. You get wrinkles. Your hair color and quantity changes. Your eyes get weaker. Physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually–who you are is not who you were. And you continue to change. Who you are now is not who you will be one day. God’s grace is dramatically at work in your life.

Faith Bible Church began in 2003. There are a number of people here who were there from the very beginning. The Dodsons, the Shackelfords, the Bairds, the Wests, the Steads, the Holzers, the Dyers, the Farrells–there’s more, and if you visit our Temecula midweek facility, you will see pictures on the walls from the early years. It is amazing to see how they have changed over time.

Some of the people pictured are now in Heaven. Others have moved all over the nation. The kids are all grown up and some are married. Everyone has changed and I see this most vividly in our lay elders–Rod, Robert and Shawn. I see and talk to those guys all the time and who they are today is not who they used to be. God has been at work in them also.

They can handle more than they used to. Their marriages are more stable and balanced than a decade ago. Their ability to shepherd is more broad and deep than when we started. They are faithful men. They disciple, they lead, they shepherd, they teach. And they cultivate those same passions and priorities into others around them.

They have each grown and matured through the years. We all have changed. If you look back, you will see ups and downs in your life–times of growth and times of struggle. Each day is a challenge. It is easy to get the kids ready for school–then tackle your life and completely skip your time in the Word.

It is easy to get home from a long day and just want to check out. And you elevate yourself over others and stop caring about the people around you. It is easy to go through a day without prayer
or any expression of dependence on God. It is easy to show up on a Sunday and set up sound and practice songs, but not think about the Lord at all.

It is easy to show up for worship on a Sunday and be singing, but be focused on the people around you instead of on God. Each day is a challenge. Do you know what I’m talking about? Today, I want you to see God’s grace in your ups-and-downs. I want you to better understand how gracious God has been to you at every point in life. I want you to see how God’s grace undergirds your whole life.

This morning, I want you to hear from one of God’s greatest servants–a godly old man who can look back at years of ministry and reflect on why God used him. He’s been through the ringer. He’s been kicked and spit on and hit and beaten. He knows what it’s like to go hungry and he knows the joy of God’s provision. He’s seen people saved and he’s seen people walk away from God. He’s seen it all, he’s done it all and he got the t-shirt.

At the beginning of 1 Timothy, Paul tells his story. He looks back and reflects a bit on who he was and why God chose him. He is in the middle of charging Timothy to guard against false teachers and he thinks about the ministry he’s been entrusted with and he just marvels at God’s grace.

Do you ever look back and just feel amazed at where you are compared to where you were? The last house I lived in, before getting married, was shared with four guys. It was a great place–five guys all in love with Christ and serving in the church. Three guys are now in full-time ministry and two others are active lay leaders.

I was about five years older than the rest and some of my favorite memories are from the music major. He was a recent college grad and could blow a saxophone like you wouldn’t believe. He was all muscle, just yoked and always smiling–just a sweet guy.

And he loved Jesus, but he couldn’t sit still to read his Bible for more than about five minutes. I’d see him lying on the floor, his feet bouncing, Bible in front of him. Then he’s kneeling while reading. Then he’s up and jumping in place. He just couldn’t stay put. But still a good disciple, loved Christ, loved others.

A couple years later, after I had moved away, he became an intern in the church. Then he was sent to seminary, which shocked me. And today he is serving as a super-faithful missionary in the Czech Republic.

Total stud, who faithfully loves and disciples people, which he’s always been good at, but he’s known also as a solid preacher who studies the Word long and carefully. When I first met him, I never would’ve guessed how God would transform him. It is awesome.

First Timothy has one of those reflections in it. It is a reflection by Paul about who he used to be and what God has done for him. And the major truth you’re going to see him articulate again and again is that God’s grace undergirds your whole life.

Grace is the unmerited favor of God. So when I say that God’s grace undergirds your whole life, what I mean is that God has been far kinder to you than you deserve. You have experienced God’s kindness again and again in ways that have brought structure and strength to your life.

Left to yourself, you never would be who you are today in Christ. You might be in prison–or you might be wealthier. You might be sleeping around–or you might be isolated and alone. Who you are is entirely different because of Christ. And that’s the first truth we see in this passage.

1.  God’s grace turns sinners into servants Verses 12 to 17

Now before we dive in, do you remember Paul’s story? He gives the overview in Philippians 3:5 to 6,”[I was] 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation 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 the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.”

From earliest childhood, he had been raised in obedience to the Law of God. He was an observant Jew. Not just a Jew, but a Pharisee, which means that he was hyper-zealous for obeying the Law. He didn’t work in the matzah ball factory, but spent his days studying, teaching and observing the Law of God. He was obedient to the point of declaring himself blameless.

He was not around for Jesus’ public ministry, but shows up in Acts as a Pharisee some months after Jesus’ crucifixion. The first mention of him is when Stephen was killed. Luke says that, Acts 7:58, “The witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”

Three verses later in Acts 8:1, “Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.” And then in verse 3, “But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.”

Later in his life, when he is locked up and sharing his life story with King Agrippa he says in Acts 26:10 to 11, “’And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.’”

Paul knew his sin. He remembered his past. He saw God’s grace in his life, how He transformed him. Paul was one of those guys who looked great on the outside. He looked sinless. He was super-obedient to God’s Law, but on the inside he was sinful.

There are people around you who look great, but need the Gospel. You may not think that they have any interest. You might think that they will reject you. You might be scared of them. Believers were terrified of Saul, even after he encountered Jesus. But God worked in his heart and saved him.

As Paul matured, he knew more and more of his own sins. So as he’s giving Timothy his pastoral charge, he remembers his own calling. He thinks back to his own salvation. That’s what we’re going to read today . . .

First Timothy 1:12 to 14, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.”

Paul is thankful how the grace of the Lord turned a sinner into a servant. And we see the effects of God’s grace on Paul’s life. God’s grace to a believer cultivates . . .

1)  Thankfulness

Paul was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent aggressor. But he received mercy and the grace of the Lord was more than abundant. The driving attitude through all that he remembers is thankfulness.

Can you think on your past life and be thankful to Christ? You have to know your sins to do this. Do you know your sins? Do you remember who you used to be? Do you remember what God saved you from?

If you want to be greatly used by God, you need to recognize God’s mercy and favor in your life. The key to humble ministry is remembering God’s grace to you personally. I was saved in college. I was on a pathway toward high earnings, completely self-centered and self-righteous. I grew up in the south, going to church and knew the Gospel message. I knew about Christ but didn’t see my own sin. And there was plenty to be seen.

God in His grace saved me. He led me to believe and He progressively knocked bad theology out of me. Not all at once, but through the study of His Word in the context of the church. There are so many ways my life could have been wrecked. So many opportunities for me to go astray.

I don’t know your story, but I’m confident that God saved you from great sin. God didn’t choose you because of who you were. He didn’t look at you and think, “Now there’s someone I need!” He chose you despite who you were.

First Corinthians 1:26 to 27, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.”

Foolish and weak–that’s us. Welcome to the club. God doesn’t want the capable. God doesn’t want the talented and gifted. He calls the weak who will be dependent on Him. He wants those who will be faithful and devoted. And the right response to such grace is thankfulness. Second Corinthians 4:15, “The grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.” And it’s also . . .

2)  Service

That’s why Paul says, “He considered me faithful, putting me into service.” Now I don’t know if you realize it, but we meet at a school. For more than a decade, we have been here. We always have needs. There are always places to serve.

When people get saved, they have one of two responses. They dive right in. They are at everything, working and learning–teens and 20s. Others stay back and don’t feel competent and don’t feel qualified—maybe those in their 40s and 50s.

In 1 Timothy 1, Paul is saying that God doesn’t make spectators. The grace of the Lord turns sinners into servants. Verse 12, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.” Paul is saying that is why he was saved. That is the very reason you were saved–God called you for service.

Ephesians 2:10, “You were created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand for you to walk in.” Not because of who you are, but despite who you are. In His grace, God calls you to be a faithful servant to Him. So we respond with thankfulness and service. And we also feel . . .

3)  Humility

We feel this because we were ignorant unbelievers. Those aren’t my words, but Paul’s. Look at 1 Timothy 1:13 to 14, “Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.”

Why did Paul receive mercy, despite his role in persecuting the church? Because he acted in unbelief. He was ignorant of Jesus. There are people who know the truth and choose to reject Christ. They act knowingly in unbelief, enlightened yet hardened to the truth.

Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10 both warn against this danger. I won’t go into it, but Scripture is clear that there is a difference between intentional sin and unintentional sin. Those who persist in sin with full knowledge of the truth will be hardened to it.

Paul affirms that though his sins were vile and he even persecuted the Church, he did so in ignorance. He doesn’t defend his actions. He doesn’t deny or minimize them. In humility, he owns them. And so the grace of the Lord was super-abundant. It enveloped him and transformed him.

You probably realize, Murrieta is on the edge of the desert. We don’t get much rain from March to November. But almost every August, we’ll have one storm. The ground is dry and cracked. The rain begins to come down and it soaks it in. But then the rain comes down harder and faster and the ground can’t handle it.

The water starts to puddle up, then go higher and higher. Our back patio will be a couple inches deep, because the drains can’t keep up. We have a super-abundance of rain and that is the same word picture that Paul here uses for God’s grace in his life. Despite Paul’s actions, he knew the overflowing abundance of God’s grace in his life.

This is true for every person who is in Christ Jesus. This experience of God’s grace is one of the things that unifies all believers. It’s why John Newton, author of Amazing Grace and ex-slave trader, titled his autobiography, Grace Abounding.

Each of us was born into slavery to sin. We loved creation more than the Creator. It’s not just that we did bad thing sometimes. Every action, every thought, every word spoken elevated ourselves and dethroned God. But in Christ, we find grace and mercy and peace and forgiveness.

We know the super-abundant grace of God in our lives. What leads us to serve God is not earning His approval. What leads us to serve God is gratitude for His grace and mercy in our lives. That is the response of a humble heart. That is what Paul is celebrating and thanking God for.

And so he reminds them of a saying they would already probably know. First Timothy 1:15 to 17, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

In the Pastoral Epistles, there are five of these trustworthy sayings in 1 Timothy 3:1 and 4:9, 2 Timothy 2:11, and Titus 3:8. Each of them is a familiar summary of key doctrine that would’ve been known in churches by this time. This is the first. “Christ came into the world to save sinners.”

When you hear that, if you’ve been in the Church, you might yawn. Seems rather basic, right? You’d expect Paul to follow it up with something more profound. But I want you to notice something–how does Paul end verse 15? “Among whom I am foremost of all.” God’s grace creates . . .

4)  Dependence

It’s the fourth way Paul is affected by God’s grace–thankfulness, service and humility. Many years after conversion, Paul says, “I am.” He still saw this as an important truth to remember and reflect on. When Paul talks about his past life he uses, “I was” in verse 13.” Now here in verse 15 he switches to, “I am.” He knows that he is a sinner. Don’t miss that and don’t let that get old.

Are you a sinner? Are you in need of a Savior? Not when life is bad, but even right now at church? Paul says that he IS a sinner. But then he doubles down and says, I am a BIG sinner. He’s a church planter, a major leader within the Church. And he says, “I am the foremost of sinners”–not past tense, but present tense.

If I could plead with you for one thing, this is it. Let Faith Bible Church be a place where people can say, “I am a sinner and a BIG one.” Let it be a safe place where people can be real about their struggles. Faith Bible will be healthiest if its members see their own sins and struggles.

The truth is that Christ came to save sinners, which we are. That truth is what enables all ministry. I am fallen. I am nobody. I am only a beggar to God. I am no better off than anyone else. And if God can reach me, he can reach anyone. I was blind. Others are blind. I was hard. Others are hard. I was ignorant of my need for Christ. So are others.

Second Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, power is perfected in weakness.” Paul says, “I am the foremost.” Somebody who hurt others horribly can still be saved. Somebody who attacks your faith can still be converted. Someone who looks like they have it all together still needs Christ.

Who do you pass by? Are there people who you think are beyond the Gospel? The professor at school . . . the mocker at work . . . the tough dad at home–they need Jesus the same way you do. Christ came to save sinners.

Paul sees his salvation as an example to others. It’s this old man looking back at life, saying, “If God can change me, he can change anybody.” First Timothy 1:16 to 17, “Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” If God can save me, he can save anyone.

This whole reflection leads Paul to break out into praise in verse 17. In light of all that God has done, let Him–the King of the ages, the immortal one, the invisible one, “the only God” . . . let Him get the glory and honor “forever and ever. Amen.” That is the reason for your salvation right there. That is the reason for God’s grace–so that you and others would praise God.

God’s grace turns sinners into servants and He gets the praise. And with that conclusion, Paul turns back to his reason for writing. And as he addresses Timothy again, we see one more foundational truth about life.

2.  God’s grace turns servants into saints Verses 18 to 20

First Timothy 1:18 to 20, “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.”

Paul is returning to the instructions he started to give in verses 3 to 5. He’s charging Timothy to correct men who were twisting and distorting Scripture. Nigel preached on this whole theme last week and it was excellent. That’s the command he’s referencing in verse 18.

Paul has not left Timothy with an easy job. In pastoral ministry, there are certain duties that are a joy. I get to study the Bible. I get to teach the Bible. I get to meet with men who want to grow and help them do that. My favorite–I get to do weddings.

In the context of pastoral ministry, Paul is not talking about a favorite job. It is our duty as pastors, but it is a hard one. To confront a false teacher is painful. You go into it expecting them to be hardened. You expect slander, attacks, and attempts to divide the church. But as a shepherd of the church, it is Timothy’s duty to address it.

We all have certain responsibilities that God has given to us. Ephesians 2:10 says that there are “good deeds which God has prepared beforehand for you to walk in.” First Peter 4:10 says that your spiritual gifts are a stewardship from God which you are to put to use.

We all have certain things which God has called us to do. Whether we walk in obedience is up to us, but God has given you things to do. And He has given you what you need to accomplish them. If you’re a giver, God is going to give you more than you need. If you’re a teacher, He’s going to give you a sharp mind to think with. He’s going to give you what you need.

Paul’s point to Timothy in this passage is that God has provided what Timothy needs for the battle ahead. In these three verses, there are multiple ways we see God’s sanctifying grace.

1)  Direct Provision

Here’s what I mean–there were prophecies made that called Timothy into ministry. Paul says to remember those as he begins to engage with false teachers. When Timothy is tempted to give up or give in, he should remember the truths that drove him into ministry.

While prophecies are not for today, Timothy lived in a time before the completion of the canon. Prophecy was a spiritual gift and God has used it to lead Timothy into ministry. God gave him what he would need. God always gives us what we need.

Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Sin happens when we don’t trust in God’s provision. Sin happens when we take matters into our own hands. So Paul charges him by those truths, “fight the good fight.” And this is actually the second way we see God’s sanctifying grace.

2)  Spiritual Battle

Paul uses a military battle word–the same one twice in a row. To emphasize that there is a spiritual battle that you are called into, there is a war happening around us.

I know we live in America–we idolize peace. We like guns, but we don’t like war. We have never been invaded. We don’t like conflict. We favor talk over battle. But all around us, there is a war happening. Satan is warring against God. Fallen angels are battling with the elect. Ungodly men attack the godly.

Ephesians 6:12, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” There is a battle. And so Paul uses military language—“fight the good fight.”

How does Timothy do that? Two ways—“keep faith and keep a good conscience.” Watch your belief. Watch your life. Know the Bible and know your temptations. Later in 1 Timothy 4:16 he says the same thing as, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching.”

Those who’ve been here a few years can attest, I used to be a lot heavier. Over the last couple years, I dropped 50 pounds. People didn’t really say anything until I had to get new clothes. Then they start asking how I did it. “What diet did you use? What exercise are you doing?”

Here’s the secret I would tell them all. This is the honest truth. I would step on a scale every morning and then adjust my eating for the day. As soon as I realized exercise wasn’t making me lose weight, I stopped. Probably not a great, long-term choice–but paying close attention to your food consumption makes all the difference. I still eat bad sometimes–I just eat less of it than before. All I had to do is pay attention to my weight while using self-control.

That is how you win the battle. You pay attention–not for your weight, but for your soul. You pay attention to your faith and your conscience. That’s a means God uses to sanctify and transform you. You see, God turns sinners into servants, and he turns every servant into a saint. That’s the foundational truth underlying this encouragement. God’s grace not only saves, but sanctifies.

Long before Timothy arrived in Ephesus, God knew the battle which he would have with false teachers. Long before Paul and Timothy crossed paths, God was making Paul into a man whom Timothy would look up to.

God appointed the work for Timothy to do. And in His grace, He gave Timothy the encouragement to do the hard things. He saw that prophecies–direct words from God were spoken to him. He saw that Timothy was discipled by Paul and that Paul would keep him in mind.

His divine providence kept Paul alive to write this and aware of what was happening. God, in His grace, was supplying to Timothy what was needed for him to stand firm. God set up everything, even the false teachers, so that Timothy would be sanctified and the Ephesian church would stand stronger in the truth.

God does not save you and then set you free. Some people think that once they’ve been saved, God is done with them. But that is not the case at all. God graciously cares for all His creation, especially those who are in Christ. But sometimes that stings.

Now I love my boy. LJ is the most extroverted, fun-loving, high-energy boy I could imagine. He is always going–non-stop. Two nights ago, I turn the corner to our stairs at 10pm to go to bed and he’s sitting on them. “I was waiting for you, Dad! I want to show you something. Follow me.” And he runs up to his bed.

He’s FOUR–he shouldn’t be awake then. He’s the one where we tapped out and realized we’re getting old. He’s hard to keep up with. He’s almost always happy, but he is non-stop. And I love him. But sometimes that love means that I have to discipline him. When he disobeys, I have to train him in obedience.

He was born with zero self-control. It’s going to bring pain in his life later, and he is experiencing that pain sometimes now from us as his parents. The loving care of a parent can sting. God sanctifies us by His direction provision through spiritual battle and . . .

3)  Discipline

That’s what we see in verses 19 to 20, “Keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.”

When you dream about your name being written down in history, this is not what you want it for. Hymenaeus and Alexander were gifted teachers within the Ephesian church. They had been there for some time. People trusted them. People listened to them. But the two men had shipwrecked their faith.

Paul uses a metaphor with purpose. A shipwreck is unexpected. It is sudden. It is catastrophic. It affects many people. Sometimes the boat is salvageable–sometimes not. Hymenaeus and Alexander had shipwrecked their faith. It’s not that they were living in sin, but that their beliefs had departed from actual truth.

We know from 2 Timothy that Hymenaeus, in particular, had led people away from sound doctrine. Second Timothy 2:16 to 18, “But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.”

Within the United States, there are maybe thirty or so Pleasnicks and we are all related. We don’t all know each other well, but it was Joe and Eva Pleasnick who emigrated from Hungary to the US around 1920 and had nine kids. In our one hundred year history, there are no other Johns. So if you read my name somewhere, guaranteed it’s me.

Hymenaeus is a bit like that–it’s an unusual name. It’s a fairly unique name. So we know it’s the same guy. Alexander was really common–kinda like John. The first church I served at had three Johns–first, second and third.

There are multiple New Testament Alexanders in the Bible—we don’t know what happened to this one. Hymenaeus is the same dude. He is mentioned first in both contexts, which implies that he’s the leader. And he was teaching that the resurrection had already happened.

Second Thessalonians 2 describes the fear of the Thessalonian church that they had missed the resurrection and it seems that Hymenaeus was teaching the same thing in Ephesus. This false doctrine was damaging the flock. It was hurting the bride of Christ.

And so Paul tells Timothy to hand them over to Satan, which we know from 1 Corinthians 5 means to remove them from the church
and from fellowship, verse 5, “Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

In Paul’s day, there was not a Faith Bible Church, a Southwest Community and a Temecula Hills all within the same city. Only one church existed in a city. To be a Christian already put you at odds with the Jews and the Romans. There was economic and social cost to professing Christ. To then be separated from the Church meant that there was no longer any refuge for you. There was no sanctuary from the attacks of the enemy. There was no one else to go to, no one to help them.

Paul tells Timothy that Hymenaeus and Alexander have been cast out of the Church. But did you notice why? They are removed from the church “so that they will be taught not to blaspheme”—so that they will be taught.

At this point, there is hope for them. This church discipline is remedial rather than destructive. God in His grace is giving them opportunity to change, to repent, to be transformed. So often we think of God’s grace as keeping us from consequences. But God’s grace also permits us to experience pain so that we would change.

God disciplines those whom he loves. Hebrews 12:6 to 11, “Those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines… 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful, yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

The sweet times you’ve had here at church . . . the hard conversations you’ve had at home . . . the painful suffering you’ve walked through silently . . . the sad consequences to bad choices you made–all of those are God’s active grace towards you as a believer.

God’s grace undergirds your whole life–from salvation through sanctification, all the way to glorification. Who you are is all of God. And the point of the whole passage and the thing to take home–God in His grace enables everything you do, all your ministry, all your life, so that He gets the glory. You will be happiest if you don’t steal His glory. When you see God’s grace throughout your life, pride is foolish. We should be the most humble people, recognizing that all the good in us is from God.

So love the church–it’s Christ’s bride. Work hard–make FBC a place where people find Jesus and grow in Him. But never take credit for it. God’s grace undergirds your whole life, your salvation and your sanctification. That’s why Paul’s personal reflections ends with 1 Timothy 1:17, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

 

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

John serves as a pastor and elder at Faith Bible Church

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