Wednesday, 15 November 2017
However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 1 Timothy 1:16
Paul, after having claimed that he was the chief of sinners, now proceeds to give a reason for his selection despite that unhappy claim to fame. “However” is stated to set the tone of this new thought. “I was the chief of sinners, however…” This is immediately explained by, “for this reason I obtained mercy.” He points out that the very fact that he was the chief of sinners is why he was selected! God, infinitely wise, looked at Paul’s heart and knew that he would feel as he does, and He knew that Paul would use his state before Christ as an example of comfort and reassurance to any and all who felt as he did.
Never waiving in his assurance of salvation, he continues with, “that in me first Christ Jesus might show all longsuffering.” Anyone who thought, “I cannot be saved, my sin is too great,” only needs to come to Paul’s words here to see that such is not the case. Instead of being too great of a sinner to be forgiven, Paul clearly shows that such a notion is wholly unrealistic. “Look at me, and be assured that Christ will forgive you as well!” is his adamant cry to the one burdened by his past life.
The longsuffering of Christ towards those who would otherwise be objects of His wrath is highlighted in Paul, making him “a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.” This is the reason for Paul’s calling, supernatural as it may be. He was the chief of sinners, but God literally manifested Himself to him in order to make him an example, a pattern, for those who would bear the weight of their own sin. Despite their desire to believe, even when it seemed futile, they simply couldn’t accept that God would be willing to forgive them. But because of Paul’s calling, they too can be reassured that their own salvation, because of faith in Christ, was not impossible. Instead, it is rather both possible and assured.
The final words, “for everlasting life,” are a resounding note of eternal salvation. There is no hint here, or anywhere else in Paul’s writing of anything but Once-Saved-Always-Saved. Everlasting life means exactly what it says, and it is based on belief. One leads to the other, and the deal is done. How sad that so many curse this doctrine of assured salvation. They have failed to properly and accurately see that God’s grace is a gift. A gift with conditions is no gift at all. Paul, unflinching in his salvation, and unflinching in the eternal nature of it, asks us to likewise be assured of these things. The Lord has set him as the pattern, and we are to look to it with confidence.
Life application: Let us be assured that there is no thing that we have done which will keep us from being saved if we hand it over to Jesus. And, let us then be assured that there is nothing that can keep us from continuing on in that salvation. Faith – it saves you. Have faith in that.
Lord God, Your word says that we are saved by grace through faith. When we completely blow it after that point, Your word says that as children of adoption we may be disciplined, but we will never lose our position in Your family. Help us to be people of faith, accepting Your word as true, and standing fast on its promises. When our hearts overwhelm us because of our sin, help us to remember again that nothing can separate us from Your love which is found in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.