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1 Timothy 1:12-17


Intro: After spending three years preaching at Ephesus, Paul left the church in the hands of a young preacher named Timothy, Acts 19.  Timothy was a young man, in his first pastorate, and he had encountered his share of problems.  He had to combat false teachers in the church, 1:18-20; the rise of false doctrine, 1:3-7; 4:1-3; 6:3-5; disorder in the worship services, 2:1-15; the need to find and ordain qualified leaders, 3:1-14; and materialism, 6:6-19.  In the midst of this, some people in the church considered Timothy to be too young, 4:12.  He was, by this time, around 30 years old.  However, Greek society believed that a man came of age at around the age of 40. 

      Timothy truly did have a lot on his plate, and it would seem from reading this book that he also battled discouragement.  Therefore, Paul writes to encourage this preacher to continue to serve the Lord faithfully.  He also writes to challenge him to continue to grow in the Lord and to stand for the truth in spite of all the opposition he is facing.

      In an effort of accomplish his goal of encouraging this preacher, Paul uses his life as an example of what Jesus can do through His grace and through His power.  He says to Timothy, “Look at me, Timothy!  Look at what Jesus has done for me!”  Paul knew that if Timothy could ever see that God could take a man like Paul, with all his baggage, save him by his grace, and use his for his glory; then God could do a wonderful work through Timothy as well.

      I would like to take some time to look at Paul’s personal testimony today.  Why? I find that what Jesus did in, to and for Paul, He has also done in, to and for me, and in, to and for all of those who are saved by His grace.  Join me as we consider Paul’s testimony.  I want to preach for a while on this thought: Look At What Jesus Has Done For Me!

  I.  v. 13, 15           THE TESTIMONY OF A SINNER

A.  v. 13  The Deeds Of This Sinner – By Paul’s own admission, he was guilty of breaking all the commandments of the Lord.  As a “blasphemer”, he had spoken evil of and slandered the name of God, Acts 9:4.  In doing so, he had failed to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” Matt. 22:37.  As a “persecutor” and as an “injurious” man, he was guilty of murder, hatred and unspeakable acts of cruelty aimed at his fellow man, Acts 7:58; 8:1, 3; 9:1.  He had failed to “love thy neighbour as thyself,” Matt. 22:39.  Paul was a sinful man and he stood guilty before the Lord!  Now, he was religious, but he was lost in his sins!

      (Note: Before we come down too hard on Paul, we need to take a closer look at ourselves.  We are as guilty as Paul was.  We too have nothing in our past to brag about!  Lost and undone before the Lord, wicked to the core and deserving of Hell, Rom. 3:10-23. That is the way we were when God found us!)

B.  v. 13  The Deception Of This Sinner – Paul says that he did what he did in “ignorance.”  He isn’t making excuses; he is simply stating the fact.  Paul did not understand the ramifications of his actions.  He thought he was earnestly and faithfully serving the Lord.  He had rejected Jesus and the Gospel message because he was sincerely trying to earn his own salvation.  He was in a state of blindness until Jesus came and opened his eyes!

    (Note: Again, Paul’s life mirrors that of our own lives.  According to the Bible, all lost sinners are blind to their condition and their destiny, 2 Cor. 4:4.  They are, in fact, “dead in trespasses and sins,” Eph. 2:1.  None of us can see our condition, our need or the way out of Hell, until the Holy Spirit “quickens us” and points us to Jesus.)


C.  v. 15  The Diagnosis Of This Sinner – Paul sums it all us when he claims the title “chief of sinners.”  Paul was saying, “Before Jesus saved me, I was as bad as a man could get.  I am still wicked to the core of my being, but now I am saved!”  If you don’t believe this, just look at what Paul said in Rom. 7:18-25.


      (Note: We all feel like Paul did from time to time.  I look at my life and I see so much room for improvement.  I see so much that needs to be changed, and I feel so powerless to fix it.  Our lives will ever be the testimony of sinners, but not lost sinners any longer.  Now we were sinners who have been made saints by the grace of God, 1 Cor. 6:9-11!)


 II.  v. 13-14             THE TESTIMONY OF A SAINT

A.  v. 13b-14a  The Means Of This Saint’s Conversion – Paul tells us that two great gifts from the Lord resulted in his salvation: mercy and grace.  In His mercy, God did not give Paul the condemnation in Hell that he deserved.  In grace, God gave him the perfect salvation that he did not deserve!  It was mercy that held off the wrath of God when Paul was persecuting the church and blaspheming the name and message of Jesus.  But, it was grace that came to him that day on the Damascus Road, confronted him concerning his sins, and saved his soul!

            Paul tells us that the grace that sought him and bought him was “exceeding abundant.”  This means that God had more grace than Paul needed!  Where his sin had abounded, God’s grace did much more abound, Rom. 5:20! By the way, when Paul says that he “obtained mercy”, that phrase is in the “passive voice.”  This implies that Paul did not seek mercy, but mercy found him.  He did not deserve Mercy, but mercy came to him anyway.  He did not understand mercy, but mercy became his nonetheless!


      (Note: We who are saved this evening are saved because of the same two gifts from the hand of a glorious, loving God.  It was God’s mercy that held off His wrath as we wandered away in the darkness and deadness of sin.  It was His grace that reached out to us in love to confront us and call us to Jesus.  It was grace and grace alone that saved our souls, Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5.  Hallelujah!

            And friends, His grace is far more abundant than our sins!  You aren’t going to Heaven by the “skin of your teeth.”  You are going to Heaven held tightly in the grip of sovereign grace!  This grace was not just sufficient for the salvation of Paul’s soul, but grace that is “exceeding abundant” to save all those who come to God by faith!)


B.  v. 14  The Manifestation Of This Saint’s Conversion – When grace came, it brought with it “faith and love.”  When the Lord saved Paul, he was able to believe that which he had formerly denied.  When grace came it allowed him to love a Lord and a people he had formerly hated.


      (Note: That is what God’s grace in salvation will do for you!  It will cause you to believe things you have always doubted.  It will cause you to love things you have always hated.  In other words, salvation will change your life, completely, totally and eternally, 2 Cor. 5:17.)


III.  v. 12                THE TESTIMONY OF A SERVANT

A.  The Reasons For This Service – Paul says that he is serving the Lord because the Lord “put” him in the ministry having found him “faithful”, or “full of faith, or trustworthy.”  Paul did not choose to go into the ministry.  He became a preacher and an apostle by the will of God alone. The Lord took him and put him where He wanted him to serve.  When he was placed there, Paul served faithfully, for the glory of God!  This was Paul’s challenge to Timothy, 1 Tim. 1:17-19a.)


      (Note: So it is with all those who are saved.  The Lord chooses our place of ministry for us, 1 Cor. 12:7-31; Rom. 12:1-8.  When He gifts us and gives us a ministry of service, our duty is to serve Him there faithfully!)


B.  The Resources For This Service – Paul tells us that he is serving in this call of the Lord because God has “enabled” him for the task.  That word means “to be strengthened and to be endued with power.”  Paul did what he did not because he was a great preacher or teacher.  He did what he did not because he had a great intellect.  He did what he did not because of any innate, natural abilities.  He did what he by the power of God.  He was energized for his call and for his office by God.  That was Paul’s testimony, 1 Cor. 15:10.


      (Note:  You need not fear what the Lord may call you to do in His service.  For, if He calls you, He will prepare you and equip you.  He will give you all the resources you need to get His work done for His glory, 1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 3:5-6; 4:1; 12:9-10; Phil. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:17!)


IV.  v. 16              THE TESTIMONY OF A SHOWPIECE

A.  Paul says that the reason God chose to extend His mercy and grace toward him, was to use Paul as a pattern.  God wanted Paul as proof positive of His “longsuffering.”  That word means to be “long tempered.”  God wanted everyone who saw Paul to understand that if He would save this man, He will save anyone who will come to Him! The word “pattern” means “a sketch, an outline, a summary exposition.”

            I think Paul is making two great statements here:

            1.  If God can save Paul, He can and will save anyone.

            2.  The way God saved Paul is a pattern that reveals how others are to be saved.  Not the whole light, audible voices, but conviction of sins, and faith in the crucified and risen Christ.

      In other words, Paul is saying, “My life is a showpiece! God has saved me and put me on display for His glory to point others to Himself.”

B.  My friends that is why He saved you and me too!  He saved us to set us out before a lost and dying world to tell them, “If I can save this one, I can save you too!”  He saved us to be trophies of His grace and living testimonies to His life changing power, Eph. 2:10; James 2:18; Matt. 5:16.


V.  v. 17              THE TESTIMONY OF A SONGLEADER

A. Paul remembered what he was before Jesus found him, and all that Jesus has done for him.  When he considers it all, he cannot hold back his anthem of praise!  He bursts into a doxology of praise to the glory of God!

B.  Paul sets the right example for us!  Every saint needs to remember where Jesus found them, what He has brought them through, Isa. 51:1, what He is doing through them, 1 Cor. 2:9, and where he is taking them, John 14:1-3! When we consider where He found us, what He did for us, what He is doing in us and where He is taking us, how could we possibly refrain from praising Him!  When we remember Who He is and Who we are, how could we not lift our voices in praise to Him?  He is worthy and God’s people are to be about the business of praising His Name, Heb. 13:15; Psa. 50:23; Psa. 50:14-15!)


Conc:  If you are saved, you have a testimony that resembles the testimony of Paul.  The Lord surely has been good and gracious to us, hasn’t He?  Let me just encourage each of us to live out that testimony in a life of service, glory and praise.  If the Lord has touched an area of your life that needs work, you can deal with it right now, tonight.  If you just want to come around this altar and thank our great God for His saving grace and for using us for His glory, then come and slip into this altar tonight and get caught up on your thanksgiving. If you have realized this evening that you have never been saved, you can get that taken care of this evening.  Let’s just mind Him church!

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