God’s Glory in Salvation
On July 24, I preached a sermon on 1 Timothy 1:12-17 at Jimmie Hale Mission in downtown Birmingham, AL. As with my posted outline of my sermon on 1 Timothy 1:1-11, below is an outline of this sermon on 1 Timothy 1:12-17. You can listen to this sermon at mypodcast.com.
In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul writes that our salvation is “by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, so that no one can boast.” God alone receives all glory for our salvation. In 1 Timothy 1:12-17, we see God’s glory in both the transformation of salvation and the hope of salvation.
I. The transformation of salvation, vv. 12-14.
A. Paul’s calling, v. 12.
1. Paul thanks the Lord for strengthening him to be a faithful apostolic minister of the gospel. Luke writes about this in Acts 9:22.
2. The Lord strengthens Paul and appoints him to ministerial service “because he judged me faithful.” Cf. 1 Corinthians 7:25. The emphasis is not on Paul’s faithfulness, but on the Lord’s mercy.
B. Paul’s transformation, vv. 13-14.
1. The Lord strengthens Paul to be the apostle to the Gentiles “though formerly [Paul] was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.” For Luke’s description of a pre-conversion Paul, see Acts 9:1-2.
2. The Lord shows mercy in “appointing [Paul] to his service” because Paul “had acted ignorantly in unbelief.”
a. Paul had sinned “ignorantly in unbelief,” which means that he had been “a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” before conversion.
b. Paul does not equate ignorance with guiltlessness, however; Paul says this as an indictment against false teachers at Ephesus. Paul blasphemed God in unbelief; contrarily, the false teachers blaspheme God while claiming to be believers. In 1 Timothy 1:20, by handing two false teachers over to Satan “that they may learn not to blaspheme,” Paul is saying they are unsaved. Paul sinning “ignorantly in unbelief” does not excuse his sin; rather, it indicts the false teachers at Ephesus, who blaspheme (by their inconsistent life) though they claim to be Christians.
3. In salvation, we receive the “grace of the Lord … with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” This “grace of” and “faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” transformed Paul from being a blasphemer of God to being a committed Christian; read Luke’s account in Acts 9:20-22.
C. Just as the Lord transformed Paul in his salvation, so the Lord transforms us when he saves us (2 Corinthians 5:16-17).
II. The hope of salvation, vv. 15-16. Despite the fact that everyone as naturally born are “dead in trespasses and sin,” there is hope for salvation. Paul enumerates this hope in vv. 15-16. Three phrases in v. 15 particularly give us reason to hope that we, too, can be saved by Christ’s “perfect patience,” even as Paul was:
A. “Christ Jesus came into the world.” The apostle John writes in John 1:1, 14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
B. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
1. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
2. Jesus saves us by bearing the wrath we deserve. He died in our place. Consider Isaiah 53:4-6.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
C. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” At the end of v. 15 and all of v. 16, Paul explains that his salvation (vv. 12-14) is Jesus’ “perfect patient” on the foremost sinner.
1. In seeing Christ’s “perfect patience,” toward the foremost sinner, we can believe that since Christ saved Paul, Christ will save us also! Paul was the self-avowed worst of all sinners. Christ saved him, and He can save you, too!
2. In addition to nonbelievers, this phrase also applies to believers. Even as a believer, Paul says “I am the foremost of sinners.” We Christians must not somehow think that we are now perfect; rather, we must humbly agree with Paul that though we are different sinners, we are outrageous sinners nonetheless. Even now we still need Christ Jesus, apart from whom, we can do nothing (John 15:5), but through whom we can do all things (Philippians 4:13).
Since we are to be humble about our salvation and contrite because of our sin, all glory goes to God. He is the One who shows us grace and who gives us “the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” He is the One who transforms us from blasphemers to true worshippers. He is the One who gives us the hope of salvation and who affirms that whoever comes to Christ in faith will by no means be cast out. Therefore, let us ascribe “honor and glory to the ages of ages” to our God who saves us!
Christian, glorify God for your salvation. Non-Christian, look to Christ, place your trust in Him, and you shall be saved!