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The Worst of Sinners / 1 Timothy 1

Campus: Rooty Hill
Jul 25, 2021

What sounds like the worst of news, is actually the best of news. Today, Lead Pastor Ray Galea opens up 1 Timothy 1 and reminds us that if God can patiently forgive the worst of sinners, then he can forgive anyone.

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It's not the easiest time to be an Olympic athlete, they push their bodies to the limit for 4 years and then Covid hits and they wait another year, then they have to get picked again. Some have come down with COVID in the Olympic village. If they do make it there are no crowds to applaud their efforts and some who make it to the final come second by .02 second. While it's an honour to represent your country, they don’t hand out gold medals for trying. Its all based on performance, performance, performance, I'm so glad that salvation is offered to every one including the very worst

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. ~1Timothy 1:15 (NIV)

No one is so good that they don’t need to be saved and no one is so bad they can’t be saved. People don’t use the word ‘sinner’ all that much these days.

Christ Jesus came into world to save sinners. No one is excluded from the category of sinner. Some may be worse than others. But as we like to say at MBM, you miss the plane by 3 minutes or 3 days, you have still missed the plane. We have all missed the plane by failing to love God with all our heart and failing to love others as we should.

The question is saved from what? 

From a harrowing Christless eternity, that is why Jesus did not come into the world to teach you how to be a better you, to offer a set of self-help bullet points. Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Christianity is a rescue religion not a reform religion, people going to hell is our greatest need, not to be encouraged or educated or enlightened, to be saved.

The 7 year old daughter of a friend found herself in trouble at the beach, she got too close to the rocks and was getting closer, I swam out to her and pulled her back to shore. The girl was very aware of her need to be saved, whether she was aware or not she still needed to be saved. Whether you are aware of your sins and the judgment to come, you still need to be saved. The very name of Jesus tells you why he came to earth, the Angel said to his Joseph

…you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” ~Matthew 1:21 (NIV)

450 year ago in England a man by the name of Thomas Bilney came to trust Christ as his saviour. One day he heard his friend Bishop Latimer wrongly preach how you need to go to the priest for confession before God can forgive you. So Thomas Bilney asked Bishop Latimer if he would hear his confession.

What Bilney confessed were these words "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." It was this verse from Timothy that brought Bishop Latimer to faith, even though a priest, he too needed Jesus to save him from his sins. That same bishop made sure that when the Church of England prayer book was written, after the general confession, this same verse would be read out…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Within the list of sinners in this world, Paul the apostle, saw himself not better than the rest, not the same as the rest, but worse than the rest.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. ~1Timothy 1:15 (NIV)

Literally no 1 sinner is worse than the list of sins in 1 Timothy 1; slave traders, sexually immoral, mother killer, father killers. He said the law was for lawbreakers and he was the chief of the lawbreakers. I wonder if Paul is naming the elephant in the room, the false teachers in Ephesus wanted to undermine Pauls authority and undermine his charge on Timothy to silence false teaching.

Were they thinking? We know what he, Paul, has done, he has no right to command us to silence false teachers, He has blood on his hands. Paul is not hiding the truth.

Do you know who the worst of sinners are?

It’s not Hitler, or Stalin. It’s Not the person who ran over your son. It’s not you. It’s not me. Twice Paul tells us he is the worst of sinners.This is not false humility. Paul is not taking the log out of his own eye. He tells us why he is the worse of sinners.

.... I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man ~1Timothy 1:13 (NIV)

He list his sins in increasing orders: He was a blasphemer and a persecutor. The deep seated violent heart Paul takes us to his conversion, on the road to Damascus where he planned to wipe out the name of Jesus by wiping out every last Christians The risen Jesus strikes him down and strikes him blind “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me”

Then appoints him as His apostle. The one who wrote a lot of the New Testament was not just a murderer. He killed the very people he would spend eternity with and he never forgot it.

He doesn't say ‘I was the worst of sinners’ He says ‘I am the worst of sinners’ Christ Jesus who came to save sinners just like me. But what a relief  to know that Paul is the worst, which means you can never say you’re the worst. You can say your 2ND worst, get the silver but the gold medal for sinning goes to Paul.

Two surprising reasons are given for why he was shown mercy

Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. ~1Timothy 1:13 (NIV)

When he killed Christians, he did not know that Jesus was the Christ, he thought he was doing God a favour, he thought Jesus was a false messiah, steering people away from the truth. He did it for God's sake, which didn’t make him innocent, clearly he still needed mercy. He is like those who killed Christ himself. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”

They are not like the two men mentioned in verse 19, Hymenaeus and Alexander who ship wrecked their faith by knowingly rejecting the truth. No mercy for those who know the truth and choose to turn away. So come to Jesus because he came into your world to save sinners just like you. But maybe you have crossed the line and feel that you are unworthy. The second reason why God saved Paul

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. ~1 Timothy 1:16 (NIV)

Why did God save Paul? He saved him so that you would know one thing, that if God could patiently forgive Paul he can patiently forgive anybody. If God is prepared to the save the worst then of course he will save the rest who come to him. Look again at the word of God

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. ~1 Timothy 1:16 (NIV)

Nobody is beyond the mercy of God and nobody is outside the kindness of God. There may be consequences now, there should be consequences now, murderers should be imprisoned. But coming to Christ is about removing the ultimate consequences. 

Right now, in prison, there are those have come to understand that Christ Jesus came to save sinners just like them. Right now in Churches there are some ministers, priests and social workers who refuse to think they are sinners needing to be saved by Christ. They are not forgiven. Christ wont save anyone who doesn't want to be saved. The question is not who is the worst of sinners the question is who wants to be saved.

From sinner to servant

Paul is so aware that even his faith, love and hope has been given to him, he is on the receiving end of so much mercy that God poured out on him

The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. ~1 Timothy 1:14 (NIV)

How on earth does a man like Paul go from killing Christians to preaching Christ? He lost everything to follow Christ, he went from respect to renegade, so why? He met Christ Jesus, who drenched him in mercy. What's amazing to me is that God gave the most important job, apostle to the nations, to the worst of sinners.

So thankful to Christ, verse 11, God entrusted the gospel to Paul, verse 12, appointed Paul to God's service. From sinner to saint, from blasphemer to apostle, from self centred to servant of the Lord. A reminder that Christians are not saved to just kill time till we meet Jesus we are saved to serve. Serve Christ, serve his people, serve the gospel.

Sure you’re not an apostle, this is a unique privilege of 12 plus Paul, but you are to play a role in making disciples. Christians move from sinner to saint to servants of Christ. Too many get the sinner to the saint but not the serve.

The man who spent his life blaspheming Jesus is now praising God for Jesus

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. ~1 Timothy 1:17 (NIV)

Paul can't talk about God without praising God, and friends nor should we. Those who receives mercy are full of thanks and praise for God.

Praise to the King eternal, the one who has the right to speak into our lives and our church. Who sent Christ Jesus into this world to save sinners. Who commanded Paul to be his apostle and he tells Timothy and us to fight the good fight

Praise to the King eternal, the who is from everlasting to everlasting. The one who speaks timeless truths to us who are trapped in time

We can, mere mortals, praise the immortal king, the undying God, who let his son die for us sinners. The immortal God who gifts us with immortality.

Praise the King invisible who reveals himself in his word and charges Timothy to silence false teachers, because they kept putting words in God mouth.

Only one God and one way to God, He alone sent Christ Jesus into the world to save sinners, He alone deserves honour and glory

Have you thanked and praised God for saving a sinner like you? 

A friend of mine, who is a minister, was taking a service. A man came up to take the Lords supper with tears running down his face. Afterwards he went up to the minister and said. “Do you want to know why I am crying? I've been coming to church all my life but I have just become a Christian. When I heard the words of assurance after confession I finally got it” "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

People who think they are healthy never go to a doctor. People who don't think they are sinners never go to Jesus to be saved.

What a tragedy. After Christ has come into your world, to think you would not want to come to him.

Hear the word of assurance

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ~1Timothy 1:15 (NIV)

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