Series on I Timothy, I Warnings, C Demonstration of Grace, Text:1:12-17, Title: All of Grace

Introduction

Paul has declared God's grace to Timothy and he has warned his son  and fellow worker of the false teachers who deny the grace of God. Timothy is to fight the good fight for salvation by grace alone through faith. To this end in the midst of his exhortations Paul gives an account of grace in his own life. This is the great demonstration. For ages to come the Apostle's experience would be the prototype which would enable us to see how great the grace of God is. Here in  this place grace is powerfully displayed so that we can look at it and wonder. To enhance your wonderment, we look today at amazing grace. There is a current TV show with that title, but i do not think you will find it there. In this Scripture God shows us what grace is. i want us to look at the grace of God given to Paul: the fact, the fullness,  the function and the fountain.

I The Fact of Grace to Paul

Paul has five trustworthy sayings in the pastoral letters. There are three in I Timothy, here and in 3:1, and 4:9. These are indisputable and reliable sayings which have embedded themselves in the heart of the Christian community. They should be personally appropriated, for they are worthy of full acceptance. They are underlined by Paul. Here in verse 15 he says, Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. The fact of grace is that apart from God's seeking us and calling us we would never seek Him or call upon Him. Moreover, grace is not only necessary for the salvation of sinners, it is unlimited in its power. Grace can change the heart of the greatest enemy, the most flagrant sinner, the most hopeless and helpless. We have a very hard time believing this. The denial of grace is part of our sinful natures. We do not want to be so utterly hopeless and helpless in ourselves. Recently the art collection of Albert Barnes has been opened to the public here. Barnes was an eccentric millionaire MD who amassed one of the finest collections in the world and it was not open to the public. It seems that Pablo Picasso  painted a portrait of the American writer Gertrude Stein in 1906. He gave it to her because he said that at this point in his career the difference between a gift and a sale was negligible. Albert Barnes became interested and wanted to know how much Gertrude Stein had paid for the painting. “Nothing,” she said, “Naturally he gave it to me.” Dr. Barnes who had invested vast sums of money in art could not believe that a Picasso was given away. When it comes to the gospel we're like that; we're incredulous. John Newton calls it amazing grace, Charles Wesley says, “And can it be that I should gain and interest in my savior's blood? Died he for me who caused his pain, for me who him to death pursued? Amazing love!

II The Fullness of Grace to Paul

In verses 12-14 this grace of God in Paul's life is shown as astounding in two ways. First with regard to the greatness of his sin, and secondly with regard to the greatness of his salvation, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 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.  The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

A His Sin

With regard to Paul's sin the grace was great because he was an enemy as we read in verse 13. Paul does not excuse his sin here. He simply states that he didn't know who Jesus was. If he had then he might have been hardened rather than helped. The key here is how awful Paul was: a blasphemer, a persecutor, a wanton aggressor, breathing out hatred and wrath. Even after all these years Paul cannot get over it. He mentions it in I Corinthians and Ephesians. He reminds me of the girl who was examined by the elders who was asked, “Were you a sinner?” “Yes.” “Are you still a sinner? “I think i am a greater sinner than ever.””Well then, what real change have you experienced? And she answered, “Well I used to be a sinner running after sin and now iIm a sinner running from sin." Who would want Paul and who would care? Jesus did. The fullness of grace; there is no limit to whom it can reach, and when we limit it we make God a liar.

B His Salvation

But the greatness of Paul's salvation also shows amazing grace in verse 14. The faith and love were not something Paul contributed. The grace of God brought the faith and love. One moment Paul did not believe and the next he did. His heart was changed. God does not offer sinners salvation and wait until they repent. God is eternal but he would be waiting forever. In repenting and believing we act, but we act because of the grace of God in us. We are active in faith but we do not originate faith. It is God's gift to us. This is the fullness of grace. It reaches all and it provides all.

III The Function Grace to Paul

Of course God's grace was given because he had set His love upon this sinner, and it was given so that Paul could be his distinguished servant in the gospel as he says in verse 12, but it was also given for another reason revealed in verse 16, to create a sketch, But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. It is as if an artist's sketch is hung in an art gallery. The sketch is a pattern and later it can  become a finished oil painting. So in Paul God created a model to show what he was going to do in the lives of all his children, and the thing the model shows is God's unlimited patience. Wrath was withheld, the sinner was spared, and mercy was shown. Some of you have had relatives you prayed for over the years. The longer it takes the more unlikely it seems. People are established in their sinful lifestyles. Despair threatens to overwhelm us, but we have the example, the pattern. No matter how great the sinner, or how great the need, God's mercy is greater.

IV The Fountain of Grace to Paul

And so the Apostle, celebrating the wonder of God's amazing grace, cannot help but end in a doxology of praise to the God of grace, Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. From my smitten heart with tears, two wonders i confess, the wonders of his glorious love and my own worthlessness. The contemplation of these two wonders leads to Paul’s praise. God is the king of the ages sovereignly overruling evil for good; he is imperishable or eternal, meaning he never grows weary; he never changes. The grass, the flowers of the field, everything around us perishes. Everything that is visible is perishable, but God is invisible. All of this tells us that God exists by and for himself. He is independent and sufficient. And so Paul calls him the only God because there is no room for any other. There can be only one, and he is to be praised forever for his grace. “When we've been there ten thousand years bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing his praise than when we've first begun.”