Summary: God’s grace will never run out - even for the worst sinner
1 Timothy 1:12-17 August 16, 2009
Do you have someone who loves you? Is there something in your life that reminds you of their love? When you see it or hear it, it reminds you of how much you are loved, and it takes you back a little so you have to catch your breath?
Paul Amazing grace story.
A Pharisee who was against Christians – not just teaching against the church, but actively persecuting.
Acts 7:58-8:3 The crowd dragged Stephen out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
…And Saul approved of their killing him.
… Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
If Saul lived in modern times, he could have been indicted for crimes against humanity.
When the Christians fled out of Jerusalem and Judea, Saul asked for, and was granted permission to travel to Damascus, arrest Christians there and bring them back for trial in Jerusalem. At the beginning of Acts 9, it says that Saul was breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. It may have been that he knew that the authorities would look the other way if some of the Christians didn’t make it to trial, but died while “resisting arrest.”
Some of you know the story:
As Saul was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.
Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord!” he replied.
The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”
“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”
But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.
Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”
All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?”
At the end of verse 11, Saul (now Paul) mentions “The gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.” And it takes him aback; he is reminded of the grace that God has given him, and he has to catch his breath and give thanks.
“I have to thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, 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.”
Paul is like a Rwandan Hutu, who participated in the genocide, but has now been adopted into a Tutsi family.