Summary: This is the fifth in a series of sermons based on Paul’s letter to Timothy as a guide to how the church should behave. This message explores the "five faithful sayings" Paul emphasizes in I & II Timothy and Titus.
Summer is officially wrapping up. Whether you mark it by the first day of school, which for most of us has passed, or Labor Day weekend, which is just around the corner, it is about over. That means sweatshirts and sweaters, jackets and windbreakers, will be moving to the front of our closets.
But before we leave the summer, Bob Levey of the Washington Post provided a column documenting the “Best T-shirts of the Summer”. You know, those shirts full of wisdom and catching sayings like, “I’m with stupid.” Anyone ever own one of those?
Here were some of the ones he included in his latest list –
- (around a picture of dandelions) I Fought the Lawn and the Lawn Won
- (on one woman) So Many Men, So Few Who Can Afford Me
- (a somewhat spiritual theme to this one)
God Made Us Sisters, Prozac Made Us Friends
- (another religious one) If They Don’t Have Chocolate In Heaven, I Ain’t Going
- (many of us can relate to this one) My Mother Is A Travel Agent For Guilt Trips
- (which can lead to this one) I Just Do What The Voices Inside My Head Tell Me To Do
- (this one was seen on the back of a passing motorcyclist) If You Can Read This, My Wife Fell Off
- (for the philosophers in the crowd) What If The Hokey Pokey Really Is What It’s All About?
- (I could wear this one) I Didn’t Climb to the Top of the Food Chain to Be a Vegetarian
- (another one for the women) Coffee, Chocolate, Men . . .Some Things Are Just Better Rich
- (here is some profound truth) If At First You Don’t Succeed, Skydiving Isn’t For You
All right. So maybe the most helpful of advice can not be found on the back of a t-shirt. However, back in the 1st century, the apostle Paul had some sayings that he really wanted to make sure the young pastors he was appointing and training were communicating to their congregations.
In fact, five times in his letters to pastors, he uses the words, at least this is how they are translated in the New King James Version, “This is a faithful saying.” Five faithful sayings that he highlights, and are worthy of our brief exploration today.
The first one comes early in his first letter to Timothy, which we have been exploring for the past few weeks. 1 Timothy 1:15 (read).
The first faithful saying. . .
A. JESUS CAME TO SAVE SINNERS.
Last Sunday night David Durst and I were talking about this coming week’s sermon. I told with him that I wasn’t sure what I would be preaching on. I thought I might be going a different direction than I had previously mapped out, and I have. But I joked with him that whatever passage I preached, I knew the sermon would include a call to evangelizing the lost, a call to ministry within our city, and then whatever the Scripture God led me to was really about.
While I was just joking, I will admit that I am finding it harder and harder to read the Word of God without consistently finding a call to share God’s love with the lost of our community. And is it really any wonder? Is it any wonder that the story of God’s desire to redeem people would consistently pull us back to the very purpose of Christ’s life? Namely, to save sinners.
In simplest terms. The word “world” in this passage refers to all humanity. The word “save” means to deliver or rescue. Jesus came to rescue all humanity. Christ came to die for the sins of men and women, and thereby to save sinners, of whom I, like Paul, am chief.
Some churches talk about “target audiences”, or people groups they are marketing their ministries and services towards. The longer I am involved in ministry, the more my target group matches Jesus’: sinners. The lost. If that is why Jesus came to earth and died, I kind of feel like it would be a worthwhile way for me to spend my life.
Jesus said it like this in John 10:10, “I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” The abundant life is available in Jesus, but notice that without Jesus there is no other option but death. He did not say, “I have come that they might continue to live, or live better.” He said, “I have come that they might have life. Without me, there is no life. I have come to save them.”
In Matthew 18:11 Jesus says, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
Some churches have gotten in trouble for having “seeker sensitive” services. Their mistake wasn’t in the type of service they offered. Their mistake is in what they named it. They should have just called it their “Jesus” service. He said, “The healthy don’t need a doctor. The sick do.” Makes you wonder whether He would want churches holding services for themselves, or for the people out there.