Summary: The message is a study of the transformation brought through salvation.

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” [1]

How gracious is Christ Jesus our Lord! Not only is He Ruler over all that He has created, but He receives sinners though they have rebelled against Him; He pardons them and appoints them to His glorious service. How unlike our own experiences in life! How unlike our own actions! When we have surrendered to those against whom we have waged battle, we do not anticipate promotion to positions of trust and service. When we best an opponent, we are wary, cautious, hesitating to have anything to do with that one we have bested even after they have yielded to us and ceased their opposition against us.

It took Paul many years to realise the value in John Mark because the young man had proven timid and consequently failed to continue with the missionaries throughout the first tour. The Apostle was not so terribly different from the most of us. We may accept one who fails, but we want time; and though they are restored by the Lord, we often err on the side of being overly cautious. However, the Master moves relatively swiftly in appointing those whom He redeems.

I’m not suggesting that we should immediately accept into positions of responsibility those who surrender to the Faith—even the Master allowed time for a Saul of Tarsus to mature. However, it is the Master Himself Who is watching the maturation process and urging those who have submitted to His reign to grow up so that He can employ them in His service. God will never be satisfied with mediocrity; but God will train us and use us powerfully to His glory.

I am struck by the fact that God does not merely suggest that His people serve Him. Speaking with the disciples, Jesus spoke of the urgency of the need for labourers. Listen to Jesus, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” [LUKE 10:2]. The Master’s language was strong. The word translated “send out” [Greek, ekbállō] is a strong word that conveys the primary meaning of “to throw,” or “to drive out.” Thus, the Master is saying that we are not merely to ask for workers, but we are to plead with Him to compel them to go out into His harvest fields. Underscore in your mind that the Master does not merely save people and then leave them alone; He actively works to equip each one and then works to compel them to labour for His cause. Christians are saved to serve!

The process leading to appointment begins with redemption. Join me in recalling all that God has done for us. Then, when we have an appreciation of His effective work in our lives, let’s consider what He would do through us to the praise of His glory.

OUR CONDITION — Paul writes as one who is awed in the knowledge of God’s grace and mercy. Truly, each believer should be both humbled and awed at the thought of God’s grace revealed in His great salvation. I am struck at the seemingly ubiquitous arrogance witnessed in the lives of far too many who are called by the Name of the Son of God. The tendency is to wear redemption almost as a badge of merit. We often project an air of superiority among the faithful, imagining that God was exceptionally lucky when He redeemed us. The reality is far different, however.

We will do well to recall a statement the Master gave His disciples in the days of his flesh. “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” [LUKE 17:7-10].

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