Sermon #1038 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: PAUL A PATTERN
Text: I Timothy 1:16
Scripture Reading: Acts 22:1-16; 26:13-19
Subject: Paul as a Pattern to All Who Believe
Date: Sunday Morning – August 16, 1992
This past week I received a letter that greatly encouraged me in the work of the gospel. Several months ago I told you about a young man, Bro. Iain McKenzie who had cancer, and asked you to pray for him.
· Last year some friends gave Iain some of our tapes and encouraged him to listen to them.
· When he was 19 years old God was pleased to save him.
· A few months after God saved him, he discovered that he had cancer.
· Last week the Lord called Iain home. He was 20 years old.
I never met Iain. He lived in Scotland, in the Isle of Lewis. This is how his sister told me of his death: Yesterday, “at 20 minutes to eleven in the morning, our Lord took Iain to be with himself. We are sorrowful, yet rejoicing in the knowledge that he is with the One who bought him with a great price…He is now with the Lamb.”
When I read that letter, I thought to myself, “How I thank God for the privilege of having preached the Gospel to that poor soul! Thank God for grace that snatches his elect as brands from the burning!” Iain McKenzie is with the Lamb in glory today because…
· God chose him and predestinated him to be there.
· Christ redeemed him with his own precious blood.
· The Holy Spirit called him from death to life by the irresistible power of his grace.
· He trusted Christ.
· We sent the gospel across the water.
· Someone cared enough for his soul to put those tapes in his hands.
I don’t know about you, but that encourages me to keep on doing what God puts us here to do. It encourages me to keep on preaching the gospel of Christ as often as I can, as fully as I can, as plain as I can, to as many people as I can, wherever I can! This is our task. We must preach Christ, we must make him to this generation. Our labor is not in vain (Isa. 55:11). There are some out there who yet must hear his voice (John 10:16).
Maybe there is one here today, maybe there are many, standing on the brink of eternity, though you know it not, hovering over the gaping pit of hell, though you do not realize it. To you I am sent today to preach the glorious gospel of the free grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.
“This is a faithful saying…”’ I am not here to discuss hearsay things, but verified facts. “That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you!” (I John 1:1-3).
“This is a faithful saying…” and worthy of all acceptation…” The table is spread. Everything is ready. You are not expected to bring anything at all.
Illustration: The poor woman to Spurgeon – “I asked you to tea. I didn’t ask you to provide tea for me!”
Christ spreads the table of grace. Christ invites the hungry soul, “Come and dine.” He provides everything. He wants nothing from you, but you. If you bring anything else, he will reject both it and you. But if you come to Christ saying,
“Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress
Helpless, come to Thee for grace!”
He will receive you.” He will save you!
“This is a faithful saying,” from the faithful God, proclaiming a faithful Savior, “And worthy of all acceptation!” What is this faithful saying? “That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief.”
“We have heard the joyful sound,
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Spread the tidings all around,
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
This is the gospel we preach! Is there another Jesus? Is there another Gospel?
1. It is the gospel of a Person – “Christ Jesus.” He is Christ, God and man in one glorious Person. He once died in the place of sinners to satisfy the justice of God and put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Yet, he is alive for evermore. He lives to make intercession for transgressors. This great Christ Jesus is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him.
2. The gospel we preach proclaims A Divine visitation. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world; and he came upon an errand of mercy, “to save sinners!” The gospel of grace is the sinner’s gospel. Christ is the sinner’s Savior.
· He lived for sinners!
· He labored for sinners!
· He died and made atonement for sinners!
· He sent me to preach pardon and peace to sinners!
· He pleads for sinners!
· He saves sinners!
Sinners Jesus will receive,
Sound this word of grace to all
Who the devil has deceived,
All who linger, all who fall!
3. The gospel we preach is the gospel of a finished work. We preach an accomplished redemption. Christ finished the work of salvation before he ascended back into heaven. The merit and efficacy of his work continues to this day. Christ has obtained eternal redemption. His blood cleanses from all sin. He is ready, willing, and able to give salvation to all who come to him.
4. The gospel we preach is the gospel of effectual deliverance. Christ came into the world “to save sinners;” and he did! He did not come to do his part, for the saving of sinners, but to save sinners! He did not come to make sinners savable, but to save sinners! He did not come to save good, righteous people, but to save sinners! Jesus Christ saved his people from their sins. He gives salvation to all who trust him.
Would you like to have a picture, an example, a pattern of God’s salvation? Maybe if you had a pattern of grace that you could see it might help you to understand the gospel and trust Christ – Read verse 16 – “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
Paul obtained mercy that he might be a pattern to us of mercy and faith.
I want to show you three remarkable things revealed in this verse of Scripture:
1. Paul felt himself to be the Chief of Sinners.
2. This man, the Chief of Sinners, obtained mercy.
3. Paul obtained mercy that he might be a pattern to others.
I. Paul felt Himself to be The Chief of Sinners.
He says, “For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering.” The word here translated “first” is the very same word that is translated “chief” in verse fifteen. Paul is saying, “I obtained mercy that in me, the chief of sinners, Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering.” That is the first thing spoken of in this verse.
Multitudes of sinners have been saved by the grace of God through the merits of Christ; but Paul contends that he is the chief of sinners. He felt, never was there a soul so black as mine washed and made white by the blood of Christ.
These are not the words of a fake humility. They are the words of a man who honestly felt himself to be the last of all who are saved by grace (Eph. 3:8; I Cor. 15:9). The very chief of sinners. These words were written by Paul under the direction of God the Holy Spirit. They are the words of truth and soberness. Paul’s description of himself is true in two respects.
A. Paul was the chief of sinners in the sight of God.
Outwardly, as touching the law, he was blameless. He was a Pharisee among Pharisees. No man could put his finger on anything in Paul’s outward, moral character and charge him with anything. He was a self-righteous man; and there is nothing so obnoxious to God as self-righteousness! (See Luke 16:15; Matt. 15:8).
In his heart, though he lived a blameless life before men, Paul fought against God and against Christ. How many there are like him! You have a fair reputation among men; but you hate God (Rom. 8:7). You have high regard for the opinions of men and take great care to impress men; but you have no regard for God. Like whited sepulchers, you look fair to the eyes of men; but inwardly you are full of death and uncleanness.
God hates self-righteousness more than anything else in man! The chief of sinners is not found in the prison house on the house of ill repute, but in the church house!
B. Paul was the chief of sinners in his own sight too.
When the Lord God swept through his heart and saw with the light of his holy law, Paul discovered within himself an evil heart – (Rom.7:7-9, 24).
Holy Spirit conviction causes men and women to know their sin, confess their sin, repent of their sin, and loathe their sin – (John 16:13; Luke 18:13). When God convinces a person of his sin, he hasn’t got much to say about other people’s sins.
Every believer is made to see his sin so thoroughly that he sees no sin outside himself to compare with the sin that is in him. So that in his own estimation he is “the chief of sinners.”
II. This Man, The Chief of Sinners, Obtained Mercy.
He says this twice in this chapter – verse 13 and verse 16. No expression on earth can better describe what has happened when the chief of sinners gets saved by the grace of God – “I obtained mercy!” “By grace ye are saved!” (Eph. 2:5).
Paul did not say, “I obtained justice!” That would have landed him in hell! He who was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious obtained mercy!
He did not say, “I obtained silver, or gold, or houses, or lands.” God gives riches to men who are cast into hell. Riches are not an indication of God’s favor. He gives mercy to sinners. That is all I need and all I want!
When Paul says, “I, the chief of sinners, obtained mercy,” he is saying, there is hope for you too. If God has saved me, the chief of sinners, why shouldn’t he save you?
“Come, my fellow sinners, try,
Jesus’ heart is full of love;
Oh that you, as well as I,
May His wondrous mercy prove!
He has sent me to declare,
All is ready, all is free;
Why should any soul despair,
Since He saved a wretch like me?” Newton
III. Paul obtained mercy that he might be A Pattern to Others.
“For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
Paul was saved that he might be a pattern to others. God had chosen him, not because he was better than others, for he says, “I am the chief of sinners;” but to show others what the grace of God, the blood of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit can do. As I bring my message to a close, I want us to look at this pattern in three ways.
A. Before God saved him, Paul was a pattern of God’s Longsuffering.
God simply would not let him be. God would not let him perish. God would not let him go to hell. That is what the longsuffering of God is. It is God refusing to allow sinners to go to hell who fully deserve to go to hell (II Pet. 3:9, 15).
It is true, Paul was not an old man when God saved him, but God’s longsuffering is not to be measured by years. Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit says, “if you want to see the longsuffering of God, look at me.”
1. See young Saul of Tarsus, at Gamaliel’s feet, learning to despise the name of Christ and to hate his people.
2. A little later, you see him holding the coats of these men who stoned Stephen to death – ( Acts 7:58).
· He had just heard Stephen preach the gospel of Christ.
· Yet, with blood curdling hardness of heart, he both watched and gave consent to the stoning.
· With ice running through his veins, he looked upon himself as a righteous man.
3. Later he made havoc of the church at Jerusalem.
4. Then he sought letters of authority to persecute the saints of God at Damascus.
But Christ, who had redeemed him, who loved him with an everlasting love, would not let Saul go. Grace pursued him down the Damascus Road. Just when he was about to fall upon Christ’s fold of sheep at Damascus, the Lord laid his hand upon Saul and turned the raging lion into one of the lambs.
Have you been provoking God to wrath? Maybe you think, “There is no reason for me to seek mercy. I am sure I have sinned away my day of grace. There is no hope for me. “Wait! There is hope. Paul gives us a pattern of God’s longsuffering. Maybe God brought you here today that he might be gracious to you!
B. When the Lord did save him, Paul was a pattern of grace.
We all tend to think that Paul’s conversion was something unusual and out of the ordinary; but it was not. His conversion was a pattern of all conversions. His salvation was a pattern of how God saves all his elect.
1. Paul was saved because of God’s Sovereign Election -
The very first words he heard from Ananias, after he received his sight, were these – “The God of our fathers hath chosen thee.” (Acts 22:14).
2. Paul was saved by the Merits of Christ’s Blood Atonement (Gen. 2:20).
He was not justified by what he did. He was justified by what Christ did for him!
3. Paul was saved by the Holy Spirit’s Effectual, Distinguishing, Irresistible Call – (Gal. 1:15-16).
There are many sweet examples of the Spirit’s call in the Bible – “I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by the arms” (Hos. 11:3).
But God’s call of Paul is the pattern.
a. It was a distinguishing call (Acts 22:9).
b. It was a personal call – (“Saul, Saul”).
c. It was a humbling call. (“I fell to the ground.” “Who art thou, Lord?”).
d. It was an irresistible, effectual call - (“What shall I do, Lord? – “I was not disobedient.”)
4. Paul was saved by faith in Christ, by believing on Christ by trusting the Lord Jesus Christ.
a. He was saved without any previous preparations on his own part.
b. He was saved at once from the death, darkness, and dominion of sin.
c. He was saved by grace alone.
d. He was saved by faith wrought in him by the Spirit of God.
Before God saved him, Paul was a pattern of God’s longsuffering grace. When God saved him, he was a pattern of God’s saving grace. And –
C. After God saved him Paul was a pattern of God’s sanctifying grace.
Sanctification is not something that is tacked on to salvation. It is part of salvation. There is no such thing as an unsanctified believer!
1. As soon as he received his sight, Paul set himself apart from and consecrated himself to Christ in Believer’s baptism (Acts 9:18).
2. He consecrated himself to the people he once destroyed (Acts 9:26).
3. He consecrated himself to the cause of Christ (Acts 20:24).
4. He consecrated himself to Christ – “For me to live is Christ!” (Phil. 3:7-14).
1. Has God saved you by his marvelous grace? You are saved to be a pattern.
· To Your Family
· To Your Friends!
· To Your Brethren!
· To The World!
2. Paul is set before you today as a pattern of grace, declaring that our God is one Who “Delighteth in Mercy!”
Come now to Christ and prove him. Come – See if he will not receive you! Believe – See if he will not forgive you! “Be ye reconciled to God!”