Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ – Romans 5:1-11

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Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ – Romans 5:1-11 – 05/01/2016

Romans 5:1 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

Let’s start in verse one of chapter five…

V1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul has spent chapters 1-4 showing us the reasons that we are justified by faith now we have established that we see that Paul moves on to teaching more theology but at the same time explaining what he means by his past statements and showing correct teaching. He states that we are “justified by faith” harks back to Romans 1-3 where we were shown to be guilty before God and Paul showed the need for a savior. That is important because if you do not recognize your need for salvation then you may have issues accepting Jesus as your messiah. Even although we are guilty, God never meant for that to always be the case and we are “justified by faith” in Christa and what he has done for us on the cross.

This is why Paul states we “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” to quote the hymn writer “Jesus paid it all” on the cross. Paul evaluates this claim and shows how great that sacrifice was. Can you imagine that God would want communion with you so much that he would send to you the most precious in his eyes to die in your place in order that justice be served on your sins and that you can have peace with God?

“Peace with God” is a wonderful phrase showing that we are no longer against God or at odds with him due to sin. This is not a “catch all state” and we are still required to have faith and we are required to actually want salvation as God will not force himself upon those who do not wish to serve him. Like most peace treaties there is a negotiation and winners and losers, in this battle however both man and God win because God gets his beloved creation back and man has a way to be reconciled to God.

V2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Paul shows us that we have this position with God not through our own will, our own merits, skills or attributes; we have it entirely through God’s grace. None of us are favored by God and we are all there through grace, it is by grace that we are saved and we see that in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians…

Ephesians 2:4 (ESV) 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

That explains it way better than I ever could, we were dead in our sins before we were redeemed and our redemption is secured by our faith, talk about finding a precious jewel in a dollar store! That is reason alone to hope in the glory of God. We have an all access pass to the maker of heaven and earth, what a joy!

V3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Paul mirrors what is said in the book of James when he talks of “rejoicing on ones trials” let’s be honest, who does that?

Paul uses a great word for “sufferings” and he states that we can rejoice in them, I am sure that in your life you have had times that you would rather not talk about and trials that have flamed you to within an inch of your spiritual life and you have been tested. Perhaps you would rather just close that door to that part of your life and forget about it. What if God had a plan for that suffering in your life? What if you were to be used in the same way that this test became a testimony and you were able to ‘save someone else’s life” just because you have been through those things. Paul states that testing does the following…

  • suffering produces endurance
  • endurance produces character
  • character produces hope
  • hope does not put us to shame

James 1:2 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

So instead of begging God and saying “why me?” instead say “why not?” and I know that this is easy to put down in paper and when you are in the trenches it is a whole different story. I know that I would much rather not go through what God has me go through and just have the character and hope but that is not God’s way and Paul states why below.

Isn’t that the way with God? I cannot count the amount of times I have asked in faith in prayer for more money and rather than God just dropping me a check in the mail (that has happened too) he will often times give me the opportunity to earn money through overtime or a second job will come through.

Paul writes that “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Paul rounds that reasoning by stating that hope will not disappoint us and put us to shame because of God’s love. God when he created the heavens and earth created everything “good” and has intention to make it good again. Paul states this with great clarity but not having a cold theological feel to it. Paul realized this was life changing but also people lived their lives through this and by this.

God will pour out his love, it is not rationed and Paul desires us to have experience of this part of God. God desires us to know the Holy Spirit in its fullness. We have the Holy Spirit in our lives, but we have to ask ourselves if we are living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and walk day by day dependent on the Holy Spirit?

V6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God came and rescued us while we were weak, not strong! This is very God, that he would come to the most undeserving, to the weakest, to the ungodly and the wicked. Basically us! The very ones that Jesus was drawn to because he and the father are on the same mission. To heal the sick and to redeem those who wish redeemed. That is why Christ died for the ungodly and he did so at the right time. God knew what he was doing and his timing is always better than ours. (This is also reconfirmed in Galatians 4:4)

Think about it, God waited for an Empire to come along that would have an open border system all through their Empire, for a stable economy, for the right time for prophecies to be fulfilled. History may say that the gospel was hampered by the Roman Empire through persecution, but the ability to have it spread to three continents was enabled by the easy passage throughout the Empire.

If you had any doubt that God loved you then verses seven and eight will really open your eyes. God loved us so much that even although we were still against God, God showed that amazing love to send Jesus to the cross to be our substitute and give us that opportunity to be with him in heaven. God loves us much more than human love because even personally, there are not many I would gladly lay my life down for even although I am assured of heaven once I pass from this earth and I know that I am quite literally justified by the blood of Jesus.

V9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

We are saved from the judgment of God for our sins; we are saved from the penalty of what our error had condemned us to. We are saved by the love of God against the wrath of God, if the wrath of God was great how much greater will the love of God be? God literally reached out to his enemy, offered his own son, the firstborn without spot, blemish or sin and not only reconciled but adopted us into his family. What love and what saving grace being saved through the life of Jesus!

V11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Jesus is the key to Salvation, this much is true, there is no longer a need to cling to a holy law that you could never keep in the first place because our reconciliation with God was through Jesus. Jesus states this more clearly than I ever could in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John…

John 10:7 (ESV) So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we will look at verses twelve through twenty one in chapter five when we look at the second part of Paul’s explanation where he looks at the death of Adams sin and the new life in Jesus Christ. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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The LORD’s prayer – Part 5 – And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

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The LORD’s prayer – Part 5 – And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6:13 (KJV) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

As we close our series on the Lord’s Prayer we see that looking back it has been a well thought out prayer and we close with what the musically aware people would call a “crescendo” we have learned that God’s name is to be hallowed, God is always on his throne in heaven, that His kingdom comes on earth and heaven, why we pray for our provisions and lastly we learned why forgiveness is key. Now we end with temptation and why that is such an issue.

Fresh from the devastating revelations of the Ashley Madison hack and many people who teach God’s word being found online in a place that many would not have expected them to be, we realize that temptation is rife even in our churches. I am not going to labor the point here other than to say that this is a timely reminder of human nature and how far removed we are from the nature of God, even if we are immersed in doing his works. I urge you that even although you are reading a man’s words, do not follow the Pastor unless he is following the Master and at some point every man will let you down.

We are all tempted, my wife shared recently a link that was called “Why porn ruined my life” and that is just a common temptation, we are tempted to cheat financially on people, emotionally on people, we could cheat on our spouse, whether emotionally or actually, either way the hurt is still there, we could be tempted by food, tempted by self-indulgence, tempted by debt in fact there are temptations that I have not even thought about but it is true as the meme I read on Facebook which when quoted stated “The devil will not come to you wearing red and carry a pitchfork, he will come to you and promise you the desires of your heart”

That is as true today as it was when the world was created, in Genesis 3 Man only had one rule and the Serpent attacked that one rule right away and he did it by temptation, he twisted the words of God and coaxed the woman into quoting God into saying something that God didn’t actually say, from then on the temptation was set, temptation blossomed into sin and mankind was separated from God. That is how serious temptation is.

We cannot behave like Adam and Eve did and succumb to temptation, we must be more like Joseph when he was tempted by the wife of his master Potiphar, Let’s read from the book of Genesis…

Genesis 39:1 (KJV) And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. 2 And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4 And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. 5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. 6 And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. 7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 8 But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? 10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. 11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

It is important to look at what Joseph did here! He was a slave, he was a servant in his master’s house, due to his diligence he was given authority over the house and the one thing he was not allowed was his master’s wife. His master’s wife was like the woman from Proverbs 7; she attempted to make herself alluring and offered herself on many occasions to Joseph. Joseph followed God’s plan and not his and even although he would most likely have got away with the sin he was being tempted into, he chose the righteous path. Are you like Joseph? If you could get away with it would you?

Joseph suffered in the short term for being righteous, he spend a couple of years in jail where he worked diligently and then was trusted with looking after the other prisoners, what diligence and what humility that man had to follow God’s will even in the most dire circumstances! He was there until God gave Pharaoh a dream and again Joseph was again blessed more than he ever was before, God placed him in charge of the country! What a testament to following the will of God.

God will never tempt us but will allow us to periods of testing to allow us to grow, let’s look at 1st Corinthians 10…

1st Corinthians 10:13 (KJV) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

God will not give you a sufferance more than you are actually able to withstand, however you have the option through free will of embracing sin and going against God. James also talks about this…

James 1:12 (KJV) Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. 13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

James paints a picture of what I was saying that temptation is the foundation for sin, you have the option at this stage to endure the temptation or go with your own lusts, allow yourself to be enticed and then allow it to grow into sin and sin as we know brings for death. Regardless of how good the temptation is, if it is not of God then please and I beg you do not do it! If we are praying to be removed from temptation and we are removed then we will be removed from the evil one. (Who wants to destroy you!)

And lastly we have a reminder that “: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” And he is, he was and is and is to come, Holy is the LORD! One day we will be in glory with him and all of the struggles that we face today will pass away. What a day that will be! Anyone else looking forward to that one?

I pray that this article has been educational, challenging, convicting and exhorting, I pray that you received it well and please feel free to like, share and comment on whatever social media you wish as the LORD leads you too.
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The Mystery of Godliness

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse fourteen of the third chapter of First Timothy.

The Mystery of Godliness

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

Paul has just finished (in the last two articles) giving Timothy the criteria for the people who were to serve in leadership with him. (I am careful to make sure that you are aware that serving in leadership is serving, not an opportunity to shirk responsibility or delegate opportunities to serve to suit selfish ambitions)

Another level

Some see Pastors, overseers, deacons, bishops or whoever is in leadership as “another level”, yes they are worthy of respect and worthy to be listened to, but they are just like you and me in many ways, they will disappoint, they are human, they won’t always get it right.

I remember visiting a church and hearing a Pastor who has recently gone to be with the LORD! And he stated (at the foundation of a new church, church was maybe about a year old at that point) that in that fledgling church if he was able to please people about 80% of the time he would be doing better than he himself thought he would.

You see, people assume because someone has taken a calling to be a pastor or a deacon that they are somehow enamored with this new ability to not error or make mistake. They are not sinless guys (There was only one of them and he is our Savior Jesus Christ) They will tick you off, they will hurt your feelings and in many cases will not make it good because many folks will not let them know.

I say this because people are leaving churches in droves, most are not meeting with the pastor, some are letting them know by text, email or even a phone call, which dependent on the pastor may be okay, but it is always best to meet with the person and love them enough to share what is going on.

Some of this is good and some of this is not as good as discussing today’s passage. Paul hopes to see Timothy soon, but Paul is fully aware that we are not guaranteed tomorrow (especially someone with as many people who hated him and wanted to see him wiped out as Paul) so he wrote this letter to Timothy, the church in Ephesus and now for us.

How to behave in the household of God

Paul writes to give these guidelines for Timothy so that “you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” Paul wanted the church to be singular; regardless of the city the church was planted in he wanted some things to be constant. Paul gives guidelines to Timothy in order to know how he should set the church up, start it on the right foot and how things should run.

Paul reminds Timothy that it is not Paul’s house, not Timothy’s house; they are merely custodians of the house of God. This is a sobering reminder as I am guilty as anyone at admiring men with awesome ministries and seeing what God has accomplished through them. (As if they had done it themselves) But as Paul states, they are simply custodians, on a temp job if you will – This is God’s house!

Not only is it God’s house, but they are called together under the same purpose to be a “pillar and buttress of the truth” both the buttress (ground, foundation, what the place is built upon) and the pillars (what holds the building up and stops the roof crashing in) is truth. There are some churches that need to revisit this because if we are not giving the full counsel of the gospel, we are not serving our believers well.

The truth and the whole truth

Also, anyone who comes looking for truth, if the church is not giving the whole truth then people may miss out on the salvation message of their Savior Jesus Christ. The church is where the truth should be exalted, held up and defended; if the church is not doing so then there will be no truth as we cannot trust the world to give an accurate account of the gospel.

V16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

And here is the truth! Let us look at the mystery of godliness…

1) Manifested in the flesh – This is the beautiful part of the Immaculate Conception when Jesus was born of a virgin in the City of David, in Bethlehem and became man in order to begin his mission here on earth to atone for our sins. He was no less God, no less the Son in the Trinity, no less due all the honor and glory that his deity demands, but now was manifest in the flesh in the same way all of us were, born of a woman.

2) Vindicated by the Spirit – Jesus was not like the rest of us, as in justified after he had sinned by the Holy Spirit. Jesus never sinned and was he was who he was always supposed to be, completely justified and vindicated by the spirit and in constant communion with the Father God. (Matthew 3:16; 1st Peter 3:18; Acts 2:32-33)

3) Seen by angels – If we look at passages in Matthew Mark and Luke we see that Jesus had contact with angels, they ministered to him and they escorted him home to heaven. (Matthew 28:2-7, Mark 1:13, Luke 22:41-43)

4) Proclaimed among nations – Paul himself did this as did the other apostles (and Timothy also) where they would preach to the Jew first and then once they were unable to do this then they preached to the Gentile, bringing the nations to repentance. If we were not converted from Judaism then we are part of this ongoing process and I thank the LORD for the faithfulness of the apostle Paul.

5) Believed on in the world – As a result of this preaching, men believed having their hearts convicted by the Holy Spirit; we are not here to replace the Jews but to encourage the Jews into faith in their messiah Jesus Christ.

6) Taken up in glory – Jesus when he had completed his mission ascended to heaven (Luke 24:51) He prays and intercedes for us still on behalf of the Father (1 John 2:1) His last words before he died on the cross were “It is finished” which meant he had done what the father had sent him to do.

Jesus = literal fulfillment

Jesus fulfilled this and more and his witnesses when he was resurrected showed the world that this was not just some common criminal who died a common criminal death, but he was who he stated he was. Death could not hold him and he is alive today at the right hand of the father. He is the only one who can save you from your sins. Do you know where you are going if you were to pass away tonight?

Paul gives these six reasons why it is beyond all controversy, even within two generations of Christ’s crucifixion there were still heretics and naysayers stating that the historical fact did not happen. Even today people set out to drive a hole in an infallible bible and inerrant truth. Paul does 1st century apologetics in order to give a reasonable defense for what was believed. Praise God that he did!

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
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The chief of sinners receives mercy

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The chief of sinners

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse fifteen of the first chapter of First Timothy.

15 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. 16 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. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Have you ever done a task in your home and involved your kids? If you have you will know that however small the task is, even if it is just cleaning or tidying up your kid’s room, involving the kids is as much for your benefit as it is theirs. Yes you are teaching them good behaviors; however it is the coolest thing to do is to spend time working alongside your kids, co-laboring to achieve a common goal. I was out in the front yard last week and I mowed the lawn, my kid came out advising that she was going to help me. So I gave her a rake (she is only 5) and I let her drag the rake behind me and she did well to the best of her abilities, she got tired very quickly and went back in and I finished the job myself, but for those few moment we worked together it was truly a blessing. Imagine that that is what God is like with his kids; he loves it when we work on his projects with him.

Paul goes on to call himself the chief of all sinners. He states that he has a faithful saying (used 5 times in the epistles) and goes on to explains the point of what they are doing there. They are to speak of the Messiah and the reason for his coming “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” and that was the basis of Paul’s ministry.

Basis of every Christian’s ministry

To be fair it should be the basis of every Christian’s ministry, to present the gospel of Jesus Christ and explain why Jesus came and the purpose of his mission here on earth. Paul then goes on to call himself the chief of all sinners, this throws me as Paul is such an example to me in my Christian walk and if I could use one as an example then it would be Paul. (Obviously behind Jesus) what humility the apostle has!

We can’t forget what the purpose of Christ’s mission was to save a sinner that is us! Regardless of how holy you think you are, how many years since your conversion you are in the most basic of terms a “sinner” it is the one thing we have in common, where we get a superiority complex is the types of sins we commit. Some of us fall more regularly than others and some fall in different areas to others, but in the truest sense of the world, we were all born with a sinful nature and Christ came to save us all.

Recognize the need for a Savior

We have to recognize the sin in order to see the need for a Savior. I have listened to messages on different websites from preachers who barely touch on, or never mention sin. We have to realize that there is something wrong (sin) that there is a separation from God and the need for a Messiah (Jesus). Otherwise we are just doing a bunch of holy rules for no decent reason.

Paul goes on goes on to say “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.” Paul never regarded himself and reveals the true heart of his writings. Paul isn’t being all “false modesty” here; Paul saw his sins for what they were and how they removed him from God.

This is just my opinion but reading between the lines I see a sense of guilt by Paul of his former life as Saul of Tarsus, the persecution, the deaths, the fear he drove into those he now called brothers in the faith. He saw his sins, the ones causing suffering, death and the ones involving religious persecution as what elevated him to a “chief of sinners” status.

Confirmation in Acts 26

Acts 26 confirms this when Paul is relaying his history to Agrippa…

Acts 26:9 (ESV) “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Paul is remembering his actions, not just the torture but making his new brothers in the faith to be under such weight of stress to blaspheme what they believed in order for this horror to stop! I bet that was playing on Paul’s mind, the sights, the sounds and even the smells that would bring his mind back to what he had seen, what he had done and what he had supervised in his zealousness to break this new faith.

Mentally that has to be tough; I know that had that been me I would have a mass weight of guilt surrounding me. I would state that he had shadows and memories much in the same way that a war veteran has. His thoughts and guilt about his prior actions make him ponder whether any sinner could have sinned too great for God to redeem him. Paul makes this clear when he talks of “obtained mercy”.

V16 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.

The picture that Paul paints of himself does make one ponder if there is a sin so great that God cannot absolve? Paul is grateful here for the mercy received and shows that your sins, whether they be few of many can be forgiven by a loving God who does not desire that any should perish.

Perfect patience

Paul credits Jesus Christ with showing his “perfect patience” he shows to be that he realizes that God could have wiped him out at any point! (We serve a big God who made all that we see in six days, nuking a troublesome Pharisee would not be a nano-second on his calendar!) But God had a plan for his life, he was going to become the person he hated a short time ago, his zeal for the Law would become a zeal for the Christ.

He would be an example! He would shine as an example to what Jesus preached throughout his ministry “I desire mercy over judgment” Paul would become an example that no one is beyond redemption.

V17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Imagine the rejoicing! Paul knew who he was and what he did. He also knew how great the fathers love for us, how far reaching that Salvation was that it had found him on a lonely dusty road on the way to Damascus – is it any wonder he bursts into praise? He who has been forgiven much remembers much!

Paul’s hymn of praise

Paul lists the attributes of his praise to God here:

King of the Ages
Invisible
The only God
The one worthy of glory and honor forever

Which brings me to my last point, how is your praise life? Do we burst with praise because we know who we are and what we have been forgiven from? We could learn a lot from the gratitude and thankfulness of Paul’s heart.

It is not as if Paul had it easy! Paul had a hard mission life and he never threw in the towel. He was persecuted, chased from cities, had many nautical disasters but through it all he realized that he was simply a messenger of God’s word and was available to be used by God. What a wonderful example of pure praise to our Father God. It is not about the words we use but how plugged in our heart is.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE