Born into a Hostile World

“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.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Most of us would agree that Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. We get to enjoy family and friends, lights and decorations, time off of work, vacations, gifts, and so much more. As much fun as Christmas is we need to remember that we celebrate because Jesus stepped into a world that was hostile towards Him in order to redeem us – sinners in need of a Savior.

Jesus Came Into the World To Save Sinners

Paul tells us that, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (v15). Jesus left the splendor of heaven to come to earth to live as a carpenter. The God of the universe humbled Himself by taking on the form of a servant and came to dwell among us.  This is truly remarkable when you think about it.

There are people who will not go into certain places in the world because they regard themselves too highly to be seen there in public. There are people who will not go into certain venues because they know that the people there hold a grudge against them. There are people who will not go into certain parts of town because they feel the environment is too hostile towards them. Whenever someone’s ego or safety is in danger by entering a situation often times they will not enter.

However, that is not the case with Christ. He came into a world that was hostile toward Him. He had every right to regard Himself as the most High Being and to look down on us. He had every right to hold a grudge against rebellious humanity and not come to save them. He had every right to turn up His nose at the thought of entering into a world that was hostile towards Him, but He came anyway. Christ came into the world to save sinners. He did not come to earth because we were a people who loved and adored Him and had it all together – not at all! Christ came here to seek and to save the lost. He came to pursue a people who were far from Him. He came to rescue a people who could not rescue themselves. And He even came for the worst of us.

Jesus Came Even For The Worst of Us

Twice, in the above verses, Paul mentions that he was the foremost of sinners. In other words, he is saying that he was the worst of sinners. In fact, earlier in 1 Timothy Paul describes himself in this way in v13, “I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.” He was not a believer in Jesus Christ nor was he a friend of the Christian Church. He was in violent opposition to them both. Despite this, however, Jesus came to save him – a blasphemer!

Jesus came to save even those that we think are too far gone. The power of the gospel can soften the hardest of hearts and open the blindest of eyes to the beauty of Jesus. Never underestimate the power of the gospel or Jesus’ willingness to save the lost. The same Jesus that saved Paul, the persecutor of Christians, is the same Jesus that saves the vilest of sinners today. Paul was shown incredible mercy and still today we can witness that same mercy.

Jesus Came To Display His Perfect Patience 

Paul tells us that he “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” (v16). Paul is shown tremendous patience as an example to us of how patient God is. God wants us to witness His patience. God could have wiped Paul out in an instant for his rebellion. But He showed tremendous patience with Paul in saving him. Let’s not test God’s patience by carrying on in sin, but let’s turn from sin and praise God for His merciful patience with us.

As we celebrate this Christmas season let us never forget the reason for the season – Jesus came to save sinners.

1 Timothy is About One Thing

It is often helpful to look at books of the Bible with large, broad, sweeping glances to get a taste of what the whole book is about.  After doing this with 1 Timothy, you find that it is about one thing: godliness.  Here’s 10 verses to show you:

1 Timothy 2:2 – pray…”for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

1 Timothy 2:10 – women are to dress “with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works.”

1 Timothy 3:16 – “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.”

1 Timothy 4:7 – “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.  Rather, train yourself for godliness…”

1 Timothy 4:8 – “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

1 Timothy 5:4 – “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.”

1 Timothy 6:3 – “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness…”

1 Timothy 6:5 – Wickedness shows itself in “constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

1 Timothy 6:6 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain…”

1 Timothy 6:11 – “But as for you, O’ man of God, flee these things.  Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”

This bird’s-eye view of 1 Timothy reveals that from the beginning to the end, this letter is about godliness.  Two things to take away.  1) “Without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) Do not be duped, you will not see the Lord and no one will see the Lord in your life if you are not striving to live a godly life.  Is the overarching bent of your heart to obey Jesus’ commands?  Only those people are referred to as His friends in John 15.  2) Knowing Timothy was a pastor teaches us another thing – the thing a congregation needs most from its pastor is his holiness.

There Is One Mediator between God and Men

1 Timothy 2:5-6 says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all…”

The Bible says Jesus Christ is our Mediator. Great! What exactly does it mean to be a mediator? Be careful here, because a mediator in the world today is defined in a very different manner than Jesus’ mediation is defined in the Bible. CJ Mahaney explains:

Today a mediator is a neutral third party brought into a conflict with two opposing parties for the purpose of negotiation and hopefully achieves some agreement and some accord…Here is what the Bible says about Jesus’ mediation. Jesus was a unique Mediator with a unique Mediation. There are two parties in opposition to one another without doubt, but only one party has been offended and only this one offended party is innocent. God is innocent and without fault, and He has been offended. The other party is unarguably guilty, and not only so, this other party is not the least bit desirous of reconciliation. Two parties, one is innocent, one has been offended and is without fault. The other is categorically, completely, unarguably, undeniably guilty and does not desire to be reconciled to the innocent, offended party. Now listen carefully because this is amazing grace. God, the innocent, offended party, desires to save wicked, guilty sinners, who are hostile to Him, and do not desire to be reconciled with Him. God has a divine dilemma that must be solved. He must punish sin, and He must punish sinners in light of His holiness and His justice. So how does He resolve this divine dilemma? In the mystery of His mercy, God, the innocent, offended party, provides the Mediator to satisfy His righteous wrath, and save the guilty party from His wrath. As an expression of this amazingly gracious disposition He sends His only begotten Son as the unique Mediator between God and men to reconcile a Holy God with sinful mankind!

Do you see that in God sending His Son, it is true for us to say and exult in the fact that GOD SAVED US FROM GOD? John Stott put it like this: “Divine love, saved us from Divine wrath, by a Divine sacrifice!” Jesus is this unique Mediator, with His own unique mediation between God and man. He is the only Mediator! Jesus as the Mediator must represent both parties. This is why Jesus had to be both fully God and fully man, because in being such, He represents both God and us at the same time. CJ Mahaney went on to point out that Job cried out for this kind of a mediator in his dialogue with his accusers. In Job 9:1-2, 32-33 he said this, “How can a man be in the right before God? If one wished to contend with Him, one could not answer Him once in a thousand times…For God is not a man, as I am, that I might answer Him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter between us, who may lay his hand on us both.” Do you see that Job’s cry for an arbiter between himself and God has been answered? We can now confidently proclaim to Job, and to all men, that God has sent this Arbiter in Jesus Christ, and that He has laid hold of both God and man at the same time, to bring us together again in the sacrifice of Himself! That is what it means for Jesus to be our Mediator. AMEN!

Why I Believe Fitness is a Must for Christians

I am a firm believer in working out and staying fit for one big reason. 1 Cor. 10:31 says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” There are two implications from this verse that are massive for us in our daily living.

a) Because God tells us to do all to His glory, anything we do not to His glory is sinful.

b) Everything we do, from how we wake up, drink orange juice, talk to people, and lie down to sleep, ought to be done to the glory of God.

Therefore, if everything we do is to be done to the glory of God, this means that how we treat our bodies matters to God. This then means that we cannot use our bodies in any way we want to, as if we were the master of our own bodies; for doing so would show a lack of care and responsibility to God, who gave us these bodies and calls us to honor Him in using them.

Because of all this, it is my belief (and I think it should be yours as well) that working out and keeping some kind of regular exercise routine going is not only honoring to God, but should be a normal part of every Christians life. I wonder if that last sentence just went past you. I just said that if you never exercise and/or sit at home eating Twinkies and Ding Dongs all day, you’re sinning. God cares about our bodies, what we use them for, what we put in them, what we put on them, and how we take care of them. Now, we can’t stop here because we need to define what exactly this looks like. Here are two thoughts to help you:

10:31 and 4:8

Notice how I quoted 1 Cor. 10:31 earlier saying that we must do everything to God’s glory? Good, keep that in mind. When it comes to working out it is a fact that many people work out for the wrong reason; for their own glory and fame. All those mirrors in gyms are not merely for making sure your form is correct. This is sinful and Christians should be striving to get rid of this desire. Part of staying fit and working out as a Christian means the number one desire should be to honor God in our bodies, not our own physique.

So 1 Cor. 10:31 provides the “why” and part of the “how” to working out: Why? – to honor God in our bodies. How? – to glorify God, not us. The other half of the “how” of working out comes to us in 1 Tim. 4:8, which says, “…for bodily fitness is of some value, but godliness is of greater value, because it has benefit for this life and the life to come.” You see what Paul is saying? Staying fit is a good thing, but there is a greater thing, godliness. Why is it greater, because it has an eternal benefit, implying that fitness only has benefit for this life. This means that we should be more eager to build holiness and godliness into our lives than we are about working out our muscles to stay fit.

Have “some” Kind of Routine

Earlier I said that we all, as Christians, should have some kind of regular exercise routine in our lives. I use the word “some” purposefully, because we’re not all the same person, and because of that we ought to tweak our exercise regiment to our fitness level, fitness goals, and personalities. People have told me that I have an intense personality, which makes sense because the exercise routine I’ve been doing for the past 5 years is P90X. This is an intense program and not fit for all people, but it does work for my wife and I, so we do it. How do you find a program fit for you? Think about how God calls you to care for the body He gave you, think about who you are, what your fitness goals need to be, find or make a routine that works for you, and do it.

Don’t Miss This

Don’t miss the point here – God has graciously given us these bodies to use while we are here on earth, and it is these bodies that will be redeemed one day in the New Heavens and New Earth. Therefore, lets take care of what God has given us, seeking to be good stewards of His gifts, using them not for our own fame and glory, but for His.