October 17, 2018
Author: Dennis Call
In the early part of the 20th century the bodies of Homer and Langley Collyer were discovered buried under the weight of their own possessions. Sons of a successful and respected New York doctor, Homer and Langley Collyer inherited their father’s estate after his passing and became hoarders in the years that followed. Both men had all the material blessings they needed. Highly educated and capable with prestigious college degrees, Homer in fact, was set to become an attorney after graduation. Instead of a life filled with ease and pleasure, their possessions actually became their demise, and, in the end, the two brothers never fully enjoyed their wealth or riches.
In similar ways, Christians can ignore the incredible riches of the spiritual life we are given by God and never use them for purposes God intended. Rather than embrace the goodness of God in Christ, they heap up for themselves transcendent experiences, clever teachings, gregarious mentors cluttering an authentic spiritual experience with manmade abundance. This is a waste of both our position in Christ, and the richness of His grace and mercy.
Blessings to be Received
As we’ve noted before, separation from God because of sin has deeply affected humanity and the results of that separation are catastrophic. Yet, through faith in Christ alone, by grace alone we have been saved from those devastating effects.
In Paul’s greeting to Timothy in I Timothy 1:1-2 he strengthens his son in the faith by reminding him of the “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Already a recipient of these glorious gifts, Timothy needed to be reminded of his need for grace, mercy, and peace while dealing with the problems in Ephesus. There’s more to each of these gifts than you might see at first glance.
- Grace refers to God’s undeserved favor, love and forgiveness given to sinners to free them from the consequence of sin.
- Mercy doesn’t free us from the consequence of sin, it frees us from the misery that comes along with sin. Grace wipes out the sin, mercy wipes out the misery.
- Peace is the result of grace and mercy. It means not only harmony with God but tranquility of the soul.
Grace is not just needed at salvation, we need it after salvation. It continues to cleanse us. We need mercy to keep on delivering us from the misery of sin. And we always need peace.
What’s even more amazing in Paul’s brief greeting is understanding that these gifts originate from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, they belong to us in a personal way. There were those in Ephesus who sought to depersonalize God and depersonalize Christ. Paul’s use of the word “our” three times in those first two verses reveals the blessedness of being adopted by God as His child, but also the blessing that comes from our possession of Him as Lord and Savior in Jesus Christ.
Good News to Share
Paul summarizes the gospel in I Timothy 1:15 writing, “This is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” This is the essence of Christ’s ministry to humanity. There is no denying humanity’s propensity for sin. The violence and hatred we see reported in the media daily is a constant reminder of our fallen nature and need for redemption.
Thus, Paul continues in the second half of verse 15, “among whom I am foremost of all.” When describing the need to share what the Lord has done, a close friend used to say, “I’m just one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread.”
The Gospel is not a complicated message, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Foolishness because we love our sin, an offense because we think God won’t actually judge us for our sin.
“Christians can ignore the incredible riches of the spiritual life we are given by God and never use them for purposes God intended. Rather than embrace the goodness of God in Christ, they heap up for themselves transcendent experiences, clever teachings, gregarious mentors cluttering an authentic spiritual experience with manmade abundance.”
Paul as a Model of Faith…
Paul writes in I Timothy 1:16 “Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”
When Paul came face to face with the risen Christ, he also came face to face with his sin. In that instant, he humbled himself before the Lord and there received God’s “super abundant grace,” found mercy, and was strengthened for gospel ministry.
How does this make Paul a Model of Faith?
- Paul was a sinner, the foremost/chief/worst
- He was a blasphemer, persecutor, and violent aggressor
- When confronted with his sin and the grace of God in Christ, in faith he repented
- When he repented, he received grace, mercy, and peace
Evangelism Where You Are
Paul’s testimony is recorded nine times in the New Testament and shows that God can and does save the world’s worst sinners.
Somebody might say, “Well He can’t save me, I’m too far gone.” That’s just not so. The question for that person could be “Have you overtly openly outwardly purposely blasphemed God? Have you blasphemed Jesus Christ? Have you systematically murdered Christians and put them in jail? And worse of all the whole time you did it thought you were righteous?” Paul answered yes to these questions.
Paul wasn’t overstating his sins. In fact, because of the personal nature of our faith, when confronted with our sin, we should come to the same conclusion… that we are the chief of sinners… at least in our own lives.
But, we have opportunity right where we are each and every day to share what God has done in our lives through His Son. You don’t have to become a missionary, a pastor, or teacher to evangelize the lost.
Having secured our peace with God through His death, the Lord Jesus Christ gives us access to the blessing and status afforded to the children of God. In fact, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” What are we doing with those resources? Are we content to bask in the peace and tranquility of a conscience free from the weight of guilt and sin? Are we satisfied with the knowledge that we have been freed from the penalty of death and the blessing of eternal life with God our Savior? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, let Homer and Langley Collyer’s sad demise serve as a cautionary tale for our lives.
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Author of Battle Hard Blog
Dennis Call joined the Army as an infantry officer shortly after the 9/11 attacks on our country, serving fourteen years on active duty. During his Army service, Dennis deployed for thirty-three months to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terror. Prior to joining the Army Dennis served as the Director of College Ministries at First Baptist Church in Texico, N.M. where he mentored students at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, N.M. Dennis and his amazing wife Katie live in Colorado Springs, CO with their five children (four boys and one super sweet daughter).
Battle Hard Blog is presented by Soldiers for Faith Ministries.