“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” (1 Timothy 1:15, ESV)
“Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof – Public Sinner Number One” (The Message)
Verse 15 is one of the best-known verses in the New Testament and clearly declares the purpose of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world as well as the humility of Paul. This verse should be preach during Christmas! Paul stresses the pre-existence of the Saviour – “Christ Jesus came into the world.” This was the expression that Jesus used of Himself: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13); “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). This was also a favourite expression of the apostle John in speaking of the entrance of Jesus into the world: “He came to his own…” (John 1:11, read the John 1:1-18). The main purpose of why Jesus, the Son of God came – the one that overrides all the others in the Bible put together – the reason why we need Him is: “to save sinners.” Who are the sinners? Not just Paul, but all of us, for “all have sinned” (read Romans 3:23). Nobody is exception, all of us need Jesus because all of us sinners. No matter how good one may appear in the eyes of men, by God’s standard of perfection, “the whole world may be held accountable to God” (Romans 3:19).
See Paul’s humility as he compare himself by Jesus’ standard of holiness and perfection, Paul said, “I am the foremost,” the chief sinners or “Public Sinner Number One.” Before a holy God, the great apostle Paul sees his sinfulness. Paul, I think, could not forget the days when he was a “blasphemer, persecutor and insolent opponent” (1 Timothy 1:13) against Jesus and the believers. The realization of the magnitude of his sin caused him to see himself as the worst, rotten sinner that God ever saved or would save. When I read this, I say to myself, “This is truly the cry of a repentant heart.”
Few years ago, I sat in the audience during a preaching service in a youth camp by an ‘anointed’ preacher. The verses that he quotes was powerful (of course, God’s Word is powerful regardless the preacher) and after he preached with little offense to sin or the sinner, he invited people to come to the front to make a decision. He prayed loud and clear: “O God, bless all these wonderful people who come to you tonight.” It wasn’t wrong per se, but to me, when I read the Scripture (when I witnessed my own conversion and other’s) whenever a repentant-sinner comes to Jesus Christ, he or she won’t see himself as a ‘wonderful’ person! They will stand like the apostle Paul before Christ as the “Public Sinner Number One” and cries like the humble tax collector in Luke 18, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (v.13). This I perceives as the evidence of a revival, a heart awakened to Christ by the Holy Spirit. Only when we have this awareness or realization of genuine repentance, then God will fill you and me with joy indescribable! This is wonderful indeed.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.