Monday, January 29, 2018

the chief of sinners

The Word for today:
1 Timothy 1
mark this: 1 Timothy 1:15 / NLT
This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – and I was the worst of them all.
I teach scripture by means of “pictures.” Technically called “types,” they are prophetic illustrations of the King, Jesus Christ, and of his Kingdom to come.
The lamb at Passover is prophetic of the coming Lamb of God. The blood on the doorposts is a prophecy of the cross. The hyssop which applies the blood of the lamb to the doorposts is a picture of faith. You get the picture.
Those are all types of the Redeemer, but is there a type of the redeemed? Is there a prototypical picture of those who are saved?
There sure is, but the “picture” is the “painter” himself!
The Apostle Paul, the voice behind a big chunk of the New Testament, is himself a picture of the church, boiled down to one man.
We alluded to this a few articles ago, when we wrote about Paul’s thorn in the flesh: (1)
Precisely what Paul's thorn in the flesh might have been is an enduring fascination among Bible commentators. I mean, you just aren't a real Bible commentator until you've weighed in on that issue!
Which is kind of odd, considering God didn't weigh in on it -- when he knew what it was, having caused it.
So Stand in the Rain is going to treat this issue with silence, like God did. We don't know what Paul's thorn in the flesh was -- and we don't care to, because that's the point!
Scripture's silence is as sure a mark of inspiration as its revelations are. Paul's particular "thorn" is not described in order that his consolations may avail for all to whom any thorn is given.
So in a very real sense, Paul's thorn in the flesh is whichever one you have.
Today we encounter another way in which Paul’s life and experiences are meant to be representative of all of us:
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. (1Timothy 1:15/NIV)
Other versions translate this to say that Paul is the chief of sinners (NKJV), the foremost of sinners (NASB).
However you say it, what it means is that if ever there were a day when you thought you were the worst sinner ever, you were wrong. The logical conclusion is that if Jesus could save Paul—the worst -- then He can save anybody, even me. Paul himself, then, is the Bible’s prototypical proof that no person is beyond salvation.
We are about to embark on what are known as the Pastoral Epistles. They were written by Paul to two of his young converts—Timothy and Titus—who had followed him on many of his missionary journeys and whom he had established as pastors of churches.
As you read the Pastoral Epistles -- which are all about the church -- don’t lose sight of the fact that the teller himself is the living breathing picture of what the body of Christ should look like.
(1) see 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

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