Will Your Gospel Transform A Terrorist?
1 Timothy 1:12-17
At a evangelism workshop in Dubai a speaker asked “what is the greatest hindrance to the advance of the gospel?”
He said, “the Christians lack of confidence in the gospel.”
It exposed ME! I too lack confidence in the gospel. I believed it but lack confidence in it.
Is their any evident mark in your life and ministry that you have total confidence in the power of the gospel? Is it clear? Can others see a deep unshakable confidence in this gospel?
Do we have confidence in the power of the gospel to save even the worst people and hardest of hearts?
Who comes to mind when you think about someone who is hard to reach? A terrorist? A prostitute? A neighbor? A family member?
Am I confident that down in my bones the gospel has the power to transform even THAT person?
My goal is to exhort us today in one thing:
That we would rest all our weight and confidence in the power of the gospel. That it would be our only boast.
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 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. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:12-17)
1. The Great Change
The mention of the glorious gospel transports Paul back to a different place. Similar to how you get transported when that song comes on the radio. Your song!
In this passage Paul gives a before and after picture of his life. A radical before and after like the 700 lb. man who is note 150 lbs. and a model all from eating SubWay sandwiches.
Paul was a violent man. A persecutor and killer of Christians. He was an anti-church, anti-gospel TERRORIST!
We see this story in Acts:
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. (Acts 7:54 – 8:3)
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1, 2)
“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 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. 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. (Acts 26:9-11)
This was Saul’s career! He was a professional church killer.
This is the man who pens 1 Timothy and the bulk of our New Testament.
Why do you suppose Paul continually remembers these things so vividly? It seems like he remembers the cry of those he killed. Like a red ketchup stain on a white shirt he cannot remove that indelible stain on his heart.
I shared the gospel with a lady and she said “God gave up on me a long time ago.” So what she needed was for me to be confident in the gospel because she was not confident at all.
They need for us to be confident in the gospel.
What do you suppose happens when Christians lose certain words about the gospel? What do we lose if we lose certain vocabulary. Words are containers of truth and if we lose the words we could lose the Truth.
How often so you hear people talking about people being lost?
Here is a quick definition of lostness:
Lostness is a convinced blindness combined with misdirected love that results in eternal damnation.
If we lose lostness then:
We lose repentance.
We lose substitution.
We lose wrath and hell.
We lose missions and evangelism.
We lose the gospel!
There is a real lostness and a real hell so we better get serious about these things.
2. The Great Cause
What caused this change in Paul?
In a word, the gospel!
We should put our confidence in the gospel because:
a. The Gospel Supplies Our Need
All that he lacked apart from Christ he now had in Christ! The gospel provides a waterfall of God’s love and grace.
b. The Gospel Is Trustworthy
We should put our confidence in the gospel because it is so trustworthy.
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)
God just puts this on the bottom shelf. If I could translate I would say, “Hey dummy! Put your trust and confidence HERE!”
This sentence is packed with truth that we will never exhaust and will forever glory in! It is pregnant with glorious truth.
c. The Gospel Comes To The Worst of Sinners
God showed Paul mercy so others will see that God has not given up on you! He is an object lesson. His life is an illustration so we can say, “If God saved that guy then surely he can save me.”
Is his gospel reach too short because of your arm length or his?
9 Marks of A Minister Whose Confidence Is In The Gospel
1. If we are confident in the gospel we will position ourselves around the worst of sinners.
2. If we are confident in the gospel we should share the gospel slowly and clearly.
3. If we are confident in the gospel we would redirect out fears from man to God.
4. If we are confident in the gospel we would preach the gospel every Sunday.
God only has one sermon! The redemption of Jesus Christ. Never grow tired of preaching the gospel.
5. If we are confident in the gospel We would be careful with new converts and evangelistic methods.
Is our confidence in the method or the gospel?
6. If we are confident in the gospel we would study the gospel in deeper and a variety of ways.
Take one theme of the gospel each month and each day search the scriptures for that month of that theme.
7. If we are confident in the gospel we would preach to try and open eyes not just give information.
8. If we are confident in the gospel We would simply ask ourselves “Is my confidence in my self or in the gospel?”
For those younger in the ministry this is a very subtle danger. Beware of this danger!
9. If we are confident in the gospel then we would rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to bring men to faith.
3. The Great Celebration
Notice how Paul erupts into celebration who freshly remembered who he was and what God made him to be.
To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)