Friday, February 18, 2011

Why Did Jesus Come? – 1 Tim 1:15-16

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (RSV)

The Gospel can’t get much simpler than this. Jesus came to save sinners and it doesn’t matter how bad of a sinner anyone is. Jesus will save anyone who believes in Him for eternal life.

I’ve heard many different reasons why Jesus came to the earth. Some say He came to guide us in the way we should live. Other say that He came to teach us how to love each other. Some may even say He came to establish the Christian religion or to establish peace on earth.

There are preachers who will come up with many reasons why Jesus came. Some do it because they have to invent a clever sermon topic. They don’t preach from the Bible but have to have a topic. Instead of letting the Word of God determine what they are going to say, they go to the Word to back up their theories. In doing this they promote the wrong emphasis. Sometimes they do it so they don’t have to confront people with the fact that we are all sinners. Doing that would be politically incorrect.

Most of these reasons are not incorrect, they are simply not the primary reason Jesus came. Others are so far off track that it is obvious that those who believe them are not really Christians.

We are Sinners and Need a Savior

From the beginning of the Bible to the end, this is the message. In the beginning, it wasn’t clear; it was a mystery. Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (NIV) Adam and Eve had just become the first sinners. The pronouncement was that they would die as a result. They didn’t fully comprehend the horrific effect that their sin would have on their offspring; we would all be sinners. Our spirits would be dead to God when we were born. We would all suffer physical death. God’s message to Satan gave only a hint that someday, a descendent of Eve would battle him and defeat him. The defeat of sin would cost the Savior, but it wasn’t clear what it was.

As the years passed and God revealed more of Himself to people, the mystery became clearer. First, our sinfulness was revealed. Gen 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (NKJV) There are low points in the Bible describing how sinful we are. Sodom and Gomorrah were examples. All through the times of the Judges, each man did what he thought was right in his heart and the nation of Israel wavered between worshiping idols and God. David was given insight into our condition. Ps 14:1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. (NIV)

The mystery was still hidden as sinful men didn’t focus on their need to be saved from their sins but envisioned God as their savior from physical death. 1 Chron 16:35 Then say, "Save us, O God of our salvation, And gather us and deliver us from the nations, To give thanks to Thy holy name, And glory in Thy praise." (NASB) Yet the picture started to clear up as glimpses of our real need to be saved from our sins became more important than salvation from enemies. Ps 79:9 Help us, O God of our salvation, For the glory of Your name; And deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins, For Your name's sake! (NKJV)

In Isaiah 53, the mystery was revealed more clearly than any other portion of Scripture of the Old Testament. Isa 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (NIV) I won’t quote the whole chapter but it clearly portrays that the coming Savior, Jesus, was sent to die for our sins. It repeats the theme that we are sinners and that He bore the punishment of our sins. It also speaks of His resurrection.

The mystery is no longer concealed in the New Testament. Jesus’ purpose was announced before He was conceived. Matt 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (NIV) Jesus confirmed His mission in Luke 5:32 “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (RSV) In his great theological book, Paul confirms Jesus’ mission. Rom 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (NLT)

The book of revelation completes the message of the Bible. It also reiterates that we are sinners and that Jesus is our Savior. Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (NIV)

Full Acceptance

No wonder, Paul says that the saying is trustworthy and deserving of acceptance. Unfortunately, those who do not accept fully this message don’t receive the blessings of salvation. As Paul stated, Jesus came to save those that believe on Him for eternal life. If I don’t believe in eternal life, I can’t be saved as I will reject the whole idea that Jesus died for me. I will not see my need for salvation. I will not look upon Paul’s example as something that I need.

Full acceptance can’t pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe. If I am to have full acceptance, I must agree with the Bible that I’m a sinner. That shouldn’t take much convincing since everyone has told at least one lie. However, the usual problem is that we don’t want to admit that our sins require punishment. Therefore, we don’t believe we need a Savior. The Old Testament was clear. Ps 1:5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. (NIV) Jesus didn’t change that in the New Testament. Luke 13:3 I tell you, No; but unless you repent (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally. (Amplified Bible) Paul’s clearest statement about the punishment of sin is in Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

I might look at what Jesus said and think that I can save myself by repenting of my sin but still ignore Jesus. However, Paul makes sure I understand that I need a Savior. I need Jesus to give me the gift of eternal live by His death on the cross. I need to accept fully that I can’t do anything to save myself. I need to accept fully the gift of eternal life through Jesus. I need to accept fully the fact that Jesus took all of my punishment on the cross (look back at Is 53:5). That’s why Paul stated at the end of 1 Tim 1:16 that eternal life is for those who believe on Jesus.

God’s Mercy and Patience

Paul had a realistic view of his own sinfulness as stated in the previous study. There was no reason for God to choose Paul above any other of the many dedicated Jews of his day. Acts 9:15 But the Lord said, "Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. (NLT) However, Saul, the persecutor of the Church and renamed Paul was chosen in spite of his grievous sins. Paul is making it perfectly clear that he was chosen because he could be an example to others of God’s mercy.

I have met several people who feel that they have sinned too greatly for God to forgive them. Some know little of the Bible and others only enough to think they have committed the unpardonable sin. They all should take a good look at Paul before God chose him. Since God had extended His great patience while Paul persecuted the Church, then God is still having patience waiting for anyone who is sinning. God is waiting to show mercy on the worst of sinners who do not believe in Jesus.

You may say that you haven’t been chosen as Paul was. But God issued an open invitation to the whole world through Jesus. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV) If you accept the invitation fully, then you will know you were chosen. However, many do not accept the invitation because they are afraid that their sins will be exposed. John 3:20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (NIV) If you are in this category, then remember Paul. His deeds were exposed but only so that we may know how gracious God is to forgive even the worst sins.

Turn to Jesus for salvation and know that in eternity, your sins will be completely wiped out and never brought up again. Jude 24-25 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (NASB) Jesus will help you keep from sinning while in this life. Without His Holy Spirit, we couldn’t live one minute without sinning. He gives us the desire not to sin. When we enter eternity, not one of those sins will be mentioned. Jesus will present us before God without any blame. We will be able to stand before God joyfully knowing that Jesus is our Savior and that if it were not for Him, those sins would condemn us to hell.

There aren’t any really good excuses to not accept the Gospel message. If you haven’t turned to Jesus as your Savior, why not today?

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