The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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Friday, May 4, 2018
Farm view of Lancaster County, PA
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"Chief of Sinners"
Message summary: If you have not received this faithful saying worthy of all acceptance do so today, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
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LinkedIn is a popular website used by many business people to network with others. I don't know how helpful it's been to me but I have a listing. I know most of my connections, having had an association with themat some point in life
I wouldn't have nearly this many acronyms to follow my name but if you are interested I do have CISM. We both try to take in continued training, although I am not sure it always results in an acronym. Yesterday we had four hours of training on "Grief in the Workplace" That's a common topic in the course of our chaplain work and virtually each week we have some discussions regarding this topic.
One thing I've never seen though is someone identifying themselves on a LinkedIn profile or resume as COS, "chief of sinners". I frankly would not advise putting this on a job application, although people have been known to post to Facebook material that indicates they are vying for it.
However let us consider today's Scripture verse where the apostle Paul, writing to Timothy identifies himself that way.
The text begins, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance". This is a faithful saying and it is worthy of all acceptance. Do you realize that and accept it?
"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners". An old hymn comes to mind that we rarely hear sung anymore,
Such love, such wondrous love,
Such love, such wondrous love,
That God should love a sinner such as I,
How wonderful is love like this!
I checked through the years of writing these Daily Encouragement messages since 1996. Quite a number of times I have dealt with this verse but I noticed I did not quote the whole verse! See here for example.
But the verse continues with this enigmatic phrase, "of whom I am chief". I suppose I have always found the statement a bit disturbing and today's study caused me to dig deeper. If you ever notice your pastor skimming over a hard verse when he's preaching it's probably for this reason! Various translations render the phrase a bit differently but all have the same thought.
Typical daily encouragement length prohibits me from really digging into this phrase but please look over the resources below if you want to dig deeper. I find this explanation helpful from Pastor David Guzik, "Paul felt – rightly so – his sins were worse because he was responsible for the death, imprisonment, and suffering of Christians, whom he persecuted before his life was changed by Jesus."
But let me end with this challenge from C.H. Spurgeon's comment on this passage, “No man can now say that he is too great a sinner to be saved, because the chief of sinners was saved. If the ringleader, the chief of the gang, has been washed in the precious blood, and is now in heaven, why not I? Why not you?”
Indeed why not you? If you have not received this faithful saying worthy of all acceptance do so today, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
Daily prayer: Father, the hymn writer penned it so well, "I am not worthy the least of Your favor, but Jesus left heaven for me; Your Word became flesh and Jesus died as my Savior, forsaken on dark Calvary. I am not worthy this dull tongue repeats it! I am not worthy my heart gladly beats it? Jesus left heaven to die in my place. I will spend all of eternity praising You for loving me so much that You sent Christ Jesus into the world to save me from my sins. I was deserving of eternal damnation but instead Jesus reserved a place in heaven for me where I will receive eternal blessing. What mercy, what love and what grace! Amen.
We had a beautiful summer day yesterday and we saw hay harvest and corn planting.
Hay harvest, Lancaster County, PA
This baler will make the small square bales like I used to put up the first year of our marriage near Springfield MO.
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Hay harvest, Lancaster County, PA
These are the large round bales
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Corn planting, Lancaster County, PA
To the left is the Red Caboose Motel where guests can stay in an old railroad caboose!
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We stopped by to visit with the Lapp family at the Old Windmill Farm where you can always hold some animal, in this case a bunny!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Love Is Stronger" Video Jason Crabb
For further study on the portion of today's passage "of whom I am chief":
From The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by Pastor David Guzik:
Of whom I am chief: Paul’s claim to be the chief of sinners was not an expression of some super-pious false humility. He genuinely felt his sins made him more accountable before God than others.
i. Aren’t we all equally sinners? No; “All men are truly sinners, but all men are not equally sinners. They are all in the mire; but they have not all sunk to an equal depth in it.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Paul felt – rightly so – his sins were worse because he was responsible for the death, imprisonment, and suffering of Christians, whom he persecuted before his life was changed by Jesus (Acts 8:3; 9:1-2, 1 Corinthians 15:9, Galatians 1:13, Philippians 3:6).
iii. In Acts 26:11, Paul explained to Agrippa what might have been his worst sin: And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. He compelled others to blaspheme Jesus. “This, indeed, was a very horrible part of Saul’s sinfulness. To destroy their bodies was bad enough, but to destroy their souls too-to compel them to blaspheme, to speak evil of that name which they confessed to be their joy and their hope, surely that was the worst form that even persecution could assume. He forced them under torture to abjure the Christ whom their hearts loved. As it were he was not content to kill them, but he must damn them too.” (Spurgeon)
iv. There are worse kinds of sin; sins that harm God’s people are especially bad in God’s eyes. We must soberly consider if we are guilty, now or in the past, of harming God’s people. “[God] remembers jests and scoffs leveled at his little ones, and he bids those who indulge in them to take heed. You had better offend a king than one of the Lord’s little ones.” (Spurgeon)
v. “Despair’s head is cut off and stuck on a pole by the salvation of ‘the chief of sinners.’ No man can now say that he is too great a sinner to be saved, because the chief of sinners was saved. If the ringleader, the chief of the gang, has been washed in the precious blood, and is now in heaven, why not I? Why not you?” (Spurgeon)
From study notes by William Barclay:
The thing which stands out in this passage is Paul's insistence upon remembering his own sin. He heaps up a very climax of words to show what he did to Christ and the Church. He was an insulter of the Church; he had flung hot and angry words at the Christians, accusing them of crimes against God. He was a persecutor; he had taken every means open to him under the Jewish law to annihilate the Christian Church. Then comes a terrible word; he had been a man of insolent and brutal violence. The word in Greek is hubristes. It indicates a kind of arrogant sadism; it describes the man who is out to inflict pain for the sheer joy of inflicting it. The corresponding abstract noun is hubris which Aristotle defines: "Hubris means to hurt and to grieve people, in such a way that shame comes to the man who is hurt and grieved, and that not that the person who inflicts the hurt and injury may gain anything else in addition to what he already possesses, but simply that he may find delight in his own cruelty and in the suffering of the other person."
That is what Paul was once like in regard to the Christian Church. Not content with words of insult, he went to the limit of legal persecution. Not content with legal persecution, he went to the limit of sadistic brutality in his attempt to stamp out the Christian faith. He remembered that; and to the end of the day he regarded himself as the chief of sinners. It is not that he was the chief of sinners; he still is. True, he could never forget that he was a forgiven sinner; but neither could he ever forget that he was a sinner. Why should he remember his sin with such vividness?
(i) The memory of his sin was the surest way to keep him from pride. There could be no such thing as spiritual pride for a man who had done the things that he had done. John Newton was one of the great preachers and the supreme hymn-writers of the Church; but he had sunk to the lowest depths to which a man can sink, in the days when he sailed the seas in a slave-trader's ship. So when he became a converted man and a preacher of the gospel, he wrote a text in great letters, and fastened it above the mantlepiece of his study where he could not fail to see it: "Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt and the Lord thy God redeemed thee." He also composed his own epitaph: "John Newton, Clerk, once an Infidel and Libertine, a Servant of Slaves in Africa, was by the Mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Preserved, Restored, Pardoned, and Appointed to Preach the Faith he had so long laboured to destroy." John Newton never forgot that he was a forgiven sinner; neither did Paul. Neither must we. It does a man good to remember his sins; it saves him from spiritual pride.
(ii) The memory of his sin was the surest way to keep his gratitude aflame. To remember what we have been forgiven is the surest way to keep awake our love to Jesus Christ. F. W. Boreham tells of a letter which the old Puritan, Thomas Goodwin, wrote to his son. "When I was threatening to become cold in my ministry, and when I felt Sabbath morning coming and my heart not filled with amazement at the grace of God, or when I was making ready to dispense the Lord's Supper, do you know what I used to do? I used to take a turn up and down among the sins of my past life, and I always came down again with a broken and a contrite heart, ready to preach, as it was preached in the beginning, the forgiveness of sins." "I do not think," he said, "I ever went up the pulpit stair that I did not stop for a moment at the foot of it and take a turn up and down among the sins of my past years. I do not think that I ever planned a sermon that I did not take a turn round my study table and look back at the sins of my youth and of all my life down to the present; and many a Sabbath morning, when my soul had been cold and dry, for the lack of prayer during the week, a turn up and down in my past life before I went into the pulpit always broke my hard heart and made me close with the gospel for my own soul before I began to preach." When we remember how we have hurt God and hurt those who love us and hurt our fellow-men and when we remember how God and men have forgiven us, that memory must awake the flame of gratitude within our hearts.
(iii) The memory of his sin was the constant urge to greater effort. It is quite true that a man can never earn the approval of God, or deserve his love; but it is also true that he can never stop trying to do something to show how much he appreciates the love and the mercy which have made him what he is. Whenever we love anyone we cannot help trying always to demonstrate our love. When we remember how much God loves us and how little we deserve it, when we remember that it was for us that Jesus Christ hung and suffered on Calvary, it must compel us to effort that will tell God we realize what he has done for us and will show Jesus Christ that his sacrifice was not in vain..
(iv) The memory of his sin was bound to be a constant encouragement to others. Paul uses a vivid picture. He says that what happened to him was a kind of outline-sketch of what was going to happen to those who would accept Christ in the days to come. The word he uses is hupotuposis (Greek #5296) which means an outline, a sketch-plan, a first draft, a preliminary model. It is as if Paul were saying, "Look what Christ has done for me! If someone like me can be saved, there is hope for everyone." Suppose a man was seriously ill and had to go through a dangerous operation, it would be the greatest encouragement to him if he met and talked with someone who had undergone the same operation and had emerged completely cured. Paul did not shrinkingly conceal his record; he blazoned it abroad, that others might take courage and be filled with hope that the grace which had changed him could change them too.
Greatheart said to Christian's boys: "You must know that Forgetful Green is the most dangerous place in all these parts." Paul's sin was something which he refused to forget, for every time he remembered the greatness of his sin, he remembered the still greater greatness of Jesus Christ. It was not that he brooded unhealthily over his sin; it was that he remembered it to rejoice in the wonder of the grace of Jesus Christ.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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