October 16: “No One Is Too Far Gone”

4 Minute Read + Scripture readings

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

Jeremiah 28:1–29:32
1 Timothy 1:1-20
Psalm 86:1-17
Proverbs 25:17

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

1 Timothy 1:15–16 (CSB): “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ — and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

The Apostle Paul was arguably one of the most important figures of the New Testament, second only to Jesus. The Gospels tell us what Jesus did and said but Paul’s letters tell us why it matters and how it plays out in our personal lives. We are eternally indebted to the Apostle Paul for his contribution to the Christian faith.

Yet, Paul previously went by the name Saul. (Saul was a nice Hebrew name but the change of his name to Paul (Greek) roughly coincides with his conversion.) As Saul, he was vicious. If we were to look for a counterpart to Saul in today’s world, we might say that he was a barbaric, heartless ISIS warrior. Because of Saul’s devout, Pharisaic faith, he found delight in imprisoning and killing Christians. And he believed that He was doing God a favor by engaging in such activity.

If you look at the ISIS soldier in the picture I have attached to this post and think that the Apostle Paul isn’t to be compared to him, then you don’t truly understand just how much 1st century Christians feared Paul. They were terrified of him!

Acts 7:58–60 (CSB): “They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he called out: ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ And after saying this, he died.”

Acts 9:10–14 (CSB): “There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ ‘Here I am, Lord,’ he replied. ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight,’ the Lord said to him, ‘to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, since he is praying there. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and placing his hands on him so that he may regain his sight.’ ‘Lord,’ Ananias answered, ‘I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.’”

But, Paul was saved (Acts 9). Jesus got ahold of his heart and radically changed this man. He went from fighting against Jesus to being one of Christ’s most courageous, passionate, and insightful gentle warriors.

And this is the point that Paul was making in our Verses for Today. He noted that he was downright evil before he was saved. Yet, Jesus had clearly conscripted Paul into His army and Paul was a very different man now. So, if God could graciously forgive someone like Paul, then God could graciously forgive anyone no matter what they had done.

1 Timothy 1:15–16 (CSB): “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ — and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.”

This is the message of the cross, friend. No one is too far gone to be the object of God’s saving grace. The person who is the most vile could have the greatest testimony of the power of the cross if and when God gets ahold of them.

So, don’t look down your nose at people who are against Jesus. Pray for them. Ask God to melt their hearts and cause them to see that our God loves them (John 3:16) and has made a way for them to be thoroughly forgiven and cleaned. And then pray that God would give you an opportunity to share the wonderful news of the Gospel with them.

Who knows! You could lead the next “Paul” to the Lord!

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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