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Grace to the Chief of Sinners

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
January 10, 2021 7:00 am

Grace to the Chief of Sinners

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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January 10, 2021 7:00 am

Dr. James Boice said that true doctrine, when really understood, produces the very things which the modern church claims are absent in the orthodox. Join Dr. Boice on The Bible Study Hour as he continues his study of Pauls letters to Timothy, centered on the importance of sound doctrine and of how that doctrine came to him.

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The apostle Paul at one time possessed of misplaced faith based on fallible doctrine as a Hebrew of Hebrews and the Pharisee well steeped in the law. Paul once believe the way to heaven was to accumulate more assets than liabilities and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly in his letters to Timothy Paul never minimize true doctrine because it was seen that very doctrine that despite his credentials, Paul recognized himself a sinner and found newness of life. Join Dr. Boyce as he continues his study of Paul's letter to Timothy ensures Paul's discovery. That is a knowledge of self and sin grows in our hearts. The knowledge of God and his glory grow there as well.

Last Sunday evening, we began a study of first Timothy and we look at verses one through 11, together I'm picking up tonight with verse 12 of that first chapter and as we began.

I'd like to read the remainder of it. First Timothy 112 through 20. I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who is given me strength that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.

Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man that I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me.

Worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life out of the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever a man. Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them. You may fight the good fight, holding on faith and a good conscience, some of rejected these and so have ship wrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander whom I have handed over Satan to be taught not to bless theme. I find it very interesting that in writing this letter to Timothy and having begun it's as he has with an emphasis upon sound doctrine.

Paul now speaks in a personal way of how the grace of God in my doctrine came to him as he does. We recognize that here is not a proud man who somehow has all of the doctrine and therefore lifts himself up for a lot of important recognition by men and women but who in the light of the very nature of the gospel of God's grace of Jesus Christ recognizes himself to be a sinner so recognizes that that gospel is all of mercy I say I find that interesting because I think it is the answer in this book, and the principle is the answer totally one of the criticisms we often get when we want to talk about sound doctrine. Whenever the church is concerned about such things about biblical standards or the authority of the word of God or the teaching of Scripture are the fundamentals of the faith.

It's often made a criticism of the church like that individuals like fact that by emphasizing doctrine.

They somehow become brittle and narrow in on loving and impractical. All of the other things that I'm sure you've heard said as well as I doctrine when we really understand I may not merely profess it because we can just profess it at times not have it really touch our hearts with true doctrine when it's really understood that is at least doctrine of the word of God produces the very kind of things which are sometimes said to be absent in the Orthodox because where we recognize the glory of God in the gospel. We are humbled by that we recognize that we are not those who have received the gospel because of our merits, but rather we are those who deserve nothing and who receive the glory of God in the gospel because God is gracious and merciful, even the greatest of sinners. This is what Paul talks about this is why he refers to himself as the worst of sinners.

In this passage, you know this is really very interesting testimony on the part of the apostle Paul sometimes. Today people are given the little pointers about how there to give a testimony if they have to give is an evangelistic service or something and you know how it goes. First of all you talk about your past how bad you were before you found Christ and then you talk about that moment of crisis when you submitted to him and then all the difference that's come as a result of that when we have something like that here he talks about his past and when he talks about his past.

He says as we have read that he was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man at Paul's assessment of what he was before he met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.

I have to remember when he writes that he's writing to Timothy. Timothy is the young man who traveled with him in about half of his missionary journeys and certainly knew Paul humanly speaking as well, as any other being in living.

So when He Writes His Way, Timothy doesn't have to spell it all out when he says I a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man. Timothy knew what he was talking about the very fact that he doesn't explain it much here might very well be somebody who reads this book for the first time and is not aware of at least half a dozen other places in Paul's writings, where he talks along the same lines, to think that Paul's experience. Paul's past must really have been a horrible thing indeed in crime and violence. All such things as we would measure it from the world's perspective was Paul was more like before he became a Christian. Well, he didn't belong organized crime.

He wasn't even in the Rockets a little bit on the side. He wasn't even somebody who beat up his wife was outstanding religious figure. I suppose that in the Judaism of his day before Paul became a Christian he was well on his way to being one of the most distinguished of the Jewish rabbis certainly had a mind that was well capable of doing it humanly speaking in the whole annals of human thought. There's probably never been more brilliance mind than that of the apostle Paul and if Christ had not reached him with the gospel on the road to Damascus. He may well have risen to the absolute pinnacle of learning and influence in Judaism and been a rabbi far more distinguished than Hillel or Gamaliel or the other names are so well known to us.

This is what Paul was in the box about it clearly in many many places we say to a man Paul what do you have in mind these two things sound incompatible dots here you're talking about your past as being a persecutor of blasphemy for you, but you who live by the Old Testament.

Who knew that there is one God, the God of Israel and worship him and tried to serve him and violent man talking about Paul. Paul would explain that it was precisely in the practice of his religion that these things were true because although in a certain sense, and he says here he did it in ignorance and unbelief in a certain sense he was living up to whatever knowledge he had, humanly speaking, on the basis of the Old Testament prophecies in the teaching of the law and all those things over the last having not seen the grace of God displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was actually destroying the very thing that he thought he was going about the buildup. So he talks about it is what he says.

He says most days I put a lot of confidence in the flesh I was untying about flesh and generally means his flesh. He put confidence in what he could do and who he wants the kind of character he manifested and he says all if there was anybody who could be proud about who he was, what he was able to do in those days it was me, Paul.

Now I was proper number of reasons. There were certain things that I had inherited. They were very good indeed, and in addition to those things that I had inherited without things that I cheaper myself. They were even better if that was possible, and in those days. I looked at myself and I said if there is anybody living who pleases God, it's me.

Here's the things I was confident in all writing anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more I told why one of the things he says that he put his confidence and I'm taking slightly out of the order that he gives them here is the fact that he was a Jew. He says I was of the people of Israel are you say well what does that mean what advantage is her to being a Jew that's a question the Paul himself asked the Romans, you know, in the ninth chapter and he answers it. He is making a great point in Romans in so far as the gospel is concerned, we all stand before God as needy sinners, Jew and Gentile alike. Somebody's going after the what advantages are to being a joke of the all of the same before God.

What's the advantage of being a Jew and Paul's is not all it's a false conclusion to think that just because were all the same before God. We need the same gospel that there's no advantages to being a moral man rather than an immoral matter, a Jew rather than a Gentile and he says look here the advantages that pertain to being a Jew, talk about the basis for one thing, that the Bible I may not of understood it in my early days there may be blindness of the eyes of Israel today but it's far better to have the truth, even if you don't understand that the not have it all.

So is is that's great advantage in the promises the patriarchs with the ceremonies was the temple worship and finally he says, according to the flesh, was of the Jews in Christ came as is. That's a great advantage and when I look back at all the things that I have is I thought to recommend me to God.

Certainly, being a Jew came very very high on the list. Always I was a pure Jew. I could be a Jew by having one Jewish parents and one Gentile parent, but he said that wasn't the case with me. I was born a Hebrew of the Hebrews that is Hebrew singular of Hebrews plural one child to Jewish parents.

So I was a pureblood, a Jew. Furthermore, so I wasn't even an Israelite because I was circumcised on the eighth day the Israelites were Jews but they weren't circumcised at the same time, he said boy I was right in there from the beginning I fit within the whole structure and anything that could be said of a Jew of an advantageous nature. I had so far as legal righteousness. As I understood it was concerned it was absolutely blameless on the Pharisees were the strictest sect of Judaism have to be a Pharisee to be a Sadducees Sadducees was more or less a modernist of the day liberal of the day. They didn't believe in the resurrection. For example, and lots of other things. I didn't believe in, they certainly believed in political power are examples of that today. But Paul says I wasn't like that. I was a Pharisee and regardless of what opinion you may have the Pharisees by reading the New Testament. They were really the best of the bunch and I was one of the furthermore he said I was zealously persecuted the church as far as those requirements that are found in the laws far as they were concerned, I was absolutely blameless regarding each one.

I did absolutely everything. I understood that I should do on the basis of what I found there say my puzzlement is even greater than ever.

All the persecutor all the blasphemer all the violent man at this picture of Paul. I say the same thing over here. He says he's violent, a persecutor blasphemer here. He sank Julie Hebrew, the Hebrews, I obey the law. I'm a Pharisee. All of those things is not incompatible answer is no. It is not incompatible at all because it was precisely in the practice of his religion that he was blaspheming God persecuting the church and doing violence against Guthrie, Paul, here we come to the matter of his conversion, no indicates it in Philippians the very simple way the word, but that you find in verse seven he just talked about all these things which were his advantages Judaism and now we come to verse seven and he says, but these I thought I had on the window box when you have all that it was a bout about anything box. He said there was one that bunch was the encounter I had with the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus when I saw him.

Paul says for the first time I recognize that all of these things these things that I considered advantages and that I was accumulating and I thought God would acknowledge and praise me for I recognized for the first time these things were worse than nothing, because I looked in the face of Christ, and I saw what real holiness was and I do that in the light of that kind of holiness. All my righteousnesses were as filthy rags.

Furthermore, he said it was even worse than that. I recognize that far from being assets.

They were actually liabilities because they had kept me from Christ and led me to persecute the very thing that God was doing in this world and what Paul is doing the passage in Philippians is using a metaphor from banking or accounting. Some such things. I think what he saying because he talks about gain, loss, is that in those days, he had something like a balance sheet.

It is like there was a big line down the middle and the side of its assets of that side of it said liabilities and he thought the way you got to happen was by getting more in the column of assets that you had in the column of liabilities she thought that you get before God to be a scale. They are deploy your good works in one side and if there were more good works and that side, and there were Band-Aids on the other side, the scale would tip in you go and pause later they were and I listed them Jew your brother Joe circumcised the eighth day tribe of Benjamin Pharisees outlasts keeping the law, all those things and he said then I saw Christ I recognize seemingly for me. Before this thing from my mind that these things were assets all all lately a certain value in themselves. And I point out that is good to be a Jew and all of those things but he said so far as understanding spiritual things is concerned, so far as pleasing God. When asked if these were liabilities I was trusting these things because I was trusting them. I wasn't trusting Christ and they led me even in the worst things because I became a violent man in the practice of that kind of erroneous religion. So what I did what everyone would come to God must do is take that call of assets, whatever it may be whether there the assets of the Jew or the assets of the Gentile. Whatever your pride may be in. I took all of that, you must take to I moved it over to the other column that I put it's under liabilities because that's what they were then under assets. I wrote Jesus Christ alone. That's what salvation is nobody is ever been saved in any other way. We sing it in one of our hymns and you can sing this him in faith, understanding it and affirming what it says and you will done with college.we sing nothing in my hands. I bring no assets.

Nothing in my hands. I bring what simply to thy cross I cling naked company for dress. This belief or grace foul either the fountain fly wash the Savior or I die rock of ages, cleft for me, but behind myself in the. The one who will so, God will indeed hide and cleanse and clothe and help provide all of that which we so desperately need. I see why Paul doesn't minimize doctrine. He says you see its impact doctrine in that truth in the glory of the gospel that I have found newness of life. This is where I have ceased to become the blasphemer abroad, one who is merciless for people who disagree with me are concerned the violent person and become one who by God's grace is willing to endure the kind of hardship and suffering that is necessary, in which I have experienced in the desire and the task of communicating that same gospel other perishing men and women may point out something else to. I think there's a great lesson in here and it's this. When Paul came to that understanding of what he was himself apart from the grace of God and what you become in Jesus Christ. He did not go on from that point to become more and more self-righteous lady entered into a process of growth where as he progressed an understanding of God and his nature in himself and his sin.

He recognized himself to be not increasingly righteous but increasingly sinful, wonderful contrast between this passage in first Timothy and some things that Paul says elsewhere in first Corinthians 15 chapter verse nine Paul ranks himself alongside the other apostles of Jesus in that passage, I am the least of the apostles. Other significant thing about that is in first Corinthians was written relatively early in his ministry at the beginning but somewhere toward the middle after a missionary journey or two was out of the way he was writing to the people at Corinth and he was, I suppose so.

That day he would've said it was being very very humble, a saying in all, there always apostles. They were commissions 11 of them because Judas was displaced. Maybe Matthias was in the place a 12 and then I came along and I came later.

I wasn't there during your earthly ministry, but Jesus Christ revealed himself to me and by the grace of God. I've been very effective in it.

Carry the gospel to you and Corinth and other places besides, I gotta admit that some of the other disciple sat there in Jerusalem and and do what God told him to do. They answer to their master, not to me but I just want to point that out but nevertheless he said I'm a relatively humble person and as I write myself alongside those other apostles.

Well, I'm the beast of the bowl.

There were 12 and 13 in Christendom. I come in number 13.number one and I want you to know that that's good. That certainly wasn't evidence of God's grace in Paul's life but you know, as he lived. He came to see that he didn't rank quite that high, later wrote to the Ephesians and in the third chapter of Ephesians verse eight define an expression what has to be taken with that first when here he says I am less in the least of all God's people then you see. Toward the end of his life. He writes first Timothy don't know when this was written again sometime near the end of his life and what is he say now, not the least of the apostles's not less than the least of all God's people would want peace as sinners. I am the worst. That is, I am the chief of sinners is the authorized version translates it. I don't know how many Christians were in the world that time. I don't know how many people were in the world at that time, let's assume half a million. Now he says I'm half a million. I'm way down at the bottom of the stack you say is that growth yes that's growth because while it was true, and I'm sure it was true up, always growing in the Christian life and he was becoming stronger in his prayer and more faithful in his dependence upon God, and more filled with understanding of spiritual things and more faithful to the end and determining to persevere and all of that. Certainly growing in grace and were gracious at the end and he was at the beginning. All of the things by which we would rate growth. Paul's awareness of himself is not of how good he was becoming but of how far he had to go. That's real growth because when we have growth like that to see were thrown out upon ourselves back up on the grace of God is Paul once and I having gotten to the end of all this, he turns to Timothy, and I think that's his way of saying Timothy, this is what I learned. This is experience of my life. I think you know what to Timothy. You've lived with me.

I know your faith. I know what you believe you're younger you have gone quite as far but you got all the rudiments and you so I'm not going to preach to you about having this kind of perspective you have it already, but what I want to tell you is this look fight the good fight hold to the faith and a good conscience, don't.

He says don't give it up. You hold on to the faith in the sense that you believe it, but you can compromise its you can give away inch by inch by inch lose your good conscience before God in the process and become worthless so far as an agent of his gospel is concerned let us pray father, bless these truths to our hearts. Granted we might be found faithful, not because we have the root of faithfulness in us because you are faithful and you persevere with your people. We would wait upon you for that strength that we need to win the battle and we might be strong and faithful and a good conscience and strong in the faith are so many who need to hear it. In Jesus name error listening to the Bible study hours featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce, do you feel disappointed with God because he hasn't met your expectations. You're not alone. John the Baptist had the same struggles.

If you like to learn more. We'd like to offer you a free CD entitled the friend of sinners discover how John dealt with his doubts in this insightful message by Dr. Boyce are free CD offer is just our way of saying thanks give us a call that 1-800-488-1888 will be honored to send you a copy of the friend of sinners that number again is 1-800-488-1888 Dr. Boyce's messages continue to challenge and encourage his listers with the truth of God's word in an age where doctrinal truth is minimized.

Would you help keep Dr. Boyce's time was teaching on the air and on the Internet you can make your contribution by calling us directly at 1-800-488-1888 or visit us online at the Bible study our data work. Our postal address is 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601. Thank you for your prayerful and financial support. Bible study hours a broadcast ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals, proclaiming biblical doctrine to foster a reformed awakening in today's church connect with our online publishing broadcast and event platforms at the Bible study our God who hi Mark Daniels, Henry Thoreau's godly at once asking when he would make peace with God, which he answered. I'm not at war with him the truth, however, is that mankind is by nature at war with God. Join Dr. James Boyce. Next time, as he explains the need for a mediator to resolve the conflict between God and men, that's next time on Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically

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