John Calvin – Sermon on 1 Timothy 1:18-19

Posted On May 22, 2016

Now to the king of worlds, immortal and invisible, to God only wise, be honor and glory forever. Amen. 18 Son Timothy, I commend this commandment to thee, that according to the prophesies which were before (made) of thee, thou fight by them a good battle. 19 Having faith and a good conscience, which some men have cast away, and are perished from the faith. (1 Tim. 1:18-19)

We must well remember and bear in mind that verse which was expounded before, how Saint Paul gives us to understand by his own example that when we know ourselves to be sinners, we should in no wise doubt but that the Son of God is at hand to receive us to mercy. For why was he sent into the world but to save that which was lost? And although we are of our own nature bent to distrust, yet must we be resolved in this point, that the son of God will not cast us off, so that we come to him to be partakers of the salvation which he offers generally to all sinners. But we must take this with us, that we cannot come to salvation in Jesus Christ, but only by faith, which betokens as much as this, that we be truly drawn unto him, and that with an upright affection, being angry and sorry with ourselves for our sins. For he that will cherish and nuzzle up himself in wickedness, is not worthy of that remedy which the son of God brings us. And because we are subject to doubt, especially regarding the matter of putting our trust in God, St. Paul confirms this doctrine, saying that it is a sure word, worthy to be received; as God has promised in other passages, in order to keep us from doubting his goodness. He is not content to tell us that he will be as good to us as his promise, but he adds an oath. Therefore we are so much the more to be blamed for distrust if we cannot settle our minds upon such promises, when God helps us in our distrust and in our weaknesses.

Now St. Paul adds a thanksgiving, and one that is rather strong, crying out, “Honor and glory be to God for ever to him (he says) that is King everlasting, who is immortal, who is invisible, who alone is wise.” By this he shows that he was, as it were, ravished to glorify God’s name, feeling the grace that he had received. And indeed if we consider how St. Paul was turned, and in what condition God found him, it was the strangest miracle that could be to have a wolf become a sheep, a man so raging and mad to shed the blood of martyrs, to be directly turned into a shepherd, and to have so gentle and mild a spirit; and a man full of pride to be so humbled; a man that was before drunk with the honors of the world, to submit himself to all rebukes and slanders; for him who resisted God, to take the yoke upon himself and to desire nothing but to be a servant of Jesus Christ, against whom he had been fighting. Mark, I say, such a wonderful changing, that it is not without cause that St. Paul cries, Honor and glory be given to God.

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