“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost”
(1 Timothy 1:15)
Paul had just described his ordination in 1 Timothy 1:12. He then went on to speak of the grace manifested in the call of such a person to the ministry (verse 13), and of the further grace by which he was sustained in that ministry.
Incidentally he was led to mention the message of his ministry. We may profitably use the text of this occasion. Paul’s words help us see how to preach the gospel, what is the gospel we preach, and why we preach this gospel.
How We Preach the Gospel
We preach the gospel with unapologetic certainty. Notice that Paul considers the gospel message to be a “trustworthy saying” (verse 15). In other words, there is no reason to doubt the truth of our message. We can be sure because it is a revelation of God, it is attested by miracles, it bears its witness within itself, and it has already proved its own power upon our hearts.
We also preach the gospel as an everyday truth. Paul calls it a “saying” or proverb. The gospel affects not just at the point of salvation but at home, in business, in sickness, in health, in life, in death. The gospel is for all of life—everyday.
We also preach the gospel as a common bearing. In other words, this “saying” is to be heard by all kinds of people. Every person is a sinner in need of God’s saving love.
We also preach the gospel in a way that claims our attention. Paul says it is “deserving of full acceptance” (verse 15). We must believe it to be true and worthy of acceptance!
What Gospel Do We Preach?
First, we preach the good news—gospel—of a person. This person is “Christ Jesus”, the anointed of God, the Savior of men, who once died but now lives forever.
We also preach the gospel of divine visitation and holy condescension. “Christ Jesus came into the world” by His birth as a man, his mingling with men, and his bearing our sorrows and sins for us.
We preach a gospel for sinners. Jesus “came into the world to save sinners.” For this salvation, Jesus labored, lived, and died. He died to make atonement for our sin; yet He is now risen on high and pleads for us in heaven (Romans 8:34).
We preach a gospel of a finished work. Jesus finished his saving work before He left the world, and that work is complete to this day. God is ready to apply this saving work through Jesus Christ to all who would come to Him in faith.
We preach a gospel of effectual deliverance. It was God’s desire “to save sinners.” Not to half save them, not to make them salvable, not to help them save themselves… but to save them wholly and effectually from their sins.
Why Do We Preach It?
Of course, we preach the gospel to others because we ourselves have been saved by it! Furthermore, I love Paul’s attitude toward his own sin; he says he is the “foremost” of sinners. If we consider ourselves the chief sinner among men, we would be all the more zealous to preach the good news that saved us to them. It should be something that you desire and cannot help. The saving work of Jesus creates an inward impulse that compels us to tell others of the miracle of mercy that God wrought upon us.
Praise be to God!