Sunday, October 08, 2017

Personal Reflections

In the Bible the apostle Paul, who wrote a sizeable portion of the New Testament epistles, did not often speak about himself. In fact he wrote, "we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord" 2Corinthians 4.5. However, when he wrote to his close companion Timothy, in the final days of his life, he did refer to himself a number of times and some of these references are introduced with the expression "I am". I would like you to think of three of these expressions.

The first is in 1Timothy 1.15 and is a confession: he says, "I am chief". We may ask, "Chief of what?" Note the unmistakable language, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." This man described himself as the chief of sinners. You may say, "I’m not a sinner", but God’s Word states, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" Romans 3.23; "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" Romans 5.12. There is no way of evading these statements; we are all sinners and thus are facing eternal banishment from God.

However, the God against Whom we have sinned planned the way in which our sins can be forgiven, a way that involved the giving of His only begotten Son to the agonising death of crucifixion at the place called Calvary. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3.16. To activate this plan to save sinners, God’s Son was willing to endure the agony of Calvary’s cross and so says our verse, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ..." He is the only Saviour. Salvation is not found in a church, in religion or in our works. It is found alone in a Person: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" Acts 4.12.

The second "I am" is in 2Timothy 1.12 where we read: "I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." Clearly this is the "I am" of confidence. Paul was facing death and shortly after writing these words, was beheaded. He never trembled or panicked but with stately dignity he faced death. What gave such confidence? He said, "I know whom I have believed." He never said a word about "what I believed" or "what I joined" or "what ordinances I kept". His faith was in a Person. Dear reader, it is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone that brings salvation and peace with God.
The final "I am" is in 2Timothy 4.6, "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand." This brings us to the conclusion, "I am now ready to be offered ..." He is already being poured out and he would soon depart. The word ‘depart’ bears the meaning of ‘unmooring’. We think of a ship that has unloaded its cargo and is ready to depart to another shore. Paul says that his service for God on earth has concluded and he is about to leave for another land, namely heaven. This is the conclusion of every soul who has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. The tragedy of everlasting punishment awaits those who reject the Saviour.
Written and reproduced by kind permission of Assembly Testimony

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