Handfuls on Purpose
by James Smith, 1943
A PERFECT PATTERN. 1 Timothy 1:11-17
Here the apostle speaks of himself as a pattern to believers (v. 16). A pattern may be given as a specimen of workmanship for exhibition, or as an example for imitation. Paul's experience was both an exhibition of Divine grace and an example to all them "which should hereafter believe." We shall look at him as a pattern or specimen of—
I. Sin's Delusiveness. He was "a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious" (v. 13). Here is a man so self-deceived that he thought he was doing God service by making havoc of the Church (Acts 26:9-11). History has furnished us with many examples of the same kind of madness, through the pride and prejudice of unbelieving hearts and sin-blinded minds. But what a disillusion came when this "Jesus of Nazareth" whom he was persecuting, met him and smote him to the earth with the brightness of His Presence, and when he, "trembling and astonished," said, "Lord, what will You have me to do?" (Acts 9:1-6). Every saved sinner has in some measure made the same discovery.
II. Abundant Grace. "I obtained mercy: the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant" (vv. 13, 14). The might and the abounding sufficiency of the grace of Christ to subdue and to save a sinner surely was never more manifest Here is a pattern of what the "grace of our Lord" can do. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). He was thankfully speaking the truth when he said: "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10). If the "chief of sinners" was saved by grace, none need despair. "By grace are you saved through faith." But remember that it is the grace of God.
III. Believers' Responsibility. "The Gospel of the glory of the blessed God was committed unto me" (v. 14). If we have been made partakers of this same salvation, are we not also partakers in some measure of this responsibility? The good news has been given to save us, and also as a deposit that we might be a blessing to others. If God, "who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, giving us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," then He has also commanded that we let our light shine. "You are as lights in the world" (2 Corinthians 4:6). "Go you, therefore, preach the Gospel by lip and life."
IV. Christian Testimony. As a brief and perfect pattern of personal testimony, there can be nothing on record more effective than 1 Timothy 1:15. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of the acceptance of all, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." This saying is as faithful as God Himself is, and the blessing offered meets the most urgent need of humanity "to save sinners." No statement more worthily deserves the acceptance of all. Jesus Christ came into the world to save. Where did He come from? What an incidental proof of His pre-existence. Through Him God the Father is commending His love to a rebellious race (Romans 5:8). Do your friends know what great things God has done for your soul? (Mark 5:19). The Psalmist said: "Come and hear, all you that fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul" (Psalm 66:16). "Let him that hears say. Come."
V. Praise and Thanksgiving. What a beautiful pattern this is. "Now to the immortal and invisible King of all the ages, who alone is God, be honor and glory to the ages of the ages. Amen" (v. 17). Often the language of mortals cannot express the deep things the heart may feel; but God judges the heart, and takes account of every thankful recognition of His mercies. Praise and thanksgiving, adoration and worship, are most fitting when the Majesty of God's goodness becomes overwhelming. "Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness" (Psalm 107:15). In counting your many blessings, do not fail to add your blessing.
INTERCESSORS NEEDED. 1 Timothy 2:1-6
In Isaiah 59:16 we read that the Lord "wondered that there was no intercessor." He wondered at the folly and unbelief of His people, in neglecting this most effective means of blessing. This is a privilege within the reach of every child of God, a sphere of service open to every believer to make intercession.
I. Its Importance. "I exhort, therefore, that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions be made" (v. 1). Here this holy exercise gets the first place in his exhortations. It is possible that an intercessor's reward may be greater than a preacher's. Samuel knew how this honored the Lord when he declared: "As for me, God forbid that I should sin against Jehovah by ceasing to pray for you" (1 Samuel 12:23). Prayerlessness is not only a sin against our own souls, but our fellow men, and against God.
II. Its Scope. "For all men and for all in authority" (vv. 1, 2). If you know not what to pray for as you ought, here at least is a wide field for its operation. Those of the Captivity were exhorted to "seek the peace of the city wherever they were, and to pray unto the Lord for it" (Jeremiah 29:7). Our modern cities are in desperate need of intercessors, and perhaps our modern Churches not less. In praying for "all men," don't forget the all in your own home, all in your fellowship, city, and nation. Remember the great all for whom Christ died.
III. Its Incentives. As an encouragement for intercession, think of—
1. The Will of God. "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (v. 4). By His own power God could save all men whether they will or not. But in grace He is willing to save all that come unto the knowledge of the truth. In praying for "all men" we are in line with the Divine will, and helping the fulfillment of His purpose.
2. The Ransom Price. "Christ gave Himself a ransom for all" (v. 6). There is ample provision in the death of Christ, and in the will of the Father for the salvation of all men. "Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
3. The Mediator. "There is one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (v. 5). What an incentive to prayer this is, when we realize that the Eternal Son of God in the likeness of men is our Mediator before the throne, and He ever lives to make intercession. Ponder also-
IV. The Examples set before us. Abraham interceded for the doomed city of Sodom (Genesis 18:24), Moses on the hill top with uplifted hands silently pleading for victory (Exod. 17), Elijah praying for a Divine manifestation that the nation might be rescued from idolatry (1 Kings 18:37), Job in midst of his sorrow and sufferings making intercession for his mistaken friends (Job 42:10). Think also of "the Man of Sorrows," who was wounded and bruised for our iniquities, yet He made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12), and His last prayer on earth was for His murderers. "Father, forgive them." Well may we pray. "Lord, teach us to pray." The need for intercessors is a great and growing need, for the harvest is plenteous, but the divinely equipped laborers are few. Pray you therefore (Matthew 9:37, 38).