Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"I am beyond reach"

Many people believe that they are beyond the reach of God's mercy. For those of you who believe this (and you know your reasons) I would offer up the testimony of the Apostle Paul to encourage you that you are never beyond God's reach. Paul writes the following:

“I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” 
1 Timothy 1:16

Remember who Paul was before Christ? Here he is in his own words (1 Timothy 1:13) - "...though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent [of Christ]..." Persecutor of the church, blasphemer of Jesus Christ and with a fist raised against Him. So, those are some pretty serious sins. But note what comes next in vs 13; "But I received mercy...". Mercy? Mercy to the blasphemer of Christ and murderer of Christians? No way. Then it gets even better in vs 14, "and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." On top of mercy, now grace and faith and love... overflowing??? Get out of town! And just in case we forgot who this is all directed to, Paul reminds us again of not only who he was, but of who he still is in vs 14. Not just a sinner, but the foremost sinner ("Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost."). This means that Paul considers himself to be the worst sinner he knows. Ring a bell for you? Maybe you are thinking the same thing. Then we get to vs 16. God showed mercy to Paul, the greatest of sinners, to display His perfect patience in Jesus Christ as an example. An example for who? For those who want to come to Jesus! That would be ... you! and ME! Paul is saying here that Christ has saved him, and, oh, by the way, if He showed mercy to me (the chief of sinners), He will show mercy to you.

This is the bottom line: No one is beyond the reach of God's mercy. No matter what you have done, what sins you have committed, no matter how much you have run from God or shaken your fist at Him, God will not turn away those who come to Him (John 6:37). Paul (the Apostle) says, "I'm a great example of someone who sinned greatly, but was shown mercy and patience!". 

Go to Jesus now. Stop looking within where there is no hope and look without to Christ who is the great hope of sinners.  Here is what He promises:

"...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." ~ Romans 10:9-10

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