1 Timothy 1:14
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
It is the most difficult thing in the world for a man to speak in a becoming and consistent manner concerning himself. He speaks of himself very humbly and penitently: "Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." He speaks also most encouragingly to others: "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first," or in me principally, "Jesus Christ might show forth all long suffering for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting."
I. THE GRACE OF GOD AS THE ONLY SOURCE OF HOPE AND SALVATION TO GUILTY AND APOSTATE MAN.
1. The very terms of this proposition suppose that man is in a guilty and apostate state. The effectuation of that great scheme into which the angels desired to look, the contrivance of infinite mercy, is of grace: "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich." The application of the Divine contrivance for man's recovery is of grace. The Holy Spirit, the third person in the glorious Trinity, stands engaged in the economy and covenant of mercy, to "take of the things of Christ, and show them unto us." The completion of this great and glorious work is of grace. Were we to trace the whole process from the commencement to the perfection of it, it would be seen that in every step the grace of God is manifested to be "exceeding abundant." Now, do consider that this is the only source of hope and salvation for guilty man. Tell me of any other if you are able. Will you talk to me of penances, and pilgrimages, and bodily austerities?
II. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDANT UPON THE CONVERSION AND SALVATION OF THE APOSTLE PAUL, THIS GRACE WAS "EXCEEDING ABUNDANT."
1. This will appear, in the first place, if you consider his previous character. He was, before, an impious blasphemer, a treacherous persecutor, an injurious reviler. What does this prove? That where a man is not chargeable with gross immoralities, yet the sins of the mind, the intellect, the temper and disposition of the heart, may stand out in the sight of God in the most odious, the most culpable, and in the most guilty form.
2. In the second place, the grace of God was exceeding abundant towards this apostle, if you consider the period of time at which he thus became the subject of renewing and converting mercy. It was at the very moment when, with impetuous fury, he was proceeding to Damascus under the authority of the high priest to make havoc of the Church of God.
3. In the third place, the exceeding abundant grace of God was conspicuously manifest in the completeness of the change which was produced on his condition and character. It was a very remarkable change, because Paul the disciple presents a contrast so direct, so strong, and so striking, to Saul of Tarsus. Once more, the grace of God was exceeding abundant toward him if you consider the subsequent employment to which he was appointed, the eminent qualifications with which he was endowed, and the great success which attended him in his apostolic career.
III. THE CHARACTER TO WHICH THE GRACE OF GOD WILL ALWAYS FORM THOSE WHO ARE THE SUBJECTS OF IT. "With faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." The two grand characteristics of the apostle antecedently to his conversion, were his unbelief and his malignity. Now the character to which he was wrought by the operation of Divine grace on his heart, exhibits an entire contrast to these two characteristic qualities; for you find in him faith taking the place of unbelief, and love taking the place of malevolence; he becomes an entirely changed man, the principles of his whole conduct are completely altered. In closing this subject —
1. It offers hope to the most hopeless; I say hope to the most hopeless, because we have discovered that the grace of God is the spring and the source of man's salvation.
2. Let us examine, pointedly and "seriously, whether we know anything of the grace of God which we have seen exemplified in so remarkable and transcendent a degree in the conversion of the apostle Paul. Has this grace reached your heart?
3. What gratitude do we owe for the manifestation of this grace, for the revelation of it to our sinful world? If the sun could be extinguished and blotted out from yonder heavens, it would be a less calamity inflicted on the natural world than if the doctrines of grace were banished from the Christian system. Let us close, therefore, by considering the animating and exhilarating prospect which the grace of God opens beyond the grave.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.