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THE GOSPEL IN ONE SENTENCE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, September 14, 2014

“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” (I Timothy 1:15).


Beginning on July 13 I preached a series of sermons on loneliness. I gave them on seven Sunday mornings in a row. I was preaching on the problem of loneliness that most young people experience today. I said, over and over, “Why be lonely? Come home – to church.” And I was offering our church as a cure for loneliness. Those sermons were sermons on the church – on what theologians call “ecclesiology.” I showed again and again that a loving church can be very helpful to young high school and college-age students. A good, lively church can help you overcome feelings of alienation and loneliness. Many of you started coming to our church while I preached those sermons. But obviously the time has come for me to move on to another subject. And the next subject will focus on the second thing that I said again and again for seven Sundays. “Why be lost? Come home to Jesus – the Son of God!” And that takes us to our text this morning. Please stand and read I Timothy 1:15 aloud. It’s on page 1274 in the Scofield Study Bible.

“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” (I Timothy 1:15).

You may be seated.

Most of my early training came from my pastor at the Chinese Baptist Church, Dr. Timothy Lin, and from Dr. J. Vernon McGee, the great radio Bible teacher, whom I listened to every day for many years. Concerning our text, Dr. McGee said,

This is a very important verse of Scripture because it affirms that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” He didn’t come to be the greatest teacher the world has ever known, although He was that. He didn’t come [just] to set a moral example, but He did do that. He came into the world to save sinners; “of whom I am chief” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Volume V, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, p. 434; note on I Timothy 1:15).

“This is a faithful saying.” The Apostle means that it is a trustworthy saying, a saying you can believe and count on. It is a saying “worthy of all acceptation.” It deserves to be accepted because it is a true saying. What is this saying that you can count on and accept? It is this – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” You can believe it. You can count on it. And you should accept it as the truth! “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” You should accept that statement because it is the truth – the absolute truth – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”! We learn three great truths from that verse.

I. First, we learn about the person of Christ.

“Christ Jesus came into the world.” He “came.” He wasn’t created like we were. We didn’t come into the world. We were created here, in this world. But Christ “came into this world.” Where did He come from? He came down from Heaven to live among us. The Gospel of John says,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...” (John 1:1, 14).

Christ was up in Heaven with God the Father. Then He came down, and was made flesh, and lived among us! That is called the “incarnation.” That means He was God “in the flesh.” That’s what Charles Wesley (1707-1788) said in his beautiful Christmas hymn, “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel; Hark, the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King” (“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788). Or as Emily Elliott put it, “Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown When Thou camest to earth for me” (“Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne” by Emily E. S. Elliott, 1836-1897).

But why did He leave Heaven and come down to this earth? Why did He come into the womb of the Virgin Mary? Why did He live among us? Why did He suffer so much agony and pain? Why did He go to the Cross and have His hands and feet nailed to the wood? Why would the incarnate God, God in human flesh, suffer on that Cross for us? Our text says, “Christ Jesus came into the world,” but why did He come into the world? Which takes us to the next point.

II. Second, we learn about the purpose of Christ.

In the first point I told you who it was who came into the world – it was God incarnate – the Second Person of the Trinity. Now we will see why He came into the world,

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15).

His purpose for coming into the world was to save sinners. We are plainly told Christ, “hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18). Again, the Apostle Peter said that Christ “his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (I Peter 2:24). And the Apostle Paul said, “Christ died for our sins” (I Corinthians 15:3). Christ went willingly to the Cross, to suffer in your place, to pay the penalty for your sin, to cleanse you from sin with His own Blood, to make it possible for God to receive you into Heaven. Christ came into the world to save sinners from the guilt of sin, to take away your sin, to “cleanse you from all sin” (I John 1:7). Christ Himself said, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47). The prophet Isaiah made all that very clear when he said,

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities…and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Christ’s Blood is able to save the worst sinner from his sins. Christ’s Blood has this power because He is so great a person! Christ is the only begotten Son of God!

Spurgeon said that Christ had to come down from Heaven to save us sinners. Spurgeon said,

      Christ Jesus could not save men if he had stayed in heaven. He “came into the world” to save sinners. The Fall was so grievous that he must come right down into the place of our ruin...he could not sit in heaven and save sinners; he [had to] come into the world to do so; down into this polluted creation the eternal Creator must himself descend...He cannot save sinners, so great is their ruin, unless he becomes incarnate, and takes upon himself our nature...And being here...he cannot return [to heaven] saying “It is finished,” until first of all he dies. [His] head must be crowned with thorns, [His] eyes must be closed in the darkness of the tomb,... [before] man can be redeemed...O sinner, you are awfully lost, you are infinitely lost, since it [takes] an infinite Saviour to present the atonement of his own body in order to save sinners from their sin (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Faithful Saying,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 24, Pilgrim Publications, 1972 edition, p. 304).

III. Third, we learn about the power of Christ.

“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” (I Timothy 1:15).

The Apostle Paul says that he was the “chief” sinner – the worst sinner of all. Paul had spoken long and hard against Christ. Paul had been responsible for killing many Christians. Paul was the extreme example of a sinner. All sinners can see, from Paul’s example, that the greatest sinner can become the greatest Christian. Christ’s greatest enemy can become His best servant. That is what happened to Paul – and it can happen to you. The power of Christ can change you from a sinner to a saint! “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

I was taken to a Baptist church for the first time when I was already a teenager, when I was thirteen years old. The people who lived next door took me to a Baptist church. I didn’t know that Christ came into the world to save a sinner like me. I was baptized without knowing that. I thought of Jesus as a tragic figure who was nailed to a cross by accident. I am sure that I must have heard sermons on salvation through faith in Christ. But I didn’t understand those sermons. The Apostle Paul said,

“If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost”
       (II Corinthians 4:3).

I was certainly lost! And the Gospel was certainly hidden from me!

I even played the part of Judas in an Easter play at the church. Judas was the Disciple who betrayed Christ. I actually played the part of Judas three different years. But I was still blind. I still did not understand that Jesus suffered and died to save me from my sin. At one point in the Easter play, I screamed the words of Judas,

“I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood”
       (Matthew 27:4).

That made me think about my sin. Sin became a terrible thing to me. I felt that I myself had betrayed Christ, which of course was true. Every sinner betrays Christ.

But I felt the only way I could be a real Christian was to do more “good” things. I felt I had to be really good or I could not be a Christian. In about 1958 or 1959 I read a Life Magazine story about Dr. Albert Schweitzer. Schweitzer was a medical missionary in Africa. He was praised by Life Magazine as a great humanitarian, a kind and good missionary-doctor in Africa. I began to think about becoming a missionary myself. I thought that would make me a real Christian. I heard about Dr. Tom Dooley, a missionary to Vietnam and Cambodia. Then I read about Dr. James Hudson Taylor, a medical missionary to China in the 19th century. I thought, “That’s what I’ll do. I’ll become a missionary to the Chinese. Then I’ll be a real Christian and I won’t be a sinner like Judas.” So I joined the First Chinese Baptist Church. I was 19 years old. That fall I went to Biola College to study for the ministry, so I could be a missionary. I thought that would save me.

During a series of chapel meetings at Biola College, we sang a song by Charles Wesley (1707-1788) at the beginning of each service. I had never heard that song before. It made a huge impression on me. By the second day that song made the hair on my head stand on end! It felt like an electric shock went through my body as we sang it each morning.

And can it be that I should gain
   An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
   For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be,
   That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be,
   That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me.

He left His Father’s throne above,
   So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
vAnd bled for Adam’s helpless race;
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
   For O my God, it found out me!
Amazing love! how can it be,
   That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me.
(“And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

I sang it and sang it. I wrote the words on a piece of paper and sang it over and over and over. “Amazing love! how can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me.” Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge (1902-1995) was the speaker each day. He preached through Second Peter. By the end of the week I was finally saved! I sang all the way home, “Amazing love! how can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me.”

“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” (I Timothy 1:15).

I am praying for you! I am praying that you will trust Christ Jesus – and be saved from your sin by Him. I am praying that you will be saved from sin by Christ – and that you will be able to sing from your heart, “Amazing love! how can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me.” And if you don’t completely understand it all, don’t worry. I will preach on this again. Be sure you come back to hear more! Amen. Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: I Timothy 1:12-16.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Now I Belong to Jesus” (by Norman J. Clayton, 1903-1992).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE GOSPEL IN ONE SENTENCE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“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” (I Timothy 1:15).

I.   First, we learn about the person of Christ, John 1:1, 14.

II.  Second, we learn about the purpose of Christ,
I Peter 3:18; 2:24; I Corinthians 15:3; I John 1:7;
John 12:47; Isaiah 53:5.

III. Third, we learn about the power of Christ,
II Corinthians 4:3; Matthew 27:4.