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Grace Overflowing

September 15th 2013 by VicarCalvin Kapels

In today's sermon we look at Paul's letter to Timothy, where Paul mentions that He is the chief of sinners and how God's grace in Jesus came to save him. Read or listen to find out more.......

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Proper 19C-“Grace Overflowing”-1 Timothy 1:5-17 -September 15, 2013 Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God our Father Amen.

“I am the greatest!” Hold on, before you start throwing things at me, those are not my words. In fact if I ever do say anything crazy like that, please feel free to take that hymnal and throw it at me and knock me back to reality. Wow, I see that my wife has five hymnals lined up… However, there was a young man bold enough to speak such crazy words. Before his 1964 world title match, Mohammed Ali boasted those words, “I am the greatest”. Ali went on to win that match and even today some people consider him the greatest boxer of all time. Every day people argue about greatness. What college football team is the greatest of all time? Well, that’s an easy answer, the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers. Maybe a better one for Kansas is who is the best college basketball team ever? There are countless debates on who is the greatest; what song is the greatest ever, who is the greatest president ever, who is the greatest pastor ever. In our text today, Paul makes a statement about being the foremost, being the greatest. And it would be easy to assume that he is making a statement of being the greatest pastor, church planter, missionary, follower of Christ that there ever was. And he would have a pretty good argument. After all Paul did write 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament, he planted Churches, he preached the Gospel, he was beaten and jailed numerous times for his faith. He knew what it was like to have plenty and he knew what it was like to have nothing. Through all those trials and hardships, Paul was an example of greatness. It is easy to see why Paul could make the claim that he is the greatest, but he does something unexpected. He says that he is the greatest sinner, the worst of the worst, the chief of sinners. Who does that, who would own up to being the worst?
I don’t think that any of us here would deny that we are sinners. But do you consider yourself to be the worst, to be the chief of sinners? Verse 9, “understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.”
And the list could go on and on and on. Whatever is contrary, whatever goes against God’s Will is sin, and the Law is used to show us our sin. That’s why Paul writes in verse 8 that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully. Meaning that the law is good in that it was given by God to show us how to live as His people, to show us our sin, to show us we are sinners and deserving of death. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God”. We are all great sinners; we are all the chief of sinners. The only way that we can find forgiveness and life is in Jesus, in His greatness, in His Gospel message. Paul understood the Gospel. Starting on verse 14 “and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

I love the image of grace that it overflows. It’s like pouring a glass of milk for one of you kids or grandkids, and instead of watching yourself pour it, you are watching you kid run around the kitchen hoping he or she won’t make a mess. And the cup gets fuller, fuller, fuller, and it can’t hold anymore. It overflows from the cup, overflowing onto your hand, overflowing to the counter, overflowing to the floor. It overflows more than the glass can hold. A great Bible passage for this image is Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd”, and in verse 5 David says, “my cup overflows”. God’s grace, filling us up, overflowing from Him into our lives in times of joy and in times of hardship. That is what Paul says God’s grace in Jesus is like, so much grace that it keeps coming and coming, fuller and fuller, until it seems to overflow from us. God’s grace overflows in Jesus when we are at our worst, when we are the chief of sinners. And there is another great image of God’s grace in Jesus, the cross. Sinners like Paul, you, and me deserve punishment/judgment; to be cast away from the Lord forever. But Jesus came to save sinners like you and me.
Even though we deserve judgment, vs 16 tells us that we receive mercy, because of Christ’s perfect patience- a patience which removes our judgment and takes it on Himself.
We see God’s grace overflowing as Jesus’ blood was poured out on the cross. A couple weeks ago Pastor Schultz held up that poster showing Jesus’ blood overflowing from His body. Just imagine the patience our Savior had as He hung on the cross, as His lifeblood overflowed from His body. God’s grace overflows from the cross and into our lives in Baptism.
We see God’s grace overflowing in baptism as the water, combined with God’s Word, His grace being poured out, and washing us clean. We now belong to Christ and our hearts overflow with joy. And God’s grace overflows as we hand out Bibles to our third graders this morning, like we handed out catechisms to the 5th and 6th graders a couple weeks ago. Through His Word, God’s grace keeps filling our lives fuller, fuller, and fuller. And as these kids study His Word, His grace will overflow from their thoughts, actions, and words as they are filled with His grace and love.
We see God’s grace being poured out as we take the cup and drink His true blood. Christ’s blood that was shed, that was poured out for us for the forgiveness of sins. Christ’s blood overflowing to save all sinners. Imagine the patience it took to wait for three days until our Savior comes out of the tomb. Jesus has conquered sin, death, and the devil and you could expect, or at least I would, expect Jesus to come out of the tomb yelling “I am the greatest”. But He doesn’t, He goes back to His followers and shows us His perfect patience as He walks with them, waits for them to recognize Him. As He waits for Thomas to stop doubting, He shows us His perfect patience.
Just think of how patient Jesus has to be. We are constantly messing up, we are constantly sinning. It’s what Paul is speaking of in Romans 7:15 “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do, I do.” We sin and we come to Jesus and repent, and He forgives us, and we sin again and we come to Jesus and we repent, and He forgives us. Patient forgiveness- Jesus’ grace overflowing into our lives.

We just sang together “chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed His blood for me. Died that I might live on high. Lives that I might never die.” That’s why we say we are the chief of sinners, because Jesus came to save sinners like you and me. He lives and His grace overflows into our lives so that we will not die in sin, but we are raised to new life through Jesus and His forgiveness that He has won for us. In verse 16 we also see what our response should be to such a great gift. We are a living example of the overflowing grace that Jesus gives us. For the Apostle Paul, he had been faithfully following, sharing the Gospel for about 22 years when he was writing this letter to Timothy. And yet, after all those years, Paul knew that when he was at his worst, when he was known as Saul and he was persecuting and killing Christians, when he was the chief of sinners, Jesus came to save him. Even after all of the great things that Paul had accomplished, even though he is considered to be one of the greatest Church leaders, Paul knew that it was Jesus pouring out grace into his life. It was the grace, the greatness of Jesus overflowing in Paul’s life that made Paul such a great example for us today on what being a Christian should look like.
We are an example of Jesus’ grace and mercy overflowing in our lives by bringing our kids or grandkids to Church and to Sunday School. When we are patient, with the crying, screaming, and chaos that can sometimes come with children because we know that the kingdom of God is meant for children. And so we are patient, as we teach and share God’s Word with these kids, watching as we see Jesus’ grace overflow in their life. Especially today as we hand out Bibles to the third graders as they continue to have God’s grace poured out on them as they study His Word. We are an example of Jesus’ grace and mercy overflowing as you continue to support and train young men and their families through the vicarage program. As you welcome us into your family and as you have patience as we learn and grow. And you have patience, like not throwing a hymnal at me when I start a sermon by saying something crazy.
We are an example of Jesus’ grace overflowing as we volunteer to feed the hungry, when we visit people who are crippled and not able to attend a worship service. Jesus grace is overflowing when we forgive others, when we love one another. Even a simple smile can show Jesus’ grace overflowing in our lives.
We are all great and able to be great examples, but not because of anything we do. The Apostle Paul knew that. We are great because Jesus’ grace, His greatness overflows and pours out from Him into our lives. He saves us by what He has done and He continues to overflow our lives with His grace. And so, “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

May the peace that surpasses all human understanding keep our hearts and minds on Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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