TAKEN FROM SAVIOR OF THE WORLD WEB SITE
BY: BRAD EDWARDS
In this study, I would like to consider certain passages written by John and Paul- apostles of our Lord. I hope that all believers can agree that in its “pure” form, the Bible is completely truthful, and therefore “trustworthy.” We can depend on it. If this not be true, then our faith flounders in futility. The inspired words written by Paul and the other apostles must be taken as truthful otherwise the Bible is of little use in our faith.
So then, we should pay particular attention when Paul and John use phrases such as this- “trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance” to complement words that are already TRUE and OF GOD. The word “trustworthy” is from “pistos” in the Greek, which is derived from “pistis” meaning faith. It is most often translated “faithful” or “trustworthy.” Many times, “PISTOS”(an adjective) is describing God Himself. So we should understand that PISTOS is faithful, trustworthy and unfailing. We should also pay CLOSE attention when Paul and John use PISTOS to describe what they are saying
In the New Testament, there are relatively few passages that the inspired writers called “PISTOS” that is “TRUSTWORTHY” or “FAITHFUL AND TRUE.” First, I would like to consider WHY would these men, inspired by the “Spirit of truth,” felt compelled to ADD fortification to some of their already truthful and inspired words?
I believe the reason that Paul and John used these words of FORCE and CONVICTION is to fight the carnal mind of men. They understood that the CARNAL MIND of man makes God out to be its enemy. They knew that the carnal mind resists God’s gifts including hope, faith and love. The carnal mind will take what God gives as good and attempt to twist it into something bad.
ROM 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? (NIV)
ROM 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (KJV)
So the carnal mind, which is a mind that has not been refreshed/renewed by the Holy Spirit of God, does not want to accept God, nor His Son, nor His love. This is our natural state- being alienated from God and His Life. But God fights our carnal minds with kindness, tolerance and patience. Furthermore, it is GOD who leads US to repentance by His overpowering LOVE. He draws us to salvation with unlimited kindness and patience- He wears us down! Thank God! The GOOD SHEPHERD will track us down!
Martin Luther fought a similar fight with many carnal minds in his day within Christendom. Thankfully, some of God’s Light of truth broke through the darkness, and NOW we believe that we are saved by GOD’S GRACE. Before this “reformation,” many carnally minded church leaders with good intentions believed that we are justified and saved by our “good works.” Also consider that for more than 1500 years, slavery was upheld by the “Church” as being justified by God and His word. Do we believe this now? Also, during the “Dark Ages,” violence was an acceptable method to convert so-called heretics and heathens to Christianity. Is this “belief” still held?
Will God continue to enlighten our darkened minds? Do you believe that we have come so far as to have arrived at ALL truth found in and revealed by God? Let us not be fools and suppose that we can imagine God’s goodness or greatness! I challenge anyone to create in their minds the most AWESOME plan and ending for humanity. I will bet my LIFE that God’s plan is BETTER! I believe that our spiritual growth continues by God’s will and timing. I pray that it does. Our minds and hearts need continually RENEWED by God’s Holy Spirit, so that Christ is revealed to us and in us.
So Paul and John knew that many men would read these words of God’s “INCREDIBLE” LOVE and find them NOT so credible. In carnal minds this unconditional love doesn’t make sense. “An eye for an eye” makes sense to the carnal mind, but even so, the carnal minds misunderstood God’s laws and certainly misused them. The carnal mind STILL does not want to accept nor believe that God loves us and will save us by GRACE ALONE. God will break the hardest, coldest sinner with His All-powerful Love and nothing else. Let me add that Love doesn’t always “feel good.” Suffering and judgment are necessary for salvation whether we be believers or non-believers.
So I believe, these inspired writers STRENGTHENED these already trustworthy words from God in the hope that by adding this emphasis, carnally minded men would NOT misunderstand what was being clearly said and would HAVE to believe these faithful declarations. But, even today, do we believe what is so plainly stated as TRUSTWORTHY?
Let’s look at all of these trustworthy sayings. Here is the first:
1TIM 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. 16] But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17] Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (NIV)
First, let us read and ACCEPT Jesus Christ’s purpose – “to save sinners.” He didn’t come to save just those who believed or worshipped God; He didn’t come to save just the Jews; He didn’t come to save just those who did good deeds. HE CAME TO SAVE ALL SINNERS and more so the WHOLE CREATION! If He fails to save just one sinner, then God has failed- Love has failed and we worship in vain to a god who turns out is not all-powerful and just. Of course we know that God’s love is UNFAILING and His will, or desires are sovereign, so there should be no mistake that He will save all that He desires to save.
Are we willing to accept what the “worst sinner” here is saying? Or is Paul lying to us? Please! Paul says that God chose him “as an example” to all of us how merciful and patient God, our Father is! How merciful and how patient is God? Paul says God shows “UNLIMITED PATIENCE” and His GRACE IS IMMEASURABLE (EPH 2:6). Will we believe that God can save the “worst of sinners”, but then believe that He can’t save the “many” on the broad road that leads to destruction? Will God only save the “few” that find the Narrow Gate? God will NOT fail from His purpose in Jesus Christ! Is it possible that we have misunderstood the purpose of judgment and “destruction”? Do we understand what the lake of Fire is really for? In short, let me remind you that God is love, and God is a consuming Fire. His Divine Love burns, consumes and destroys for a glorious purpose- to change us! God will test you with His Divine Fire. All will be salted with His Fire (MK 9:49). Furthermore, God is never changing nor are His intentions for mankind. Jesus Christ REMAINS mankind’s Savior until ALL are saved and brought into holy union with our Father (1CO 15:15).
The letters to Timothy are believed to be written late in Paul’s life as he hands down his ministry to Timothy and others. We should acknowledge that, at this point in his life, Paul has matured in Christ and has been given revelation and understanding that most believers didn’t possess. Here is his next “trustworthy” saying:
1 TIM 3:1 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2] Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3] not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4] He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5] (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) (NIV)
Anyone who has his heart set on serving the Lord and the Church, he desires a noble task. Paul explains what behavior the “overseer” should exhibit through the Spirit of Christ indwelling in them. Next, Paul tackles the reason why they are laboring and striving in all kinds of persecutions.
1 TIM 4:9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 10] (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. (NIV)
The words are so simple to understand. This one sentence capsulate our Christian hope and belief. Put your hope in God because He is your Savior and the Savior of all men.
Now, some have said, “God is the POTENTIAL savior of all men.” While this argument supposes then that God DOES offer salvation (a gift) to ALL men, it will never be explained how everyone that has ever lived are offered this gift unless salvation is offered after the resurrection of the living and the DEAD. What of heathens, infants and millions who never heard of Jesus Christ? When did God ever offer these the gift of salvation? I would say that if your God is a potential savior of all men, then you have a POTENTIAL god.
Now, others will argue that Paul adds “especially of those who believe” to show a distinction from nonbelievers. First, let me point out that this isn’t an exclusionary phrase. Here we read “AND.” This is an inclusion of the believers. This is to say, “EVEN MORE SO ESPECIALLY!” for the believers! THIS IS GOOD NEWS TO THOSE WHO OVERCOME IN CHRIST! They are first! “A kind of Firstfruits!” They should be “especially” joyful! They enjoy His blessings NOW while on the earth! This is the ESPECIALLY Paul is talking about to be in heaven while the rest are in hell.
Those who overcome this world through Christ, and only those, will not be hurt by the Lake of fire (the Second Death, Rev. 2:11). So hope and pray that we overcome this world, or yes, we too will “suffer loss” and “be saved, yet so as by fire.” (1Cor 3:15)
Next consider the word “especially” here. It is EXACTLY the same Greek word used in this verse:
GAL 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (NIV)
So here we have the same word, used in the same context and written by the same author. Does anyone believe that we are to “do good” to ONLY to family of believers? Of course not! So we must accept that “especially” means “even more so” in both instances.
The next trustworthy saying involves promises of God.
2TI 2:11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;
2TI 2:12 if we endure,we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;
2TI 2:13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (NIV)
Everyone must die to sin and self and “overcome” our carnal natures. We do this only through Jesus Christ. If we die with Him, we are given His life. Those who endure persecutions and tribulations will reign with Christ in His Kingdom. If we turn from God, He will turn from us, but NOT FOREVER. Once we become “faithless” and empty, God again shows His mercy as we read in Jeremiah 3:12
“`Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,’ declares the LORD, `I will not be angry forever. (NIV)
God cannot disown Himself and will not stay angry. God made man in His image and likeness. He imparted to all mankind this image and likeness of Himself. His seed is waiting to be sprouted in all souls.
So God does what man cannot do. God remains faithful to those He created. Thank God for His faithfulness and mercy!
In the next “trustworthy saying” we see how Paul addresses the whole issue of salvation and there is NO MISTAKE where it comes from or WHO is responsible.
TIT 3:3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4] But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5] he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6] whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7] so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8] This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. (NIV)
I believe Paul wants to really stress these important TRUTHS. We are justified and saved by God’s grace through His Son Jesus Christ our Savior – no other way! He is apparently worried that PRIDE is beginning to swell in the hearts of believers. Is this true even today? Do Christians feel they have actually done something deserving JUSTIFICATION OR SALVATION?! Paul reminds us that ALL of us were (or are) foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved to sin. Christians should ask themselves, “if God showed me mercy, while in my wretched condition, will He not show His endless mercy to all He has created?” Or are some Christians still living in a delusion that they DID something (works) to gain God’s favor and salvation? Some will say, “I CHOSE to believe in Jesus.” I would say that man NEVER chooses God, but God does the drawing, choosing and saving. Salvation if totally of GOD, not natural man.
Now, we move on to John’s “trustworthy (or faithful) sayings” which are likely the last words penned from the twelve apostles. John was shown spectacular visions, which he wrote down. God showed him the beginning of a new heaven and a new earth- therefore a NEW WAY of LIFE!
REV 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2] I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3] And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4] He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
REV 21:5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (NIV)
What a GLORIOUS scene this is! God will make EVERYTHING NEW! But does this REALLY mean EVERYTHING? I don’t see any mention of those being tortured in hell forever. Either God and John have forgotten about them, or perhaps the Greater Glory is that they too were made NEW! Read and believe these simple words! No more death, no more crying, no more pain. They have all passed away! The works of the devil are gone from mankind! How could this bold statement be true if the devil and billions of unsaved souls are still “living” in death and sin in an eternal hell? Furthermore, God is dwelling with man again- RESTORATION BACK TO THE GARDEN! God has taken up residence in His temples – us in the Body of Christ!
REV 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2] down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3] No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4] They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5] There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
REV 22:6 The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” (NIV)
Here we read more about this GREAT RESTORATION! There is much symbolism here, but one should clearly understand that this is a time of “healing” and of “LIGHT”- a time when Christ has defeated ALL of His enemies. There is no more death, darkness, sin or rebellion found in this TRUSTWORTHY and FAITHFUL passage.
Dear reader, I hope that you will consider these passages in the Light of the Spirit of truth. Consider that the “worst sinner” was saved by the will and love of God shown in Jesus Christ. Paul, “the worst sinner” acknowledges how he was saved and how EVERYBODY must be saved – by God’s grace, or kindness towards us.
Oh, it is true that many resists God’s love and callings, but God remains faithful when we don’t. God’s love will overpower all evil. His love and life will swallow up DEATH! I believe that our biggest enemy as Christians is pride. We are tricked into actually believing that we did something to earn or deserve salvation and Christ’s life. This is a lie. The religious Jews fell into the same trap. Many might have said, “What! God is sharing ALL of His promises for Israel with the Gentiles?” Many Jews couldn’t accept this and many still can’t. Are we going to make the same mistake to covet God’s love and salvation for ourselves or for just those who “believe” in this lifetime? Is salvation only for those who are baptized (a certain way) in this life? Let us not be cold-hearted fools deciding who is saved! If we believe that MANY or even just one soul is not saved, we are basically saying, God was either UNABLE or UNWILLING to save them. This is to say God is not OMNIPOTENT or He is not our FATHER with UNFAILING LOVE. Have some decided in their hearts that some are NOT WORTHY of God’s love and treat them as such? We should strive to feel as “the worst sinner” felt- GRATEFUL though undeserving.
We should keep in mind the simple definition of a “GIFT”-SOMETHING GIVEN FREELY! Faith, hope, love and salvation are all gifts from God. We can’t earn them! HE WANTS TO GIVE THEM TO US! Do Believers really think that once a soul created by God is shown the Truth, given God’s love, and given the chance to accept His gift of salvation that they would reject it? Paul rejected Christ until Christ broke through Paul’s ignorance, hate and pride. God knows what it will take to save us and when He will save us. He gives gifts to those who call on His name and our responsibility lies in what we DO or DON’T DO with these precious gifts from God.
Finally, my hope is this. We must put our complete trust in God. We must trust His word, His love and His infallible purpose found in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Even if some don’t believe that He is going to save EVERY soul eventually, at LEAST BELIVE THAT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR GOD. REMEMBER EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE FOR GOD. Let us not seem dumbfounded in disbelief by saying, “who then can be saved?” If we truly believe that God saved the “worst sinner,” then “who CAN’T be saved” by our Almighty God and Savior? Trust the “TRUSTWORTHY SAYINGS.”
His Peace and understanding be with you.
TRUSTWORTHY SAYINGS [Brad Edwards] 1