He Can Reach You
Paul was aware of how much he needed God. He can always reach us, no matter how far gone or whatever the circumstance. Get to know God in your life experiences so you can share Him with others.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? This is your good friend, Bob Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you, believe me.
We’re looking at 1 Timothy, chapter 1, and we’ve gotten down to verse 16. “For this cause,” Paul says, “I obtained mercy.” Now, what’s the cause? “That in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.”
The last time we got together I was stopping on the concept of “me first.” Start with yourself when you’re praying for revival. Start with yourself when you’re praying for renewal. “Me first.” You have to know the reality of God in your soul as a living experience before you can communicate it to anybody else. It’s that simple.
Pastor, your congregation will never rise any higher than your own experience with God. Missionary on the field, your people – nationals of another race, another culture, another language – the greatest difficulty you face is not cultural, nor indeed language, but also and far beyond all of these, it’s the difficulty of credibility. People believing that you are what you say you are, and that, that sort of thing is only accomplished when the Holy Spirit of God has complete control in your life. And what you say, well, it’s oftentimes I’ve said to the young people at the college, “Whatever I tell you, I’ve been there.” Don’t try to communicate something that you don’t know yourself. “Me first.” Good idea?
Now, he said, “That in me first Jesus might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern…” What’s the point here? Well, I began to think about that and came up with some ideas. A pattern is a model, it’s an object lesson. It’s the kind of thing where a person may say, “If that happened to him, it could also happen to me.” Said, “He showed long-suffering.” The “long-suffering” of God to Paul is a pattern for what he likes to do for all the rest.
Now, think about this for a moment. There was no question about Paul’s human qualifications. You know, there’s many a person who feels that he’s really too good to be approached with the gospel that says “You have to repent. Be born again.”
I can recall sitting in a newspaper office many years ago with Roy McEwan, talking with the editor of a large metropolitan daily out on the West Coast, and Roy had presented to this man again – as he had before, different times – he presented to him now again, in my hearing, the claims of Christ, the gospel. And the time went by and, and finally Roy said, “Well,” he said, “Are you willing to commit yourself to Christ and trust Him as Savior?” And when that question was asked, the man swung his chair around to look out the window. His back was toward us and he was looking out the window in his big office. He was quiet for what seemed a very long time. Then he turned the chair around slowly to face us, and he said, “No, boys. No dice. Not going to do it.”
Well, we felt bad about it, but as I thought over the situation there momentarily, I thought, “Well, it’s not going to do any harm to ask a question.” So I said to the man, “Tell me something. Would I be anywhere near the truth if I said that while you sat there thinking, you said to yourself, ‘Why should I humble myself and get down and repent and pray and ask Jesus to save me? Why should I do all that when I’m such a good guy?'”
See, this man was known for his good deeds. He headed up various fund drives for unfortunate or ill people. He was a leader in the community, civic-minded; a real do-gooder in the best sense. And so I asked that question, “Didn’t you say to yourself, ‘Why should I do all that when I’m such a good guy?’”
He gave me a big smile. He said, “You’re absolutely right. I am” – and then he swore a little – “a good guy.”
Now, that is the position, you see, of ever so many, and some of you may be listening to me this very moment, and you’re saying, “Why all this talk about repentance and, and being born again? I don’t need that. I’m a pretty good guy.” Well now, there’s no question about your character. You may be the finest person on the block.
So, however, also was Saul of Tarsus. He had everything to brag about. He said, “Though I also might have confidence in the flesh…” – that is, in my human accomplishments – “… here they are. If any man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I have more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, the Hebrew of the Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness of the law, blameless.”
Did you say that you’re blameless concerning God’s law? He could. Could you say that you’ve always been zealous to do what you conceived to be the right thing? He could. Beyond that, his background, his ethnic, national, and religious background was impeccable, and he belonged to the strictest sect, religious sect of his day, The Pharisees. These people were considered the super holy folk of their day.
So, there is no doubt about the fact that he had everything going for him, and humanly he had all the qualifications necessary to make the grade, but he needed to be saved.
See, this idea of pattern comes in. If Paul apostle – Saul of Tarsus formally – if Saul of Tarsus needed to be saved, as good as he was, as zealous as he was – mistaken zeal certainly, but zealous – as blameless as he was in his, his observation of all of the, the law, including the hundreds of regulations that the Pharisees kept in addition to the average person, if he needed to be saved, well, then, so do I. That’s the, the pattern idea.
So, there’s no doubt about his sin. He said, “I was injurious, a blasphemer, I persecuted the church.” He hailed men and women, dragging them to prison and caused them to be put to death. So the blood of other people was on his hands. Murder. No doubt either about his sin, and he needed the saving grace of God.
So, let no one say, “Well I, I’ve gone too far, I’ve sinned too much. God can’t reach me.” Oh, yes He can. He’s able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. “Him that cometh up to me, I will in no wise cast out.”
During my student days, they told me love and it Pacific Garden Mission, who felt that he was just beyond the reach of God, and the person it was dealing with then gave this verse, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” The man said, “That’s it, I’ve gone too far.” The personal worker quoted the verse again, but the Savior said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” “So, why don’t you come to Him? He won’t throw you out.” “Oh, but I’m too bad.” “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” “I’ve sinned too much.” “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”
Finally the truth sank into the man’s mind. He said, “You mean if I come to Him, He won’t refuse me?” And again, that blessed verse: “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”
And so there was, that, that halting, stammering, but sincere prayer from a seeking heart. The Lord Jesus kept His promise to that man, they tell me, and he felt the truth of that verse that says, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” Jesus took him in and saved him.
The same thing will be true of you. There is no one that listens to me this minute can say, “I’ve gone too far. God can’t reach me now.” Oh, yes He can. He can save to the uttermost and if you come to Him, He won’t throw you out.
Then, of course, this word “pattern.” We’re thinking about the word “pattern.” There wasn’t any doubt about the, the reality of his, his conversion, either. God reached in there as he traveled on the road to Damascus. “Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and got letters to Damascus. If he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.”
Now, he’s on his way to Damascus. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly there shined round about him the light from heaven, and he fell to the earth, then heard a voice, saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” He said, “Who art thou, Lord”? The Lord Jesus said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutes. It is hard for you to kick against the ox goad.” Like a dumb ox that kicks against the goad that moves them on toward slaughter, “and he trembling and astonished said, ‘Lord, what will Thou have me to do?'” The Lord said, “Arise and go into the city and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
He was three days – they led him by the hand, brought him to Damascus – he was three days without sight, neither had eaten nor drank. The Lord sent Ananias to him, and God said, “Rise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for, behold, he’s praying.” He’d seen in the vision a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
Well, Ananias argued a little as you recall, but God said, “Go on now, he’s a chosen vessel unto Me.” So Ananias went his way, entered into the house, and putting his hands on him, said, “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”
So there’s no doubt, is there, about the genuineness of Paul’s conversion? He told that conversion story different times. It’s recorded twice in the book of Acts for us and given that extra emphasis that God does when He repeats something in His blessed Word. Paul told how he was converted when he stood before Agrippa and he just, he just told the truth about what, what God had done for him in the, in his own life.
Now, pattern. Before we leave this, let me tell you, if, if God could save Saul of Tarsus, and do such wonderful things through him, the point is, He can do the same through you. “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” we read in Ephesians 3. Let Him do this in your own life.
Dear Father today, we take gladly the pattern for, that Thou hast done in other lives and we trust Thee to do it for us, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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