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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

IGNORANCE IS FOUND IN UNBELIEF

1 Tim 1:12-17 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus. 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. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Because of his faithfulness, God, through His Son, Christ Jesus our Lord, put Paul into the ministry, that he might preach the gospel message of salvation through Christ to the world. For this, Paul was ever grateful, because he was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious. There should be a deep debt of gratitude to God in every faithful Christian for the opportunity to labor, during life on earth, for the Lord, in whatever capacity their talents and abilities allow them to do so. So it was with the apostle, Paul. He was chosen to be an apostle of Christ. He was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God, and given the Christian responsibility of preaching among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:7-8). This appointed position, Paul accepted in a most humble manner, and the responsibility of teaching it, he accepted with unrelenting zeal. Regarding this, Paul wrote: For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me (1 Cor. 15:9-10).

Some may wonder why God would choose a blasphemer, ...a persecutor, and one that was injurious, to preach and teach the gospel of Christ. With these accusations, some would think that these personal characteristics were just the opposite of one would look for, when selecting a minister of Christ to proclaim His gospel message of salvation. To select someone to serve Jesus Christ that doesn't believe Him to be the Son of God, many people of the world think that his selection bordered on absurdity. Certainly this is not the screening method used by elders of Christ's church in choosing an evangelist today.

Considering His unbelieving and spiteful background, Paul was still chosen to be an apostle of Christ - a special messenger of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Paul, himself, tells us why. It was because He (that is God through Jesus Christ) counted me faithful, and because of that characteristic, I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. With all his misguided spiritual education, and in light of all his faults, there was still attributes of zeal, passion and ardent fervor, in Paul's character, that assured God that he would be a faithful servant to the cause of Christ. No doubt these were the same characteristics of devotional zeal that Jesus saw in the twelve He chose to be His original apostles.

For the evil deeds of Paul's past to be forgiven, it required the abundant grace of God. And it was by His grace that Paul was led to his devoted faith and love for God, and for all mankind,which is (found) in Christ Jesus. Paul expressed this truth to the church in Corinth when he wrote, But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace, which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain (1 Cor. 15:10a). The Old Testament prophesy of the promised Messiah, was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Indeed, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and Paul admits, with a contrite heart, of whom I am chief.

This is the characteristic God looks for in all of us. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, each of us, both men and women, will recognize our own sinful condition, repent, and turn away from it, and turn to find faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus. The fact that God demonstrated His long-suffering toward a chief sinner, like Paul, is an inspiration to all that are seeking the hope of eternal salvation in Jesus today. Every repentant sinner can, and must, praise God with words similar to those of Paul: Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. By Paul's example, we are assured that the ignorance found in unbelief can be overcome by a zealous, fervent desire to faithfully serve the Lord.