"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Christ Died for Sinners Like Me, Not the Righteous

There will be no links in this post.

There will be no surnames in this post.

Just a one powerful verse:
“This is a true statement and worthy of your full acceptance. Christ died for sinners, of whom I am chief.” (I Timothy 1:15). 
The message of grace is a message of forgiveness. Only sinners, however,  need forgiveness. If we think we have no sin, we need no Savior. If we pretend we have no sin, we lie to others. If we cover our sins, we hide from the world. If we point our finger of blame at others for our sins, we shame our victims.

We are all sinners.

When we sin, we are called to declare: “I did this. I was wrong. I ask you to forgive me.” The knowledge of Christ’s full and free forgiveness of me gives me the power to fully and freely acknowledge my sin to others.

Maybe we’ve lost sight of the truth that the Good News is for sinners.

There’s hope for every one of us. We are to be defined by our Savior, not by our sins.

The greatest criticisms in my life and ministry have been directed at me because I believe in broken sinners, I put my arms around them, I call them my friends, and I help them restore their lives - and eventually, even their ministries.

I believe in the gospel of grace.

I believe in the freedom of forgiveness.

I believe revival starts when we freely admit our sins, take ownership of them, and declare we have no hope but in the grace and forgiveness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - and confess our sins one to another.

Our identity is found in the Mount called Golgatha, not a monument of granite. Our worth is found in our sinful stains being nailed to the cross rather than our sanctified names turned into stain-glassed windows in our chapels. Our future is dependent on the power, faithfulness, and love of Jesus Christ, not our power, control, and lordship over others.

This is a statement worthy of our full acceptance.

26 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

A great truth, for those down in the pits of despair, or those on top of the world. Or anywhere in between.

Emmanuel Member said...

"The greatest criticisms in my life and ministry have been directed at me because I believe in broken sinners, I put my arms around them, I call them my friends, and I help them restore their lives - and eventually, even their ministries."

It may be your greatest criticisms, but it is also your great commendation from those who have been blessed to receive such Grace.

I would venture to say that many critics have become crusaders, and many more will continue to convert.

Keep on loving - We need that Christ-like example!

Victorious said...

I apologize in advance for my clumsy effort to provide some thoughts about the "we are all sinners" declaration. I'm not speaking necessarily about this particular post, although it did bring my concern about "sin leveling" to mind. And at the risk of sounding like the Pharisee who thanked God his sins were not like others (as opposed to the humility of the tax collector), I'll try to convey how I see this topic.

I'll use an example to illustrate my resistance to a simple, straightforward statement without further explanation. If I can see the difference in severity, or seriousness in stealing a ballpoint pen from my place of employment and physically raping a 4-yr. old child, why do we think God doesn't?

Paul's statement that he was the chief sinner indicates he recognized the enormity of his persecutions, threats, and blaspheming words against the disciples of Christ. His actions on behalf of the Roman government had far-reaching consequences to Christians. Paul's conversion makes him aware of the mercy extended to him...since he acted out of ignorance and unbelief.

This brings further concern about what's known as "sin leveling" because God Himself differentiates between intentional/defiant and unintentional/inadvertent transgression (Numbers 15:28-30)

Hope I'm making some sense here...

So in the end imho, to make a simple declaration such as "we are all sinners," appears to minimize the gravity of some sins and "level" them with that of stealing a ballpoint pen. Some have far more serious ramifications and shouldn't be swept so easily under a simple verse without some effort at examining the full impact of some as opposed to others.

Sooo....do I sound like the Pharisee who thanked God he was not like others? If I'm not seeing this issues correctly, I'm willing to be corrected.

Mary Ann

Victorious said...

Ooops...Forgot the most important thing...I want to express my appreciation to Wade for affording the opportunity to express thoughts, feelings, and even disagreements without the fear of being banned or criticized for being a "liberal." I have always felt comfortable here and for that I am grateful!

Thanks so much, Wade!

Mary Ann

Christiane said...

I think we cannot see into men's hearts as God can.

I think that 'sin' as God sees it must have something to do with a FIRM 'intention' to do wrong in spite of knowing what is right and good. AND in spite of having every clear opportunity to choose the right and act on it, because we are not under any pressures to go the other way which may diminish our responsibility

. . . . do some people do the wrong thing because they fear that if they do not, something far worse will happen, and only God knows their fear and confusion and only God can understand and judge them fairly
?

I'm sure the whole range of 'sin' and how we sin is something that only God fully understands and can judge.

'Diminished' responsibility . . . what is this about and how does it affect judgment???

In our world, we try to apply some reason here: a child is not as 'responsible' as an adult for a crime; a mentally ill person, a person who is developmentally challenged, a person suffering from PTSD . . . . we look at the 'degree' of ability of someone to make a clear choice to do wrong, don't we? Because we are gifted with 'reason' by God.

I know when I've done something wrong, I get 'the twinge' of conscience, and I am 'under conviction' until I make peace by kneeling before Our Lord in contrition. I know when I'm 'unkind' that I am sinning against the God Who is Love.

It's a strange scene in Scripture: Our Lord says 'he who is without sin, cast the first stone' . . . . we see this image, we read it, they stay with us His Words, and yet we go right out and point the finger at 'that other sinner' so much that many in the non-Christian world looks at certain groups of Christians in disgust as hypocrites.

these are some thoughts . . . maybe we can remember the Sinner's Prayer in the Bible:
"God have mercy on me a sinner" or, as Wade has put it, 'God have mercy on me the sinner'.

It is said that Jesus Christ IS the Mercy of God. We can trust in Him.

We sinners can throw our stones at 'the others', or we can follow Our Lord, but we can't do both at the same time; it doesn't work that way.

Anonymous said...

Wade - question for you.

In the world we have authority and responsibility that should be equal to get things done. In other words, when I give reasonsibility to leaders or other team members, they must have the equal authority to carry that out to get the job done, with authority over thier teams, while still working within teams and the overall purpose of the organization.

Here’s the question - in the family, husbands and wives each have responsibilities as they work those things out among themselves, but would you say that the authority part goes away and ideally they come together to get things done and things get decisoned under the authority of Christ with not mutually submitting to Christ and his authority?

Then, in the church is it more around responsibilities based on giftings (rather than roles based on “office” or gender) and working this things out under the authority of Christ?

Can you just speak more to this issue of leadership and authority in the home and the church? We are finding we are needing the practical in the midst of the theological.

Anonymous said...

Correction above.. ”....the authority of Christ with NOW mutually submitting” (not NOT mutually submitting...)

Victorious said...

It's a strange scene in Scripture: Our Lord says 'he who is without sin, cast the first stone' . . . . we see this image, we read it, they stay with us His Words, and yet we go right out and point the finger at 'that other sinner' so much that many in the non-Christian world looks at certain groups of Christians in disgust as hypocrites.

Christiane, I happen to be one that does not think that passage about the woman caught in adultery is found in the earliest texts. If you wish, you can read this article "My Favorite Passage That's Not in the Bible" by Daniel B. Wallace.
https://bible.org/article/my-favorite-passage-thats-not-bible

But even if you disagree with that, I hope you will agree that it is our responsibility to report a murder/theft/rape, etc. to the governing authorities and that it would not come under the "shall not cast stones" advice. There are guidelines in scripture about justice, government, witnesses, etc. and our court system is built upon some of those guidelines.

So, while we wouldn't feel compelled to report an ice-cream bar going out the door of the local grocery store, we would be complicit in ignoring the more serious sins/crimes wouldn't we?

And while I agree with you that we can't always understand or know the hearts of others, we are, I think, able to see the difference in a serious transgression and a lesser one and our responsibility to report it to law enforcement if we know it breaks the law.

So it's not, imo, a matter of casting stones, but abiding by the laws of the land according to scripture.

Christiane said...

Hello Victorious,

I agree with you about this: "we are, I think, able to see the difference in a serious transgression and a lesser one and our responsibility to report it to law enforcement if we know it breaks the law.
So it's not, imo, a matter of casting stones, but abiding by the laws of the land according to scripture."

For me, 'throwing stones' is not the same as reporting a crime that one has witnessed, which is a civic duty, unless you are living in some evil dystopian place where life is extremely bad because of deprivation or oppression or terror,
and are trying to protect a victim of that evil (here, think 'Hiding Place' by Corrie ten Boom)

I do know about the Johannine Comma, or whatever it is called, and about the current controversy. But I consider the 'theme' behind the story, and it is not a single example of that 'theme' in sacred Scripture, so I don't rule out the Johannine Comma as meaningful.

As to 'throwing stones' from above down on those we think of as 'the others', I think it is the way of Pharisees to do this and that God does not sanction it. So, the IDEA of pointing the finger, judging 'that other sinner', seeing oneself as 'better than that other sinner' and 'thanking God for it' all is a THEME that repeats in sacred Scripture and is not found in just one place, no.

BTW, I think the 'authority' we are first to be respectful to is our conscience. So I'm not one of these who would blindly follow a civil 'authority' that asks me to do wrong, especially to do wrong to innocent people. I'm perfectly willing to pay a price for following my conscience. And, my goodness, so many decent Christian people have done this that we have much precedent for it in the Church. We cannot ignore the guidance of our own conscience and live at peace with God or ourselves, no. I don't buy into obey 'authority' blindly as being God's command. Nope. That takes away our humane responsibility to do what is right and just. God made us better than that.

My thought about stone-throwing tends more towards things like the horrific campaign of some faith communities against trans people, which can be so hateful that I am frightened by the intensity of that hatred. That is more the kind of stone-throwing I am referring to.

Rex Ray said...


Wade,

There are three reasons why Paul’s “I AM” is questionable:

1.When Paul persecuted Christians he thought he was doing God’s will.

2.That sin did not come close to Heriod killing all babies three years old and under.

3.“I AM” should be ‘I WAS’ because when he trusted Jesus, God made him a NEW person.
As a Christian, Paul was born again. “Jesus replied…unless you are born again…”
“…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone, a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

“I; yes I alone will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” (Isaiah 43:25 NLT)
“I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” (Hebrews 8:12 NLT)

If God does not remember sins of Christians, Christians should try to follow his wisdom.

A lady stopped praying the same prayer over and over saying, “Lord, brush the cobwebs from my brain” when a guy couldn’t stand it any longer and yelled, “Lord, kill that spider!”

Anonymous said...

Victorious said: "So it's not, imo, a matter of casting stones, but abiding by the laws of the land according to scripture."

Do you mean ALL of them? :)

Ken

Victorious said...

Ken, I'm not sure what you mean by your question. Another poster mentioned the subject of casting the first stone and I discounted that since the story of the woman caught in adultery was lacking in the earliest manuscripts. So since that passage is often used to silence believers from confronting certain sins/sinners, I referred rather to the responsibility for reporting those offenses that are deemed a crime by our legal system.

I further mentioned a concern that using "we are all sinners" tends to marginalize serious crimes and equate them with minor sins and thereby used as a "sin-leveling" tactic. Scripture speaks of intentional, unintentional sin as well as those sins committed purposely or defiantly. Offenses such as rape, domestic violence, incest, murder, etc. are very serious crimes and must be reported to the governing authorities and cannot be dismissed by quoting scripture that enables the offender to avoid the punishment determined by the law.

Hope that clarifies my previous comment.

Anonymous said...

My apologies, Victorious.

" I referred rather to the responsibility for reporting those offenses that are deemed a crime by our legal system."

You mean ALL of those offenses that are deemed a crime by our legal system?

Wade Burleson said...

Anononymous 2:09:

Your question is an important one. The practical and functional outworking of a doctrinal and theological positions is where the “rubber meets the road.”

In terms of marriage, I would highly encourage you to listen to this series: https://youtu.be/vqFq0ULYas0

In terms of the church, we changed our bylaws to reflect legal and state accountablity of our non-profit to a “Leadership Team” of males and females who are gifted, humble servants. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done. Other questions related to the outworking of gifted leadreship (both male and female) in the church would take more time, but I’ve got a ton of information on my blog. Just use the Google Search for the blog in the top left-hand corner and type any subject or word that you have an interest in - or even ask a question.

Victorious said...

You mean ALL of those offenses that are deemed a crime by our legal system?

Ken, I'm guessing you have a situation(s) in mind that you think differs from my thoughts and beliefs that crime should be reported to law enforcement. I tried to clarify my comment as best as I know how, but still have evidently been able to answer your question satisfactorily.

If you provide the reason behind your question, perhaps the discussion would be more productive. I'm at a loss right now....

Mary Ann

Rex Ray said...

Mary Ann,

I agree that rape is a worst sin than stealing a pen. Stealing a gun is worse than stealing a loaf of bread. David ate bread made only for priests. (1 Samuel 21:6)

“There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.” (Proverbs 6:16-19 NLT)

1.haughty eyes
2. a lying tongue
3. hands that kill the innocent
4. a heart that plots evil
5. feet that race to do wrong
6. a false witness who pours out lies
7. a person who sows discord in a family

Mary Ann, how would you list these in order that God hates most?

Victorious said...

Hello Rex,

With all due respect, I think you are asking the wrong question about that list. The more appropriate question would be does God see those sins as intentional or unintentional and are they crimes according to the law of the land? Since God has established a system of laws that have been established for the punishment of crimes and the protection of citizens. (Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13-14)

Just before the list of things the Lord hates, confirms the principle of sin/crime and consequences.

Proverbs 6:30-31  Men do not despise a thief if he steals To satisfy himself when he is hungry; But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold...

So in that case, grace is given because of the reason for the theft, but nevertheless it must not be ignored. The agency established by God will assure the restitution providing the crime has been reported.

Though many will disagree with me, I'm a believer that God uses "situation ethics" guide to determine the seriousness of an act depending on whether it was intentional and/or a defiant one or an unintentional or accidental one. Surely, no one, for example, unintentionally or accidentally rapes a child or murders a neighbor. These sins/crimes necessitate a fair amount of planning prior to the action. That would come under the list in Proverbs as "plotting evil."

So while Christians can and should forgive crimes (either felonies or misdemeanors, the courts must decide on the punishment and we ought not to despise that system designed for our protection.

Mary Ann

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Victorious -

"... and are they crimes according to the law of the land? Since God has established a system of laws that have been established for the punishment of crimes and the protection of citizens. (Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13-14)"

Your response to Rex was in part what I was guessing you'd answer to my question.

One of the best interviews that shows the brokeness of our criminal justice system is found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsXc2KRfYXA

At the 37 to 40 min mark the Georgetown Law Prof states that congress has criminalized just about everything, that there are 5,000 fed laws on the books (not to mention several thousand more local laws), and that most people break federal law everyday.

Seems to me that there is a huge amount of cognitive dissonance with admitting, on one hand, that Romans 13 constrains us to look to govt for standards of righteous living (since they supposedly have that right), while on the other, in reality there are no 'law abiding citizens' any longer.

Would love to hear your thoughts! Ken

Victorious said...

Ken, I'm not responsible for knowing all the 5,000+ federal laws nor the thousands of local/civil laws. There is a very real possibility somewhere in Altoona, PA., there is a law being broken by someone at any given time, but obviously that is beyond my knowledge, my control, or my obligation to report it.

But when there is a suspicion of a crime being committed within my circle of family, friends, neighbors, church members, or other acquaintances, I should report my suspicion. It's not necessary that I research every law in SW Fl., that is within the jurisdiction of law enforcement. Some observations among those noted may be obvious; i.e. black eyes/broken bones, prolonged absences, a change in demeanor, etc.; others may require some compassionate discussion and questions that show concern for that individual. Notice should be given that this type of crime should be reported and offer to accompany the victim for support.

With the number of school shootings in the past several years, citizens have been asked to be aware of suspicious activities or red flags that could save lives if they are reported. Law Enforcement is responsible for following up on reports.

In other words, if/when we become aware of the possibility of a crime such as these, for instance:

Fraud
http://www.wadeburleson.org/2009/10/southern-baptists-who-break-law-even.html

Sexual Predators
http://stopbaptistpredators.org/scandals/sbc_ministers.html

Domestic Violence
https://ncadv.org/statistics

it should be reported and not be met with the "we are all sinners" sin-leveling words that contribute to the recidivism of such crimes.

Rex Ray said...

Mary Ann,

I appreciate the response

I thought I asked a simple question, so I’ll answer it the way I think.

1.hands that kill the innocent
2. a heart that plots evil
3. a false witness who pours out lies
4. a lying tongue
5. feet that race to do wrong
6. a person who sows discord in a family
7. haughty eyes

Except for #7, I don’t see how God could see these sins as “unintentional”.

Could you give an example of these being unintentional?

I guess Wade’s too busy to reply if Paul should have said ‘I was the chief of sinners’ instead of “I am the chief of sinners”.

Would care to take a stab at it?

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Opts, I mean #6

“There will be no surnames in this post.”

Ha! Who needs surnames when everyone knows it’s Patterson’s and Paul Pressler’s pictures in the chapel’s stain-glass windows of SWBTS.

Wayne Borean said...


I’m a non-Christian now. The Bible deconverted me. But I am interested in the Bible, the history of Israel and Judah, and the history of the church.

There is a very good chance that Paul did not write the letters to Timothy. Scholars have made this point, and following along using the translations available to me, I am certain they are right.

So if 1 Timothy is taken off the table, what would you replace it with Wade?

FYI, religion is now a hobby of mine. I spend more time on it now than I did as a Christian.

Rex Ray said...

Wayne Borean,

I’m 86 and you’re the first person I’ve ever heard say what you said.

If I understand you right you’re saying once you believed and trusted: “For God so loved the world that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16), but now you say you don’t believe.

If that’s true, then I think you are an example of:

“Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witness. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of Grace?” (Hebrews 10:28-29 New KJ)

My hope and prayer for you is that the devil fooled you into thinking you were once saved.


Wayne Borean said...

Since I came from a Catholic background, my viewpoint will be vastly different than yours Rex.

Rex Ray said...

Leland,

To me, your background being a Catholic is good news. I’ve many friends who were raised Catholic. They’ve told me the joy they felt when they asked Jesus to save them. I think people ‘feel’ different ways when they’re saved.

With me, I felt peace. That happened 76 years ago.