“A New Testament Lesson in Praise” 1 Timothy 1:12-17
When I was young, it was common in churches to have a service built around someone’s testimony of conversion. This person was usually someone saved out of a life of devastating sin, drugs, or crime. Most of the time was invested in telling the audience how bad the person’s life was before Jesus saved that individual and changed their lives completely.
1 Timothy 1:12-17 is Paul’s testimony about what Jesus did in His life. We will listen to what he said not only so that we can glory in what Jesus did for him and for us, but also so we can understand why he wrote this wonderful doxology giving praise to God.
Before looking at Paul’s doxology, let us first explore why he burst into praise to God. In 1 Timothy1:12-16, the Apostle Paul rehearsed a little of his personal testimony. After writing about the convicting power of God’s law, Paul begins to dwell on the grace God gave to him. “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” God gave him the ability to do what He called Paul to do. God also counted Paul as faithful, giving him the job of ministry.
Paul did not deserve this great blessing. “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:13–15).
Paul received “mercy” and “grace.” God saw his terrible condition and delivered him from it by giving him salvation and forgiveness he did not deserve. The grace Paul received was exceeding abundant along with the faith in Christ and the love from Christ. God saved Paul and he now lived in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace, mercy and love came through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary.
From his experience, Paul stated a truth we must all heed. God delights in saving sinners through Christ Jesus. If God could save Paul who was the foremost of sinners, He can and will save anyone who comes unto Him through faith in Christ.
Finally, Paul understood that God saved him to be an example to others of the salvation that was available in Christ. “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.” (1 Timothy 1:16). Because the Lord saved Saul the persecutor and made him Paul the apostle, clearly God can and will save anyone who comes to Him through Christ by faith.
Because of the inexpressible blessing of his salvation and ministry through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul bursts out in praise to God.
Paul’s simple sentence is, “Unto the King . . . be honor and glory forever and ever amen.” Let us begin with the end of the sentence. Paul ascribes honor to God. The word translated “honor,” denotes “worth,” “value,” “the price paid for something,” or “rank,” “authority.” Paul desires for all to know and see God’s infinite value, rank, and authority.
Do we understand how much value is in God? Do we understand He is worthy of all our lives and our total commitment to Him? I remember something I was told when I abandoned my first plans to be a lawyer. Someone I love told me I was wasting my life. Years later an irate mother told me our church exerted too much pressure upon her sons to go into the ministry. She literally told me that it would be a waste for her children because people in full time Christian service don’t make any money. How can we recognize the worth of our God and not serve Him with all that we are?
God gave Israel a great revelation in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” God then told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:5 how they were to respond to the revelation He gave them. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Because of His great worth, everything is due Him.
We are to give Him honor. In addition, we are to give Him “glory.” Glory involves our amplifying the wonder of who God is back to Him. The word itself speaks of radiance. We glorify God with our mouths in praise to Him. We also are to glorify Him in everything we do. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
We must do this forever and ever. Literally it means for all eternity. God deserves honor and glory for all ages. Now we understand what the Lord is worthy of, let us look at the description of our God in the first part of Paul’s statement. Our God is “the King Eternal, immortal, the only God.” Three important truths about our God are in this statement.
He is the “King.” He is the sovereign Lord who reigns over all the kingdoms of the world, visible and invisible. Daniel 4:34 “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation.” God made Nebuchadnezzar live like an ox for seven years to teach him this lesson. Will He have to do something like this to us to help us understand? Someday the world will recognize this reality when “every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:11).
He is “eternal,” “immortal,” and “invisible.” Our God had no beginning and has no end. He created all things. He is uncreated. He does not corrupt, age, or decay. He is the “I am that I am” Exodus 3:14.
He is also invisible because He is a spirit. He is everywhere present but we cannot see Him with the eyes of our flesh. Although we cannot see Him with the eyes of our flesh, He is there and He is not silent in the affairs of men.
How do we praise God? Do we understand who God is and what He has done well enough to praise and glorify Him?
Let me show you how an Old Testament believer, someone who did not have the completed revelation of God which we have, praised God. “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.” (Psalm 34:1–3). Can we honestly say that we bless and praise the Lord at all times and in all circumstances? It might be closer to the truth to say we bless the Lord some times.
Maybe we need to learn to bless God and praise Him as Paul and David did.