Christ came to save sinners, and He has surely accomplished what He set out to do. That salvation is not hypothetical; it is not contingent. It will not be undone when God realizes what big sinners we are.
If you were to survey people about why Jesus came to earth, you’d probably get a variety of answers. I did this very thing a few years ago with some high school kids when I was on staff with Young Life. They gave answers they’d heard from people at various times.
You can probably guess the answers they gave. Some people thought Jesus came to show us a better way to live. He came as an example of love, and He wanted to call us to a higher, more loving way of life. Others said He came to shine a light on the plight of the less fortunate. He came as a sort of social activist, to right the wrongs in society. Some said He came as a liberator, to free slaves and women and downtrodden people from their oppressors.
There may be a grain of truth to each of these views, but they tend to miss the clear teaching of Scripture in passages such as 1 Timothy 1:12–17:
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Why did Jesus come into the world? Paul tells us in verse 15: to save sinners. In this series on 1 Timothy 1:12–17, we’re looking at Paul’s paradigm of salvation, how it gives us the what, the how, and the why of salvation. We’ve previously covered the what of salvation, and in this installment, we’re going to look at the how.
Paul introduces this statement by calling it “trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.” This statement summarizes the gospel in just a few words. And its applicability is immediately obvious. If you are a sinner, this statement has meaning for you. We need someone to save us. And Jesus came to do just that.