It is true that men have always been saved by the Grace of God, but it is untrue that anyone, from Adam till Saul of Tarsus, had ever been saved by “Grace alone.” Until Paul, mankind was always required to perform a work of faith for atonement of their sins. Noah was required to build a boat. Abraham obediently agreed to sacrifice Isaac and was stopped by the voice of God. Israel had the ten Commandments and an additional 603 regulations they were required to follow. Down through the ages faithful men offered atoning sacrifices to God Almighty. It wasn’t until Christ on the Cross that we could be reconciled to God through the ultimate sacrifice, His Divine Son, our Lord and Savior.
Israel’s responsibility was to bring all men to God. Instead, they considered themselves holy despised the Gentiles. When in due season Jesus came to Israel, they were set in their ways and rejected their Messiah and King. With the Sanhedrin’s despise of Stephen’s message and his stoning (Acts 7) God turned to the Gentiles to carry His message of salvation throughout the world – to Jew and Gentile alike. As His instrument, He chose Saul of Tarsus, the primary Jewish prosecutor of Christians, who describes himself as, “ . . . one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” 1 Corinthians 15:8-9 (KJV).
Paul rightfully acknowledged that he was the greatest of sinners, and yet he received Grace from God unto salvation. Paul’s salvation was to be an example to all who would come to Christ in faith. No matter how great our sins are before God, He will accept us who turn to Christ in faith with loving, open arms. Paul says, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did [it] ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15 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. 16 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” 1 Timothy 1:12-16 (KJV).
The word foremost in verses 15 and 16 can also mean chief or FIRST. The point is that this is something NEW – the Mystery (not revealed in the prophets but only revealed to Paul, kept secret in God since the foundation of the world, Romans 16:25) – Eternal Life for those who trust in Christ Jesus, sins forgiven by Grace alone. This is NOT a fulfillment of any Kingdom promises or Covenants preached by the 12 Apostles. This is NEW. The assurance of Eternal Life to Jews and Gentiles; to ALL who believe.
The obvious Scriptural truth is that Paul is the FIRST to be saved PURELY by GRACE ALONE, without works, free from the demands of the Law! No one, that is, NO ONE, from Adam till Saul of Tarsus, can make such a claim. Despite the objections echoed by many in the religious community, with Paul began the age of Grace.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained (before time, the Mystery) that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV).
We are saved through the work of Christ on the Cross. His last words before commending His spirit to eternity were, “It is finished,” which can also be translated, “Paid in full.” He paid the awful price for the sins of man, allowing everyone who will faithfully come to have their transgressions washed away. Our sins are removed from the sight of God as far as the East is from the West, Psalm 103:12.
No man has an excuse to sin or to deny Creation or Christ Jesus. For the Bible clearly teaches us that God has placed the conception of “eternity” into the hearts of every man. Adam Clark, in his commentary on Ecclesiastes explains:
He hath set the world in their heart – העולם haolam, that hidden time – the period beyond the present, – Eternity. The proper translation of this clause is the following: “Also that eternity hath he placed in their heart, without which man could not find out the work which God hath made from the commencement to the end.” God has deeply rooted the idea of eternity in every human heart; and every considerate man sees, that all the operations of God refer to that endless duration. See Ec 3:14. And it is only in eternity that man will be able to discover what God has designed by the various works he has formed. (Adam Clark’s Commentary on the Bible)
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, [be] honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen” 1 Timothy 1:17 (KJV).
Exploring Scripture~because it matters—it really does!