Server Outage Notice: is transfering to a new Server on Tuesday April 13th

2364 sermons as of May 21, 2024.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
 send email...
Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
Title:Trustworthy & True Part 2: A Trustworthy and True Salvation
Text:1 Timothy 1:15-16 (View)
Occasion:Public Profession of faith

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: 1 Timothy 1

Text: 1 Timothy 1:15-16



  1. What We are Saved From

  2. What We are Saved For


  1. Psalm 139: 1, 7, 8, 13

  2. Hymn 25: 1, 3, 4, 7

  3. Psalm 55: 7, 8, 10

  4. Psalm 27: 1, 4, 6

  5. Hymn 26

  6. Hymn 73: 1, 2, 4


Words to Listen For: auto-correct, pit, opinions, 13, dinner


Questions for Understanding:

  1. What 2 things did John Newton remember until his dying day?

  2. What part of the saying is beauty?  What part is ugliness?

  3. What’s the biggest challenge in the Christian life?

  4. What 3 things are we saved unto?

  5. Why did God save Paul?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of Jesus Christ,

The year was 1748, and a great storm rose up.  The wind tossed the ship to and fro like a plaything, and waves continually broke over the bow.  The sailors feared for their lives...and the slaves, chained below deck were losing hope.  Their fear turned to panic as a hole was torn in the hull, and water began pouring in.  But due to what some called “dumb luck,” some cargo shifted, and plugged the hole, and the ship was saved.  But one of those who was there knew that it was not just chance, it was not just “dumb luck” … it was grace.

This man’s name was John Newton, and, after this experience out at sea, after this experience with God, he responded in faith and obedience.  He renounced his worldly ways, and, instead of being complicit in the slave trade, he fought to abolish it altogther.  Shortly after being saved from the storm, Newton was saved from his sins, putting his trust in God alone, and he penned the great hymn “Amazing Grace.”

Amazing Grace,

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

Newton knew these two great truths until his dying day.  In his 80s, he powerfully proclaimed: “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.”

At his request, his tombstone reads: 

“John Newton, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy”

This is the story of John Newton.  Whatever questions we might have with his theology, we know that he was hard on sin, and he was big on grace.

He was hard on sin, because he knew himself, and he knew God.

He was big on grace, because he knew himself, and he knew God.

But the words of Amazing Grace are not only meant to be sung by John Newton’s lips alone, but each one of us can take these words on our lips, recognizing their truth.  Though we were not complicit in the slave trade, we are still sinners, and can therefore rightly be called wretches.  Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

It is the same as the Sundays when we sing Psalm 51.  We have not taken another man’s wife, committed adultery with her, and then murdered the husband to cover it up.  And yet, we are still sinners, and can therefore still sing that we have been sinful from birth, and that our transgressions are evil in God’s sight.

But there are some who do not see this so clearly.  There has been a movement to change the words of amazing grace.  A petition to “solve the wretch problem.”

One writer puts it this way:

I love to hear “Amazing Grace.” I love the tune, the testimonial, and the transformative power of grace.  I like grace as a concept.  I’m good right up until the line about “…a wretch like me,” which brings me up short.  You see, people like me don’t identify as wretches.  John Newton, as a former slaver, was rightly a wretch.  But when it comes to me, I have to auto-correct that word wretch.

With all due respect, this writer is a modern-day Pharisee.

I thank God that I am not like this tax collector!

I thank God that I am not like this slaver.

I am not a wretch.

I just don’t identify that way!

Let US not think the same!

My seminary professor put it this way: If you’re not the greatest sinner you know, then you don’t know yourself very well at all. (x2)

But when we do know ourselves, when we do know our God, we can declare with the Apostle Paul: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

When we know ourselves, when we know our God, we can declare with John Newton: I am a great sinner, but Christ is a great Saviour.  We need both of these truths to be recognized in order to truly appreciate our Saviour, and our salvation at His hand.

So this morning, let us examine together our


  1. What We are Saved From

  2. What We are Saved For

What We are Saved From

Our text for today is something of great beauty.  It can rightly be called one of the most beautiful sentences in the entire Bible - Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

This saying is not only trustworthy and true, but it is beautiful and comforting.  It is life changing.

But as we heard already, before the grace, there is sin.  Before the beauty, there is ugliness, and before the comfort, there is torment.  John Newton was a slaver and a wretch.  David was an adulterer and a murderer.

This morning, something beautiful is happening.  ____ young people are publicly professing their faith in Jesus Christ.  (INSERT NAMES HERE) will be welcomed in as new members in this local congregation.

And to be sure, they were members before…

They were BAPTIZED members.  They belonged to the covenant from even before their birth.  There is something beautiful about that.  We sang of this beautiful reality in the beginning of the service - each one of them was formed, shaped in their mother’s womb.  Claimed from before birth, with God’s hand already on each one of them.  There is beauty here.  True beauty in these 3 young people.

And yet...and yet there is a deep ugliness under the surface.  Deep pain, deep hurt, rebellion...and SIN.  This is what the gospel teaches us.  It does not mince words.

The beauty of the first part of the saying: Christ Jesus came into the world to save...if it would stop there, it would be pure not the full gospel message.  Though we don’t like it...we need that second part too.

Though we would prefer not to be called wretches, we would prefer not to be called sinners...this is the reality of who we are.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

This is the unpleasant but accurate representation of our position.  Of our status.  Of our need.

You and I...were enemies.  Not enemies of each other, but together, we were enemies of God.

We have heard this so often, that I worry it has lost its meaning.  We were enemies.  We had bound ourselves to Satan - God’s greatest enemy.

But in His love and His mercy, He declared NO MORE.  At JUST the right time...JUST the right time, while we were yet sinners, while we were still powerless, Christ died for us.

It wasn’t the right time...because we repented.

It wasn’t the right time...because we had broken free and started running to Him.

It was the right time, because it was the fulfillment of God’s plan.


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. 

There is some debate about this saying...not so much in its meaning, as this is the clear gospel of salvation.  This isn’t a hard saying.  It summarizes and epitomizes the gospel.  It breathes the very soul of salvation.

But there is debate about it - which words actually constitute the saying?  It is clear where it starts, halfway through verse 15, with the word “Christ.”  But where does it end?

Some say it ends at the word “sinners” - Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

This is a trustworthy and true saying.  This is the gospel.  But what about those last words?  Do they belong to the saying, or not?  Is Paul editorializing here, moving on from the saying that everyone should say, into what he himself says about it?

It’s not clear, the context could go either way.  I personally think that the saying contains those final 6 words, but you don’t have to.

Whether this is Paul adding onto the saying or not, he uses it.  He makes it personal.  We could say that not only has it entered his ears and came out his quill, but it made a pit stop in his heart.  This saying was true for the Apostle Paul.

We don’t know if Paul ever had a tombstone like ours, as such things are relatively recent progressions in history.  But if he had one, he would probably have written on it, CHIEF OF SINNERS.

For what was Paul?  We see how he describes himself a few verses before our text:

Formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.

Paul blasphemed by denying the deity of Christ.  When he heard the early Christians worshipping Christ Jesus, he did not join them in their worship, falling to his knees in adoration of God the Son, but rather, he set about to stop them through any means necessary.

And the means he used were brutal.  We can read that Paul gave approval to the death of the first martyr - Stephen, guarding the cloaks of those who stoned him.

We can read that Paul was breathing out murderous threats against the early church, dragging people from their homes and marching them to their deaths.

Paul was a persecutor.  In today’s terminology, we would label him as a terrorist.  Paul would be a member of Hamas, or Al Qeda.  We don’t know if he ever killed anyone with his bare hands, but his actions directly led to the deaths of many followers of Christ.

And Paul was insolent.  We don’t see even a hint of remorse in him, but he set his face as flint, showing no mercy, actively seeking to increase the persecution, thinking that he was earning favour with God.

This is Paul before grace got a hold of him.  But grace did come.  Christ Jesus came, and personally spoke to Paul, and changed EVERYTHING.

Paul wasn’t a man who was ripe for the picking, as we like to say.  Paul was a sinner beyond picking.  He was a wretch that was hard and dry.  He was shrivelled up, with a heart 3 sizes too small.  But these things are nothing when God sets His sights on you.  These things are nothing when God sets His sights on you.

This is the life of the man who could still claim the Christ was His Lord and Saviour.  This is the past of a sinner who encountered his Saviour.

You would think, with a past like his, Paul would try to cover it up.  But, in typical Paul fashion, nothing was off limits, if it meant that Christ would be glorified.  He never missed a chance to tell his readers what God had done for him.

And it is this life that we can be saved from.  It is Paul’s life that we HAVE been saved from, if we put our trust in Jesus Christ.  You’re not Paul, but you do share his life.

The details may read a little differently, but each and every one of us are born on the same track.  We might be a little ways down, but all the stops are the same:

  • Arrogance and pride, thinking that we are different.  Maybe all the rest are sinful, but not me.  I’m not a wretch!  And for the sins I do least I’m not like him.  At least I’m not as bad as her.  I have good reasons, and God couldn’t possibly blame me.

  • Anger.  We are filled with self-righteous anger over the behaviour of others and refuse to look at our own failings.

  • Blasphemy.  While we might not deny the deity of Christ in our WORDS, but in our actions we deny His Lordship over our lives.  We insist on doing things our own way, making our opinions and entitlements into our god.

What are your stops on this track?  Maybe I didn’t touch on your specific sins and weaknesses.   Maybe it’s lust.  Maybe it’s substance abuse or self-harm.  Maybe it is a sense of hopelessness, so you don’t even try anymore.  Whatever these stops are, the track is the same.  We are all sinners, in desperate need of a Saviour.

And if you think this doesn’t describe you, think again.  We ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  There is no one righteous, no not one!

But that’s not where the story ends, does it?  The last stop on Paul’s track was not Hell and punishment.  That’s what he DESERVED...that’s what each and every one of us DESERVE, but God switched the track.  That’s what grace does.  Grace switches the track, and grace changes the destination.  That’s what salvation does.  Christ saves us FROM ourselves, and Christ saves us FOR Himself.  Our second point.

What is our biggest challenge in the Christian life?  What is it, do you think?

Of course, you could say “sin” and you’d be right...without sin, we would automatically lead a perfect Christian life.  But apart from our sinful nature, what is our biggest challenge?

I think our biggest challenge is fear.  We fear that what is good and precious in our lives is fleeting...and we fear that what is evil and damaging and undesirable in our lives is forever.  The good is fleeting and the bad is forever.  This is what we fear.

  • A good friendship might suddenly fall apart and be lost forever.  Damaged irreparably.
  • A romantic relationship might be smashed to bits, with no hope of recovery
  • Our good habits of Bible reading and prayer seem so precarious.

But our trustworthy and true saying challenges that.  Our trustworthy and true saying calms our fears and lessens our dread.  And here’s why.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 

Christ Jesus came into the world.

His coming is so much more than just a historical fact.  It is a life changing message of hope.  The fact that Christ Jesus came into the world, and lived and died and rose, and now reigns over all...this means that everything that is pure and true and is protected by Jesus Christ.

All the things that are precious and desirable in our lives, at least those things with true worth...they are protected by the strongest power to have ever existed.  That’s why He came.  That we may have life and have it abundantly.

The message of Jesus Christ is that all that is good and holy will endure.  Forever.  Because Christ, the King of all that is good and holy...He is forever.  The Roman empire could not stop Him.  Death could not hold Him.  Satan and his domain lost everything.  They lost what they thought was their ultimate victory, and they lost their grip on sinful humanity.

What is good will endure, and what is evil?  It will pass away.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 

This doesn’t mean that Christ came to save sinners from the consequences for their is so much more.  He came, not to prevent justice, but to enact it.  Sins are still punished.  Sin remains utterly sinful, and Christ did not change that.  Not for a second.  But how Christ saves sinners is that He transforms them into saints.  He is more than a conqueror.  The sins are put on Him and destroyed, and the good is resurrected in our hearts, and He gives us the strength to live it out.

We are saved...unto CHANGE.  What is evil and undesirable can be changed.

  • Bitterness can be changed.

  • Addictions can be changed.

  • Laziness and worldliness can be changed.

  • Indifference to God can be changed.

We are saved...unto godliness.  This, we heard last week.

  • The godliness of our minds - knowing and understanding what God’s word says.

  • The godliness of our hearts - loving what God loves

  • The godliness of our hands - obeying what God commands

And we are saved...unto service.

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.

The Apostle Paul was saved for SERVICE.

Jesus Christ transformed this wretch, this greatest of sinners, into the greatest of Apostles!  Paul, the man who persecuted believers, wrote 13 books of the Bible, planted between 15 and 20 churches, died for his faith, and, 2000 years later, his life, his teachings, his example, still ring forth from pulpits across the world every week.

What an example Paul is.  The Apostle Paul is one of the greatest examples of the Christian life that we see.  And this is no accident.  It is no accident...for there is one more reason why the Apostle Paul was saved.  He was saved unto change, unto holiness, and unto service...but there’s one more reason why God saved Paul.

Let me read it again to you: 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.

Did you see?  I don’t want you to miss this.  Stay with me here.

God saved the Apostle Paul...for you.

God saved the Apostle Paul...for me.

God had you in mind when He appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus.  He was thinking...about you.

It is an overwhelming thought, but that’s what it says: God saved Paul for your sake, so that you would see His overflowing grace, so that you would marvel over His divine mercy and perfect patience.

Why did God save Paul?

It was for Paul, it was for the churches he would plant, it was for God’s glory...but it was for YOU too.

God’s purpose in saving Paul was to show that there is nothing we can do, no sin too horrible, no path too dark, that could separate us from God’s saving love.

Paul’s testimony strikes a powerful chord in our hearts, because that is exactly what it was intended to do.

And as I close here this morning, I want to close with a challenge.

A few weeks ago, when (INSERT NAMES FOR PPOF) went before consistory, as part of their examination, they were asked to give a testimony.  A testimony of what God has done in their lives.

And testimonies are tricky things.  We see them in other churches, used to bring attention to all the hard work that the individual put in.  But this is a warping of the beauty of a testimony.  A true testimony is a testimony, not of your own achievements, but a testimony of what GOD has done in you.  This is what Paul’s testimony does for us, showing us the full extent of the love of Christ, and His perfect patience...literally His “long-suffering.”

And here is the challenge: This week, along with doing your devotions early in the morning, gathering God’s mercy and grace, work on your own testimony.  Write out your testimony, reflecting on who you were before God took hold of your life.  Even if you have been in the church as long as you can remember, you were still born a sinner.

Write out your testimony, not making yourself out to be the victim of circumstances, not making yourself out to be the hero, but shining the light on your God.  Shining the light on your Saviour.  Write out your testimony, and share it with at least one other person.  Maybe with your family over dinner, maybe with your best friend at school, or your coworker at the office.  I would be honored if some of you shared your testimonies with me.

Write out your testimony.

Your testimony is your own, but I ask that you put these words as the last line, as a seal: Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster

bottom corner