God was at work in my life when he saved me. Amen! However was God at work in my life earlier than I got here to Christ? And if that’s the case, how ought to we discuss God’s work in our lives earlier than conversion? What does that season of my life earlier than Christ inform the world about who God is? I’ve by no means actually thought of this, to be trustworthy. And I believe most of us haven’t actually given it that a lot thought both. Properly, the apostle Paul did. And he spoke with specificity about what his pre-conversion life displayed concerning the character of God.
Right here’s the sharp query from a listener named Shawn, who lives in Canada: “Hi there, Pastor John. I’ve a query in regards to the life that we, as believers in Christ, lived earlier than we got here to religion. Paul writes about his life earlier than conversion as being one of many largest opponents of God (1 Timothy 1:13). He later says his life as an unbeliever was used to show God’s ‘good endurance,’ going from a persecutor of Christians to a Christian (1 Timothy 1:16). God was revealing his endurance in Paul’s pre-conversion life. So, taking a look at Paul’s testimony, my query is that this: Was God current and lively in our lives after we had been unbelievers? And may we too converse of what our pre-conversion life reveals concerning the character of God? As a result of, fairly actually, that’s one thing I actually don’t do.”
The reply to each of these questions is sure. God is all the time at work on this world in all people’s life. “He works all issues based on the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). And after we come to Christ, we’re given a perspective on that prior work that’s true and useful. It’s trigger for thankfulness in us, and it’s a trigger for profit to others. In different phrases, we expertise it as worship, and we expertise it, hopefully, as witness.
Earlier than we flip to Christ, there’s, so to talk, a veil over our eyes in order that we are able to’t interpret what’s occurring in our lives in its correct relationship to God earlier than we’re a Christian. In a profound sense, we’re blind to what God is doing in our lives. So we are able to’t inform any true tales about God’s work in our lives earlier than our eyes are open to see what he’s actually doing in our lives.
However after we come to Christ, the veil is lifted, and we see our previous life for what it truly is, each in its darkness and within the brilliant gentle of God’s work in it. So right here’s the textual content that makes that amazingly clear. That is John 3:19–21:
That is the judgment: the sunshine has come into the world, and other people cherished the darkness fairly than the sunshine as a result of their works had been evil. For everybody who does depraved issues hates the sunshine and doesn’t come to the sunshine, lest his works needs to be uncovered. However whoever does what’s true involves the sunshine, in order that it might be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.
“After we come to Christ, the veil is lifted, and we see our previous life for what it truly is.”
That’s attention-grabbing. That’s actually vital. In different phrases, when an individual turns to Christ and comes into the sunshine, he is ready to see not solely the trail that’s in entrance of him and the way he ought to stroll now that he’s a Christian, however he’s additionally capable of see for the primary time what was actually occurring in his life earlier than he was led to Christ and crossed over the road between unbelief and perception. The sunshine of Christ shines in each instructions: it shines ahead to point out us reside, and it shines backward to point out how God labored in our lives to carry us to himself.
God’s Good Endurance
Now, one of many exceptional issues concerning the passage in 1 Timothy 1:12–16 is that Paul exhibits that there’s a double purpose for why we must always take into consideration God’s work in our lives earlier than we grew to become Christians. One is thankfulness. It ought to trigger us, after we look again and watch the providences of God in our lives bringing us to him, to worship and be amazed on the nice mercy of God that he didn’t allow us to go our personal self-destructive manner.
For instance, Paul begins 1 Timothy 1:12 by saying, “I thank him who has given me energy.” So Paul worshiped — that’s his first response when he appears again on what God did in his life. If any of us rightly understands our true situation earlier than we had been referred to as into Christ, we’ll reply the identical. Oh sure, we’ll. Whether or not you had been 6 years outdated or 66 or 86 when transformed, the Bible makes clear, even when our reminiscence doesn’t, that we had been hopelessly useless in our sin and had been made alive by sovereign grace.
“We had been hopelessly useless in our sin and had been made alive by sovereign grace.”
However the principle factor Paul is doing in 1 Timothy when he recollects his former life as a blasphemer, persecutor, insolent is making an attempt to assist others who’re despairing of their very own salvation as a result of their previous life is so horrible they will’t think about God ever being affected person and merciful with them. These are the individuals he’s actually writing for when he talks about his previous, and Paul’s level in telling of God’s work in his personal previous is to encourage them. “Nobody is past hope.” Right here’s the way in which he does it:
I used to be a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. . . . However I obtained mercy because of this, that in me, because the foremost, Jesus Christ may show his good endurance for instance to those that had been to imagine in him for everlasting life. (1 Timothy 1:13, 16)
In different phrases, he speaks of God’s work in his pre-conversion life, first, with the intention to have fun the greatness of God’s mercy, and second, with the intention to assist strugglers who don’t have any hope. He needs them to have hope.
Previous Lifetime of an Apostle
He did the identical factor in Galatians 1. He knew that the church buildings of Galatia had been combating whether or not they may actually belief Paul as an genuine apostle. And one of many ways in which he helped them belief him and his gospel as true was to inform the story of his previous life in Judaism, and the way the one affordable clarification of why he’s risking his life now — to advance the religion he formally tried to destroy — is Christ’s superb intervention in his life. Right here’s what he says:
You have got heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I used to be advancing in Judaism past a lot of my very own age amongst my individuals, so extraordinarily zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. However when he who had set me aside earlier than I used to be born, and who referred to as me by his grace, was happy to disclose his Son to me, so that I would preach him among the many Gentiles, I didn’t instantly seek the advice of with anybody; nor did I am going as much as Jerusalem to those that had been apostles earlier than me, however I went away into Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. (Galatians 1:13–17)
- Earlier than he was transformed and earlier than he grew to become an apostle, God set him aside from his mom’s womb.
- God allowed Paul to develop into a radical anti-Christian zealot, with zeal that surpassed all people.
- Christ appeared to him on the Damascus highway and saved him.
- Christ led him away to Arabia and turned him right into a mighty apostle.
All that recounting of his previous was to assist the Galatians know he was true, he was an apostle, and that they might belief his message, his gospel, and hope within the fact.
So the reply to Shawn’s questions are sure and sure. (1) Was God current and lively inside our lives after we had been unbelievers? Sure. (2) Ought to we converse of what our pre-conversion life reveals about God? Sure, and for these two causes: each for the glory of God in our personal thankfulness and praises, and for the great of others who may be helped to have hope in Christ by our story.