“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy…” (I Tim. 1:12,13).
As “a blasphemer,” the Apostle Paul had good reason to be thankful that he had obtained mercy! Don’t forget, just a couple years before Paul was saved, the Lord Jesus Christ had said,
“…All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
“And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31,32).
In light of these words, how could God have mercy on a blasphemer like Paul? If you’re thinking that perhaps he blasphemed a member of the Trinity other than the Spirit, think again. As a Jew who followed the Law of Moses scrupulously (Phil. 3:6) he would never have broken the Law by blaspheming God the Father (Lev. 24:16). And there is no concrete evidence he ever even met God the Son. No, it wasn’t until the twelve were “filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:4) that Saul showed up, and led the blasphemous persecution against them (Acts 7:57—8:3).
So when the Lord said that those who blasphemed the Spirit couldn’t be forgiven, “neither in this world, neither in the world to come,” this is one of the many proofs we have that with the salvation of Paul, God introduced a whole new world, a world called “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:1,2).
We see further proof of this when Paul called himself “a persecutor.” As Saul of Tarsus, he “persecuted the church” (Gal. 1:13). But in persecuting the Lords people, he was persecuting the Lord (Acts 9:1,4,5). And to be saved in the Lord’s world you had to be one of His followers, not one of His persecutors (Mt. 19:16,21; Lu. 18:28-30; John 10:27,28). This will also be true in the world to come (Rev. 14:1,4).
When Paul further admitted he had been “injurious,” this too rendered him beyond the pale of redemption in the Lord’s world. When He vowed that judgment would fall on any who would “offend one of these little ones which believe in Me” (Mt. 18:6), He was using the child He had “set in the midst of them” (v. 2) as an object lesson of the “little children” of the disciples who believed in Him (John 13:33). You know, the disciples whom Saul later offended (Acts 8:3). And offending God’s little ones in Israel will be just as unforgivable in the world to come (Rev. 16:5,6).
There’s just no getting around it, beloved. The Apostle Paul couldn’t have been saved under the kingdom program that the Lord taught the Jews when He was here on earth (Mt.4:17; 15:24). That means when God saved Saul, He ushered in a whole new world and a whole new world order, an “order” in which men receive Christ by grace through faith alone, and then walk in Him the same way (Col. 2:5,6).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.