Please read Titus 3:1-15 in your preferred Bible. I’ve used the NIV this week.
We are saved to do good works.
Salvation is by grace. It is not earned. The devotional magazine Our Daily Bread gave this definition of grace; GRACE IS EVERYTHING FOR NOTHING TO THOSE WHO DON’T DESERVE ANYTHING.
(Our Daily Bread, Sept.-Nov. 1997, page for October 31, retrieved from http://www.sermonsearch.com/sermon-illustrations/2873/a-definition/ on 1/12/18.)
“A story is told about Fiorello LaGuardia, mayor of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and all of WWII. One bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself.
“A tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told LaGuardia that her daughter’s husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper refused to drop the charges.
“‘It’s a real bad neighborhood, your Honor.’ the man told the mayor. ‘She’s got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson.’
“LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said ‘I’ve got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions; ten dollars or ten days in jail.’ But even as he pronounced sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket. He extracted a bill and said: ‘Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Baliff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant.’
“The following day the New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, fifty cents of that amount being contributed by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.
(Brennan Manning, The Ragmuffin Gospel, Multnomah, 1990, pp. 91-2, retrieved from http://www.sermonsearch.com/sermon-illustrations/2891/mayor-laguardia/ on 1/12/18.)
1. How we get saved.
Paul reveals four reasons God had for reasons for saving us.
The first is KINDNESS (verse four). Historically speaking, salvation started in the mind of God. He acted first to save us. We saw this truth previously in Titus 2:11 =THE GRACE OF GOD HAS APPEARED THAT OFFERS SALVATION TO ALL PEOPLE.
God hates sin but He loves sinners and works to bring all of us to salvation. In Romans 5:8 it is written, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
KINDNESS is this attitude manifest in good deeds. It bestows forgiveness and blesses others.
The second reason is God’s great LOVE (verse four). This is God’s prime motive and the prime aspect of His character. All other aspects of His personality are expressions of His LOVE. Love is an unconditional state or attitude and action that seeks the spiritual maturity of the beloved. That is God’s character and how God has acted toward us.
This is not one of the usual three words for LOVE in the NT. This is the Gk word philanthropia, which meant “love for humanity.” It appears only in this verse. This is LOVE directed at the welfare of others, especially supporting people in need.
A third reason is God’s MERCY (5). Because we are unable – on our own – to meet God’s standard of righteousness, MERCY is an absolute necessity; otherwise we have no hope. MERCY makes a way for people who have no way of their own. God decided to show us MERCY; we did not deserve it. God’s MERCY is the standard for our treatment of one another; as we pray every Sunday and Wednesday, “forgive us as we forgive others.”
The fourth reason isn’t really a reason but a clarification that merit is NOT a reason: God did NOT save us BECAUSE OF THE RIGHTEOUS THINGS WE HAVE DONE (verse five). We are not saved BY good works; we are saved FOR good works. In Isaiah 64:6 the prophet wrote that the most righteous things we do based on our own strength are like FILTHY RAGS; worthless. Personal merit is simply not a factor at this stage. We do not understand the grace of God if we believe we can earn salvation by good deeds or if we believe we can lose salvation by doing evil.
Through Paul, the Holy Spirit reveals not only why God saved us, but also how God saved us.
The first of these three salvation acts is THE WASHING OF REBIRTH (verse five). The literal meaning of the Greek word for WASHING is “bathing.” This implies a total cleansing; the whole person is made free from the dirty guilty mark of sin.
REBIRTH refers to Jesus’ teaching to Nicodemus in John 3; a person must be “born again” to be saved. It is a restart to life, an opportunity to live right. Baptism by immersion is the way we enact this WASHING, demonstrating outwardly that this inward change has happened.
The WASHING refers to the moment of salvation, the time we genuinely receive Jesus as Savior, the RENEWAL to the life-long process of sanctification, where the Spirit helps us become more like Jesus.
Another means of salvation is the RENEWAL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (verse five). God does not expect us to find out all this on our own. He sends the Holy Spirit to unsaved folk to direct them to the truth and bring them to a point of decision. I would say the term “Filling of the Spirit” is equivalent to RENEWAL.
A third thing God did to save us was that He JUSTIFIED us BY HIS GRACE (verse seven). GRACE is undeserved favor as we learned last week. It come from God’s LOVE and is expressed in His MERCY to us. The word JUSTIFIED refers to our legal standing. God graciously removes the judgment of death that we deserve. When God justified us He declared us to be righteous because the righteousness of Jesus covers our sin. He also makes us His children by the “legality” of adoption: HEIRS OF THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE (see Romans 8:15 and Ephesians 1:5).
Our part is simply having faith: Trusting GOD (verse eight) that all His promises will be fulfilled in our experience.
Finally, Paul elaborated two things that salvation has done for us.
First, in recognition of authentic faith POURED OUT the Holy Spirit GENEROUSLY (verse six). Notice the Holy Spirit works on us in both our “BC” (Before Christ) and “WC” (With Christ) states. In our “BC” state the Spirit brings conviction of the guilt of sin and guides us to believers who will witness the truth to us. In our “WC” state the Spirit provides understanding of the word of God, strength to perform the will of God and Gifts to enable us to work together to see the Fruits of the Spirit manifest in each believer.
GENEROUSLY can also be translated “richly.” The point is that God gives us all we need to succeed in our spiritual life. Failure can’t be blamed on Him. Notice that all three members of the Trinity are mentioned in this passage and all three have a role to play in our salvation.
Second, as already observed, God saved us so WE MIGHT BECOME HEIRS HAVING THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE (verse seven). Obviously, this looks to the future; it is a HOPE. But our status as HEIRS is in the present moment. So our faith looks ahead to a glorious future but also confers on us the privileges and responsibilities of being part of God’s family.
We are saved to do good works.
There was a beautiful summer day when a Baptist church had scheduled baptisms down by the riverside. A drunk stumbled on to the Sunday afternoon service and proceeded to make a pest of himself.
The minister turned to the drunk and said, “Mister, Are you ready to find Jesus?” The drunk noticed the preacher for the first time and said, “Yessir, I sure am.”
The pastor motioned him to come into the river and then the minister then dunked the fellow under the water and pulled him right back up. “Have you found Jesus?” the preacher asked.
“No, I didn’t!” gasped the drunk.
The preacher dunked him again, this time for quite a bit longer. Bringing him up, the preacher said, “Now, brother, have you found Jesus?”
“No, I did not Preacher.”
In disgust, the preacher baptized him a third time holding the man under for a bit longer still. When he brought him out of the water, he inquired, “Have you found Jesus this time?”
The drunk spat out a bit of river water and said, “If it’s all the same to you, preacher, I’d like to quit lookin’!”
(Adapted from https://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-jeff-strite-humor-baptism-2578?+ref=TextIllustrationDetails, retrieved on 1/12/18.)
- How unsaved folk act.
- How saved folk act.