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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Matt's Messages "He Saved Us"

“He Saved Us”
August 3, 2008
Titus 3:1-7

Paul has been instructing Titus in what to teach the new church on the island of Crete. He had left Titus behind to identify true elders to combat false teaching and to provide gospel-applying instruction to the believers on Crete so that their lives matched their doctrine.

The title for our series this last month has been “Applying the Gospel” and could very well describe chapter 3, as well. There is really no good way to break up chapter 3, but I want to take 2 weeks to study it anyway, so this week, we’ll look at verses 1 through 7 and then next week, we’ll look at verses 1 through 15 and take the whole chapter together to see the bigger picture.

What I want us to focus on this morning is the gospel itself.

The theme of the whole letter is applying the gospel, and that’s what Paul is doing here in chapter 3, but verses 3 through 7 in English are one long sentence in the original Greek that basically IS the gospel, and I think God wants us to meditate deeply on it this morning before we celebrate it together at His Table.

The key phrase that the whole passage hangs on is “He Saved Us.”

I hope that we never get tired of talking about the gospel.

I hope that we never grow weary of rehearsing what happened to us when we were rescued from our sins.

I hope that we never get complacent about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I hope that we are regularly and freshly moved by the truth encapsulated in this little phrase, “He saved us.”

They say that familiarity breeds contempt.

But it didn’t for the apostle Paul. He couldn’t get familiar enough with the gospel.

He repeats it over and over again in his letters.

The gospel is the engine that drives Paul, and it should be for us, as well.

The whole book of Titus is about applying the gospel, and that’s what Paul is doing in verses 1&2.

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”

He’s applying the gospel. These are applications, and we’re going to look at these verses more closely next week.

But you can see just in your first glance, that Paul is continuing to instruct Titus in how to instruct the Cretan believers to live out the implications of the gospel.

They are to live as Christ-followers. To be Christian citizens. To be obey Jesus. To be ready to do what is good. To live as Christian neighbors. To show Christian humility.

Why? Because they have been changed by the gospel. V.3

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”

We used to look like the world. And now we are to look differently!

We used to look like the world. And now everything has changed.

We used to be just like the world, and we needed SAVING!

Look at this description of you and me before coming to Christ:

“...foolish [making bad choices], disobedient [transgressing God’s laws], deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures [we gave in and gave in and gave in]. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”

That’s what folks are like, down deep, before they come to know Jesus.

That’s what I was like, and it’s what you were like, too.

We used to be just like the world, and we needed SAVING!

But!

Verse 4.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us...”

He saved us!

We got rescued.

He saved us.

I have 6 brief points this morning, they’re mostly just taken right here from the next few verses.

#1. WHEN THE KINDNESS AND LOVE OF GOD OUR SAVIOR APPEARED.

That’s taken right from verse 4 and it tell us when this salvation came. V.4

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us...”

When was that?

It was Jesus came.

Notice that word “appeared?” It’s the same word that we saw back in chapter 2, verse 11 last week.

It’s the word that we get our word “epiphany” from.

An appearance, a manifestation, a coming into view.

The kindness and love of God our Savior came into view.

God’s love showed up–in person!

We needed saving. We were lost. We were dead in our trespasses and sins.

And then Jesus showed up! That’s what happened! Jesus showed up!

And He lived a perfect life and then died on the Cross, one of the cruelest deaths devised by men!

Why?

Because of what was in His heart.

What does verse 4 say about His coming? Why did Jesus come?

Why did He go to the Cross?

What are we celebrating at this Table?

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us...”

Kindness and LOVE. The Greek word is “philanthropia” meaning a love of humanity.

“God so loved the world...” ...That God our Savior Appeared!

Don’t forget that. Don’t miss that.

As we go to this Table this morning, we remember that this is a Table of love. A table of kindness.

God loves us, friends. God loves you. Jesus loves you.

Do you need to hear that this morning? We need to hear it every day, don’t we?

He saved us when the kindness and love of God Our Savior appeared.

#2. HE SAVED US NOT BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUS THINGS WE HAD DONE.

That’s what verse 5 says.

“[H]e saved us, not because of righteous things we had done...”

That’s the opposite of all of the other religions in the world.

They are all about man trying to reach up to God.

They are all about self-improvement projects.

Earning our blessings.

But that’s NOT Christianity.

Christianity is not based upon our good works.
Christianity is not based upon our righteous deeds.

And any teaching that bases salvation upon our good works is not Christianity!

It’s a false gospel.

The apostles stress this again and again and again.

It’s not what we do.
It’s not what we have done.
It’s not be works of law.
It’s not by righteous things we have done.

Now, we’ll do righteous things! We better. We’ve been changed by the gospel.

That’s applying the gospel, and that’s what this book is all about.

But let’s be clear: we are saved NOT because of righteous things we had done.

No! He saved us #3. BECAUSE OF HIS MERCY.

He didn’t save us because of something inside of us.

He saved us because of something inside of Him!

When we go to this Table this morning, we remember that this is a Table of MERCY.

It’s not a Table that tells us how good we are. We aren’t.

It’s a Table that tells us that we have not been good and not been good enough.

But that God had mercy on us.

Isn’t that wonderful?!?

God had mercy on us.

Verse 7 calls this kind of salvation, “having been justified by his grace...”

Justification is being declared righteous.

To make up a word it is “Righteousification.”

It is declaring us righteous, not on the basis of righteous things we have done, our righteousness, but on the basis of His righteousness.

His mercy and grace giving us the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Justification by grace.

It’s the only way to live!

It bring Him the most glory, and it’s just what we needed!

Many people are trying to justify themselves in their own power, and they’ll all fail miserably. Paul tried to, and he was really good at it!

But eventually he came to call it all rubbish, in the King James: “dung.”

The only way to live is to be justified by HIS grace.

That’s why He saved us: because of His mercy.

As we come to the Table this morning, we are reminded of how unworthy we are to receive blessing from God and how thankful we are to live under His mercy.

Amen?

And it’s more than simply justification that saves us. It is also the inner work of the Holy Spirit.

#4. HE SAVED US THROUGH THE WASHING OF REBIRTH AND RENEWAL BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.

This is what it says in at the end of verse 5.

“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior...”

This takes us back to our sermon series from the beginning of the year on the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 6 says that the Holy Spirit was poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.

What Jesus did on the Cross purchased the benefits of having the Holy Spirit in our lives.

My kids have been learning a Child’s Catechism recently, and one of the most recent questions is “What happens when I trust in Jesus?”

And the answer, “My sins are forgiven and Jesus sends His Holy Spirit into my life.”

V.6 says He does it “generously.” The King James says, “abundantly.”

And this is what He does at our salvation (v.5), “The washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

Three words: Washing, Rebirth, Renewal.

My sins are washed away.
My soul is given a new birth (a regeneration).
My heart is given a new lease on life.

That all happens when I come to faith in Jesus Christ.

By the Holy Spirit of God.

As we go to this Table this morning, we are going to a Spirit-Table.

Did you notice the Trinitarian nature of this passage? It’s there.

God the Father having mercy. God the Son show up and dying for us and sending God the Spirit to wash us, regenerate us, and renew us.

He Saved Us Through the Washing of Rebirth and Renewal by the Holy Spirit.

To what end? #5. SO THAT WE MIGHT BECOME HEIRS HAVING THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE.

Do you see where this goes?

It goes from the misery and perversion of verse 3 to the joy and hope and glory of verse 7.

We go from “foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved, malicious, envious, hated and hating” to “heirs having the hope of eternal life!”

This is biblical hope here.

It’s not wishful thinking, “Oh, I hope I get a Texas Sheet Cake this week.” Good luck.

No, this is faith in a sure thing–something promised me by God and not based on my righteousness, but on His mercy.

I’m an heir!

An heir!

We are heirs. Everything promised to Jesus is our inheritance.

He took our sin, we get His inheritance.

That’s why He saved us. He saved us to give us everything worth anything!

That’s the gospel, friends. That’s the good news about Jesus.

Do you believe it?

It’s all true for you and for me if we believe it.

We are heirs having the sure hope of eternal life if we turn from doing it our way and trusting in Him and what He did for us in His kindness, love, and mercy.

He saved us: When the Kindness and Love of God Our Savior Appeared.

He saved us: Not Because of Righteous Things We Had Done.

He saved us: Because of His Mercy.

He saved us: Through the Washing of Rebirth and Renewal by the Holy Spirit.

He saved us: So That We Might Become Heirs Having the Hope of Eternal Life.

And #6. HE SAVED US: AND, IN SO DOING, HE CHANGED OUR LIVES FOREVER.

We live differently now.

The gospel changes us.

We don’t live like verse 3 any more. We live like verses 1 and 2.

Not because we’re so good in and of ourselves. We aren’t.

But because “He Saved Us.”

Because “He Saved Us.”

And it’s the greatest thing in all of the world.

As we come now to the Lord’s Table, we gather around a Table of Love and Kindness.

We gather around a Table, not of Our Righteousness, but of His Mercy and His Grace.

We gather around a Spirit Table. A Table of washing, rebirth, renewal.

We gather around a Table of Hope. The sure and certain hope of eternal life.

We gather around a Table of Salvation.

He Saved Us.

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