Sunday, April 21, 2019

[Matt's Messages] "He Saved Us"

“He Saved Us”
Resurrection Sunday
Titus 3:3-7 :: April 21, 2019

You’ve probably noticed that we’re going to do things a little differently today.

We are going to have a baptism this morning, John Walter is getting baptized.

But there is no water in the baptistry. John will not be dunked today.

Instead, we’re going to have a pouring. Instead of baptism by immersion, we’re going to be doing baptism by affusion. Affusion, or pouring.

Normally, when we do a baptism at Lanse Free Church, we fully immerse the one being baptized (the baptee?) into the water because the Greek word baptizo literally means “to dip under,” and all of the baptisms in the Bible were by immersion, including Jesus’ baptism.

Baptism by immersion best symbolizes our inclusion in Jesus’ death and RESURRECTION, what we’ve been celebrating all morning. As Romans 6 says, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”


But what if you can’t be immersed? You’re physically unable.

What do we do then?

Well, I’ve been reading a little bit in church history about the history of baptism in the first few centuries after the Bible was completed.

Scholar Tim Dowley writes in his Introduction to the History of Christianity that in the early church, “Baptism was normally by immersion either in the river or in the bath-house of a large house [they didn’t have church buildings with heated baptistries]. The person was normally immersed three times [that’s interesting isn’t it?] in response to three questions about belief in the three persons of the Trinity. From the early second century, baptism by pouring of water was allowed in cases of emergency or sickness” (pg. 30).

These baptisms by affusion were called klinai baptisms from the Greek word for “bed.” And we get our word “clinical” from klinai, meaning a hospital bed.

When you couldn’t get into the river because of some physical ailment, the early church decided to do baptism by pouring.

There’s a book written in the second century called the Didache which isn’t part of the Bible but was an early guide for pastors and disciplers in discipleship and church leadership.

Listen to a little of what chapter 7 of the Didache says about baptism:

“7:1 But concerning baptism, thus baptize ye: having first recited all these precepts, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in running water [meaning in a river];

7:2 but if thou hast not running water, baptize in some other water, and if thou canst not baptize in cold, in warm water; [How about that, John? It says we should use cold water. That’s what Keith wanted to do. He wanted to put some icecubes in one of these pitchers! But they are actually very warm and toasting. Verse 3]

7:3 but if thou hast neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

So that’s the early tradition that we’re going to follow this morning.

But before we do that, here’s a question for you.

Is pouring also a biblical picture of the gospel of our resurrected Lord?

I believe it is, and I want to show you a key passage in the Bible.

Titus chapter 3, verses 3 through 7.

Believe it or not, verses 4 through 7 are one long sentence in the original Greek!

Paul loves long sentences, and is this is a glorious one.

Paul is writing to Titus to help him to apply the gospel to the disciples on the island of Crete.

And here towards the end of the letter, Paul reminds Titus of what the gospel is.

And we always need those reminders, don’t we?

It’s so easy to forget.

That’s why we meet on Sundays. Not just on Resurrection Sunday but every Sunday to rehearse the gospel, to remind ourselves of the gospel and of its implications for all of life. So Paul reminds Titus.

Isn’t this a beautiful statement of the gospel?

A beautiful summary of the good news of Jesus Christ.

And those words in the middle?

“He Saved Us!”

What could be better news than that?

Of course, the good news must begin with the bad news.

We sure need saving.

Listen to verse 3, and see how Paul puts himself in there (and so should we).

“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.”

That’s bad news.

I don’t like to think of myself that way.

But it’s true.

Left to my own self, verse 3 is a description of what I was deep down inside.

And it’s true of everybody no matter how “nice” they are on the outside.

By the way, John is a very nice person.

I’ve always liked him ever since I’ve known him.

I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like him, and I can’t imagine why they would.

But being a nice guy will not save you.

And we all need saved.

Verse 3 is not pretty, but it’s true.

Just open the newspaper, turn on Facebook, watch the evening news, and look into the mirror, and you will find verse 3.

Foolish, disobedient, enslaved by passions and pleasures, malice and envy, hate and hating. That’s our world, and deep down that is us.

We need saving.

But here’s the good news: God sent a Savior!

Look at that b-u-t in verse 4.

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

What is Paul talking about?

He’s talking about when Jesus came to Earth.

“When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared...”

That’s when Jesus showed up. That’s Christmas!

That’s the Incarnation, the arrival of the Son of God, God the Son, “God our Savior.”

The Father sent the Son on a rescue mission.

And it was successful!

“He saved us,” that is, His people. His church. His chosen ones. His disciples.

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

That’s the best news there ever was.

And that’s what John has experienced.

John has experienced salvation.

Jesus has saved John.

That’s why he’s getting baptized.

Not that baptism will save him. That’s already happened.

But John is getting baptized to say to the world that he has been saved.

And we as a church are baptizing him to say to the world that we, too, believe that he has been saved.

John was sprinkled as an infant. And like Keith and Dottie from New Year’s baptisms, by being baptized today, John intends no disrespect to his parents or their religious leaders for their loving him and wanting him to be baptized when he was little.

But he’s come to believe that baptism is for disciples who believe the gospel to go public with their faith and for the church to confirm and nourish the disciple’s faith.

So he’s going public in baptism today to say that Jesus has saved him.

Have you done the same?

Have you been saved?

And following that, have you been baptized?

Look at what Paul says next.

He saved catch this. This is important.


V.5 “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done...”


Listen to this. This is very important.

This is not what most people think.

Most people in the world think that you get saved by doing good works.

You get saved by doing more good than bad.

You get saved by earning God’s favor.

You get saved by doing righteous things.

And that’s just not true.

That’s not the way salvation works.

Put every good work you want to into that sentence.

He saved us, not because we went to church.
He saved us, not because we gave money.
He saved us, not because we got baptized!
He saved us, not because we cared for the poor.
He saved us, not because of righteous things that we have done.

John has done a lot of righteous things.

In fact, John has been pretty religious at various times in his life.

I’ll let him tell his own story.

But I can say this, John is not saved because of righteous things that he has done.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t do righteous things.

Paul is big on doing righteous things. The whole book of Titus is about how to do righteous things and how we should do righteous things.

But we are not saved because of righteous things we have done.

He saved us not because of us...


Look at verse 5.

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”

We did not deserve it, but He did it anyway.

We deserved condemnation, but He gives us salvation.

Not because of something in us but because of something in Him.

Verse 4 called it “kindness and love.”
Verse 5 calls it “mercy.”
Verse 7 calls it, “grace.”

That’s why Jesus saves us!

Isn’t that awesome?

That’s such good news. Because we could never earn our own way.

We could never be justified by works. We could never do enough righteous things.

The first year that John was here a part of our church, we were studying the book of Galatians together. In that book, Paul taught that justification was by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone.

And I think John’s eyes were opened to the gospel of grace.

Or as Ephesians 2 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Jesus saves us in spite of ourselves.

Do you believe that?

You’ve got to believe that to be saved.

Number three.

He saved us.


Did you see that 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...”

Here’s where we get our pouring, right?

Is this passage about baptism?

No. Not directly. It doesn’t say anything about water baptism.

But I do think that water baptism is a picture of Titus 3:5.

The washing here is a spiritual washing.

It’s the washing away of our sins by the work of the Holy Spirit when we come to faith.

Notice that it’s “the washing of rebirth and renewal.”

The new birth and a new life.

A new way of living.

A changed life from the inside out.

And this is the work of the Holy Spirit.

When you and I come to faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and gives us new birth and new life.

It’s a spiritual resurrection inside of us.

And it washes us clean.

When I’m teaching my baptism class, we always read this verse, and then I ask the students, like John.

“Why do we baptize with water and not mud? Or Pepsi or Kool-Aid?”

And they always say, “Because it’s a symbol of washing. It’s a symbol of cleansing. It’s a symbol of purification.”

So, John, Keith wanted us to use Gatorade, like what they pour on the coach after a football game, but I said, “No, it’s gotta be water.”

Not because this water back here is magic.

It’s not. It doesn’t do anything.

But it stands for the Holy Spirit Who sure does do something.

He washes.
He gives new birth.
He gives new life.
He changes our lives when He is poured out on us generously.

An abundant overflow.

There is no rule for how much water you use in an affusion baptism, and if John were laid up and very ill, we wouldn’t use very much.

But he’s really big and strong, he just can’t be laid back into the water, so we’re going to use an ample amount here. And don’t worry. We have covered up all of the nearby electrical cords. And these mats are very absorbent. When the dishwasher broke in the lightning strike a couple of years ago, these mats soaked up most of the water that came pouring out of it. This is very safe.

But we’re going to use a good amount of water here to symbolize the abundant overflow of the Holy Spirit who has washed John with rebirth and renewal.

But where does all of that come from?

How does it come to us?

Look again at verse 6.

Look for the Trinity there.

“He [the Father] poured out [the Spirit] on us generously through [the Son] Jesus Christ our Savior.”


This salvation comes to us through Jesus Christ our Savior.

The One Who died on the Cross, when love ran red.

The One Who came back from the dead and is risen just like He said.

Look what He has done. He has made us (v.7) “heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

And that’s not just the wishful kind of hope, like “I hope there is Texas Sheetcake for my birthday in two weeks.” Maybe, maybe not. I hope so.

But this is biblical hope. This is knowing with your heart that something good is coming for certain.

And we know that is.

That’s our own resurrection.

That’s new bodies in the new heavens and the new earth.

That’s eternal life with Jesus forever and ever and ever. Amen.

That’s what we have to look forward to because of Jesus.

Because He Saved Us.