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"Godly Citizenship"

Essential Building Blocks of an Effective Church   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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INTRODUCTION
“Godly Citizenship” ~
INTRODUCTION
Image
I’ve been told that as we get older our memory is one of the first things to go, some of you know this to be true, and I must admit that sometimes I have a hard time remembering what I did last week let alone five years ago. And yet there are some people, regardless of their age, who seem to have a photographic memory. People with a photographic memory have “the ability to recall images, sounds, or objects in memory with extreme precision and in abundant volume.” Is there anyone here this morning who possesses a photographic memory, or at least who is willing to admit that they have a really good memory, if that’s you, please stand up. Wow. If I’m honest, I’m a bit jealous. I know people who can read a book and has incredible retention and recall of the material. I’d love that. Through the years we have come up with creative and off the wall ways to help us remember things. I was told as a young child to tie a string on my finger to help me remember to do something, the idea is when you see the string you remember to do something, but in some people’s case the seeing the string would remind me that I’m supposed to do something but I just can’t remember what it is! In order to help us remember someone’s name the first time you meet you’re supposed to repeat it 3-4 (illustrate), so I’m not crazy if you’re a visitor and I say repeat you’re name 10 times, it’s good to know that so you don’t go home saying “I liked the church but the pastor kept saying my name over and over again, it was creepy.” We have pneumonic devices, acronyms (SCUBA). Now we have high tech toys like “Iphones” that we can tell to remind us to do something the next day. Nice. (Siri, “Remind me to mow the yard tomorrow”). My favorite reminder tool is the Sticky Note (show). I love these things. If you go into my office you might fight several of these on my desk or in my calendar reminding me of my “Must Dos” and “Should Dos.” There is actually a trend on Twitter that has people sharing (tweeting) their own “Notes to Self.”
Read Notes to Self) Good to know.
Need
As we return to our study in Titus we’re going to see an important reminder for Titus the Christians in Crete, and for us! Today is week six of our eight week series through the book of Titus as we uncover “The Essential Building Blocks of an Effective Church.” And just to test our memory let’s review the first five building blocks that we’ve gleaned from this letter. If we’re going to be an effective church that impacts our communities and our society we must build our lives as a church on these things.
Gospel-Driven Ministry
Godly Leadership
Sound Doctrine
Godly Living
Grace
Today’s sixth building block in is a reminder to the Christians in Crete in regards to how they are supposed to live as members of their society. It’s easy to forget that how we treat people matters deeply to God. It’s easy to forget about how we’re called to respond to people as followers of Jesus. All too often we can treat people in a less than Christian manner—all too often we forget to live out the gospel by the way we treat people around us who annoy us, don’t agree with us, or are different from us. Often our treatment of others is impacted by our emotions—I know that all to well as a married man and a parent—I have failed to treat those closest to me as God as called me to. How are we supposed to live as citizens of both heaven and earth? How are we supposed to treat others in society who don’t share our faith? What is godly living for a Christian citizen?
Preview
Take your Bible and turn to the book of Titus. . . In we find the sixth essential building block that just might surprise you. reveals how God calls us

BUILDING BLOCK #6 - Godly Citizenship

In Titus Chapter 3 we discover the sixth “EBB of an Effective Church.” The exhortations in primarily address a Christian’s relationship within the church—instructions for appointment of godly leadership in the church, instructions about sound living for specific groups in the church, instructions about grace driven godly living—but now the focus shifts to instructions about how the Christians should live in relation to those outside the church. Titus was called to remind the believers in Crete how they should relate to other members of society, specifically a Christian’s response to their governing leaders and their unbelieving neighbors, and these instructions teach Christians in every age how to treat those outside the church as people who have been radically transformed by God’s gracious work of salvation (3:1-7). How does God want us to respond to two important aspects of society—our government leaders and our unbelieving neighbors?
In Paul challenged Titus to remind the Christians in Crete how to treat people outside of the church. Treating others well is one of the most powerful ways we can demonstrate God’s life-changing work within us! Our salvation in Jesus not only changes how we treat our fellow-believers but how we treat unbelievers as well. Paul wanted Titus to remind the Christians in Crete that their gracious salvation in Jesus Christ should transform how they respond to their governing leaders and treat their unbelieving neighbors. Paul challenged Titus to remind the Christians in Crete how to live as Christian citizens. Therefore the sixth essential building block of an effective church is “Godly Citizenship.” Godly Citizenship
Be honest, how many of you are a bit surprised that Paul challenged Titus to remind the Christians in Crete of their civic obligations as citizens in their individual communities? How we treat people outside of the church matters, it’s a big deal to God. I love that this letter challenges Titus to remind the Christians in Crete how they should live as Christian citizen—it’s a reminder to us as well. God’s Word is so practical for our lives. Like the Christians in Crete, we live in world with people who do not share our faith and our values, and while we are not called to be of the world we are called to be lights in this world. As Christians we aren't to fall in love with this world, we aren't to just blend in with the world, and we are not called to turn our back on the world either. All too often we can become self-righteous and have unloving, ungracious, and uncaring attitudes about life in this fallen world. God has not called us complain, criticize, or condemn the sinful world and the people who don’t share our faith. God has not called us to retreat into holy huddles and hide out until Jesus comes again. In Jesus spoke of His disciples as being “the salt of the earth and the light of the world” and in we are called to “shine as stars in a depraved and crooked generation.” We are to make a difference (an impact) on this world as we live our lives. This passage describes the kind of attitude and actions that we (as believers) are to possess as we live in the midst of this fallen world, it highlights the kind of people God wants us to be as Christian citizens. We are people of dual citizenship, we live as American citizens, and yet we are truly citizens of heaven. We are called to live our lives as His people in this present world. Now our time in God’s Word this morning isn’t a topical exposition that examines all aspects of godly citizenship—this is not intended to be comprehensive—we’re looking at what Titus reveals about godly citizenship and how it applies to our lives. How are we supposed to live as Christian citizens in this present world?! Let’s find the answer in as we take a closer look at what it means to be “Godly Citizen” as followers of Jesus Christ.

THE RESPONSIBILITES OF A GODLY CITIZEN

We begin with “The Responsibilities of a Godly Citizen.” The Responsibility of a Godly Citizen. In we find Titus’ call to remind the Christian’s in Crete of their responsibilities as a godly citizen. We find two primary “reminders” in regards to being godly citizens. Apparently Paul had previously taught Titus about the responsibilities of being a godly citizen in society. The responsibilities of godly citizenship were important enough to call Titus “remind” the believers in Crete. Paul called Titus help the Christians in Crete “recall” and “ponder anew” their responsibilities as godly citizens—how they are called to relate to others in society must be brought to the forefront of the believers in Crete mind over and over again—he must cause the Christians in Crete to think over in their minds how to live as godly citizens. God wants to remind us as well. Let’s consider these two primary responsibilities of a godly citizen.

A) Godly citizens honor their government authorities (3:1)

Our first responsibility as a godly citizen addresses how we respond to our governing authorities. Christians must honor their government authorities. Christians must honor their governing authorities. A Christian demonstrates such honor by their “submission” and “obedience” to their governing authorities.

1) Submit to their leadership (1:1a)

Honoring our governing authorities as godly citizens is marked by “Submission.” Christian’s are called to “Submit to their government leaders.” Titus was instructed to repeatedly remind the Christians that they were obligated “to be subject to rulers and authorities” in Crete (3:1a). The Christians in Crete must always remember to submit to their earthly rulers (archais) and the human authorities. The Christians in Crete must be subject to the leadership of those in high positions who are the bearers of authority. The believers in Crete must voluntarily submit to those who have governing position and ruling power.
· D. Edmond Hiebert - “A Christian cannot be an anarchist.”
Paul’s instructions here align with other NT teaching about a believer’s obligation to their governing leaders
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If this was the call to Christians in the first century who lived in places where the government outwardly opposed Christianity, if the Christians were called to obey Roman Emperors like Nero and violent leaders like Herod and other leaders that did not share their faith or values, how much more should we submit our unbelieving government leaders today? And please note that there is no mention of political party here, we’re not called to submit to just the leaders we like or just the leaders who are of our own political party, we must submit to republican and democratic leaders for the glory of God! We must submit to their authority! Why!? They are people entrusted with leadership according to God’s sovereign plans and purposes—He raises up leaders and He takes them down ()—and we must submit to them instead of overthrowing them. We all want to think that God is on our side politically, we want to think that He would only put “our guy” or “our gal” into office, and yet His ways are higher than our ways. Godly citizens submit to their governing authorities.

2) Obey their laws (1:1b)

Second, the honoring or our governing authorities is marked by obedience. Notice the call to be subject to the rulers and authorities is followed by the call to “be obedient” (1:1b). Christians are called to “obey” their rulers and authorities.” Our Voluntary submission to the governing authorities means we are obligated to “obey” them. We obey the governing authorities as one obeys a superior. The obedience is certainly extended to the laws they set. Christians are godly citizens who “obey” the laws of the land. I know this call to obedience is relatively easy on some issues (murder, paying taxes, & theft) but can be more of a struggle with other laws (speeding or running a stop sign).
Now this obviously raises a very important question, “is there ever a time when we are freed from this obligation and can practice civil disobedience?” The only exception to this command is found in Acts (, , & 5:40-41) which highlights the possibility of “civil disobedience” when the government calls us to disobey God. If the government ever passed laws that forced us to personally disobey God we would have grounds to practice civil disobedience in good conscience. If the day comes when there are laws on the books that force us to get abortions, laws that silence us from sharing the good news, or forbid us to preach and teach the Bible in a church or our homes we would have grounds to not honor this command to obey the government. We had a recent cry of outrage in this area, some even calling for civil disobedience, when the proposed government healthcare was going to force business owners to offer & pay for contraception for their employees. Many Roman Catholics were outraged since they teach against the use of contraceptives and many religious leaders (Roman Catholics and Evangelical’s alike) called for civil disobedience in this matter. It was an interesting debate, and the outcry caused the government leaders to reassess the law.
As Christians we have an obligation to obey our government, this gets convicting and challenging when our political leaders don’t share our values, and when we don’t value the laws that are on the books (speeding). We can’t escape this call to “obey” our governing leaders and the laws of the land simply because we don’t agree with the politics or the pragmatics, we must obey our government leaders and our governing laws as long as they don’t call us to disobey God. Therefore you must adhere to the speed limits, pay your taxes even if they are too high, and don’t drink if you are underage because Honoring your governing authorities through submission and obedience is a responsibility of a godly citizen.

3) Be ready to do good (1:2c)

We find a third obligation under the call to honor our government authorities. Christians honor their governing authority through “The promotion of what is good.” The Christians in Crete were to be reminded “to be ready to do whatever is good” in the context of their submission and obedience to the governing authorities. We’re called to “live a state of readiness” to do whatever is good in the realm of government.” In the context of honoring our government authority we must be ready to promote and participate in “whatever is good”—being ready to engage in the good works of the government—and seek to cooperate and engage in what is good in the realm of government.
What a call or us as believers! We live in a day and age where people criticize, curse, condemn, and complain about the government and more often than not believers lead the way. We must all admit that the government is not perfect – there is no perfect form of government or perfect government leaders. And yet government is an institution established by God to do us good (). One of the dangers we face in our country is reading the Bible with our American democratic lens, and while I’m grateful to be an American citizen I think we must guard against reading the government passages in the NT with an American bias or democratic eyes. We can be tempted to think that when the NT passages talk about government they refer to the government of the United States of America. America wasn’t America when the Bible was written. And while I’m so blessed and thankful to live in country where the government was built on democracy and freedom, this was not the case for the believers in the first century. Believers all over the world live under different forms of government – some live under presidents, some live under Prime Ministers, some living under kings & queens, some live under dictators – and we’re all reading the same passages from God’s word that’s calling us to honor the government authority through submission, obedience, and the promotion of what is good. I trust that this passage seems harder to apply for our brothers and sisters living in countries where their government persecutes them or executes them. Believers throughout church history have lived under various forms of government authorities – and regardless of the government we have this call to be ready to promote good in the realm of government. Once again if the government’s work isn’t “good” then they have no obligation to promote, support, and participate in the efforts.
William Wilberforce
What an amazing call for us as believers. Christians should be available to do the good work that the government. This responsibility opens up the door to a wide array of applications! As believer’s we must be ready and eager to do good deeds in our communities. We should be active instead of being passive, and we should look for opportunities in the public arena to do good. Titus gives us picture of Christian’s being active citizens in our communities. I personally think it’s our calling as individual Christians and not necessarily the calling we have as a church body. Our mission as a church is bigger than civic activity—it’s a call to make disciples—for we are not called as a church to simply be another community organization but rather a community of faith with a divine mission! Each believer has the call to honor their government through the promotion of good as they are led by the Holy Spirit – the way we do this won’t all be the same! Don’t force the way you promote good in the realm of government on your fellow believers. Each of us have our own specific application.
· Praying for our leaders ()
· Running for office (some called)
· Fighting against racism
· Fighting against oppression & sex trafficking
· Fighting for the life of the unborn
· Engaging in civic organizations and boards (school board)
· Voting
Christian’s are called to honor the government leaders through “The Promotion of what is good.”
APPLICATION
Christians must strive to be godly citizens who honor their government authorities. Each of us are called to honor the government authority through our personal submission to their leadership, obedience to their laws, and the promotion of good in the realm of government. I trust the Spirit of God is convicting an area of our lives by the truth of His word this morning. Is there one area of your life that needs repentance. It’s always difficult to “honor” those who we might not feel are worthy of honor. The realm of government is polarizing in our community and in our churches – our country is divided by different political parties and everyone takes a side – and if you’re not on “my” party or agree with “my” stance there is name-calling and arguments. Evangelicals are supposed to align with one party and people’s salvation gets questioned if they don’t vote a certain way. In the midst of all the division, will we live out the gospel by honoring our government authorities regardless of political party.
· By the power of the Holy Spirit poured generously poured out on us let’s be godly citizens who submit to their leadership and laws as long as they don’t cause us to compromise our obedience to God.
· By the power of the Holy Spirit generously poured out upon us let’s pay our taxes, let’s obey the speed limit and stop at stop sings (preaching to myself).
· By the power of the Holy Spirit generously poured out upon us let’s be ready to good in the realm of government—praying for them, voting for leaders and initiatives that fight oppression and injustice and protect life, and engage in doing good deeds to serve them.

B) Godly citizens respect their fellow-citizens (3:1c-2)

Let’s turn now to our second responsibility as a godly citizen from Titus. Christians must honor their government authority and Christians must respect their fellow-citizens. Christians must respect their fellow-citizens. We are called to respect those outside the church, our fellow citizens who don’t share our faith (lifestyle) and yet are made in the image of God nonetheless, and how we treat them matters deeply to God.
Notice the shift in audience – we move from our responsibilities to the government (“rulers and authorities” - 3:1) to our responsibilities in relation to our fellow people (“one” and “all men” – 3:2). We show our respect to our fellow citizens (specifically non-believing) in four specific ways.

1) Refrain from slander (2:2)

We respect our fellow citizens by refraining from slander. Christian’s are called to “Refrain from Slander” Godly citizens do not slander their fellow citizens! Despite how they were treated, the believers must remember to “Refrain from Slander.” The Christians in Crete were commanded to not “blaspheme” their fellow-citizens—they were not speak against, evil of, malign, or say injurious things about them—their speech should not be harmful and hurtful of your fellow citizens. Certainly it would have been challenging to refrain from such verbal abuse against people who ridiculed and rejected them as Christians.
How are you doing in this area as a “Godly Citizen?” I trust we’re all tempted in this area of our lives. Sometimes it’s difficulty to apply to our speech in regards to a fellow believer, let alone an unbelieving fellow citizen. Our flesh wants to take control – we want to lash out and speak ill of others who we don’t agree with, who oppose all that we stand for, who pursue godlessness instead of godliness. It’s hard to keep from saying harmful things when people have done or said harmful things to us and yet this is how God calls us to live. Social media is rampant with slander. I’ve seen my fellow believers speak ill of others behind the safety of a computer screen but there it is for all the watching world to see. Is this how we want to represent Jesus!? Obviously there are times for an open and honest conversation but you don’t have to slander them for their beliefs, lifestyle, or attitude. The call to refrain from slander doesn’t mean we can’t evaluate or speak about the evil they might see in someone but in response they must never speak evil about them! We must “say the worst about people. We must not repay evil () and bless instead of cursing others ().

2) Be peaceable (2:2)

We respect our fellow citizens by promoting peace. Christian’s are called to “be peaceable” (2:2). This call to be “peaceable” means that they should not be the ones to pick fights with their fellow-citizens—they should avoid quarrels instead of being contentious—once again this is a challenging command if they were being mistreated by others. We should refrain from being argumentative or seeking to attack others. Lenksi writes “People that are ever fighting are wretched citizens and neighbors.” We must not be wretched citizens and neighbors who are contentious Christians but rather known as peaceable people.
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God’s calling us to respect our fellow citizens by promoting peace! Are we going to actually do what God’s Word says? Are you going to be a godly citizen who pursues peace and promotes peace? There is enough fighting going on in this world, as Christians citizens let’s be the peacemakers in our communities, let’s be the solution and not the problem. Don’t be a fighter, be a peacemaker!

3) Be Considerate (2:2)

Third, Christians are called to respect their fellow-citizens by being considerate. Titus was called to remind the Christians in Crete to be “considerate.” The call to “be considerate” is linked with the previous call to be peaceful in our response. The believers in Crete were to be reminded to “pursue peace” (don’t fight) and to be “considerate” of their fellow-citizens—being “gracious, fore-bearing, and gentle” in our treatment of those who don’t share our faith or our values. Matthew Arnold adds that we must show “a sweet reasonableness” towards our fellow-citizens.
How considerate are you as a Christian? Instead of fighting are you considerate of others—kind and gentle? Are you known for being gentle and reasonable with and towards others? Let’s beg God for this to be true of us in our communities. May the people in our communities speak well of us—yes he/she is a Christian and they have demonstrated such consideration to me in my dealings with them—they aren’t like the majority of society!

4) Demonstrate humility (2:2)

Fourth, Christians are called to respect their fellow citizens by exhibiting humility. Christian’s are called to “Be Humble.” Titus was called to remind the Christians in Crete that they have an obligation to “show true (all) humility towards (all) humanity. The term “humility” is also translated as perfect or complete “courtesy” – the Greek term is hard to render in our English language – it carries the multifaceted idea of gentleness, humility, courtesy, considerateness, meekness. (George Knight).
We’re called to express a servant-like attitude of humility that oozes “gentleness” and “courtesy” instead of “harshness” and “rudeness” in our response to our fellow citizens. Again, hard to do when you’re being mistreated, maligned, or made fun by others because you’re a Christian, and yet it’s our responsibility to godly citizens who demonstrate a Christ-like humility towards others!
APPLICATION
God’s Word calls us to be godly citizens who respect their fellow-citizens. How we treat people matters to God! How we treat one another inside this family matters, and how we treat others who don’t share our faith matters to God! Often we have a hard time living this out with one another as fellow-Christians. We’re going to make that the focus of our summer series as we walk through the “One Another” passages in the NT. Titus calls us to examine how we’re treating our fellow-citizens who are not yet believers. Living out this aspect of the gospel can be especially challenging in our relationship with others who don’t share our faith, values, or lifestyle and yet this is the call!
Again, I trust that the Holy Spirit is using the truth of God’s Word to penetrate our hearts, exposing where we fall short and need His power to live out the gospel call in this area of our lives. Lean into God’s grace – confess and embrace His forgiveness and power to respond in this way. When we fall short in these areas it’s a heart issue. God to change our hearts because that’s where slander, discord, harshness, and pride originates. Thankfully God is greater than our hearts and able to change us from the inside out by the power of the gospel.
· By the power of the Holy Spirit poured generously poured out on us let’s be godly citizens who don’t slander others. We must tame our tongues by the power of the Spirit. Please don’t use FB or Twitter to blaspheme (speak evil) against or about others. Don’t make fun of people who are different than you or don’t agree with you. Sarcasm can become a form of slander.
· By the power of the Holy Spirit poured generously poured out on us let’s be godly citizens promote peace. Don’t instigate arguments or go on the attack. You can have honest dialogue and conversations that promote peace. I’m confident picking fights doesn’t make the gospel beautiful to others—I’m confident no one has been argued into the Kingdom. I could be wrong.
· By the power of the Holy Spirit poured generously poured out on us let’s be godly citizens who are considerate (gentle, kind, and gracious all wrapped up together).
· By the power of the Holy Spirit poured generously poured out on us let’s be godly citizens who express humility.
How we treat our unbelieving fellow-citizens matters to God. Often we feel justified in “why” we treat people the way we do (deserve it, started it, or hurt me) but in the end God’s Word is clear. We must respect our fellow-citizens by refraining from slander, being peaceful, considerate, and humble by the power of the Holy Spirit.

II) THE REASON TO BE A GODLY CITIZEN (3:3-7)

highlights seven responsibilities of a godly citizen. Being reminded of our civic duty as Christians is challenging and convicting! God wants these characteristics to be at the forefront of our minds, God is reminding us of the importance of treating our non-Christian leaders and neighbors in a way that He desires. It’s tempting to see our non-Christians citizens as enemies, especially when they don’t treat us well, and yet God calls us to treat them in a way that reflects the life-changing work on God in our hearts.
The unveiling of the Christians responsibilities as a “Godly Citizen” is quickly followed by “The Reason we should live in this way as Godly Citizens.” Titus not only reveals “how to live as godly citizens” but also “why we should live as godly citizens” outlines the “motivation” or the “reason” we must “Honor our governing authority” and “Respect our fellow-citizens” who don’t share our faith.

A) Our Former Life as Sinners (3:3)

It we are reminded of “Our Previous Life as Rebellious Sinners.” Paul reminded Titus (the Christians in Crete) that all believers (including himself) once lived their lives as rebellious sinners. We’re prompted to remember our life before we put our faith in Christ – remember how you lived before God saved you – and regardless if you were saved as a young child or later in life all of us were guilty sinners whose lives were lived in some way by these characteristics.

· Foolishness ~

The term “foolish” denotes people who are “without spiritual understanding” or who are “lacking spiritual discernment.” Paul speaks of people who did use their capacity to understand and as a result they thought and behaved foolishly. Foolish here does not speak of one’s mental state of being an idiot or an imbecile but rather senseless and futile in their thinking that causes them to act foolishly

· Disobedience ~

unwilling and refusing to comply with God’s authority, and in the context disobedient to earthly authority (parents or government).

· Deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passion and pleasures ~

Our lives apart from God’s salvation in Christ was marking by the state of “deception”—our bondage to sin caused us to be led astray (unable to see the truth) and in our deception we were slaves to desires to do what is morally wrong and slaves to the desire to gratify our passion for physical (sexual) pleasure. Our deception led to being in bondage to these desires for wrong and gratification and we were unable to overcome them.

· A life of malice ~

Our lives were marked a life of malice – consumed with feelings of hostility, dislike, and hate which could result in them desiring to harm others. We become vicious in our response to others.

· A life of envy ~

Our lives were consumed with “ill will” towards someone because of their presumed or real advantage. Our hearts burned with jealously because others have what we do not have.

· A life of hate ~

Our lives before Christ were marked by “hate”—hating others and being hating by others” (ESV) – we were “hateful” and “hating others” (NET). We were worthy of being hated by others and possessing feelings of detest or hostility to others as well
What an ugly picture of our depravity and sinfulness! Often people who are saved as children have a hard time grasping what they have been saved from because “how sinful of a life can you really live as a six-year old, well Titus reveals that even a child can exhibit these attitudes and actions fully revealing their depravity. Before Christ we were all “rebellious sinners” in some form and fashion—Paul included himself as well—and as guilty sinners are lives were marked by sinful attitudes and behavior.

B) God’s Response to us as Sinners (3:4-7)

Our “Previous Life as Rebellious Sinners” is contrasted by God’s response” highlighted in . Paul reminded Titus and the Christians in Crete of their former life as rebellious sinners and then turned the spotlight on God’s response to us as rebellious sinners—God saved us! God’s response was to save us! And once again we are given another glorious portrait of God’s salvation on full display! This is the third vivid description of God’s salvation in Titus (1:1-4, 2:11-14, & 3:4-7). Interestingly, the Nestle-Aland Greek NT indents this section much like our English Translations indent Hebrew poetry in the OT. It’s possible that these truths about God’s salvation were memorized, recited, or possible sung as a hymn declaring the profound truths of God’s salvation. Now is one long and complicated sentence in the Greek text. There is a lot going on in this sentence—deep theology—and today I want us to walk away with the main point and how it relates to the previous instructions about how to relate to our government authorities and our fellow-citizens. The main point of this passage is “he saved us” (3:5) and everything else is connected to that primary affirmation. Paul’s pen outlines several aspects of God’s salvation of us.

1) The Source of Salvation (3:4)

First, we see “The Source of Salvation.” In we see that salvation originated from God, our Savior (3:4). God is the ultimate source of our salvation. The source of our salvation is traced back to the God’s “kindness” (an act of kindness, the provision of what is beneficial) and His “brotherly love” (philanthropia) for all humanity. The “kindness” and “love” of God our Savior always existed but it literally appeared (epiphaino) in the coming of Jesus to earth, another reference to the incarnation of God’s son who came to bring salvation through His death and resurrection. Titus and the Christians in Crete were reminded that their salvation originated because of God’s kindness and love for us as sinners! We get a glimpse of the heart of God—He is kind and loving—and out of the depths of His kindness and love He chose to save us from the power of sin.

2) The Grounds for Salvation (3:5)

Secondly, we see what is often called “The Grounds for Salvation.” On what grounds did God save us? What is “foundation” upon which God’s salvation rests? In the Christians in Crete were reminded that God saved us because of His mercy and not because of righteous things we had done” (3:5). God didn’t save you because of all the awesome things you did, God didn’t save us because we did what God wanted us to do (going to church, giving a tithe, sponsoring a Compassion child, reading your Bible), for even all of our righteous deeds would never be good enough. The grounds for is the mercy of God! God saved us because of His concern for us and kindness towards us in not giving us what we deserve.

3) The Means of Salvation (3:5-6)

Third, we see what is called “The Means of Salvation.” In other words by what means was God’s salvation accomplished? Titus highlights the Holy Spirit’s role in accomplishing God’s salvation in Christ. God saved us “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out generously on us through Jesus Christ our Savior” (3:5-6).
The mention of “washing” is translated from a Greek word (loutron) that speaks of either “the place of washing like a bath tub of water” or “the act of being bathing or washing.” And while some see this as a reference to water baptism the emphasis here is on the Holy Spirit. The “washing” refers to a “spiritual” cleansing of “rebirth and renewal.”
Rebirth and renewal in the life of a sinner is the work of the Holy Spirit. The “rebirth” highlights the Holy Spirit’s “regeneration” (ESV) of a sinner—it’s denotes “new birth” or being “born anew” by the power of the Holy Spirit—our lives are changed from the state of being dead in sin to being given life as a “new creation” (). The “renewal” speaks of the Holy Spirit power that causes a sinner to become new. Therefore some see the Holy Spirit’s renewal as the process by which they experience rebirth. Others bible scholars see them as two distinct aspects of the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation. Regardless, Titus shines the light on the Holy Spirit’s work in the Father’s plan of salvation. We are saved through the Holy Spirit’s regeneration and His renewal. Sinner’s become a “new creation” through the renewal of the Holy Spirit.
Notice “how” the Holy Spirit’s work of rebirth and renewal came about in our lives. The Father “richly poured out the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Savior” (3:6). We have all three persons of the trinity in view. The Holy Spirit’s rebirth and renewal was the result of the Father pouring out the Holy Spirit in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior.” The Father’s abundant and lavish pouring out the Holy Spirt occurred though Jesus Christ our Savior—Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit from the Father ()—and as the exalted Savior Jesus is the one who led the pouring out of the Spirit which began on the Day of Pentecost (, , & ) and continues today in the lives of anyone who puts their faith in Him. The Holy Spirit that was initially poured out on the Day of Pentecost is also poured out on every sinner at the moment of their conversion. God’s pouring out of the Holy Spirit brings “rebirth” and “renewal” to every sinner, and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence richly poured out is sufficient for our needs as new creation in Christ. (ADD)

4) The Goal of Salvation (3:7)

Finally, we see “The Goal of Salvation” in this first century hymn or creed. In we discover the ultimate aim of God’s salvation. God saved us through the rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit “so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” The end goal of God’s salvation is to make us “heirs” of eternal life!
Titus highlights the relationship between the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration and the Father’s work of justification. Salvation involves regeneration and justification—they are two vital aspects of salvation—they are distinct aspects of salvation that are inseparable. God’s saving work in Jesus includes the Holy Spirit’s regeneration of sinners (new life) and the Father’s justification of sinners by which they are declared righteous based upon Jesus’ righteousness and sin-bearing payment on the cross. Paul’s NT letters highlight God’s justification of he sinner—highlighting God’s judicial act of declaring us “righteous”—acquitting us of guilty and declaring us righteous by imputing Christ’s righteousness to our account. This is the great exchange of the gospel—Jesus taking on our sin and we being credited with His righteousness. All who have experienced rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit are those who have been “justified (declared righteous) by his grace”) with this goal in mind—that we would become “heirs having the hope of eternal life.
The Spirit’s regeneration and the Father’s gracious justification come together to accomplish this goal. Everyone who has been given “new life” by the Holy Spirit and “declared righteous” by the Father’s grace become “heirs”—people who can stake their claim to a divine inheritance based on the hope (promise or confident expectation) of eternal life—because God has saved us we are presently heirs of eternal life that we will possess in the future. Peter reminds us that we have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade, kept in heaven” (). God saved us so that we would become heirs of eternal life! I trust that most of think about the inheritance we might get from a family member or the inheritance we want to leave behind to our children (grandchildren) but never forget that you are an “heir” to a greater inheritance because God saved you.
APPLICATION
So, what is God’s response to us as rebellious sinners? God chose to save us through the power of the Holy Spirit so that we would inherit eternal life! God’s response to us as sinners is to save us out of the depths of His kindness, love, mercy, and grace!

God’s response to us as sinners should impact our response to others

God’s response to us as sinners is the ultimate motivation for how we respond to our government authorities and unbelieving fellow citizens. Why should we honor our government authorities and respect our unbelieving fellow-citizens? Why should we submit, obey, and be ready to do good in the realm of government? Why should we refrain from slandering our unbelieving neighbors, being peaceful, considerate, and humble in our response to them?
It would have been challenging for the Christians in Crete to honor their governing authorities who don’t share our faith and values – the same is true for us! It would have been challenging for the Christians in Crete to respect their unbelieving fellow-citizens who don’t share their faith and values—the same is true for us! When our unbelieving leaders and neighbors don’t embrace our faith or treat us well we must remember their sinful condition and treat them in a way that is in line with the gospel! Instead of condemnation & criticism, harsh words and argumentation, God calls us to up-side down Kingdom living. God’s response to us should motivate us to respond to them with honor and respect. Since God is kind, loving, merciful, and gracious to us we should mirror His image and treat others in the same way. God has saved us, we have been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, declared righteous before God based on Jesus’ finished work on the cross, and we are heirs of eternal life. We are called to live out the gospel by which we have been saved which impacts how we respond to our government authorities and unbelieving fellow-citizens.
CONCLUSION
Refresh – In God’s Word we “reminded” how we’re called to live as “Godly Citizens”—Godly citizenship is the sixth (6th) essential building block for us as an effective church—how we treat others matters deeply to God. I don’ know what you’ll use to “remember” this “reminder”—perhaps you’ll come up with a creative mnuemonic device, acrostic, or a good old sticky note on your fridge! Do whatever it takes to remember this call from God’s word.
Renew
We desperately need to live out the gospel by living as godly citizens! Godly citizenship is an unexpected essential building block that will enable us to be an effective church.
Restate
Titus teaches us that one important aspect of being a godly citizen is how we respond to our government authorities and unbelieving fellow-citizens. How we treat them matters to God.
· We must honor our government authorities by submitting to their leadership, obeying their laws as long as they don’t compromise our obedience to God, and being ready to do good.
· We must respect our fellow-citizens by refraining from slandering them, being peaceful towards them, considerate of them, and demonstrating humility to them.
God’s response to us as sinners motivates us to respond to our government authorities with honor and our unbelieving fellow-citizens with respect.
Pray
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