Faithlife Sermons

Responding to God's Work of Salvation

Living with Grace  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  44:51
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Last Sunday we were reminded that followers of Christ should be the most gracious people in the world, in not only our behavior to government officials but our treatment of everyone. Before we followed Christ, we were not gracious people. We were competitive, foolish, and prejudiced. Yet because God’s grace has changed us, we need to be different, providing a clear contrast with our selfish, sinful past.
Now, have you ever watched a documentary, viewed a YouTube video, or read a book that motivated you to change your behavior because you learned what went on “behind the scenes” so to speak? For instance, of you:
Saw a YouTube video on how hot-dogs are made, you might not eat hot-dogs anymore.
Read a book about work conditions in China, you might not buy Nike anymore.
Watched a documentary on Alzheimer’s disease, you might start exercising regularly, eating healthy, and learning new things – you might even start drinking coffee!
What Paul tells us in Tit 3:4-8 is for this purpose. He gives us some “behind the scenes” of our salvation, explaining the great lengths to which God went to bring his grace into our lives. Seeing what God did, then, should motivate us to change our own behavior. The work of God’s grace in our lives should motivate us to intervene in the lives of hurting, sinful people around us, bringing God’s grace to them through our own good works.
Let’s consider what God did to bring us salvation.

He revealed his kindness to us.

“But when the kindness … of God our Savior toward man appeared.” Kindness describes God’s behavior towards us as generous and helpful. Such a response from God should be most surprising because of the kind of people we were when he treated us this way (Tit 3:3). We deserved no such treatment for sure.
How did God reveal such unexpected generosity? Rather than appearing as our judge to punish us for our sins he appeared as our Savior to rescue of from our sins instead.

He revealed his love to us.

“But when the … love of God our Savior toward man appeared.” Love here is a word rarely used in the NT. The Greek word sounds like philanthropy and describes when a powerful and prestigious person shows affection and concern for those less fortunate. It’s like a wealthy woman donating funds to feed homeless families or a king giving gifts to the people in his kingdom.
Again, how did God express such unexpected concern for us in our helpless condition? He came into the world as our Savior, as the Lord Jesus Christ.

He did what we could not do.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done.” Here Paul emphasizes our helpless condition. We were entirely unable to rescue ourselves from our sinful position. We could not do enough right things to solve our problem. Just as a criminal cannot outdo or undo his crimes, so we could not outdo or undo our sinful attitudes, actions, and appetites by doing some good things. We deserved God’s judgment.

He rescued us as a result of his mercy.

“But according to his mercy he saved us.” The only reason we’ve been rescued from our sins is because the judge became our savior. Mercy here means to show compassion or pity. It means to feel so moved by a person’s helpless, hopeless condition that you intervene in their situation, doing something to help them and give them hope.
That’s what God did for us through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. I think you’ll agree when I say that God didn’t toss a few pennies our way in response to our sinful state – he threw his entire self into saving us. He didn’t throw us a lifeline, he jumped in himself.

He rescued us by cleansing us from sin.

“Through the washing of regeneration.” Here Paul refers to our spiritual rebirth, which describes how God gives us a new life by cleansing the record of our sins. Today we call this being “expunged,” a legal process that empties your records of any criminal behavior. Only a subsequent criminal investigation will be able to see your past offenses, but future employers, landlords, and so on will not be able to see them.
Regarding our salvation from God, however, he expunges our record of sin completely. No matter how vigorously Satan himself, like a prosecuting attorney, tries to dredge up our sins, they will not be acknowledged. We have truly been given a brand-new life that’s free from the record of our sins. Paul described this new life in another NT letter:
2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

He rescued us by giving us a new identity.

“Through the … renewing of the Holy Spirit.” As in 2 Cor 5:17, Paul here not only highlights the expunging or purging of our sinful record, he also highlights the new identity God gives to us as his children. To the Corinthians he says, “All things have become new.” To Titus he says we are renewed, which means to cause something not only to be different and new but to be superior and better than before.
How does this renewal occur? It occurs be through the personal activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead, which shows us that the entire Godhead – Father, Son and Spirit – intervenes in our lives to impart God’s grace. The Spirit who breathed into Adam the breath of life imparts to us new spiritual life.

He gave us an extraordinary partnership with the Holy Spirit.

“Whom he poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” The Holy Spirit is so active in our lives as followers of Christ that Paul describes him as being “poured out on us abundantly.”
Pour out means to cause someone to experience something completely and recalls the picture of a winning coach or MVP of a sporting event having an entire cooler of Gatorade poured out on him during the post-game interview.
Abundantly expands this already-expansive concept and means “greatly, richly, and extremely.”
How did the Holy Spirit come to be so intimately present and extensively involved in our lives? He was sent to us by Jesus Christ our Savior. Christ did far more than suffer and die for our sins and he also did more than resurrect from the grave. He sent us God the Holy Spirit to equip us to live this new life.
To be what we should be and do what we should do requires more than death and resurrection of Christ. This new life requires the personal help of God himself, the Holy Spirit, who has been made available to us daily with no limitations.
This scenario (though on a much smaller scale for sure) resembles a wealthy, powerful king rescuing a criminal from the gallows by paying an extravagant price and then leaving his castle to live with the criminal he freed, making his assistance, guidance, and resources available to this man daily with no end.

He secured our salvation from the past to the future.

“That having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” This salvation that God has provided by his grace is so complete that it purges our record of sin from the farthest point in the past (justification) to the farthest point in the future (“eternal life”). We can be so confident (“the hope”) in this new reality that we identify as “heirs” of God, meaning that we have an eternity to inherit with God, enjoying his presence and the new creation he will make forever.

As a result of all that God has done to rescue us, he intends for us devote ourselves to good works.

“This is a faithful saying.” Paul says this five times in his letters to Timothy and Titus.[1] The phrase emphasizes our need to accept this teaching with our whole hearts, even if it doesn’t seem immediately obvious or compelling.
“And these things I want you to affirm constantly.” “These things” refers to what Paul has said about being gracious both to government officials and all other people based upon our own sinful past and God’s great intervention in our lives. Affirm constantly means to “speak confidently” about these things and to “insist” that we live this way.
“That those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.” Here Paul summarizes the message of this entire letter. As believers, we should be what we should be and do what we should do because we’ve been changed by the grace of God. Since Christ as come into the world to rescue us from our sin, it is now our responsibility to reveal God’s grace to the people around us through our actions and words.
“These things are good and profitable to men.” This kind of biblical teaching and living is not only good in its quality and nature but it’s beneficial and effective when it’s put into practice. In other words, we should connect our theology to our practice. We should do what we do because we believe what we believe. Since we believe in the grace of God, we should live like it. We should be passionate about spreading God’s grace to others.

What good works will you commit yourself to doing as a result of the good works that God has done for you?

How will you bring God’s grace to the world and put God’s grace to work in the world through your daily life? Will you make choices that not only show how different you are from your former sinful self but also place you in a position to intervene for good in the lives of other people who are still ensnared by sin?
Consider pursuing a career that can bring God’s grace to our world in strategic ways. We need people who’ve been changed by grace teaching in our public schools and universities, serving as lawyers and in law enforcement, taking government positions, writing for publication, managing money and investments, giving counsel, and producing truth-based visual media.
Consider becoming a manager or business owner who treats your employees and customers well, providing a work environment that exhibits the grace of God rather than the covetous, selfish ambitions of sinful people.
Consider meeting needs in your own community. Just as Christ left the comfort of heaven to endure suffering in this world, we need to step out to intervene with God’s grace in our world. We need to get out into our community to discover needs by paying attention to what we see and talking with people we meet. Then we need to take steps to reveal and apply God’s grace to the needs and situations we discover. Perhaps a neighbor needs assistance, a co-worker needs a listening ear, or a new resident or new American needs a friend. What will you do to intervene?
Yes, God’s all-out effort to bring his grace to our lives should motivate us to intervene in the lives of hurting, sinful people around us, bringing God’s grace to them through our own good works. If we were as devoted to intervening in the lives of helpless, hurting sinners around us as God was to be intervening in our lives, we not only would do well but would make a difference.
How will you reach out to make the message of God’s salvation by his grace available to the people in your community? We know what God has done for you. What good works will you do for others?
[1] 1 Tim 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim 2:11; Tit 3:8
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