Continuing this week with the theme “A New Beginning,” Derek focuses on eight facts of importance for us from Titus 3. Paul clearly and fully unfolds why we need God’s mercy, and how God made provision for us through Jesus.
It’s good to be with you again at the beginning of a new week, sharing with you Keys to Successful Living which God has placed in my hand through many years of personal experience and Christian ministry.
This week I’ll be continuing with the theme which I commenced last week, “A New Beginning.”
In my talks last week I shared with you two great basic truths: the first, we all need a new beginning, the second, God offers a new beginning to each one of us.
As a vivid example of a man who came to see his need of a new beginning, we looked last week at the experience of King David, as he himself expressed it in Psalm 51. This is what he says in various successive verses of that psalm. In verse 1:
“Have mercy on me, O God... blot out my transgressions.”
In verse 2:
“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
Verses 9 and 10:
“Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
David had come to recognize his need of four things which only God could do for him: the first, washing or cleansing—he saw himself defiled; the second, blotting out the record of his sins—he could not bear to think that the record of his adultery and his murder would be there in the heavenly records forever, and that one day he would be confronted with it; third, he saw his need for re-creation—“create in me a pure heart, O God,” he saw that he needed something which he could not do, for only God can create; fourth, he recognized that he’d been a rebel all his life, and he saw his need for reconciliation or acquittal.
One of the interesting things about the Bible, especially as we study the many prayers that David offered in the Psalms, is this: we often find that the complete answer to those prayers came only about a thousand years later through David’s promised heir—the Messiah—Jesus Christ. It’s very interesting to study David’s prayers and see that in many, many cases the final answer was only provided in the New Testament through David’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is true of those prayers that we’ve just looked at in Psalm 51. The complete answer was provided in the New Testament through Jesus.
So now, we’ll turn to the New Testament and see how exactly and completely God there provides the answer to David’s prayers.
The first passage that we look at, and one that we will focus on through out this week is in Titus chapter 3 verses 3 through 7. And I’ll commence now by reading those five verses:
“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. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. 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, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
We’re going to spend the rest of this week analyzing all that God here provides. But today, by way of introduction to our further study, I will simply point out eight successive facts that are unfolded in those verses that I’ve just read—eight facts that are of vital significance and importance for every one of us. Let me go through those facts with you now.
Fact #1: Paul begins by pointing out our condition without God’s grace, and it’s really a sad picture—foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved, living in malice and envy, hated and hating one another. There’s not one single bright feature in that entire picture, but that’s how we are apart from the grace of God.
Fact #2: God’s love revealed in human history—Paul says when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared—appeared in the person, the life of the Lord Jesus.
Fact #3: Salvation came—and there we have three short words which say more than the human mind can grasp or the human tongue utter—He saved us. Salvation came to humanity through the appearing in human history of God’s kindness and love in the person of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The 4th fact: Not because of righteous things we have done but because of His mercy—we cannot obtain salvation on the basis of our own righteousness, we cannot earn it—we’ll never be good enough. And so there’s only one hope left to us, that is in the mercy of God and in the grace of God. But God will not impose justice but will offer mercy. And that’s the glorious and blessed truth that came to light through Jesus—God is willing to offer mercy and not demand justice. Continuing this list of facts unfolded by Paul there in Titus chapter 3 verses 3 through 7—
The 5th fact: Salvation produces washing, rebirth and renewal. And all these come through the operation of the Holy Spirit. That’s what Paul says. He says He saved us not because of righteous things we’ve done, but because of His mercy. And then he amplifies that. He saved us through the washing of rebirth, and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
You see how exactly that corresponds to the prayer of David in Psalm 51, “Wash me from my iniquity, cleanse me from my sin, create in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit within me”—washing, rebirth, renewal. They come to us through salvation by the work and the power of the Holy Spirit.
The 6th fact: that rebirth is followed in God’s program for us by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. First, God creates us anew within by the Holy Spirit. That’s in verse 5. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. Then verse 6 says, “Whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ.” So first, the Holy Spirit works a transforming miracle within us, and then He’s poured out on us to empower us and to equip us for lives of Christian witness and service. We need to get the order right. First, it’s the inner rebirth and then it’s the outpouring—the clothing upon with power.
And the 7th fact: through this we are justified or acquitted. Again, that’s one of the things that David cried out for—acquittal. And here it says, “Having been justified by his grace.” Being justified means that we no longer depend on our own righteousness, but we depend on the righteousness of another imputed to us by God’s grace through our faith. And so, in the righteousness of Jesus Christ we are left without guilt, without shame. The past has been blotted out. There’s no further charge against us in the court of heaven.
And then the 8th fact: We become heirs of eternal life—we have a future. There’s one thing the world needs today desperately—it’s a future. Despair and hopelessness grip so many people today. Especially I think the younger generation—they really see nothing to live for. But here’s a message of hope, a message of anticipation of the good that lies ahead. We become heirs of eternal life.
Closing now, let me just quickly recapitulate those eight facts. First, our condition without God’s grace: foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved. Second, God’s love revealed in history. Third, through the revelation salvation came. Fourth, salvation is not because of our righteousness, but because of God’s mercy. Fifth, salvation produces washing, rebirth and renewal by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sixth, that is followed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us. Seventh, we are thus justified, acquitted, we’re set completely free from all guilt and all condemnation. And eighth, we thus become heirs of eternal life—we have a future before us—an endless future of good and not of evil, of light and not of darkness.