Thursday, October 9, 2014

SAVED BY GRACE (Titus Chapter 3)

Titus 3:3-7, “For we were once foolish ourselves, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

It is commonly and erroneously assumed by most that people are saved through religious effort.  We tend, in sin, to over appreciate man’s goodness and under appreciate the degree of God’s holiness.  We are all born sinners (Cf. Romans 5:12, 3:23).  “No one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12).  A lost person is “dead in (his) trespasses and sins” and is thereby helpless to do anything to rectify his condition (Cf. Ephesians 2:1). 

With respect to salvation grace has commonly been defined as “unmerited favor.”  There are two aspects to this definition.  From the negative perspective, salvation is “unmerited.”  The recipient has done nothing to merit or deserve it.  From the positive perspective, there is the “favor” aspect.  In salvation God, who is “rich in grace,” bestows His favor on the recipient.  The depth of God’s grace is appreciated in the realization of both the degree of favor bestowed and the extent to which man is undeserving.  This passage speaks to this matter.  There is a before and after aspect to it.  Verse 3 speaks to the undeserving “way we were.”  Verses 4-7 speak to the manifold blessings the believer has received by grace.

The folks to which Paul was referring were wholly undeserving.  They were “foolish” and “disobedient” (Cf. Titus 3:3).  They were ignorant of truth.  They had foolishly denied their Creator and lived in a state of rebellion against Him (Cf. Psalm 53:1; Romans 1:20-21; Colossians 1:21).  They were being “led astray” (Cf. Titus 2:3).  “The devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” was having his way with them (Cf. Revelation 12:9; Ephesians 2:2).  They were enslaved to “various passions and pleasures” wasting their days away in “malice and envy” (Cf. Titus 3:3).  They were “hated by others and hating one another” (Titus 3:3).  There was nothing in them or about them that could deem them worthy of salvation.  They were lost sinners without God and without hope in the world (Cf. Ephesians 2:12).  What was true of them is true of all in sin.  As they hymn puts it, “Guilty, vile and helpless we.”

In Christ’s sacrifice for sins “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11; Cf. Titus 3:4).  Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His once-for-all sacrifice for sins (Cf. Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Peter 3:18).  At the moment of saving faith God’s grace is “lavished” on the believer (Cf. Ephesians 1:8).  In his “Systematic Theology” Lewis Sperry Chafer speaks of the “thirty-three stupendous works of God which together comprise the salvation of a soul.”  He explains: “They are wrought of God; they are wrought instantaneously; they are wrought simultaneously; they are grounded on the merit of Christ; and, being grounded on the merit of Christ, are eternal.”

Some of these “works of grace” are referred to in this passage.  That they indeed constitute “works of grace” is emphasized inasmuch as “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness” (Titus 3:5; Cf. Ephesians 2:8-9).  By grace the believer is born again, cleansed from sin, richly provisioned by the Spirit, declared righteous before God, and enriched with a promised inheritance (Cf. Titus 3:5-7).  None of these blessings are deserved.  They can all be traced back to but One source—“the riches of (God’s) grace” (Ephesians 1:7) ministered through Jesus Christ, who because of His grace, “became poor, so that (we) by his poverty might become rich” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9).

How incredibly blessed we are by God’s grace!  We deserved God’s condemnation.  We’ve received, by grace, “unsearchable riches in Christ” (Cf. Ephesians 3:8).  We should shrink back with fear from the temptation to take any credit for that which God has done by grace in saving us.  We are trophies of God’s grace, displayed before all that they might behold the “immeasurable riches of his grace” (Cf. Ephesians 2:7).  As the chorus, “Saved by Grace” puts it, “And I shall see Him face to face, And tell the story—Saved by grace.”  That is indeed the story the believer in Christ has to tell.

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