We (Bethany Evangelical Free Church) just finished a Sunday morning series in Titus and I was quite surprised about what I learned. I don’t think that is a shameful thing for a pastor to say, as we all should be learning from Scripture each time we read its words. But there were some things I didn’t expect to see within this letter to the young missionary on Crete.
One thing in particular was the beautifully clear gospel message that is contained in the letter. Now Paul always preaches the Gospel, you find it in all of his letters. But this time, the message was wonderfully clear and complete. Titus 3:3-7, For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he 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, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This is probably one of the clearest, most concise explanations of the Gospel found anywhere in all of Paul’s letters. It’s all there; our depraved nature, our need for a Savior, the goodness of God and His love for mankind. The passage is clear to point out that we did nothing to deserve this, but only because of His mercy have we been given such a gift; the washing, regeneration and renewal through the Holy Spirit. And ultimately, in this we have the hope of life… eternal life. That is the complete Gospel message. There is truth here that moves from eternity past to eternity future, concepts in and around the great truth of salvation that demand our attention. But do we give it our attention?
I also discovered in this letter to Titus what happens when I do give this message my full attention. I am changed… and not just a little, the change is massive. All through this letter, Paul has spoken of the love of God for man, of His indescribable regard for us, of what we were and what He has done for us. And then, after giving that pure gospel message, Paul adds v8, The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Simply stated, your good works will display your belief in God. In other words, the Gospel impacts lives.
Paul’s also states clearly that hearing and knowing about the person of Jesus Christ should have an impact upon our lives. After the Gospel impacts us… how we think, how we speak, and how we live will be different than before. We are not the same person as before. I challenge you, you can’t encounter the grace of God and still treat sin casually, you can’t understand salvation and be lukewarm in how you see God and you shouldn’t have tasted God’s incredible grace and still be stingy, unforgiving toward others.
So I must ask… Has the pure Gospel impacted you? Is your life different? Will people look at your life and know you have been hit by the Gospel truck? Is there evidence of a life impacted? Take a survey and ask people who know you well, “Can you see how the Gospel has made an impact in my life?” And then ask the Spirit to continue to work and rule in your life. Our works authenticate our faith… and really, without these changes, can you really say your faith is real?