By Remembering the Basis of Your Salvation

Dr. Steve Viars October 21, 2018 Titus 3:3-7
Outline

Titus 1:12 - One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”

Titus 1:13 - This testimony is true…

3 important perspectives on the gospel

I. Remember Who You Once Were

A. Paul’s description to Titus – v. 3

1. Foolish

anoetos – complete lack of understanding, total ignorance in regard to a particular area of knowledge

Proverbs 22:15 - Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.

2. Disobedient

3. Deceived

Revelation 12:9 - And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world…

4. Enslaved to various lusts and pleasures

Romans 6:19 - For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness…

5. Spending our lives in malice and envy

6. Hateful

7. Hating one another

B. The importance of having the right theology

Romans 3:23 - …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

C. This is the fuel necessary to fulfill the ethical commands (as in 3:1-2) and perform good deeds (emphasized throughout the book)

Galatians 3:24 - Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

II. Rejoice in God’s Great Mercy

A. The importance of the word “but”

B. The divine appearance

1. The kindness of God

Chrestotes – genuine goodness and generosity of heart, His loving, benevolent, and entirely gracious concern to draw us to Himself…

“It is God’s nature to be kind to the lost. “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return,” Jesus commanded; “and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35, emphasis added). God is kinder still to His children, those who are saved. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul declared, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4–7, emphasis added). (John MacArthur, Commentary on Titus, p. 151).

2. God our Savior

Romans 2:4 - Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

3. His love for mankind

philanthropia

philew – love, anthrpos – man

C. The precise nature of our salvation

1. We were in need of it

v. 3:5a – He saved us

2. We could not do anything to earn it

v. 3:5b – …not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness

3. It required supernatural intervention

a. according to His mercy

b. by the washing of regeneration

c. through the renewing of the Holy Spirit

Titus 3:6 - …whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior…

“Wilberforce sat at his desk that foggy Sunday morning in 1787 thinking about his conversion and his calling. Had God saved him only to rescue his own soul from hell? He could not accept that. If Christianity was true and meaningful, it must not only save but serve.” Charles Colson

“Why was one of the greatest social reformers and most productive people of all time so concerned about doctrine? Why did he care about it so much that, in the one book he wrote in the first part of his life—with the aim, in fact, of improving the morals and Christian practice of Great Britain—he focused on doctrine? It’s because Wilberforce understood that massive practical action for good comes about not first as a result of moral exhortation or appeals to change but rather as a result of understanding and embracing doctrine—most centrally the doctrine of justification by faith alone.” Matt Perman, What’s Best Next, p. 104

“The doctrine of justification causes radical action for good.” Perman

“You are everywhere commanded to be tender and sympathetic, diligent, and useful.” Wilberforce

III. Let These Truths Develop in You an Eternal Perspective

A. Because you are justified by grace

Titus 3:7 - …so that being justified by His grace…

B. You are heirs according to the hope of eternal life

Titus 3:7 - …so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

- a number of years ago, our family had the privilege of traveling to the country of Ivory Coast in West Africa.

- we served with then missionaries Nate and Carol Watkins and spoke at a missionary training conference and a number of local churches throughout the country…

- it was a delightful experience for all sorts of reasons…

- I remember we asked them in advance what we could bring that would especially bless them and their people there and then we packed several trunks to take with us…

- one of the items they requested was peanut butter – because they had very little in the country and what they had often contained large amounts of dirt because of the way the product was made…

- I thought – we can get a jar of peanut butter at Meijer any old time we want and for them it’s a delicacy...

- they also encouraged us to bring a few Sam’s size bags of penny candy because children in the villages rarely received a treat like that…

- we learned pretty quickly that we could drive up to a village and kids would flock to the vehicle to receive a gift like that…

- of course we took all sorts of practical items as well and plenty of Bibles and Christian literature…but it was very humbling to be reminded of the bounty we enjoy, and probably many times, take for granted in our country…

- another items that stood out was the roads…on the surface, they looked like ours…with asphalt that on a number of occasions even looked relatively new…

- but the missionaries we traveled with usually had several spare tires strapped on top of the Land Rovers they drove to take us from village to village…

- and we learned why pretty quickly…

- the potholes were enormous…and you often just had to plan on having several flats from our point to the next…so you needed multiple spare tires…

- and as we drove, they explained the problem…

- there was so much corruption, that when road money was distributed…the contractors or the local government officials or both skimmed money off the top and then just put a thin layer of asphalt down over the mud that was already there…

- so there wasn’t an appropriate foundation…and there was no depth in the material that was installed…

- so for a few weeks or maybe a month or two…it looked like a brand new road just like one of ours…

- but as soon as put a little traffic on it…or some rains…the potholes opened up revealing the substandard work that had been done…

- you know, that can happen to a person who says he or she is a Christian in the culture in which we’ve been placed…

- they might know some of the lingo…

- and have adopted some of the behaviors – the list of do’s and don’ts (whatever those are)…

- but it’s not long before the potholes start appearing…

- either by commission – lashing out at the apparent injustices that exist in this sin cursed world in which we live…

- or by omission – having no interest in doing good works because of an apathetic, cynical heart – or sometimes doing them but for an entirely incorrect heart motivation…

- but whatever the case – the fundamental issue the same – there was never a substantive foundation…or the depth of material was inadequate for the challenges that would be faced…

- and the net result in ineffectiveness in the culture in which we’ve been placed…

- the apostle Paul recognized that possibility – and he provided an antidote to one of his understudies and encouraged him to share it with those he was called upon to lead…

- this morning we’re going to attempt to drink deeply from that well…with that in mind, please open your Bible to Titus chapter 3…page _____ of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- we’ve been doing a verse by verse study of this book the last several months entitled Building from a Foundation of Grace

- this is a letter from the apostle Paul to one of his associates named Titus who had been left on the Isle of Crete to, as Paul said…set things in order in the churches…

- well, that was no easy assignment – because even their own prophets said -- Titus 1:12 - One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”

- as if that’s not bad enough, Paul went on to say – Titus 1:13 - This testimony is true…

- how would you like that ministry assignment?...and many of us would probably say – I have it…we have it…

- the Lord has placed us in a culture that has rejected His truth on many, many levels…and its challenging to know what “serving Him” looks like in this day and age at work , in the neighborhood, in community service, as a local church…

- that’s why this book is so helpful…

- now, two themes have bubbled up for sure…

- one is – we still have ethical requirements regardless of the way others might live…

- for example – in chapter 3, verses 1-2

- and many of us would say – that’s a challenge – because especially when we get around a government authority, or a vocational authority who appears to be a liar, an evil beast, or a glutton…about the last thing we want to do is to choose to “be subject” to such rulers, to be obedient, and so on…

- so we clearly have ethical responsibilities as followers of Jesus Christ even while living in pagan culture…

- then there’s this clear emphasis on doing good works…again, even in (and perhaps, especially in) a pagan culture…

- it came up in verse 1 of chapter 3…and it will come up two more times before the chapter is done

- that’s hard too – especially in a pagan culture…

- because doing good works takes time, sacrifice…and it’s one thing to do that with people who think/act in ways similar to you…but in this kind of culture?

- now here’s the point today – if all you have is:

1. a desire to at least try to keep the ethical commands…

2. or perform the good deeds…

- that’s like the thin layer of asphalt on the road in the Ivory Coast…

- it won’t hold up to the pressure of everyday living…

- and pretty soon you’ll be blowing right through the ethical commands…

- or opting out of the opportunities to perform good deeds or doing so in a way that is either legalistic or minimalistic or both…

- but over time your Christian life has some very sizable potholes…

- what’s needed is the firm foundation of the gospel…Impacting our culture well…By Remembering the Basis of Your Salvation

- with that in mind, let’s back up and read beginning at Titus 3:1 with the goal of especially studying verses 3-7 this morning…

- read Titus 3:1-7

- so we’re talking about Remembering the Basis of Your Salvation…and from these verses we can find 3 important perspectives on the gospel.

I. Remember Who You Once Were

A. Paul’s description to Titus – v. 3

- the list in verse 3 is sobering for sure…

- let’s look at the words then we’ll address anyone who might say – well, I came to Christ as a young child and I’m not sure of this was ever true of me…

- but most of us can relate to some or all of this pretty easily…especially when we compare ourselves not to the guy sitting next to us…but to the perfect standard of God’s absolute holiness…

1. Foolish

- anoetos – complete lack of understanding, total ignorance in regard to a particular area of knowledge.

- would anybody here say...I just skipped that step in my development?...would you like us to call your mom?...

- remember that the book of Proverbs affirms… Proverbs 22:15 - Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child…

- not long after I came to Faith some 31 years ago now, we were sitting around on a Monday night at supper time in the counseling ministry…

- and we used to all eat supper together with all the counselors and trainees…

- and Doc Smith was giving me and one of our other young guys, Jerry Benge a hard time about something we didn’t understand…

- and I made the mistake of saying…but Doc, you have to understand – Jerry and I are just young and foolishness is bound up in our hearts…

- and without missing a beat, he said – well, if that’s the problem, then let’s quickly apply the cure…because you know how that verse ends, right?...

- Proverbs 22:15 - Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.

- Call that the day I learned not to incompletely quote Scripture around Doc Smith…

- but please connect this back to the larger issue – the more we remember our own foolishness – the more likely we’ll be to be patient with the perceived foolishness of someone else…

- the twin effect of that is…

- it fuels obedience to these ethical commands like the ones in the two previous verses…

- and it protects us from cynicism when we decide we don’t want to perform good works for people we think are being foolish in some form or fashion…

- now, most of these words are fairly self-explanatory…

2. Disobedient

- most of us wouldn’t have to look hard to find historical evidence of that…

3. Deceived

- planao – being purposely led astray

- that’s part of the spiritual battle that is being waged every day and it’s interesting that the book of Revelation describes our adversary like this… Revelation 12:9 - And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world…

- none of us have escaped that influence entirely…

- so before we get upset about someone else being deceived…what about all the times we were?...

4. Enslaved to various lusts and pleasures

- Paul reminded the Romans that before salvation -- Romans 6:19 - …For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness…

5. Spending our lives in malice and envy

- dissatisfied with what we have and wanting what someone else possesses…

6. Hateful

- and…

7. Hating one another.

- none of this is pleasant but all of it is true…

- now, I realize that some here this morning might say, but PV, I came to Christ as a child...I didn’t develop the kinds of habits spoken of here…at least not to the same degree…

- well, that does not in any way negate the point...in fact it actually strengthens it and here’s why...

- if you came to Christ early in life...in the vast majority of cases, humanly speaking, why was that?...because of the wonderful parents God gave you...

- well, how many people are growing up in our culture these days who have not had that privilege?

- and for you...maybe what you need to also remember is the wonderful heritage that you had, and in some cases have...and let that be added to the foundation of the gospel in your life…

- so Paul’s point is—remember who you once were…we’re talking about…

B. The importance of having the right theology

- so if we want to be sure that the road-bed is properly constructed…passages like this can really help us…

- the specific aspect of biblical theology here is anthropology – your view of man…

- Scripture teaches the depravity of man…not that human beings are as bad as we can possibly be…but, in its simplest terms…

- Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

- this is why the self-love, self-image, self-esteem movement that swept through our culture in the late 1970’s and then amazingly was brought right into the church in many ways was such a terrible heresy…because…

C. This is the fuel necessary to fulfill the ethical commands (as in 3:1-2) and perform good deeds (emphasized throughout the book).

- see, the lower your view of yourself before you knew Christ, the more patient and compassionate you will be with others who don’t yet know Him…

- and more desirous you’ll be to do good works, even if you have to get through the smoke screen to minister to the hurts…

- this is part of what it means to have a gospel centered approach to community based outreach ministry…and a gospel centered approach to cultural engagement…

- it should be characterized by humility and gentleness because we remember who we once were…

- now, while we’re in the neighborhood…let me make two quick but important points to parents…

1. I would encourage you to consider the educational choice you have made for your child and whether their anthropology is in line with this passage…

- and that’s not some sort of shot over the bow…but it is an acknowledgement that an unbiblical view of man will produce all sorts of unfortunate educational methods…

- some of you have heard of the McGuffey Reader – which was the standard in public schools several generations ago…and it taught children the alphabet with a saying for each letter…

- in the original McGuffey’s – do you know the saying for letter “A” – “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.”…

- in other words, if we want to understand the human condition…let’s start in the book of Genesis…

- and that was routinely taught to kindergartners in public schools…a synopsis of Titus 3:3…

- can you imagine if that was attempted in many schools today?...when teacher said in sin our hearts were rooted, the very next day she found herself booted…

- now I’m speaking to all parents regardless of your educational choice…be sure to get your child’s anthropology right…

- here’s another issue this verse leads us to consider

2. How to help your child understand how to become a Christian

- Scripture is clear that even a young child can understand the gospel…

- but that assumes we are teaching biblical concepts on their level…

- parents – it has to start with our need for a Savior…it has to start with the reality of sin…

- and I want to be gentle here – but I’m trying to prevent all of us from heartache in the future…

- it’s not enough to ask your child if he or she would like to go to heaven…who wouldn’t – that’s like asking if they’d like to go to DQ…I’m all in on that one…

- nor is it enough to speak about asking Jesus to come into one’s heart…

- we start with the law…right and wrong…telling our children no, and meaning it…

- expecting them to listen to the parents and obey…

- and the law produces in the heart of every unregenerate person a desire to rebel…which is why it’s highly likely the first words out of your child’s mouth was probably not “yes maam”…

- that’s what Paul meant when he said -- Galatians 3:24 - Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

- so possessing a biblical anthropology is essential to so many aspects of functioning well in the culture in which we’ve been placed…

- this also sets us up to…

II. Rejoice in God’s Great Mercy

A. The importance of the word “but”.

- thank the Lord for the way verse 4 begins…

- and the more convinced we are about the accuracy of God’s diagnosis in verse 3, the more amazed we are at the solution in verses 4-7…for ourselves, and potentially everyone else in the culture in which God has placed us to minister…

- Paul speaks about…

B. The divine appearance

1. the kindness of God

- that’s about the last thing we would expect after meditating on verse 3…God responds to all of that with…

- Chrestotes – genuine goodness and generosity of heart, His loving, benevolent, and entirely gracious concern to draw us to Himself…

- “It is God’s nature to be kind to the lost. “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return,” Jesus commanded; “and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35, emphasis added). God is kinder still to His children, those who are saved. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul declared, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4–7, emphasis added). (John MacArthur, Commentary on Titus, p. 151).

- our responsibility in this culture is to give others a better understanding of what the Lord is like…and we do that with a fundamental kindness as we interact with men and women in the world…

- It’s been fun for me to see the men and women who are part of our care team down at the NCC working with those who have asked for an appointment to talk to someone about a particular need…there’s a kindness in the way that ministry is being carried out that is absolutely delightful…

- Paul goes on to explain this appearance as the kindness of…

2. God our Savior

- it’s not generic kindness…or syrupy kindness…

- the fundamental need of the men and women on the Isle of Crete – just as it is in our culture today – is a personal relationship with a forgiving Savior…

- and as you’ve been reading this book weekly the last couple of months, you’ve probably noticed that central theme over and over…

- and the challenge in Scripture – it’s possible to take that lightly…to forget what was necessary to secure our salvation…

- Romans 2:4 - Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

- and I hope every one of us would say – I never want to think lightly of that…

- the next word is fascinating as well…

3. His love for mankind

- let’s break that one down together…

- philanthropia – [what English word do you think we get from that? – obviously – philanthropist]…

what does it literally mean?....philew – love, anthrpos – man

- who was the first and greatest philanthropist?...our God Himself and that’s exactly what we needed Him to be…

- then verse 5 makes everything very clear…

C. The precise nature of our salvation

1. We were in need of it

- v. 3:5a – He saved us

- we were in need of His kindness, we were in need of His philanthropy, we were in need to His salvation [He saved us]…

2. We could not do anything to earn it

- v. 3:5b – not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness

- against the American ideal which might respond to all of this with – OK – compared to God’s holiness, I do fall short – what can I do to fix it?...answer – nothing…

- in other words, we’re a whole lot more like those people in our culture we might be tempted to rebel against, we might be tempted to malign, we might be tempted to ignore…

- the ground is very, very level at the cross…

3. It required supernatural intervention

a. according to His mercy

b. by the washing of regeneration

c. through the renewing of the Holy Spirit

- Titus 3:6 - whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

- hopefully by now the point is coming through loud and clear…

- passages like these answer the “why should I” question…

- because we don’t think we’re inherently better than anyone else…the asphalt of our ethical obedience is grounded in rich meditations of the gospel…

- [develop – being sure everyone here today knows Christ personally]

- the same is true when it comes to doing good works…

- you may be familiar with the name, William Wilberforce, the man God used to challenge Great Britain to abolish slavery in their culture…think about accomplishing that with your life…

- Charles Colson wrote – “Wilberforce sat at his desk that foggy Sunday morning in 1787 thinking about his conversion and his calling.  Had God saved him only to rescue his own soul from hell?  He could not accept that.  If Christianity was true and meaningful, it must not only save but serve.” 

- that’s what drives so many men and women in this church family to serve the way they do…

- something amazing about Wilberforce is that early in his life, he wrote a book entitled A Practical View of Christianity…which might sound like some sort of light, fluffy self-help book…

- but more than anything else – it is a treatise of the doctrine of justification by faith…- Matt Perman, in his marvelous book What’s Best Next? explains the significance of that – “Why was one of the greatest social reformers and most productive people of all time so concerned about doctrine?  Why did he care about it so much that, in the one book he wrote in the first part of his life—with the aim, in fact, of improving the morals and Christian practice of Great Britain—he focused on doctrine?  It’s because Wilberforce understood that massive practical  action for good comes about not first as a result of moral exhortation or appeals to change but rather as a result of understanding and embracing doctrine—most centrally the doctrine of justification by faith alone” (Matt Perman, What’s Best Next, p. 104).

- now we’re not motivated by moralism…this is simply a good thing to do…

- or legalism…I better do good in order to earn something from God…

- but instead we’re motivated by grace – because of all the Lord has done fully and freely on behalf in Christ…I want to love Him and love others…

- as Perman says – “The doctrine of justification causes radical action for good.”

- Wilberforce said - Wilberforce – “You are everywhere commanded to be tender and sympathetic, diligent, and useful.”

- remembering who we were through the lens of the gospel produces that kind of heart…

- now, it’s important to see how this section ends…we could say it like this…

III. Let These Truths Develop in You an Eternal Perspective

A. Because you are justified by grace

- Titus 3:7 - so that being justified by His grace…

- this explains the title of this entire series…we’re Building From a Foundation of Grace

- and also our annual theme---Being Careful How We Build

- we want to constantly be reminding ourselves of the work of grace required to draw us to Christ…

B. You are heirs according to the hope of eternal life

- Titus 3:7 - so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

- see, a lot of the results of all of this may not be evident until eternity…

- but have you noticed how quickly time goes…and how the age of people who pass away gets closer and closer to your age all the time…

- and because there are eternal issues at stake here…we’re not in this for the short haul, and we don’t need immediate results…

- so let’s be sure we’re making the roadbed as robust as we possibly can by regular musings on the gospel…and then when we lay a little asphalt of obeying ethical commands or doing good works…that activity will stand up under the weight of the culture in which we live…

 


Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video