Study 8 THE MIRACLE OF GOD’S GRACE
THE LETTERS TO TITUS AND PHILEMON
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Titus 3: 3 – 8)
Every true conversion is a miracle of God’s saving grace, and in this study we shall consider several aspects of the salvation which has been made available to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. There are three key words in Titus 3:5 - ’he saved us’. This is the testimony of a great company of people to whom Paul is referring. Do you belong to that company? This key verse gives us a word-picture of the content of the Christian gospel, and at the very heart of the verse is the great Bible word ‘saved’, which occurs very frequently throughout scripture - look up Isaiah 45:22; Matthew 1:21; Luke 19:10; John 10:9; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 10:13. This is what the Bible is all about; it is about being saved. Jesus came in order that we might be saved. But:-
1. WHY DO WE NEED TO BE SAVED?
We need to be saved from sin (Matthew 1:21); from wrath (John 3:36); from self (Romans 6:12); and from Hell (Luke 16:23). But Titus 3:3 answers the question very graphically giving us God’s description of the natural, unregenerate man. Notice that the apostle uses the pronoun ‘we’, not ‘you’, when he is describing unregenerate human nature. Notice also the words ‘at one time’. Paul is really saying, ’This is the kind of people we were before we became Christians; here is a group photograph, a family picture of the human race.’ Look at this picture of every one of us in our natural state:-
- FOOLISH - or, as we should say, ignorant - compare 1 Corinthians 2:14.
- DISOBEDIENT - or, refusing the Lord’s authority in our lives.
- DECEIVED – by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4), by the world and by false prophets.
- ENSLAVED – ‘by all kinds of passions and pleasures.’
- MALICE AND ENVY - ‘We lived in malice and envy’ (or jealousy).
- BEING HATED - detestable, odious, repulsive.
- HATING ONE ANOTHER – look up Jeremiah 17:9.
Whether we admit it or not, this is God’s description of the natural man.
2. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SAVED?
In these verses we are told that it means at least three things that God does for those whom He saves by His grace:-
- It means to be Born Again. See the end of verse 5. To be born again or regenerated by the Holy Spirit means to receive a new life - compare 2 Corinthians 5:17. When God saves us He does not patch up the old life; He imparts a new nature - look up 2 Peter 1:4, and compare John 3:3,5,7,8. When we are born again we receive ’the hope of eternal life’ (verse 7).
- It means to be Justified. Verse 7 tells us this. When we are saved we not only receive a new life, but God does something about the old life. He forgives and forgets our sins, and He also justifies us - which means He treats me ’just-as-if-I’d’ never sinned at all. He completely removes our sins from us, and then declares us righteous in His sight. Look up Psalm 103:12, and compare Romans 5:17.
- It means to be made a Child of God. Verse 7 tells us that when God saves us we ‘become heirs…’ We are made ’God’s children, and if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ’ - so says Romans 8:16-17.
Notice the wonderful change that has taken place between verse 3 and verses 5 and 7; the man of verse 3 is transformed into the man of verses 5 and 7. How this magnifies the wondrous grace of God! But:-
3. HOW ARE WE SAVED?
How is the man of verse 3 made the man of verses 5 and 7 - a man who now possesses a new life (born again), a new standing before God (justified), a new relationship with God (a child and an heir)? What an important ’How’ this is! In verse 5 it is answered both negatively and positively:-
- Negatively. ‘Not because of righteous things we had done…’ Man’s philosophy is to leave out the word ‘not’. Ask the average man how to be saved, and he will answer, ‘By my good works!’ But God’s way of salvation is ‘not because of righteous things which we had done’, for we are not saved by any effort, by trying or by works of our own - look up and compare Ephesians 2:8-10. We are not saved ‘because of righteous things which we had done.’ How are we saved? Verse 5 (and verse 4) goes on to tell us:-
- Positively. ’But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared… because of His mercy He saved us…’ The word ‘appeared’ takes us back to Bethlehem, and the word ’saved’ takes us back to Calvary, where the Lord Jesus Christ completed the work of our salvation 2000 years ago.
In verse 5, therefore, we have man’s way, which is ’do’; and God’s way, which is ‘done’. Our part in salvation is simply to believe the testimony that God sent His Son to be our Saviour, and to put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ - notice the word ’trusted’ in verse 8 - compare John 1:12. All this leads us to ask one more question:-
4. WHAT IS THE RESULT OF BEING SAVED?
What is the evidence that we are saved? Verse 8 tells us – ‘doing what is good’. There is no contradiction here. We are not saved by working for our salvation, but when we have been saved by God’s grace, the evidence of that salvation is seen in our works.
It is vain to say we are saved if there are ‘no good’ works evidenced in our daily living - look up and compare James 2:20.
In concluding this study will you answer these two questions?
- Have I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 8), and am I therefore saved (verse 5)?
- If so, is my life different? Is it the opposite of verse 3?