God the Trinity, part 2: "Purposeful Living"
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We consider how all three Persons of the Trinity have a role in our salvation.
Good morning. Well, you've heard it said, "Don't forget from where you've come," There are life lessons back there that you need today to get you where you want to go. And we all forget important things, don't we? Car, house keys, wallet, cell phone, maybe a birthday or an anniversary. And because we forget even more important things than these, God through the early Christian leader Paul writes to his mentee Titus on the island of Crete, some 300 miles north of Libya. And he says Titus keep reminding the several churches scattered on the island of most important things. He talked about godly lives of the leaders, Chapter one, Chapter two, how do we navigate together until Jesus comes?
And Chapter three today, how do we live out there in the world purposefully? And so to live purposefully, Paul says to to Titus, remember who you were before you knew Jesus first.
It's easy to rail on the culture and to lament at how far we've fallen over the past 60 or so years. But we have to understand that every culture and nation is a composite of people who were foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending their life in malice, envy, hateful, hating one another.
Now, if you're a guest, we don't usually begin our message by insulting people, but that's really who you are, apart from God. That's who I am apart from God.
And so let's look briefly at those seven words used here to describe us. Foolish means ignorant. It means without spiritual understanding. Ephesians 4:18 says that the masses were darkened in their understanding. They were essentially blown along by life, excluded from the life of God because of their
darkened, hardened hearts.
Sin turns off the lights on the spiritual realities around us, and so therefore they were disobedient to God because he was a nonentity.
They were resentful toward human authority because there is no Holy Spirit leading. We were deceived. We were actively straying like sheep from the shepherds true best course. Instead, we were driven along by a plethora of personal passions and pleasures, eventually enslaved by them. We were told, "If it feels good, do it", but not finding real fulfillment. There was this diminishing return pursuit that we felt, which led to malice, a deep evil and envy for anyone who hindered us, anyone who is more fortunate than us.
And I was there in my teens, early 20s.
We were hateful, that means repulsive and disgusting, and this climaxed in mutual antagonism, hatred toward one another, and it really sounds like today's news, right? Sounds like it's happening in the culture. Paul had said earlier to Titus in the letter, he said, Cretans, according to one of your own prophets, are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. So he is quoting one of their experts. The source of our disobedience, though, is that we were spiritually dead, and dead people can't do good things, at least not for right reasons. Ephesians 5:8 says that you were formerly darkness, not just that you were in darkness, but you contributed to the moral darkness of your world. And you say, well, Larry, I'm not that bad. Aren't you being a little hard on us? And it actually depends - do we compare ourselves with each other or with the one in whom there is no darkness at all? So Paul says to Titus, Tell the churches that to live purposefully before you pick up stones to throw at them, whether in the church or those out in the culture, remember who you were before you met Jesus. It was really bad news. And Ephesians two, though, is going to continue saying, but God being rich in mercy because of his great love with which he loved us. And that really leads to our second point here.
So not only do we need to remember - Well actually, this is Ephesians two here that we should talk about briefly. It's reinforcing what he says here to Timothy, reinforcing Titus, you are dead because of your disobedience. You are living in sin as the rest of the world, obeying the devil, the commander, the powers of the unseen world. He's the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. And all of us used to live that way. So notice it's all of us following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful hearts. We were by very nature subject to God's anger or wrath, just like everyone else. And so secondly, though, he wants us to remember God's awesome salvation, and that's verses four through seven. So, Titus, tell the churches not only remember back then who you were, but remember, God's awesome salvation. But when the kindness of God our savior and his love for mankind appeared, He saved us not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to his mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ, that being justified by his grace will be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
So just as there were seven descriptors of what we were before we knew Jesus, there are seven marvels of God's awesome salvation. So now notice first in verse four, who initiates the Salvation? God, our savior.
It's the father's compassion, his kindness, seeing us in our pathetic, bankrupt condition. It's his love or philanthropia for humankind. Seeing us in our misery, seeing us in our
helplessness. Well, when does he save?
How does he save? His incarnation when God becomes a man? He leaves the glories of heaven. He limits himself to the body of a baby and a man and then a slave carrying our sin to a Roman cross 2000 years ago. You know, I used to despise Jesus for his weakness. And then I learned that it was for me, for you that he became weak and was despised as he was led like a sheep to be slaughtered, carrying my sin, death to the cross.
Have you ever thought that as God, Jesus could have annihilated the human race? He could have said, "Father, this is too hard. They're not worth it. I give them my best.
They hate me." Even on your worst day, you were worth it. He saved us not on the basis of deeds, which we've done in righteousness, but according to his mercy. Jesus, the rescuer saved us. We couldn't contribute. Think about your last funeral. As spiritually dead. We have no capacity to contribute, Life-Giving
Source. So we see it's - salvation is - by grace, it's not by our good deeds. I recall sharing this idea with my friend Elaine and she responded, "Then why do good works if they don't save us?" Well, Elaine, we'll get to that point next, but salvation is by God's mercy, which means God withholds what we justly deserve. And isn't that the word on the street justice? People say I want justice. Do you realize if we got justice, we would all be condemned by the standards of a perfectly just judge? What's this washing of regeneration renewing by the Holy Spirit through Jesus?
Well, God used his word and his spirit to make us clean and forgiven, to give us a new birth. Remember when Jesus told the most religious man in the city, unless you're reborn, you will not see heaven. You have to be born of God. And here, Paul's colleague Peter said your new life did not come from earthly parents because the life they gave you is going to end in death. That's pretty obvious. But the new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal living word of God. James concurs. God gave us birth by the word of truth. Well, how so?
Well, God's word centers on the rescue where Jesus and his rescue plan and those who partake of the plan. All of us are held accountable for what we do. with the rescuer. If we believe in him and his good news, we have eternal life.
But practically speaking, at the moment we believe Jesus is when the Spirit made us a new. He poured out his life on us, his washing because the original language asserts that this washing, this cleansing from sin came from this instantaneous change at our new birth. And you can't contribute to your own birth, right? How many of us caused ourself to be born? This is a work of God. And so look at verses six and seven whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ, our savior, that being justified by his grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. In other words, we were justified. That means we were made and declared righteous. By his grace, that's undeserved favor. Why? So that we would be made heirs inheritors of this eternal life so we could bring others with us on life's journey. Have you ever considered the Trinitarian context of our salvation? It's a really wild. God, the father sent, Jesus, the son, to live and to die on this Earth as an atonement for our every sin. And after Jesus's resurrection return to the father; father sends this life giving spirit to everyone who would be a member of his family, giving himself and giving his sonship to us as a gift for the asking. Piper, John Piper said that it's not the good things God gives us, like forgiveness or adoption that are the good news, it's God giving himself to us.
And so he gave himself. Well, the quiz for today is how many saviors are in the Bible? We see in Isaiah 43:11, Hosea 13:4 one savior Yahweh, God, Why in this little book of Titus does he say God, our savior in 1:3; 1:4 Christ, Jesus our savior, 2:10 God our savior 2:13, our great God and Savior Jesus Christ; 3:4 God our Savior and 3:6, Christ Jesus our Savior. How can the father and the son both be singularly called our savior? Because they have the one essence, the nature of God. They are the creator, the savior of the world. They made; our statement of faith, says holy, infinitely perfect, eternally existing in loving unity of three equally divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Notice the work of all three in verses four through six. The kindness of God, our savior, it's a mercy by the washing and renewing by the Holy Spirit richly given to us through Jesus.
Well, a few years ago, I had the privilege of sitting in a teaching conference by Dr. Sanders, Fred Sanders from Biola, theology professor, writing on the deep things of God, how the Trinity changes everything. Let me give you a 30 thousand foot view, some of his highlights. But he says the gospel is Trinitarian, the trinity is the gospel. Christian salvation comes from the Trinity, happens through the Trinity and brings us home to the Trinity. And so when you look at this diagram here, the triangle represents God, and if drawn to scale, it would be infinitely large. And the square depicts the Son's incarnation becoming a man without ceasing to be who he is or was eternal in fellowship with the spirit
and the father, added to himself a completed human nature and experience. That's Christmas. And in his perfect life and in his death, that's Easter, is applied to your life, becomes your salvation, and notice that your salvation is really small in context. It's all about God. It's his plan, initiative, execution, his invitation into relationship with God, by God, We normally draw our salvation map with us in the center. But God is center. He is bigger than us. He is more important than us. I am saved by coming into the orbit of his theological reality at his doing from beginning to end. Your salvation is participation in relationship with the Father, the Son, Holy Spirit and from our perspective, we're saved by Jesus. Yes, but how or what did Jesus do to bring about our salvation, his incarnation, or becoming fully man dying for us to atone for our sin. Who must Jesus then be to save us in this way? He must be God because only God can save. Well who must God be if Jesus is God? Trinity. So in his love, God sends the son in the spirit. God works through the son and the spirit to give us life. Our problem is that we were godless and God solved the problem by giving us the son and the spirit. The work of the son serves the work of the spirit. The work of the spirit serves the work of the Son, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit have this perfect sharing and the Son and the Spirit work under the headship and mission of the father. And we are invited in - awesome salvation.
Here is a slide from Dr. Sanders of the terms that are appropriate for the work of his son in the spirit, so the son's incarnation takes on a human body, Jesus of Nazareth, whereas the spirit lives in every true Christian, he indwells. The son is the living word, hypostatic union. God, man in one. The spirit inspires the written word.
assumes a human nature; the spirit enlivens, verse 5, spiritually dead people, the son bears your sin, brings his righteousness before the father on your behalf. One man said that Jesus is the ultimate coach. He comes in, makes the perfect play, wins the game for you, whereas the spirit says, stay on the field, I'll help you win.
The son completes our redemption, the spirit applies our redemption, the son's work is all or nothing - you're sanctified or not. The spirit says you're a work in progress through many trials, many afflictions with my help.
Awesome salvation. Well, Titus also remember why God saved you, tell them why God saved you.
His purpose is to reach others with the very same rescuer and rescue plan that saved you, and that's the main point of this morning's message. God gave his life for you, Jesus, so he can live his life through you on mission. I like to think of Titus 3:1-8 as a big ice cream sandwich. So missional cookie verses one and two, awesome God, awesome salvation enveloping sinners like us. That's three through seven. Missional cookie, verse eight. And God gave his life for you so he can give it through you, live through you on mission. And so we do good not to earn God's love, but because we have God's love. Well, living out verse one may be the toughest assignment of our day, remind them to be subject to rulers, authorities obedient for every good deed.
Every week I hear of someone unfriending or cutting off another person because of how differently we view the news or politics. And what if the rulers and authorities are really bad people? What if they're evil, immoral? What if they're not of my political persuasion? What do I do? Verse one. Subject yourself to rulers, to authorities. Be obedient. Be ready for every good deed. Followers of Jesus should be an influence for good in every possible way for the benefit of those around us?
So let's travel back in time for a moment to the Greco Roman world of Paul's letter to Titus. Crete, especially, was as bad as you can get in every moral category.
The leaders there were abusive, murderous tyrants. Society was engulfed in sexual perversion, broken homes, idolatry, unjust laws, heavy taxation, terrorism. And the early Christians were little lights. There were little candles. There one purpose was to have their good works.
their good words, shine so people could come to know the same God. Salvation in Jesus, so we're not interested in putting Christianized Cosmetics on a corpse.
We're not interested even in externally moral policy or law change. Because if people die without Jesus, does it matter how moral they were? And I'm not saying don't get involved in your government if you have the calling, the ability, but we are salt and light reflectors of God's moral nature to our culture. So our goal, though, is that people would know Jesus crucified for their sin, alive from the dead as Lord, inside-out transformation one life at a time. Verse two - slander no one, be peaceable, gentle, showing mercy every consideration for all people. So my advice is pause, think before you post, send or unfriend.
Don't have a bad attitude about the government expressed in slanderous words or fighting actions, God opposes the resist/anarchist culture. Gentleness means a sweet reasonableness, how refreshing would that be. Wiersbe says the only evidence the unsaved world has that we belong to God is our godly lives. And so beloved, if we live to exalt the person, the word of God, to show his life saving, changing person purpose. Jesus said, my kingdom is not of this world, we put no hope in presidents, prime ministers or the governments to save us, we live on God's resources and mission. Peter concurs. He says, Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors, even if they accuse you of doing wrong. They'll see your honorable behavior. They will give honor to God when he judges the world soon. For the Lord's sake, submit to all human authority, whether the king or the officials he's appointed, the king sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. That last sentence is probably the key role of government. According to the Bible, he continues. It's God's will that your honorable lives should silence ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.
Respect everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, respect the king.
Is there ever a time we disobey? Once - when authorities forbid what God commands. Remember Acts 4:18, the apostles were told, don't speak or teach about Jesus.
The following chapter they kept right on receiving the consequences. In covid, many wrestle with Hebrews 10:25 don't abandon meeting together. In Nevada. the state Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled with Calvary Chapel against the governor, who had limited churches to 50 people, while businesses, casinos and bars could operate at 50 percent. So there is some residual justice in the culture, but that's rare through church history.
What do we do when God says meet but the government says you cannot. We do what our brothers and sisters around the world do - we face these decisions with prayer and humility, often at great cost. And if possible, we submit graciously. We don't malign them, but we pray for them. We're not to be combative, but to be peaceful, gentle, kind, considerate of human weaknesses and sin. Not argumentative, not cantankerous or angry or hostile. Where there's legal recourse, we pursue it with humility, prayer, grace, but also pursuing every opportunity to do good to those around us. In so doing, we demonstrate that salvation is of God, only God indwelled, people could live like that.
This scripture, if applied, would eliminate a lot of social media posts and violent activities and also divisions and conflicts. Notice in verse eight, he says be careful to engage in good deeds, these are profitable for everyone, beneficial for all people. In what way? What way are they beneficial? Well, John 3:16, God's saving purpose is for all people, right? He loves all. Titus 2:11. He sent Jesus to rescue all men and then in first Timothy 2:1-5 up here. God gives all of us this evangelistic mission. He says, I urge you first of all to pray for all people. Ask God to help them intercede on their behalf, give thanks for them, pray in this way for kings, for all of our authority, so we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good. This pleases God, our savior.
He wants everyone to be saved, to come to the knowledge of the truth, for there's one God, one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. So God desires all to be saved. He wants us to pray for all people. He wants you to live your life so people can see gospel transformation. Your life lived with words and works to Christ, your salvation lived. When God initiated our salvation, he brought us from the depths and hopelessness of darkness and brought us into his blessing and glory of heaven. He transferred us from the Kingdom of Darkness to the kingdom of his dear son. It's the only reason we're different is that God saved us.
So we don't hate anyone. We don't demean anyone, attack or abuse anyone. We don't fight. We don't look down. We don't treat them with contempt or unkindness. We don't feel superior.
But we're grateful. We're grateful that God saved us.
It was his father's kindness, his mercy, his love. It was the washing, the regeneration. It was his grace through the son and the spirit. Remember why God saved you? He gave his life for you so he can live his life through you. My dear friend Elaine, we do good because we have God's love not to earn God's love. So what are you doing with the new life that God is giving you? And don't overcomplicate this. Double your brownie or soup recipe for a neighbor.
Shovel a driveway. Ask the spirit as you go through each day, Lord, show me what what to do, how to make people's lives around me better.
A few years ago we joined with eight community partners and we made it a goal that all of us would serve four to eight hours a week or a month out in the community. So 4 to 8 hours a month. And it could look like babysitting for a single mom with Together for Good or mentoring a prisoner released through Network for Life. If you go to our website under Serve and Community Engagement, you'll find those opportunities. Be eager to do good not just for us in here, but for your neighbors. Those outside helping our city, serving in Christ name.
So the next few minutes, the worship team is going to play an instrumental and I want you to think about who you were before Jesus. Think of God's awesome salvation. I'm going to put these missional verses on the screen. I'd like you just to prayerfully ask Lord, show me show me what needs to change in my life to line up with this,
your word. Maybe it's obeying tax or traffic laws. Maybe it's being more gracious when you post something, social media. Could be quit complaining about the government or maybe find a community partner to serve or might just be Lord, make me more aware of people around me, their needs, whether it's a stranger or co-worker, neighbor, student, and then write down one or two things that the Lord lays in your heart and then write down the name of a person who can pray for you and support you, maybe a small group or your spouse or friend. I'll come up and pray in a moment.
Heavenly Father, we commit to you the things that your spirit has laid on our hearts, Lord, apart from you, there will be no real change.
So please lead. Please empower us to live this scripture. Lord, help us to be better neighbors, better citizens on mission, living purposefully so our lives will draw others to know and love you Father. In Jesus name.