Christ First Discipleship Ministries

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Titus 3: Saved by God's Mercy

 

Paul left Titus on the island of Crete to organize the newly planted churches there. But Titus was not a permanent pastor — he would soon have to move on.

 

Doing good is good — but not good enough.

 

"Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,"  (v. 1). As Paul explained in chapter 2, good behavior puts the gospel in a good light. Although the gospel says that our Lord is Jesus Christ (not Caesar), we do not want officials to think that the gospel tells people to disrupt society.

 

Titus 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

Christians should "speak evil of no man," Paul says. "To be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men." (v. 2). For many believers, Paul was asking for a big change in their behavior. He explains in verse 3: "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another."

 

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

3:6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.


Good works do not save us, but they are still good, and they are characteristic of people who trust God.

In some ways this list is a mirror image of the good qualities Paul wants Titus to teach. Be obedient, even though you used to be disobedient. Be peaceable, even though you used to hate one another. We were once foolish and ill-tempered, Paul says — implying that since we have put on the new man (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10), we are not that way anymore, "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Ephesians 4:24

What caused the change in our lives? It was Jesus.

Titus 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

 

God’s love appeared to us in the form of Jesus (Rom. 5:8), and he saved us not because we deserved it, but because of his mercy and grace.

We were not living a righteous life, but even if we were, those righteous things would not be good enough to save us. We are saved by God’s grace and mercy. There is nothing we could ever do to earn Salvation.

 

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

3:6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.


"He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." He did not save us through a physical washing, but by a spiritual washing and renewal. The word "washing" is an allusion to baptism, suggesting that our physical baptism symbolizes the rebirth that comes from the Holy Ghost.

God poured the Holy Spirit "on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:6-7). We are saved by God the Father, working through the Son and Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit).

We are justified by grace — put right with God — as his gift to us (and as Paul explains elsewhere, we receive it by faith). The result is that we become inheritors of eternal life, which gives us tremendous hope and confidence about our future. But the Bible also says that we have eternal life now, in this age (John 6:47). We have it as a down payment of much more yet to come.

 

Titus 3:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

"This is a faithful saying," Paul notes. We can be sure that God saves us by his mercy, not by our works. He then adds, "I will that thou affirm constantly," (Titus: 3:8). Paul is telling Titus that he should stress the Holy Spirit, grace and eternal life.

Why? "So that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good." When we realize that God has saved us by his mercy, we should respond with changes in our behavior. Sin caused the death of our Savior, and we do not want to participate in behavior that caused his death.

So we trust in God alone, but we also strive to do good works. We have been saved for that purpose (Ephesians 2:10). Good works cannot save us, but they are still good, and they are characteristic of people who trust God. God’s people are devoted to doing good; they are eager to do what is good (Titus 2:14). Grace leads us to a better life. 3:14 And let our's also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

 


Something to avoid

As part of his closing comments for Titus, Paul warns, "But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain." (Titus 3:9). Many of us have experienced "strivings about the law" — debates about whether this or that is required or forbidden. If we try to base our salvation on keeping laws, we will inevitably end up arguing about which laws apply, about definitions of what is restricted, and whether there are any exceptions.

Debates like that miss the point. They are useless, because salvation is not based on the law. We should not allow ourselves to be distracted and expend our time with arguments about strivings about the law as Paul has warned.

However, if people are convinced that laws are important, they are rarely willing to drop the argument. So Paul gives Titus some pastoral advice: 3:10 "A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; 11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." If the person can’t or won't drop the subject, if he is stirring up trouble by preaching salvation by works, then he should be rejected.

If someone says, "You have to keep these laws in order to be saved," then that person is attempting to cause division — he is saying that it’s not enough to trust in Jesus Christ. If the person won’t stop preaching this error, a division is unavoidable, and Titus can minimize the severity of that division by immediately dealing with it. The person should not be allowed to cause more trouble.

Titus 3:11 "Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself."
He preaches that people will be saved or condemned by their works, and such a person will be judged by his works. By his own standard, he will be condemned. Divisive behavior is the opposite of what God wants.

Paul closes, as ancient letters often did, with some notes about personal contacts and travel plans: Titus 3:12 "When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter." Titus’s assignment as interim pastor would soon be up. Paul wanted to spend the winter with him in western Greece.

Titus 3:13 "Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them."  They were probably the ones who carried the letter to Titus, on their way to somewhere else.

Paul then repeats an important theme: Titus 3:14 "And let our's also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful."

 

"And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;" (1 Thess. 4:11).

Titus 3:15 All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.

 


Questions To Consider

1. We should be peaceable, righteous citizens who do good (Titus 3:1). Is there ever a time when we should disobey God's law? What about the laws of man that contradict scripture?

2. People who are saved by grace should be eager to do good (Titus 3:8). Why are most who profess Christ not devoted to good works?

3. When can people have erroneous beliefs without being divisive? (Titus 3:10)

 

 

 

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