Gospel, Identity, Mission
Scripture: Titus 3:1–3:15
My preaching has one goal for you and for me. I pray, study, labor, read, write, and pray some more -- all for this one goal -- That our hearts would be thrilled by Jesus. My whole hope is that God would awaken us, by His word and by the power of the Spirit, to the glory of Jesus Christ and we would be in awe of Him & his love for us.
When we are captured by the gospel, our hands release their grip on our pet sins. They look lousy compared to Jesus.
Affections for Jesus effect everything about us --- because it's the presence of the Holy Spirit. The power of those affections, pushes out competitors for our hearts. This is what Puritan Thomas Chalmers called "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection." Greater Love crowds out lesser loves.
Know why Apple releases a new iPhone every year? Because they know the expulsive power of a new affection. They know many people will love their newest phone so much, they'll drop the one they currently have, and buy the new one. The power of new affection.
We are quick to intellectually honor Jesus, but to experience the power of the gospel it will be intellectual, emotional, & missional. We'll address all three today.
We need to be blown away by Jesus. I'm hoping God will do that today.
Paul is appealing for our behavior towards the world, to be fueled by the glory of the gospel. Only high octane power of the gospel will change our lives.
THE GOSPEL SHAPES OUR INTERACTIONS
Look at what God says to us in v. 1-2 -- God is addressing our normal everyday behaviors -- namely with unbelievers.
We are to respect authority, and listen to authority. We are commanded to submit, namely, the government. Of course we are not to do things that are sinful, that they would ask us to do. For our allegiances is first and foremost to Jesus. But we are to pay our taxes. And do so in an honorable way. No matter what you think of the government, God's word stands.
Paul continues in verse 2, "Speak evil of no one." Interesting here, word is "blaspheme." We don't blaspheme God or God's creations.
How many need to repent of sins towards the President? Roasting any governmental leader is never acceptable. Ever. How many need to repent of sins towards their Co-workers? Friends & Family? Other Christians? This is not to be found on the lips of God's people, unbelievers do that --- not us.
Look at the last phrase in verse 2, "show perfect courtesy toward all people." Greek culture this phrase meant, "a gentle friendliness." There are a bunch of ways to look at this one. In the more general sense, Paul is saying, have good manners towards people. Be friendly.
Too many Christians at times can be real snooty, uppity, and just a plain jerks. How do you treat the Starbucks people? Cashiers? Waiters? We are to be friendly. I'll never forget working at Starbucks -- the worst customers, were some of the professing followers of Jesus.
God demands that we have good manners - why? How is this any different than moralism?
Here's how, let's use the example of manners:
We are to show courtesy, not just be nice people, but because we are new people. We are to be gentle, because we've experienced the gentleness of God. We are to be friendly, because when we were nasty, God made us his friends.
That's gospel-centeredness. Even our manners and daily interactions spring from the truths of the gospel. The Gospel Motivates our activity.
Paul appeals with Identity.
Paul links all of this by reminding us of our Gospel Identity. Knowing your Gospel Identity, is of utmost importance to your life. Fear, guilt, peacocking, shame, insecurity - are all swallowed up by knowing our gospel identity - who we are in Jesus.
The Bourne Identity is one of my favorite movies of all time, the series is incredible. But what plagues Jason the entire movie? He doesn't care that he can beat up 5 guys at once, he doesn't care that he beat up an assassin with a ball point pen. Jason Bourne is restless because of this question, "Who am I?"
Christian, you need to know who you are in Jesus.
I said last week, when the gospel becomes powerful to you, it will become powerful through you.
Now, how does the gospel become powerful to you? It becomes powerful when you see how pitiful you were before Jesus saved you. To enjoy the riches, we must see our poverty.
You can really see the glory of a diamond when it is backdropped the color black, and you'll see it even more when a beam of light is pointed at the diamond. God is showing us the glory of the Gospel, and what He has done for us. He sets the backdrop with who we used to be, shines the light of "who we are now." and "how this all happened.
In vv. 3-7, Paul picks up the Gospel Diamond and put's it on display. Paul lays out for us, who we were, and maybe some still are -- and Jesus can help you. Here's the black cloth.
Look at v. 3, "FOR" -- So Paul is connecting our behavior. We should act in accordance with vv.1-2 for..
We too used to act foolish. We too used to sin it up without any regard to God and his glory. We are no better than anyone else in the universe. We were disobedient, to God, parents, government, bosses. We too were led astray. Paul is subtly bringing Satan to our attention. Satan was leading us astray. We were all duped by Satan's shell game of pleasure and satisfaction. Running from one sin to the next, a guessing game of what would really make us happy.
That's why Paul says, "we were slaves to various passions and pleasures." Greek word here: Hedonism. Pleasure seekers. We were looking for pleasure, but in all the wrong places. We've all been there, got the the t-shirt and souvenir key-chain.
Church, we should have compassion towards unbelievers -- because we know where they are, because we've been there. And we've been set free by Jesus! Do you expect unbelievers to act like believers?
I expect Ivy to grab things we don't need in the grocery store, or to whimper when she doesn't get goldfish -- she's 3. It's not ok, but it's expected. Do you ever say about unbelievers, "I can't believe they _______." "Why would they do that?" Believe it! Because they don't know Jesus! I expect the Grammys to mock God, and the crowd to stand up and applaud -- because they don't know God.
Christian, do not be shocked when a pagan lives like a pagan. You should expect them to sin, and do and say all kinds of crazy things around you. And...this needs to be said, Christian, it is not wrong for anyone to expect you to live like a Christian.
Now, that was us. We were depraved. Sinful. Wicked. Sure, we were nice sometimes, but we were nice evil people. Maybe this is still you today? Jesus can save you. If you look unto, you shall be saved. If you want to be saved, this next section in the word of God lays it out for you.
Christian, you need to know how wicked you were, to enjoy who you are now.
So, how did our lives change?
v. 4-7 - Is one long sentence in Greek. Paul Shines the Beam of Light Upon the Diamond of the Gospel, we can see it's brilliance, and be blown away. v. 4 "But" - We were depraved, wallowing the pig-pen of sin, BUT -- lets read this whole section.
God saved us. He did it. That's how and why we are changed. God did it.
He appeared, speaking of Jesus as the embodiment of the goodness and loving kindness of the Trinity. What an awesome description of our Jesus! Loving. Kind. He must be, if he would save rascals like us!
It appeared two ways. First at the incarnation and His life on the earth, and then at our conversion, God's loving kindness was manifest to us, when he opened our eyes and we saw His goodness and we received salvation from His nail-pierced hands. He died on the cross to forgive us, pay for our sins, and give us new life in Him.
v. 5 - You Are Saved
He saved us. First element of our identity -- we are saved.
This word was used to describe someone being snatched by force from peril. In high-school, I helped a drowning little girl. I swam over and with all might might pulled her out of the rip tide, up and out. Swam her over to the barge. Force. Safety. Freedom. Life.
God ripped us out of sin. With the brute force of the cross. He saved us with nails going through bones, with blood on the ground, with skin ripped, and with joy.
You are secure with Jesus.
Additonaly, he didn't do this because we were being good. "Not because of works done in righteousness." Not because we were living right, trying to obey -- but all because of His Mercy!
We didn't earn it. He freely gave.
We didn't peak his interest because we were obeying the rules in his classroom.
He was compassionate.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.
1 Peter 1:3
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Christian, you are loved.
Impress that upon your heart, your identity is - You are freely loved by God
You are new.
Next, Peter and Paul bring the same ruth to our minds. Peter says, we are born again. Paul says, "by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit." I've had someone ask me before, "Are you one of those born-again Christians." "Well -- that's the only kind!"
We are new creations in Christ the Bible says. The old Jeff doesn't exist anymore. Regeneration means the Holy Spirit invades our lives, and remakes our hearts, minds, and souls to be brand new. To be utterly different.
So, you are no longer defined by your sins. But you are defined by Jesus. The Holy Spirit of God now dwells inside of you, leading to renewal. Regeneration is what happens in the heart, we are regenerate/new people. Renewal is the outwork of regeneration in our lives.
Greek word also means, renovation. We are new, and being made new.
You are being made new.
You ever seen Room Crashers? The Holy Spirit has moved into our lives, and he is renovating us into the pattern and power of Jesus Christ. We are in process.
Look at v. 6
You are justified.
We are declared "not guilty" before God. Do you believe that? Justification will do wonders for your joy. There is joy to be had in justification. God isn't sneering at us. God isn't rolling his eyes, or rolling up his sleeves, to pay us back. By His loving kindness He has looked at you, Christian, and said, "Because you believe in my Son, Jesus Christ, who died for sinners, He paid the penalty for your sins on the cross -- and you -- You are Not Guilty!"
That's the wonder of the gospel. We are declared not guilty -- it's just as if I'd never sinned. We understand forgiveness, we forgiven each other of things all the time. But we cannot comprehend, justifying the guilty. I really did all those sins, but Jesus appeared and took the wrath for me.
So that...we might become heirs.
You are an heir.
You will get to enjoy everything that is God's, as a son or daughter of God. It's yours in Christ. Niagra Falls belongs to you. Neptune is yours. Don't sweat piddly things of earth, the hubble is finding your inheiritance.
The Gospel, and the fruits of glories from the Gospel, are to fuel our entire lives. vv.4-7, a sample platter of who we are in Jesus.
And we need to hear these things often, because we are forgetful. We suffer from spiritual amnesia.
v. 8 "Insist on these things...they are excellent and profitable."
We need to hear them again and again. The most practical thing for us to do every Sunday is to come here and extoll the glories of Jesus Christ. It's profitable. Nothing better for our souls than to come here and see the radiance of Jesus Christ.
GOSPEL IDENITY MOVES INTO GOSPEL ACTIVITY - MISSION.
Because, Paul knows, this will affect your everyday life. We saw that in the beginning. But here at the end, Paul says the glories of the gospel also propel into Gospel Mission.
Look at the words in verse 8.
"Insisit on these things", everything from verse 4-7...."so that" He expects a result from this, "those who have believed in God, may be careful to devote themselves to GOOD WORKS." Good works --- to mission.
Mission blooms from marinating in the gospel. Good works are the supernatural growth from dwelling in the Gospel. We are not rightly understanding the gospel if we are not compelled to hold him out to the lost and dying world.
Our greatest ministry to reach the world with the Gospel is you. We don't need to think of a program. God already did.
You on mission, in your everyday life, loving unbelievers, doing good works, bringing the gospel. That's how the world is changed.
A lack of gospel activity, reveals we haven't fully grasped our gospel identity. Your identity is that of a missionary. (1 Peter 2 -- Proclaimer, 2 Cor. 5 ambassador)
God is calling and equipping, for a devotion to good works.
- 1:16 "they...false teachers, are unfit for good works." We don't want to be that.
- 2:14 "God is creating us to be zealous for good works."
- 3:1 "Be ready for every good work."
- 3:8 "Devote themselves to good works."
- 3:14 "Learn to devote themselves to good works...not be unfruitful"
God's calling his people, to be on mission. Good works are activities that have a gospel intention, love for neighbor and God, behind it. Look at the words Paul uses: Zealous. Ready. Devoted. Learning devotion. Is that us? Not quite -- then we need to go deeper and wider into the gospel truths.
Playing basketball this past week, been going a lot. This was the first week I felt accepted as one of the guys. Guys are coming up to me and talking to me. After the game, I noticed one of the guys, was dragging - he was beat. So I prayed, "How can I love this guy." "Hey man, you want a gatoraide?" Meet me at the gas station. Trey, another guy from Redeemer was there, he buys the gatoraides. We are talking, all getting to know each other. And I invite them to our Easter service. Nothing pushy. Nothing weird. But it was a good work, with a purpose. Good works are about more than us feeling good about being a good Christian -- it's about wanting people to hope in our good God.
We can call it missional living, we can call it evangelism, we can call it whatever we like -- the point is this -- the gospel comes to us, to be made known through us. The Gospel comes to us, to made known through us.
We as church need to learn to devote ourselves to good works. DEVOTE. Committed. Devotion is more than when it's convenient. Devotion looks for ways, "How can I love? How can I love that person in the church? How can I reach out to that guy at the gym?"
If we are not intentionally rubbing shoulders with unbelievers, we aren't being like Jesus -- we aren't living our Gospel Identity.
Church - We are God's people, Identity. God's Mission - The Gospel. This is the message of Titus. God's people on God's Mission, with God's Message. My hope for this series is that God will put a spark in us for the glory and fame of Jesus.
Who are you going to invite to Easter? Who are you praying for, to meet Jesus? Is God calling you to plant a church? Go overseas? When will the gospel go out to YOUR co-workers? God sent you there. He's readied you.
May the Gospel propel us to live for the glory of Jesus in all of life.