Have you ever thought about where salvation comes from? Have you considered what salvation really is, what it really means? The concept of salvation is foreign to most people, but not the concept of eternity, of life after death. Almost every culture, ancient and modern, has some concept, some belief, some picture in their mind of what life after death will be like. Why is that so? Of course the Scriptures give us the answer for that and it is contained in Ecclesiastes 3:11"...He has also set eternity in their heart yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end."
Where does the concept of eternity, life after death, come from? It comes from God, who has planted it within the human heart. So when you look at the different cultures and their different religions, you see their idea of eternal life and how to achieve it, or how to enhance its quality. For them there is no concept of salvation, but an assumption of eternal life that contains their vision and their version of what that eternal life will be like.
When Nicodemus came to Christ in John chapter 3, he was coming with the question of how he might obtain eternal life. In fact, if you read through the gospel of John you will see eternal life, or one of its synonyms used 47 times. John even states in 20:31 that his reason for writing that book is so that we will believe and have life (eternal life) in His name. So what must man do to obtain eternal life? Yes, he must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. He must turn from his sin and turn to God. He must depend wholly upon the finished work of Christ on the cross. He must receive Jesus Christ by faith. But what is done when man does this? He is saved, by grace through faith. In other words, the Bible shows us that man must be saved to obtain eternal life (John 3:16).
When you look at the first four verses of Titus chapter one, you see the promise of eternal life. This eternal life, is bound up in salvation and is promised by God, who calls Himself the Savior, along with His Son, Christ Jesus. Two other times in Titus, God lists both Himself and His Son as the Savior. In fact, the term Savior is used 37 times in the Bible, 24 in the OT and 13 in the NT; and is never used to denote anyone other than God or Christ. God states this in Isaiah 43:11, "I, even I, am the Lord, and there is no savior besides Me. In Titus 3:5-6 God states that it is He that saves.
So what is God letting the Cretans and us know in the Bible, and in this letter? He is the author of salvation, the only author of salvation. Salvation comes from Him and Him alone, and it is He who does the saving and in that salvation is the promise of eternal life. Man does not, has not, and cannot save himself. So what must man do to obtain true eternal life? He must turn to the one who can save him and give him that eternal life, and that is God Himself in the person of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. It is God alone who possesses eternal life, and it is His to give; and He only gives it to those whom He saves.
How about you, my friend? Are you under the deception that you can achieve eternal life all on your own? Are you mistakenly assuming that you will automatically have a good life after death, and that its quality will be enhanced depending on how well you have performed or how nicely you have behaved or on how many kind deeds you have done during your physical life? Be aware, do not miss the fact, that if eternal life is tied up in salvation, and if God has called Himself the Savior, then there is something that you must be saved from, something that you must be delivered from in order to obtain eternal life. And if you are not saved, if you are not delivered then you will not obtain eternal life.
What must you be saved from, what must you be delivered from? It is the the second death (Revelation20:11-15), the eternal death (The eternal state of dying, but never being dead. Isaiah 66:24) that is just the opposite of eternal life. It is not bliss, but torment (Psalm 11:6). It is not happiness, but sorrow. It is not joy, but anguish. And all for eternity.
God has revealed Himself as the author of salvation, as the One and only Savior. He alone possess eternal life, and it is His alone to give, and He only gives to those whom He saves. Come to Him today in repentance from your unbelief and rebellion against Him. Come to Him today in repentance from your depending on your own self for your eternal life, and place your faith in what He has done in His Son on the cross to provide eternal life for you. Don't forfeit your eternal life because of your own sinful pride and self reliance. Ask Him in faith for the eternal life that only He can give.
Through the book of Titus, Paul weaves an overview of salvation. Today I want to give that overview, and then in subsequent posts go into more detail of each aspect of salvation as Paul presents it in Titus. Today's post will list the different aspects of salvation that Paul gives in Titus.
The Author of Salvation
Vs (1:3, 1:4) (3:4, 3:6) (2:9, 2:13)
Notice how these are grouped in the letter.
The Appearing of Salvation
Vs 2:11, 3:4, 2:13 (its final appearing)
Appearing in the Greek is epiphaino. It means to bring to light, to become clearly known, to show or reveal one's self. It is also the word from which we get our word epiphany.
The Availability of Salvation
Vs 2:11, 3:4
Notice to whom salvation is made available.
The Application of Salvation
Now notice to whom salvation is applied.
The Act of Salvation
Vs 2:14, 3:5-7
Notice who does the redeeming and the saving.
The Actions of the Saved
Compare these verses with verse 16 of the previous chapter. As Luther said, "We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone."
...Spurgeon said: "The ministry demands brain labor. The preacher must throw his thought into his teaching, and read and study to keep his mind in good trim." In other words, power in gospel preaching demands arduous study. He admitted: "I scarcely ever prepare for my pulpit with pleasure. Study for the pulpit is to me the most irksome work in the world." But he understood that if he refused to pay this high price, he would have no business in the ministry: "An idler has no right in the pulpit. He is an instrument of Satan in damning the souls of men." Again, he warned: "He who has ceased to learn has ceased to teach. He who no longer sows in the study will no more reap in the pulpit." Even for a genius like Spurgeon, Bible study was hard work. But depth in the Word is absolutely necessary if there is to be depth of conviction and soundness of conversions.
The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon
True Christian expectations centre on the cross and involve an acceptance, if not the willing embrace, of the suffering, weakness and marginalisation which inevitably come to those who follow in the footsteps of the Master. These are to be the horizons of expectation of the believer as an individual and of the church as a whole.
Reformation: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take
up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23
Notice that the "was saying" in this verse is in the imperfect tense, which means Christ was saying this repeatedly, over and over, so as to make His point as to the earnest seriousness one must have in following Him. He did not want them to miss this important point. Later in Luke 14:26-27, Jesus has this to say,
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does notcarry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Again in Luke 21:17 Christ says, "and you will be hated by all for My name's sake."
The embrace of the cross, for us as Christians, must be a personal embrace of the entirety of the cross. Too much has been made today of the benefits to Christians of Christ's cross while ignoring the costs and necessity of our carrying our cross.
Keep this in mind, you only have
what you have been given.
For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? I Corinthians 4:7
Where then is the cause for boasting,
arrogance, and pride? Wouldn't it
be better to concentrate on wisely
using all you have been given, and
to keep in mind that He who has given
you all things will hold you accountable
for how you make use of what He
has given you?
Well, on the third Sunday in June Grace Covenant Church passed another milestone, our fifth anniversary. It certainly does not seem like it has been five years since we started, but by God's grace and in accordance with His eternal purpose we are still here. And we are thankful for His calling us to this work, and are thankful for the provision of His grace to empower us to do what He has called us to do.
As with any church plant there have been ups and downs, but I can truly say that even though we have experienced frustration and disappointments at times, we have never been discouraged; and that is because the Lord has been with us and has not let those times of frustration and disappointment turn into discouragement.
And I said all of that to say this, this has been the most interesting year so far, and in some sense the most daunting year. We have had more families visit this year, and not come back. We lost four families this last year that had been coming regularly, one for three years. There were different reasons that we lost them, but lose them we did; and when you are a small church, that is noticeable. However, we have had a sense of this being God's pruning of us so that not only will we bear more fruit, but that He will receive the glory for what is done.
But the good news is, as a church, we are richer spiritually now than we have ever been, more spiritually attuned, and more spiritually mature. In the final analysis, this is the purpose of the church, any and all churches, to be the instrument of God in the lives of His people (His people being His people doing what they are gifted and called to do) to bring about a deepening Christ likeness in those He has placed in each church (Ephesians 4:11-16). It is a deep and abiding joy to me as the pastor to see more of Christ in our people now than I saw in them a year ago.
This year we finished the Gospel of John, which took about three and a half years to preach through. We went through the book The Holiness of God, and are half way through Knowing God in our men's group. We, again, took six of our men to the Shepherd's Conference, and the consensus was that it was the best one our group has attended. Our ladies went through a couple of Precept studies and several attended the Gospel Coalition's Women's Conference last week. Our children continue to hear the gospel consistently during their Sunday School time, and we are counting on the Lord's Word not to return to Him void. Our people do love the Lord, and those that are here are developing and demonstrating faithfulness in their walk and service to the Lord. It is indeed a great thing to be part of.
We are going through Psalm 119 and Titus over the next few months. I have already preached out of Psalm 119 for the last couple of months, and will start the series on Titus next week. I will take a few breaks in Titus to preach on Psalm 119. In September we will be blessed to have Nigel Shailer, the Academic Dean of the Shepherd's Bible College in New Zealand, come to preach to us and to share with us what they are doing to train, equip, and evangelize in that part of the world; and we are having him come to prepare us, as a church, to support their work.
All in all, it is a great and glorious blessing to be a part of Grace Covenant Church, to be its pastor, to lead and shepherd its people. The Lord is indeed good and does good, to Him and Him alone be all glory, honor, and praise. May His name be blessed forever and ever.