Heirs with Eternal Hope – Titus 3:1-8

This story is now about 20 years old, at least. But in the mid to late 90s, one of our church teenagers was a student in a local public high school. There was a period of time at the school where one or two fights seemed to break out practically every day in or near the lunch room. Teachers and administrators would have to get into the middle of what were repeated events that disturbed everyone.

Our church teen got to a point where he had enough of witnessing this, and after the latest confrontation had been calmed, he jumped up on a table and shouted loudly, “Everyone, Stop this! Be nice! Just be nice to each other!”  I’m not sure how it worked out over time, but he made a very strong point.

How should Christian people handle themselves in a world that is often a bit crazy? Paul has some directives that he writes to his disciple on the island of Crete: Titus. This was not a glorious assignment. The people on Crete had something of a reputation for being in the “wackbiscuit” category of behavior.

Titus 3:1 – Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

That gentleness stuff is not the natural bent of most people, especially contemporary Americans. We are certainly more prone to call people out and aggressively tear them down. Yes, there is a time where truth needs to be affirmed strongly, and it could be argued that such a time as that is now our current experience. But there is a way to do this that is compelling and Spirit-driven.

Paul says that he and others who had come to know Christ were wackbiscuits at one time in their lives …

Titus 3:3 – At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

But then there was a change in their lives, as the ultimate kindness was shown to them …

Titus 3:4 – But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

This is one of the very best summary statements about the gospel message and the work of Christ. It is not what we’ve done, it is what he has done in mercy toward us. The result is a washing from the stain of sin, an inner renewal through the Holy Spirit, and a future life as heirs of eternal life.

So how should one of God’s heirs act?

Titus 3:8 – This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Yes, an heir of the hope of eternal life should not act like the rest of the world. Rather, daily life should be about doing good, and that will take a focus upon other people. This is a conscious act of devotion that is an excellent lifestyle that is profitable for others. This is about as practical as it gets. Just be nice! Share the gospel.

This is our identity – though sinners in Adam, we are justified in Christ and adopted into his family to serve as ambassadors and heirs of God.

This ends our series on IDENTITY. The next week will be off from any devotionals. Then on Monday the 22nd begins a 30-day, 5-week, Monday-to-Saturday set of writings that take you through the book of Romans. I’ll copy them here to this site, though there is a dedicated site for these writings to accompany the upcoming citywide sermon series called “Overcomer.”  You might invite friends to follow that at www.ReadRomans.com.

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Doing Good – It’s What You Do (Titus 3:1-8)

Most commercials and advertisements are truly lost on me. Even after seeing a commercial many times and even memorizing some of the lines, I often cannot recall what is the actual product being sold. But that is not true of the GEICO clips, as I think they are very creative. If you’re a parrot, you repeat things (maybe that you shouldn’t), it’s what you do. If you’re Tarzan and Jane (a typical couple) you argue about directions, it’s what you do.

If you’re a person who is merely of this world, seeking only its pleasures and amenities, you are rebellious, contentious, inconsiderate and self-focused, it’s what you do. But if you’re consciously God’s child and an heir of eternity, you are devoted to doing good in the Lord’s name, it’s just what you do.

So if you are the latter rather than the former, act like the latter and not the former. Paul writes to Titus:

3:1 – Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

I don’t think there is a better summary of the gospel anywhere in the Bible than what is in this passage in verse five. You may recall an evangelistic emphasis we had a few years ago that we called “The 3:5 Project.”

Prior to the Lord’s work in our lives, there was a natural way of living that involved self-centered passions and pleasures. But then there was a radical change when God’s grace arrived upon the scene of our experience.

We tend to think, especially as entrepreneurial Americans, that one only gets what one works for, earns and deserves. That is honorable for basic life needs and responsibilities, but it will not work for eternal life. The deeds or works spoken of in verse five translates a word from Greek that describes what one undertakes to do … an enterprise or undertaking. The verse is therefore saying that there is no good set of things that we may undertake to do that can possibly save us. Rather, it is all a work of God to wash us from sin and renew us in His righteousness – the perfect standard.

This grace was poured out – literally dumped over us – by God’s grace. The result is that we possess a new status as an heir of eternal life. An heir is someone with rights and privileges that are not yet realized, but are guaranteed.

But all of this is not just an insurance plan or ticket of escape from hell. It is rather that a new devotion will rise within us to be different than before all of this happened, that rather we will live a life devoted to doing what is good … good works.  The works follow the salvation as a natural byproduct; they don’t precede salvation as a payment to obtain it.

If doing good as a lifestyle of devotion does not naturally follow and flow from our grace experience, it is symptomatic of something that is terribly wrong. It might be a lack of standing, or a lack of understanding, but it certainly should not involve just standing around. Understand?