Tag Archives: mercy

Titus: Physical vs. Spiritual

Standard

titus-bkgd

Titus 3:3-8 – For (F)we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.But when (G)the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, (H)not because of works done by us in righteousness, but (I)according to his own mercy, by (J)the washing of regeneration and (K)renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he (L)poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,so that (M)being justified by his grace we might become (N)heirs (O)according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is (P)trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful (Q)to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

Paul offers a nice contrast again, following on the heels of the last section of Scripture. In the last lesson, we learned that he wanted the believers to be submissive to authorities and to be ready for good works, displaying their faith in the crooked Cretan world. In this passage he reminds them that they (including himself) too were once depraved and enslaved to their passions. Perhaps this was his way of encouraging them so that they could see their new identity and not despair or be discouraged about their former life or habits. 2 Cor 5:17 tells us that we are a new creation. We were slaves to sin, now we belong to Christ. In Eph 2:1-3 Paul also writes about the believer’s former life. We used to be “children of wrath,” and we were dead in our sins. We lived out the passions of our flesh and carried out the desires of our body. It’s just not a pretty sight, folks. But there’s always good news right around the corner.

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared…” There’s that appeared word again (epiphaneo). God’s goodness and love broke through as the light of dawn. And when our Savior appeared, He saved us. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

To be certain that no one forgets what their role in salvation is, Paul writes that God saved us not because of works that we do, but He saved us in His mercy. This echoes his teaching in Eph 2:8-9 – it is by grace we have been saved through faith (not of ourselves). As if this weren’t great news already, God also uses the Holy Spirit to regenerate and renew us. Regeneration is basically new birth (after all, we were dead in sins and we needed to be made alive again). This Spirit has been poured out on us richly through Christ. I don’t know about you, but the image of the Spirit being poured out sounds abundant, and then he adds the word richly, which just accentuates the lavish abundance even further! The good news just got even better.

As we keep reading, it might feel like we’ve just won the lottery (actually it’s even better than that). First Paul speaks of being justified by His grace. To be justified meant to be pardoned or cleared from guilt; to absolve or acquit from guilt and merited punishment, and to accept as righteous on account of the merits of the Savior or by the application of Christ’s atonement to the offender (Webster’s 1828). What it boils down to is that we get something we didn’t deserve. We get Christ’s righteousness in exchange for our dead, sinful lives. It’s extravagant grace. And it makes no sense.

So God declares us righteous and then raises us as His heirs. Again, this makes no sense! We become children of the King. This is the hope we have, that He has promised us an inheritance of eternal life (See also 1 John 2:25, Heb 6:17-18, 1 Cor 1:22, Eph 4:30, Eph 1:11-14).

He closes with the call to good works again. He presents quite the case for why we should be devoted to good works. It only makes sense given the gravity of all Christ has done for us! They will know we belong to Him by our fruit (good works). The works are simply the evidence of our faith. It reveals our devotion to Him. And these things are excellent (because they bring glory to God) and profitable (because they bring others to God). May we be careful to devote ourselves to good works.

Advertisements

Relentless Pursuit

Standard

scattered-seeds

One of the things I love most about the Spirit of God is how He weaves thoughts and words together in my mind (and in other’s minds) to make the largest impact, not only in my heart but in countless others. It is completely impressive to me that He can speak one message that lands thirty different ways in thirty women’s hearts.

What is even more thrilling to me is that He uses us at all to take part in His grand mission of reaching hearts. What a privilege it is to be able to teach the Word of God and then hear how it impacted someone’s life in that very moment. I spoke about the widow of Nain, clearly a story of loss and restoration, and heard from many women how they needed to hear that God is the God who sees them. He hears their cries. He bends down to bring them out of their affliction.

I am struck with awe and humility. There’s no other way to describe it. I had no idea that what I would say would make any impact. I worked on the lesson months ago. I thought that as I typed, they were just words on a page. Any clever connections or interesting insights were divinely directed so that His message would be cast out like seeds on the tilled field. His Word goes out and it gets in.

I learned that my Father will stop at nothing to draw His people to Himself, reminding them of His simple love for them. That He sees. That He knows. And that He desires to show them mercy. A mercy that reaches down and draws us out of the misery.

His is a relentless pursuit of the human heart for His own divine glory.

ProdigalSon_300x150

 

God is good…so what? [Part 2]

Standard

C.S.-Lewis

Many of you may be wondering, how is this girl going to tell me everything I should know about God in just 3 posts? Well, I’m not. But I do want you to take away one important characteristic about God that is crucial for our perspective on life. If you learn one thing today about God, it is that He is GOOD.

His goodness translates into kindness, love, moral uprightness. It really crosses over into a lot of areas. A definition of God’s goodness in my Systematic Theology book says it is,

“that perfection of God which prompts Him to deal bountifully and kindly with all His creatures. It is the affection which the Creator feels towards His…creatures.” (Berkhof, p. 70)

That one word. Did you catch it? Affection. His goodness is His affection that He feels toward us, and as you well know it produces a response in the Creator to act in kind ways toward us, not because we deserve it but because He WANTS to do it. He loves us for His own sake. How good can you get?

Can you see how your perspective may differ from the person who thinks God is malevolent and vindictive, desiring to punish and do harm to the people He’s created? You wouldn’t trust such a god. You would actually think that god had nothing good in mind for you or anyone else. So when a trial came your way, you might see God as punishing you because He certainly wouldn’t be looking at you in your trial with affection and concern, eager to work good in your situation or through your trial. A bad God, who can trust?

But a good God? Well we can trust Him! If you know deep in your heart that His intentions toward you are good because there is nothing else He can be but good, how could you question His heart when a trial came your way? Out of His goodness comes grace (unmerited goodness or love to those under condemnation) and mercy (the goodness or love of God shown to those who are in misery or distress, ready to relieve their distress).

This is not to say that you don’t have moments of doubt or wonder what God is doing. But it is in those moments that you go back to what you know to be true of Him. You KNOW that He is GOOD. You KNOW that His intentions toward you are GOOD. And you know that He cannot act in a way that is contrary to His nature. So you’re left with the choice…do you believe what His word says about Him?

[Stay tuned for Part 3]