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By Mercy, Not by Works #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
September 8, 2023 12:00 am

By Mercy, Not by Works #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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September 8, 2023 12:00 am

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We are going to look into the physical eyes of Christ. We're going to see Him face to face. It's no longer going to be by faith.

It's going to be by sight then. Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hello, I'm Bill Wright, and we're continuing our series, Titus, God's Glorious Plan of Grace. Today, we'll hear part two of the message, By Mercy, Not By Works. Last time, Don pointed out that God did not leave us without a tangible manifestation of His goodness and kindness.

The person of Christ and His sacrifice on the cross stand strongly as an anchor in history. Today, Don will call our attention to how our conversion and the consummation of all things also show how good a God we serve. So turn to Titus chapter three as we join our teacher now in the Truth Pulpit.

We're continuing through our study of Titus, and I'd invite you to turn to Titus chapter three, what Paul starts to unfold as we move on into verse five. We see two aspects of this kindness that we want to bring out for you this morning. First of all, I want to talk to you about the manifestation of His kindness. God manifested His kindness at the cross of Jesus Christ. You want to know where else God has shown His goodness and kindness to you as a Christian? It wasn't just at the cross. He displayed His goodness, His kindness to you at your conversion, at your conversion. That's what Paul is talking about here in Titus three.

Look at it with me again. Two thousand years ago, it was publicly manifested, this goodness, and then Paul now is going to talk about a reality that is intensely private and personal and internal to the heart of the believer. Look at Titus chapter three, coming at it from a completely different dimension. It wasn't just a general kindness that God displayed.

He took it and made it personal to you and me by name. Look at verse four. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, as we move into verse five. What's He talking about here? He says it.

How can you miss it? Verse five, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness. We're going to come back to that in just a moment. But according to His mercy, we're going to come back to that in a moment. Here we go. Here's what we want to talk about right now. When was the manifestation of the kindness of God that Paul is talking about?

When did that occur? What's he talking about right here? Here it is in verse five.

Don't miss it. Paul, what are you talking about? When was God kind to me? You've already talked about the crucifixion. He's talking about our personal conversion. In verse five, according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. When did you receive the Holy Spirit? When you believed.

When was it that you were converted? Listen. Listen.

Listen. It was when the Holy Spirit worked on your heart. It's when the Holy Spirit opened your mind to understand the Gospel. It's when He took your heart of stone out and replaced it with a heart of flesh that was willing to receive and hear these things. He washed you. He cleansed you in other words. He took that crucifixion work of Christ and applied it to you personally by name. He washed you. He regenerated you. He gave you new life. Whatever else is going on in your life, there should be a sense, a profound controlling sense if you're a Christian. I am the personal recipient of unspeakable kindness from a gracious God.

That's the only right way to think. And that's what Paul's talking about. The kindness of God appeared by the washing of the Holy Spirit in your conversion.

You know what that is? That's humbling. That's kind. God rescued you when you did not deserve it. Christ died for your soul when you didn't deserve it. The Holy Spirit applied that work of Christ to your heart when you didn't deserve it. There's almost, not quite, there's almost a sense in which you want to say, God, stop! Because this is starting to be frightening because it's so alien to my experience in this world. It's so contrary to what I deserve.

What manner of love, what kind of grace and goodness is this? And Lord, I'm so sorry that I take it for granted. I'm so sorry that I walk through with a grumpy spirit in life.

How can I be that way? Lord, I'm sorry. Would you just, I can't take anymore. It's too much. It's too rich. It's too wonderful. I can't take it all in.

But you know what? We're not done. We're not done talking about the manifestation of the goodness of God because there's more to come.

Set at the cross, at your conversion. Number three, at the consummation, at the consummation of all things. You and I as Christians have only begun to see the goodness and kindness of God. We've only begun.

We're like two pages into a 10,000 volume story. We've only begun to see the goodness of God on display. For you and I who are true Christians, the best is yet to come. Paul alludes to that in the passage from chapter two. Go back to chapter two, verse 11 with me. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, meaning that it's been manifested to all manner of men, Jews and Gentiles, male and female. This is a gospel available to everyone. And he says in verse 13, remember he said the grace of God has appeared. He says in verse 13, we're looking for something that hasn't come yet. We're looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus.

It's not always going to be like it is right now, beloved. To be here as Christians is magnificent. As I've said many, many times and I'll probably say many, many more times, to be a Christian in this world is the most noble thing in the world. There is nothing more noble, more glorious than being a Christian. Nothing.

Not a thing. And yet, with the riches of the grace that have been bestowed upon us, there's still more yet to come that we haven't yet entered into, that we don't yet fully possess. Paul here in Titus 2 describes it as the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus. He's going to intervene in human history. We're going to see him. 1 John 3, 2 says, in fact, we're going to see him face to face. The more I think about that, seeing Christ face to face, that's the moment I'm living for.

There's nothing else I want. To see my Savior face to face is going to be the culmination of the eternal plan of God for my life and for yours if you're a Christian. We are going to look into the physical eyes of Christ. We're going to see him face to face. It's no longer going to be by faith.

It's going to be by sight then. I don't know. I can't begin. I've tried to imagine how majestically great that's going to be.

I don't know. How can a sinful, fallen mind contemplate what being perfected in glory with Christ is going to be? What's it going to be like to look into the eternal face of the Son of God and as it were, he says, yes, for you I died also, and to be able to be there in his presence and thank him.

You know, I picture my sense of that moment, and this is to diminish it far too much, but I think about seeing that and you know, if I could do that, when that moment comes, when that moment comes, I could go off into a corner of heaven and if nothing else happened, if I had just seen the face of Christ, I could sit in a corner of heaven and say, wow, it finally came true. I saw him. I saw him. I saw him.

I thanked him. And if that was all that heaven was like forever, just being in the realm of the thought that finally the consummation came place, that would be enough. But you know what? That's not what God has for us. He doesn't have for us, sitting us off in a corner, remembering for all eternity, one particular moment in time when we saw our Savior face to face, it would be great if he did.

It would consume our thoughts forever, but that's not it. Whatever else heaven is like, whatever else the blessed eternal state is like, it is going to be us watching God display his kindness to us for ages upon ages of ages. Throughout all of eternity, those of us who are in Christ are going to be the witnesses and somehow the participants in the display of the kindness of God. What we have now at the cross was perfect. The fact that he saved our souls by a work of the Holy Spirit is perfect, and yet it's all aiming towards something so far greater, so far beyond this life that Paul says in the ages to come, in the endless unfolding of eternity, we are going to be seeing the kindness of God toward his people on display.

I don't know what that's going to be like. I can't fathom it, but I know how wondrous it is that Christ died at the cross. I know how wondrous and powerful and miraculous it was that he woke me out of my slumbering death, and I project that and say it's going to be infinitely exponentially by orders of the incalculable magnitude greater in the ages to come. And somehow, somehow you and I are going to be in the presence of Christ, seeing him face to face. We're going to be overwhelmed, worshiping, joyful, grateful, as somehow God expands even further in his display of kindness toward us in the ages to come. Endless display of a kindness that is like that, consistent with the kindness that converted you, the kindness that took Christ to the cross. That's what's ahead for us. Stated differently, God's not done displaying his kindness toward us.

From a temporal sense, you could say he's just barely begun. We'll join together with the saints through the ages, and throughout all of eternity, we're going to be astonished at the kindness of God upon us. That leads into another question that the passage raises for us. God's manifested his kindness at the cross, at our conversion, and we'll manifest it at the consummation. Now, I hope that this context that the scripture gives to us for what we're about to say will forever banish from your mind any concept that you deserved this. We, beloved, don't deserve that.

And I don't have to speak in harsh, condemning language about your sin and mine to say that. How can the creature receive such vast kindness from the hands of his creator? We don't deserve that, right?

We don't deserve that. And so the question is this. Oh, this is beautiful. It's beautiful because it's scripture. The question is this. How... attract with me here.

I really want you to get this. How did we come to receive such incredible, unspeakable kindness from the hands of God? How did we enter into that realm? How did we get through the doorway and enter into that realm of kindness? And number two this morning, the motivation for his kindness. The motivation for his kindness. We've seen the manifestation of his kindness.

What's the motivation for that? Why is God displaying his kindness like that to his people? Paul answers that question from two contrasting perspectives. And we're going to stop halfway through verse five. He saved us. He saved us out of that Titus 3 verse 3 condition. He saved us. What I'm about to read is where it actually starts.

This is the emphasis of what we're about to see. Not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness. Not that, but according to his mercy. Not on the basis of deeds which you have done in righteousness. Beloved, it should be evident to you.

It should be so obvious to you in what we have just said about the manifestation of his kindness. Just walk through it mentally in your mind as you think about this. You say, I didn't deserve, I couldn't even ask the eternal son of God to go to the cross for me. I wasn't even alive then. I didn't deserve that. I didn't deserve a sovereign work of the Spirit of God in my heart to convert me. I certainly don't deserve to spend eternity seeing the unfolding manifestation of the kindness of God.

I don't deserve that. There's a sense in which, Paul, when you understand this, there's a sense in which if you're thinking rightly about the manifestation of the kindness that this answers the question about our deeds before you even get into it. But Paul makes the point because we are so prone to pride and self-congratulation that that weed has to be pulled up by the roots out of our heart. And it's hard to do. I have no confidence whatsoever that what I'm about to say is going to remove spiritual pride from your heart.

I can't get in there. The Spirit of God has to do it. I don't have the power to do it.

You ever go into a garden and you see a really big thick weed and you try to pull it up and it just snaps at the ground and the root and you know that it's going to come back? Well, beloved, you should be asking God to open your mind and help you with what we're about to see. Human words can't get into that spiritual pride and take away the sense, that little corner of your mind that says, yeah, but I'm just a little bit better than the person next to me.

I'm just a little bit better than... name your comparison. And the whole point of what Paul is saying here is designed to dig that root of pride out of your heart so that you would stop thinking that way. So that you would stop secretly congratulating yourself that you were somehow a little bit smarter than the person who isn't saved. That I saw it, I made my choice and he didn't and therefore me over him. To think that somehow your life before Christ somehow deserved God showing grace to you. No!

This decimates our pride, what we're about to see. What motivated God's kindness toward us? Why was God good to us? First of all, it was not by works.

It was not by works. Look at verse 5 with me again. The future trajectory of your spiritual life depends on embracing what we're talking about right here. Whether you're a Christian depends upon whether you actively affirm this and gladly state it. Paul says it's not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness. It's not.

It's not. Beloved, I want to speak. I get animated about this and I want to be gentle as I say this to you. But you've got to understand this.

You have to. God did not give salvation to you because you deserved it. You were foolish and disobedient. You did not do any moral good to prompt God to show this level of favor to you. The fact that your parents may have baptized you or an infant did nothing but get you wet. The fact that you may have tried to be a good boy or a good girl when you were little had nothing to do with prompting God to be gracious to you. The religious ceremonies that you went through in systems of false religion, they didn't do anything to prompt God to be good to you. Nothing that you and I could have done could ever have prompted a holy God to show that great magnitude, that great manifestation of kindness to it. There's nothing that we could have done. And beloved, not only speaking in the subjunctive, there's nothing we could have done, there's nothing that we did. God didn't give you, those of you that come from other religious traditions, God didn't show this kind of kindness to you because under the prompting of the 15th verse of Just As I Am, you walked an aisle toward the front and came down to what they said was the altar. Please!

What a perverted view of salvation to think that I took a few steps and therefore and I prayed the words that they told me to pray and in response to that God was finally good to me. No! No! No! Stop!

Don't think that way! Look at what it says. Look at it with me again on verse 5. He could not have stated this more plainly. Verse 5, He saved us.

Not! He negates it all. Not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness. Let me just say it from one other perspective. God didn't show you this grace because you avoided certain sins.

I thought that for a while. I thought that was the proof of my salvation was that I hadn't sinned in particular ways. No!

That has nothing to do with it. I might not have sinned in areas 1, 2, and 3, but I had sinned in areas 4 through 10,000. And see, you're so tempted. You're so conditioned.

We're all like this. We're all cut from the same cloth. We're so tempted to think that we did something.

That there was something in us that distinguished us so that we received salvation and someone else didn't. Beloved, that is not true. We've got to stop thinking that way.

We've got to stop harboring those secret thoughts deep in that little secret chamber of pride in our hearts. It's not on the basis of anything that you did. You and I are not entitled to this kind of kindness.

So it couldn't be from anything that you did. Protestant, Jew, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Syrian in certain directions toward Mecca. None of that does anything to prompt God to show favor to anyone. Not a drop of it. Scripture emphasizes this so much. God doesn't weigh out your life and say, oh, the good outweighs the bad. By a little bit, okay, I'll give you the riches of this salvation.

Fifty-one percent, I'll pass you on the curve. You know, when you talk about this in the context of the great manifestation of the kindness of God, all of that thinking is really despicable, isn't it? It's just so distasteful to even think about it. Look over at Galatians 2.

Wow, look at the time. Galatians 2, verse 16. Scripture makes this so plain in so many areas and we're just looking at one or two. Paul says, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus. Even we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law.

There's the utter negation again. Not by the works of the law since by the works of the law no flesh will be justified. No one is going to be declared righteous in the presence of God by anything that they've done. Zero.

There won't be one standing in that line. Ephesians 2, 9, you know it. Not as a result of works lest any man should boast. Here's the thing, beloved.

It's not by works. It's not by righteous deeds that we've done that we've come to experience this kindness of God. That decimates our pride. A nuclear bomb has gone off in our hearts in response to this and obliterated any sense of self-congratulations, any sense of deserving, watch this, any sense of entitlement.

We have no entitlement to this at all other than the fact that our champion, the Lord Jesus Christ, went to the cross in order to purchase it for us. He didn't. It wasn't because of us.

So where did it come from? Go back to Titus 3 and we'll close with this even though I've got a little more in my notes. Titus 3, verse 5. He saved us not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but, another contrast, but according to, because of, His mercy. His mercy. Why are you a Christian this morning? One reason.

One and no others. If you're a Christian this morning, it's because God had compassion on your soul. God showed pity to you in your miserable condition and said, I will deliver you out of that, out of the sense of compassion and pity that I have in my heart toward you. Beloved, salvation finds its source in the mercy of God, not in the deserving of man. You are saved not because there was something about you. You are saved only because in the mercy of God it pleased Him to do that.

And He made His kindness displayed toward you. It's based on the righteousness of Christ. It finds its source in a gracious and merciful God, not a worthy individual. Now we see through a mere dimly, getting a glimpse of God's kindness and mercy through His word. But in heaven, it'll be face to face through Christ. And what a great day that will be, as Pastor Don Green has reminded us today on The Truth Pulpit. We'll continue our series, Titus, God's Glorious Plan of Grace, next time.

Don't miss a moment. Meanwhile, Don's back here in studio with us. And Don, while the kindness of God was made most concretely evident through Christ, as described in the New Testament, we still get glimpses in the Old Testament too, don't we? Well we sure do, Bill.

And my friend, I would encourage you with this thought. It would be a great mistake to think that somehow the God of the Old Testament was not kind or gracious in the same way that the God of the New Testament is. They're the same God. And God showed His kindness to Israel as He forgave them and led them in so many different ways throughout the Old Testament. It was in the Old Testament that David said, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

When you come to Christ, you're seeing the revelation of the God who has been kind all along. Thanks, Don. And friend, we hope you'll visit thetruthpulpit.com to find out how to get free CDs of Don's messages. That's thetruthpulpit.com. Now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time when Don presents more from The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-08 04:44:13 / 2023-09-08 04:53:23 / 9

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