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Jesus Christ Our Savior (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
March 28, 2022 4:00 am

Jesus Christ Our Savior (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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March 28, 2022 4:00 am

The Bible teaches that by nature, we’re hostile and rebellious toward God. But find out why it’s actually a good day when we grasp the fact that we’re sinners and God’s enemies! Study along with us on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Scripture teaches that we are hostile and rebellious toward God by nature. Today on Truth for Life, we're in the book of Titus. Alistair Begg is explaining why it's actually a good day when we understand this painful truth and we discover that we are sinners and enemies of God.

Here's Alistair. I invite you to turn with me to the New Testament and to Titus and the third chapter, and I'm going to read the first eleven verses. I invite you to follow along as I read Titus 3 verse 1.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For 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 the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.

These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful, he is self-condemned. Amen. May God add his blessing to this reading from his Word. We pray, before we study, make the book live to me, O Lord. Show me yourself within your Word. Show me myself, and show me my Savior. And make the book live to me.

For Jesus' sake. Amen. Now, I'm sure that many of you were on the receiving end of wonderful stories that came from the Vacation Bible School this week, either by way of your children or perhaps by your grandchildren or even by a friend's children. And the doubtless will have had songs and tunes in their mind which were given to them very purposefully, so that not only this week, but in years to come, they may be able to recall the truths that they were learning this week. That certainly has been my privilege as a boy, and I've had a song in my mind this week for some reason which began, Come listen to my tale of Jonah and the whale, A way down in the middle of the ocean. How did he get there?

Whatever did he wear? A way down in the middle of the ocean. A preaching he should be at Nineveh, you see, he disobeyed.

A very foolish notion. But God forgave his sin, salvation entered in, way down in the middle of the ocean. And the reason that this song has been in my mind is because the emphasis of the verses which are before us now, here in Titus 3, are about what it means to be saved—that it is here in these verses that we're introduced to Jesus who saves us, to Jesus Christ our Savior, as he puts it. And Jonah, in the belly of the fish, declares in Jonah chapter 2 and in verse 9, salvation belongs to the Lord. His predicament in the water having been thrown out of the boat was such that unless the Lord saved him, there was no possibility of salvation, and that he was not asking for salvation from the fish, but he was saved in the fish. And so it is as he prays to God from the fish, he declares that God is the God who saves. Now, that, of course, is the storyline that runs through the entire Bible.

No matter where we turn in the Bible, we discover that God is the God who saves people. And here in Titus chapter 3, we have this made forcibly clear to us as Paul continues from verse 3 and into verse 4. Just in case we've forgotten, we said in verse 3 last time that what we have here is a diagnosis of the human condition in all of its hostility and rebellion towards God. That this is the way—not entirely, but this is the way in which the Bible explains our lives outside of a living, personal relationship with God in Jesus. And as you note there in verse 3, it is not a pretty picture. What Paul is saying to these believers in Crete is that if they think about it, before they were placed in Christ, their lives were foolish, they were disobedient, they were led astray, they were enslaved, they were engaged in malice and envy, they hated people, and they were hated by other people. In other words, they bore testimony to what Chesterton says on one occasion in his writings when he observes, whatever else is in doubt, men and women are not what God intended them to be.

And when you think about that, you realize that it's true of all of us, without exception—that we're not, by our very nature, what God intended us to be when he made everything in perfection in the Garden of Eden, and that we're flawed. If you enjoy Agatha Christie, you will be familiar with Murder on the Orient Express, and you will also be familiar with the fact that that story has a twist to it that is unusual even in Agatha Christie's novels. It has all the same characteristics. They're on a train. None of the suspects are able to get away. They're all trapped. Someone has been murdered. The question is who has done it. And in that particular story, if you recall, there is a moment when Poirot looks into the dining cab and his car, and he sees all twelve individuals, and then he says to himself, It's all of them.

It's all of them. He had been looking for an individual, but in actual fact, all of them were involved in the murder. And what the Bible says is that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are entirely in that predicament by nature, and when we come to realize it, it may be a painful day, but it's a good day. Again, Chesterton, when the Times of London many years ago ran an editorial under the heading What's Wrong with the World Today? and they encouraged people to write in with their answers, Chesterton's answer was the most pithy and was the briefest. He wrote as follows, Dear Sirs, What's wrong with the world today?

I am. Yours sincerely, G. K. Chesterton. If the plight of humanity is as described in verse 3, we also noted that the predicament which we face as men and women cannot be fixed by education, by example, or by experience.

And we needn't go back down the road of last time. So if the diagnosis is there in verse 3, what is the cure? That brings us to verse 4, beginning with the word but. If that was true of us, he says, but when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, when salvation appeared in the person of Christ. In other words, what Paul is reminding these folks about is simply this, that it is Jesus who saves them, they don't save themselves. Salvation is of the Lord. Jesus saves you, you don't save yourself. Now, that is bad news for those who are doing a more than reasonable job of trying to save themselves, and it is good news for those who've come to the end of trying to save themselves and have decided that life is entirely hopeless, that all of our education has not fixed us, that every good example we've been unable to follow to the letter, that all of our experiences of looking into the reality of ourselves, hoping for some crumb that would justify us, it just hasn't worked.

So here's the good news. Notice that it is God's goodness and his lovingkindness, when the goodness and lovingkindness of God—this is not something that emerges in the New Testament, this is something which runs through the entire Bible—it is God's goodness and his lovingkindness that provides clothing for Adam and Eve in their nakedness when they are banished from the Garden of Eden. It is his justice which makes it impossible for them to reenter by placing angels there with flaming swords. They have turned their back on God.

There is no way for them simply to drift back into paradise. And yet, with his justice served by bearing them from the garden, his lovingkindness and his goodness is revealed in that he provides covering for their nakedness. It is God's goodness and his lovingkindness that grants to his people a deliverer when they are enslaved in Egypt.

It is his goodness and his lovingkindness which provides a homeland for his people when they are pilgrims and wanderers and exiles. It is God's goodness and lovingkindness that provides a big fish for Jonah when, in his rebellion against God, he finds himself in a tangled, sorry state in the ocean. And now, says Paul, as if in a dramatic flourish, and now he says, here in person the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared. It harks back to verse 11 of chapter 2, for the grace of God has appeared, bringing notice salvation for all people.

It is an epiphany—that's the word in Greek. There has been an epiphany. And God has come down into our world in the person of Jesus, that God has stepped down into the tangled mess of humanity. And he's done so not simply to provide us with an example, although there is one, nor is it simply to coach us so that we might make our way through life, but he has done so in order that he might save us. In order that he might save us.

And that's the emphasis here. You see it again and again. When the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us. And all the way through into verse 6, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Our Savior. Now, how has he accomplished this salvation? Well, you will notice as he tells us how it hasn't happened.

First of all, in the negative. He saved us, verse 5, not because of works done by us in righteousness, not as a result of our ability to make ourselves commendable to God. The fact is, the Bible makes it clear that our good deeds can't get as a place in heaven any more than a spider's web could stop a tank—not by good deeds done in righteousness. And we say this again and again, but it's important for us to notice that the story of the Bible is not the story of a good God who will reward nice people for doing their best. Some of you are here this morning, and you feel that God owes you. Why, you would never feel that way. It's hard to fathom. God does not.

If we got what we deserve, it would not be pleasant. It is not on account of righteous things that we've done. Now, when Paul writes this, he's not writing something that is remote to him. Remember that the Paul who is writing this has a story of his own in relationship to these things.

And if you would follow me for a moment, I want to point it out to you. And you can track back with me to Philippians and to chapter 3. Philippians chapter 3. And here Paul is warning the people in Philippi about folks who are suggesting to them that they have to engage in all of these external things in order to have confidence before God, in order to be accepted by God. And so Paul says, if that were the case, then there would be nobody who had a greater sense of confidence that God would accept him than me.

And then he rehearses his background. As someone who was circumcised on the oath day, which is according to the law of Israel, that he was from the tribe of Benjamin, he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, in relationship to the law he was a Pharisee, he was meticulous, as to zeal, a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Now you see what he's saying. My background in terms of religious association and attempts at moral perfection is as good as anything that could ever be found. Verse 7. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him—and here we go—not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. And if you turn back a little more to Acts and to chapter 9, let's just look at the transformation that grace brings about in the life of Paul. He was Saul of Tarsus. And in verse 1 of Acts 9, Luke tells us that he was continuing to breathe out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. And on his way to Damascus, he was seeking to do that, when suddenly he was arrested by a light that flashed from heaven. And he heard a voice, Luke tells us, saying, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?

And he says, Who are you? Lord? And the Lord said, I'm Jesus, whom you are persecuting. So, you see, what happened to Saul was that he encountered Christ, and he realized that he was offending against Christ, and that this Christ, this Messiah, had actually come to seek him out—that he needed grace. He was now finding grace or mercy, and then he was going to become the preacher of that same mercy.

But he could not preach mercy until he knew mercy. And so, when he says, But when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, referencing the incarnation of Christ, he surely could not miss the fact of the appearance of Jesus—of, if you like, his own personal epiphany on the Damascus Road, when Jesus Christ appears to him. And suddenly, everything is changed. And the persecutor becomes a preacher. He discovers that Jesus is Lord. He discovers the mercy that is provided in Jesus.

He discovers the fact that he is now part of the very people that he was persecuting. And so look at verse 20. And immediately, he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, He is the Son of God. Did you see verse 1 of chapter 9? Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest for letters and so on, so that he might go to Damascus and arrest them. Here you have him in verse 20, and immediately proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues, in the synagogues, that Jesus is the Son of God. How did this come about?

How does it ever come about? By nature, we don't go out and declare that Jesus is the Messiah. We may not actually believe that he is the Messiah. We may have lived all of our lives saying, I'm sure he was a good man and a great man, but the idea of him being an incarnate God, I could never swallow that.

That might have been the kind of thing you once said. But if you've been converted, if you've been changed, if you've been saved, then you have an entirely different view of Jesus. Now your view of Jesus is that he actually is the Messiah of God. And so Luke tells us, look at verse 22 or 21, And all who heard him were amazed and said in Jerusalem, Isn't this the guy who made havoc, of those who called upon this name? Isn't this the fellow that was here to kill Christians? Am I hearing things correctly?

He's actually declaring. And notice it says in verse 22, But Saul increased all the more in strength, and he confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. What had happened to him? The goodness and loving kindness of God had appeared to him. When he wrote to the Corinthians—and it's on the front of our bulletin this morning—he summarized it in one verse, didn't he? If anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation.

The old is gone, the new has come. I was once totally convinced that my righteous deeds would be acceptable to the God that I worshipped until I met Jesus. When I met Jesus and realized that I was persecuting Jesus, that all of my rebellion against God and all of my insults in relationship to him were against him, then I was confronted by this. And when I laid hold of him as a Savior and as a friend, then I was changed.

I used to be a persecutor. Now I'm a preacher. You see, Jesus is the one who turns us upside down. He's the one who turns us inside out, changes us from the inside. And this, you will notice, according to his own mercy. According to his own mercy. Not because he found us desirable, not because we were particularly attractive to him, because we weren't, but because of his own mercy. The hymn writer says, chosen not for good in me, and wakened up from wrath to flee. When Paul writes to the church at Rome, he says, Would you show contempt for the kindness of God our Savior, for his mercy to you? You see, until I realize my offense against God, that I am in the wrong with him, then the story of his mercy means little to me.

But when I realize that the punishment that is due to the sinner has been born in Christ, that if I were to get my just desserts for who and what I am, then I deserve to die, for the wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. We are helpless to save ourselves.

Thankfully, God has provided through his Son, Jesus, the perfect solution for our predicament. You're listening to Alistair Begg, and this is Truth for Life. Telling people about Jesus and his power to save is what we're all about. Alistair's teaching reaches people in thousands of locations through radio, via our free app on YouTube.

Those are just a few of the ways people connect with us, and it's all because of your prayers and your giving. When you make a donation today, we want to invite you to request the book titled Know the Truth. This is a book we've been talking about for the past several days. It's a comprehensive guide that gives both new believers and those who've been studying the Bible for a long time a more thorough understanding of biblical truth. The book helps explain what Christians believe and why we believe it. You can request your copy when you donate today to give. Click the book image you see in the mobile app or visit us online at truthforlife.org slash donate. And when you go online, you'll find in addition to Alistair's audio and video teaching library, there's an extensive library of written articles. Articles that cover a wide variety of topics from marriage to the fruit of the Spirit to dealing with depression, a whole lot more. Today you'll find an article that explores lessons we can learn from Jesus' temptation in the wilderness.

Just click the blog or visit truthforlife.org slash articles. I'm Bob Lapine. What is your deepest longing? Do you long for perfect love or abiding peace or security? Tomorrow we'll hear the answer to all the longings found in the human heart. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-14 20:05:36 / 2023-05-14 20:13:52 / 8

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