CAUSE AND EFFECT
4 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 have been around Presbyterians for years and I can tell you they are fond of saying that God is a "God of order." Well, they say it because it's true. We can see the fingerprint of God in the orderliness of the universe. In the sublime design of living things we can clearly see the signature of the Creator. On the other hand, God's creatures are not always as orderly as their Maker, particularly His people; not in the things they do, or the places they go, or the way they think. But for us there are some things that really need to be placed in order.† Otherwise, we arenít able to understand and live out the Gospel. In the text above (Titus 3:4-8) God reveals a process that is very important, essential in fact, for a fruitful Christian life:
First, we see in vs. 4 that our relationship with Christ, begins with His kindness and love. His intervention is the starting point.
Second, we see in vs. 5a that our salvation is based upon His mercy and not upon any righteous works of ours.
Third, we read in vs. 5b that the cleansing and renewing we so desperately needed were provided by the Holy Spirit; and, in vs. 6 that the Spirit's presence and activity in our lives was made possible by Jesus Christ.
Fourth, in vs. 7 we learn that the basis for our justification (being freed from the penalty for sin) is His grace (being given what is unearned and undeserved).
Fifth, we also learn in vs. 7 that we have a legitimate right to the hope of eternal life because of the inheritance that we have as adopted children of God.
Last, we see in vs. 8 that, because these things are true, we should commit ourselves to doing what is good. Of course Christians need to believe the right things, but believing right things should lead to doing right things!
I want to be sure that you see that doing God-pleasing works comes at the end of the process - they are the result of our salvation, not its cause! What began with the kindness and love of God concludes with us being able to be of service to the King and His kingdom.
Remember: "These things are excellent and profitable for everyone."
Pastor Keith Andrews