Motivated by the Gospel

Titus - Living with Grace  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:30
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What are you living for? What motivates your decisions? Let your mind replay some memories of what you did last week. At home, work, the store, outdoors.
As memories replay in your mind, let me ask you another question. Why did you do those things?
Why did you get up in the morning (or whenever you get up)?
Why did you do what you did when you were awake?
Your regular routines?
Your spontaneous decisions?
Who you spent time with?
Your choice not to do certain things?
As sinful people, we make many wrong decisions. Either the decisions themselves are wrong or the motivation behind them are wrong.
Even good behavior, like putting in a full day’s work, are wrong and “miss the mark” when we do them with arrogance and pride in our heart.
Proverbs 21:4 (NKJV)
A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin.
As Paul introduces at the start of this letter to Titus, he not only tells us why we should listen to what he’s about to say (he was transformed by the gospel, a servant of God, and sent by Christ), he also tells us why he said what he’s about to say.
He tells us both why we should listen to him and why he said these things in the first place. When we see his motivation for what this letter says, we’ll gain some valuable perspective. We’ll see that:
Main Thought: The gospel transforms how we view life both before and after we die.
This total transformation was at the heart of the message and mission God had given to Paul.
As we take a close look as Tit 1:1-3, we’ll see first t how the gospel transforms the way we view our present life today before death. Then we’ll look at how that message transforms the way we view our life beyond death, too.

The gospel encourages three big changes in our life this side of death.

What is the gospel?
I’ll answer this question in two ways. From the prophet Isaiah (Isa 52:7) and from Paul’s own teaching, which he connected to Isaiah’s teaching (Rom 10:9-12).
Isaiah said this:
Isaiah 52:7 (NKJV)
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
These words (“beautiful feet”) may bring funny thoughts to your mind but they brought exhilarating thoughts to the minds of an OT Israelite.
They describe that climactic moment at the end of a battle or seige when a blood stained, sword-scarred, war-torn solider ran on adrenaline from the valley below to announce to his people that their army had won the battle.
“We won! The battle is over, we’re victorious and we’re free!” In this case, Isaiah referred to a future day when God would deliver or save his chosen people from their enemies and reign with them over all.
Centuries later, Paul connected this teaching to what Jesus Christ did when he died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later.
Romans 10:15 (NKJV)
How shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”
He said this in connection with preaching the good news of salvation from sin and self-righteousness just verses before.
Romans 10:9–13 (NKJV)
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Here he points out that our greatest enemy, our own sinful nature, was defeated by Christ when he died in our place on the cross and resurrected for us three days later. By this resurrection, he conquered the power of sin and death over us and freed us to live for God.
In Titus 1:1, Paul gives three ways this good news of Christ’s victory over sin should change how we view our life today.

The gospel transforms us from unbelief to saving faith.

Titus 1:1 (NKJV)
According to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness
This transforming effect was one of the driving motivations behind Paul’s ministry. He did what he did (his mission) and said what he said (his message) because it brought about saving faith in more people’s lives.
Paul describes the kind of people God chooses to save. He saves those who “have faith” (or believe, depend, trust) in Christ alone for salvation.
Paul knew that by serving God and spreading the gospel message, he would point more and more people to faith in God’s way of salvation - the death, burial, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Has the gospel transformed your life this way? Have you turned from your sinful lifestyle to trust in Christ alone and from whatever religious behavior you hoped would give you salvation?
If so, to what degree does the prospect of pointing more people to faith in Christ motivate what you say and do? Who has believed on Christ for salvation as a result of your influence and choices most recently? Are you making choices to increase the odds that this will happen?

The gospel transforms us from knowing little about God to knowing God well.

Titus 1:1 (NKJV)
According to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness
Being motivated by the gospel not only leads to more people coming to faith in Christ, but it also leads to people know God better than before.
“Acknowledging the truth” refers to gaining a personal understanding of and appreciation for the truth about God - who he is, what he does, and what he says.
Costco and Sam’s Club understand this concept and so do other grocery stores, ice cream parlors, and candy shops. To increase sales, they offer free samples, and studies show that this is an effective strategy (1). According to the Family Handyman, free samples:
Increase sales
Increase customer loyalty
Turn stores into “destinations”
Cause shoppers to feel obligated to buy
Whet the appetite
Save customers money (free snacks)
David illustrated this concept well.
Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Paul knew that by serving God and speaking for Christ, more people would be introduced to God in a more direct, personal, and informative way.
People have formed countless wrong ideas about God. What people think about God and his Word is frequently wrong. They view him as a monster, a bully, or a creation of our imagination when in fact they should view him as our Creator, who is holy, loving, just, merciful and all-powerful.
They need someone who shows and teaches them the truth about what God is like - who he is and what he does.
Perhaps you’re familiar with the song, “I Saw Jesus In You.” Ron Hamilton wrote this song in 1994 as a personal reflection on his memories of his father, who was also a follower of Christ. The chorus says:
I saw Jesus in you. I saw Jesus in you. I could hear His voice in the words you said - I saw Jesus in you. In your eyes I saw His care. I could see His love was there. You were faithful, and I saw Jesus in you.
From these lyrics, we see that Ron Hamilton developed a better, more personal understanding of God the Father through the words and actions of his earthly father. What about you?
How does what you do and say day-to-day provide people with a closer encounter with God?
How does your role of service in the church give people a better, more personal knowledge of God (as a deacon, a SS teachers, a musician, a greeter, and so on)?

The gospel transforms us from ungodly living to godly living.

Titus 1:1 (NKJV)
According to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness
"Which accords with godliness” means something like “which is closely connected with godliness.” My loose paraphrase may also help, which is “learning the truth about God which is closely connected choosing to live God’s way.”
The good news about Christ’s victory over our sin through his resurrection does more than bring about saving faith in our heart and a better understanding of God in our head - it leads to a better living for God with our hands and feet.
Another NT pastor named James said this about living for God as a Christian.
James 2:17 (NKJV)
Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
His point was that you can say you have believed on Christ for salvation, but if your life has not shown any change towards godly behavior (behavior that is more and more like Christ), then your faith is not genuine faith.
In fact, as we’ll see in Paul’s letter to Titus, he was also concerned that believers like you and me learn to put our faith into action. He was concerned that those who had claimed to believe on Christ be taught to channel that faith into meaningful, Christ-like behavior which he called “good works.”
Throughout this letter to Titus, he will give practical ways that the gospel or grace of God (which can be an abstract concept in our minds) should bring about actual changes in our daily actions and behavior - the way we live our lives.
He will mention good works 1x in Ch. 1 (1:16), 2x in Ch. 2 (Tit 2:7, 14), and 3x in Ch. 3 (Tit 3:1, 8, 14). See if you can find these references this week!
This emphasis and central theme would be important because the people who lived on the island of Crete (including many of the new believers) apparently behaved quite badly. They lived according to their physical desires and behaved in rude and selfish ways.
Titus 1:12 (NKJV)
One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
This was the codified culture on Crete, but Paul wanted new believers in the churches there to change. He didn’t accept the “it’s my culture so it’s okay” excuse. If it wasn’t godly, it needed to change.
Perhaps you know the children’s song, “The Things I Used to Do, I Don’t Do Them Anymore.” That’s a good message but not good enough. What about the things you didn’t used to do. Do you do them now?
What activities, behavior, and service are you doing right now as a result of being transformed by the gospel?

Paul’s message was based upon another major change - the way we view our life after death.

Titus 1:2 (NKJV)
In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began
In Paul’s greeting to Titus, he has explained how the gospel transforms our lives today right now in the present. It changes us from unbelief to saving faith, from knowing little about God to knowing him well, and from ungodly living to godly living.
Paul gives us one more way that the gospel motivated him to serve God and speak for Christ. It had not only changed the way he viewed this life before death, but it changed the way he viewed his life after death, too.
A man named George Lamming (who may not be a believer), an acclaimed 20th-century novelist and poet from Barbados, once wrote these words which capture the fear and hopeless of a person who has not yet turned to Christ alone for salvation:
“You can't carry it with you, and 'tis that that frighten me. It frighten the life out of me sometimes [...] I ask myself why. Why can't you take it with you, and if it ain't matter what you do or not do since it all got to go in the six-foot hole. [...] Sometimes to tell the truth I wonder what it feel like to die. [...] I get so frighten sometimes when I ask myself what next, and I ain't see no answer comin' to help. [...] 'Tis a hell of a thing, Ma, to have to live with something inside you that you don't know. (p.87)”
This hopeless view of life after death is shared by those who do not depend on Christ alone for salvation. But Paul tells us that the gospel provides an entirely different view.
Hope describes a personal transformation from uncertainty and fear of experiencing the worst after death to certainty and confidence in experiencing the best after death.
This hope rests in the truth that since Christ died for my sins and rose again, I will also rise again and live forever with him.
Eternal life refers to life after death that not only lasts forever, but lasts forever in a close relationship with God and in a new creation that God will make. We will not spend eternity in heaven but we will spend eternity in the New Earth that Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Revelation tells us about.
Paul assures us (as he probably assured himself) that this hope is not wishful thinking.
It was based upon a promise (or decision) that God made before he made the world and time began. Therefore, this promise and plan for his children to spend eternity with him in the New Creation was unconditional, unaffected by anything that happens in this world now. Nothing that happens in your life in the history of this present world can nullify this promise.
The promise (or decision) that God made is based upon his personal character and nature. The aspect of his nature that Paul hones in on here is that God “cannot lie” because he is perfectly truthful and trustworthy in all that he says.
As human beings, we make plans and give promises. Sometimes we come through and do what we said. Other times we fail, either because we forget what we said, we’re unable to do what we said, or we outright lied.
God is not this way. To borrow a line from Dr. Seuss, when God promised a new creation for those who would be his children by faith in Christ, “he mean what he said and he said what he meant. [Our God] is faithful one hundred percent” (Horton Hatches an Egg).
Perhaps you’re familiar with the pop song entitled, “Live Like There’s No Tomorrow.” Listen to how the chorus captures the hopeless view that an unbeliever has of the future.
Live like there's no tomorrow 'Cause all we have is here, right now Love like it's all that we know The only chance that we ever found Believe in what we feel inside Believe and it will never die Don't never let this life pass us by Live like there's no tomorrow
Friends, if you know Christ as your God and Savior, then you should have complete confidence in an endless life with God in a new creation, freed from sins power, limitations, and destructive effects.
Rather than “live like there’s no tomorrow,” we should live like there IS a tomorrow because there IS in eternity.
Paul lived this way and he was motivated to teach others the same way.
Since we have the hope of eternal life, then we don’t have to worry about experiencing everything possible in this life from a material, human standpoint. It’s okay to “miss out” on some things now because we know that we’ll receive all that back and more in eternity.
Since we have the hope of eternal life, then we can take some risks with our time, energy, and resources to serve God in all sorts of ways. Is the hope of eternal life giving you this sort of determination to serve God, make him known, and sacrifice for Christ? If so, then how?
The gospel transforms how we view life both before and after we die.
Is that what it’s doing for you? May we be a church that is so transformed by the gospel that we increase saving faith, the knowledge of God, and good works in our community because we are confident in God’s promise of eternal life.
(1) see, cited July 24, 2021 at 1:38 p.m.
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