Last week in an excerpt from Victoria Kelly’s teaching on Titus 3:3-8, the first ingredient began the making of the “salvation cake”. These verses teach us how we conduct ourselves around humanity and within our culture. Our responsibility for the world: is to instruct others in the way of truth because we were once without God ourselves. The joy is to be found in the transformation of our lives through Jesus where we can share the good news with others and lay out the grounds of Christian doctrine, which is salvation through the trinity.
Last week -The first ingredient:
1. Facing the truth about ourselves – The need for salvation
The following is the second of three excerpts of Victoria’s talk where she teaches with the analogy of a “salvation cake” to better grasp Paul’s message to us in this letter to Titus.
2. The heart of God – Where salvation originates
“When the kindness and love of God our saviour appeared…” (Titus 3:4)
We know the appearing is referencing Jesus Christ. Douglas J.W. Milne explains it in a powerful image using 2 Timothy 1:10 as his guide: ‘When everything on the human plane was pitch-dark and hopeless, the God of love burst into the darkness of this world in the person of his earth-born son, in a definitive moment of divine epiphany.’ Jesus burst through the darkness of our sin and in his amazing love, came to save us. That is the heart of God.
Let’s bear in mind verse 4 comes directly after the hideousness of verse 3. God’s kindness was given to a world that was so undeserving. Whilst we were selfishly indulging thinking of no one else, the generosity of God was afforded to us. Kindness is the idea of being generous toward someone who cannot pay it back, he is lifting off the ‘fee’ that we owe, even though we are ungrateful and wicked. This kind of kindness that Paul refers to is a divine quality that completely contrasts the despicable behaviour and traits people display in verse 3.
v5a “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy…”
1. Before reconciliation between us and God he had to deal with our disobedience, our rebellion. But he didn’t just HAVE mercy, he ACTED on it. Mercy led Jesus to the cross, which is where salvation flows. God couldn’t turn a blind eye to sin. To our sin of verse 3. It HAD to be punished. But God’s mercy and love and kindness dealt with it through Jesus at the cross, knowing we could never pay for it.
2. It is all God and Jesus. NOT OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Paul reminds of us this for three reasons: 1) Clears the grounds for declaring the true basis of salvation; 2) Restates that God justifies the ungodly; 3) Highlights/reminds the notion supposing Paul, Titus, Cretan Christians, the Corsham Christians occupy high moral ground from which to look down on others around them. No one is different from the worst Cretan.
These verses remind us that he reached out to us, way before we reached out to him. He saved because of his mercy, that is our true hope. We receive salvation completely undeserved – it is by grace alone.
That is the very heart of our God and is a complete contrast to our hearts of verse 3.
So, we have our mixture of ingredients, our sinful selves and the heart of God. Now we need to make the cake. But here is the beauty of it (because I am certainly not very good at making cakes),God provides the method, he turns the ingredients into something good!
Look for the method next week!