LRCC Pentecost 31st May 2020
At Pentecost, God fulfilled His promise, Jesus fulfilled His promise, in sending the Holy Spirit. Acts c1 v4-8.
As a result of ‘Pentecost’, every true believer in Jesus is now indwelt forever with His Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the ‘Blessed Trinity’.
This is one of the significant things about Pentecost. It signifies the ‘pouring out’ of the Spirit of God. ( Remember that phrase )
The gift of the Holy Spirit to all true believers is a seal, and a deposit, a guarantee, that their faith is true, their salvation is real.
We read these words in Ephesians c1 v13-14:
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.
So, it is clear from scripture the important role that the Holy Spirit plays a Christians life, plays in a Christians salvation.
That’s what I want to consider on this Pentecost morning from those verses we read in Titus c3 v3-8
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour 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 Saviour, 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 three points for us to think upon. Salvation – Sanctification – Security.
( My first point about salvation will be longer than the other two. )
Let’s look at these verses then. Firstly, let’s consider Salvation.
We read in c3 v3 of the Apostle Paul’s general assessment of people prior to conversion. He says in c3 v3, 3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
As in lots of other areas of his letters, the Apostle Paul reminds us of the state of the unconverted soul. foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.
This was me before I became a Christian, this was you before you became Christians, this is you if you’re not a Christian today.
Basically, Paul is describing the sinful nature which is hostile to God.
This is what the recipients of Paul’s letter were like, prior to their salvation. This is the bad news.
But then look what we read in v4-5: 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
WOW, there’s a lot for consideration in those few words.
Paul reminds us that God is full of ‘Kindness’ and ‘Love’. And that God is our Saviour. In v6 Paul mentions: ‘Jesus Christ our Saviour’.
In fact, in each of the three chapters of Titus, Paul refers to: God our Saviour and Christ our Saviour.
Here’s the references; c1 v3&4, c2 v10&13, c3 v4&6
So Paul says: when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, 5 he saved us
Paul also says in Titus c2 v11: 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
Paul uses the expression, ‘the kindness of God, the love of God, the grace of God’, ‘Has Appeared’.
The ‘Appearance’ of these divine attributes came with the incarnation of Jesus Christ. They were expressed in the person and life of Christ.
Jesus was the living embodiment of God’s Kindness, God’s Love, God’s Grace, and a whole lot more.
And when Jesus ‘Appeared’, at just the right time, Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4, He also brought God’s Mercy.
We read in v5: 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
We wouldn’t be here this morning if it wasn’t for God’s Mercy.
God is our Saviour because He is full of Mercy. Ephesians 2:4 tells us that ‘God is rich in Mercy’. Micah 7:18 tells us that ‘ God delights to show Mercy’. 1 Peter 1:3 tells us that ‘God’s Mercy is great’.
Let me give you a definition of Mercy. ‘Mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve’.
Remember v3, remember what the unconverted soul is like. The world is full of sinners who deserve condemnation, judgment, punishment, death, hell. ‘The wages of sin are death’ Paul says in Romans 6:23.
But because of His Great Mercy, God doesn’t give us what we deserve. AMEN to that.
Coupled with God’s mercy is His grace.
Let me give you a definition of Grace: ‘Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve’.
Note the subtle difference. Mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve. Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve.
Moving on, Paul says in v5: : 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done,
The Bible makes it clear that we are not saved because of the righteous, good and noble things we do. We read in Isaiah c64 v6.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah c64 v6
The most dangerous thing a person can believe is that God will forgive and accept them because of their ‘Self-Righteousness’.
That is what the Catholic Church teaches, it is a false Gospel, it takes people to hell.
God saves us because of His mercy. Salvation is all of God, not us
Moving on again and thinking more about Salvation, and the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation, we read in v5-6: He ( God ) 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 Saviour,
Let me just take you back to the day of Pentecost, and the words of the prophet Joel spoken by Peter. Acts c2 v17&18.
We read of God saying: ‘I will pour out my Spirit’.
This is the significance of Pentecost, God ‘poured out’ His Holy Spirit.
You could say that before Pentecost, under the Old Covenant, God was a bit stingy with giving the Holy Spirit.
Only those given special tasks and roles received the Spirit of God. People such as: Kings & Priests & Prophets.
Now, under the New Covenant, all believers receive the Spirit of God.
As Paul writes in v5-6: ..the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he ( God ) poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
Another one of God’s divine attributes, God is Generous, in fact God is more than generous, I’d say He is extravagant.
Extravagant in His Kindness, His Love, His Grace & His Mercy.
God is extravagant with His Salvation. Acts c2 v21: “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
That was the message preached by Peter at Pentecost, that’s the Gospel. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. That includes YOU !!
So, a quick pulling together of thoughts on Salvation from these verses.
Salvation is down to God’s Kindness, Love, Mercy, and Grace, ( v7 mentions being justified by God’s grace ) which ‘appeared’ in the incarnation, the person of Jesus Christ.
And that salvation has come through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, who has been poured out.
Let’s think further about the role of the Holy Spirit.
v5 mentions the: ‘Washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit’.
What is Paul talking about here?
Well, Washing is an easy concept to understand. You wash to get clean.
Rebirth has to do with change, new life. Think of a Caterpillar changing into a Butterfly.
When someone becomes a Christian, they become a new creation, they are reborn, born again, they experience a ‘Rebirth’ of sorts.
Renewal speaks of repeating something, something which is an ongoing process. Renewing speaks of making new.
You renew things annually, car insurance for instance. When something wears out you renew it. Renewal is an ongoing process.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit that Paul mentions here.
At Salvation the Holy Spirit washes us and we receive rebirth, spiritual birth, this is just the start of a person’s Christian life.
Then God the Holy Spirit continually renews us day by day.
This is my second point. After Salvation comes Sanctification.
( This will be much shorter ) Paul writes, v8: 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.
This is what God wants from His people, to devote themselves to doing what is good.
In other words, to offer ourselves as ‘Living Sacrifices’ to doing good.
Paul says the same thing, in different ways, in all his letters.
Goodness is a wonderful attribute of God. God is 100% Good. James says: 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James c1 v17.
So, God is Good, and we can emulate that attribute of God ourselves through devoting ourselves to doing good, in Jesus’ name.
If we do good, it will be excellent and profitable for everyone.
Goodness is a Fruit of the Spirit.
The more we submit to the Spirit’s influence in our lives the more good we’ll do.
The more Christlike we’ll be, the more sanctified we’ll be.
( I told you I’d be much shorter didn’t I )
In closing let me just mention something about my third point, Security.
Paul says in v7: 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Paul reminds us here that our eternities are secure. Every true Christian, those washed, reborn and renewed through the Holy Spirit, are heirs, with Christ our Saviour, of eternal life. This is our hope. Let’s go back to where we started, Ephesians c1 v13-14
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession
Paul is clear, Paul is confident, our eternal inheritance is guaranteed.
Christ died, and Christians, the church, are His ‘next of kin’. We are the Body of Christ.
Therefore, all His wealth, all His estate, goes to us. We inherit everything ‘In Christ’.
Paul starts Ephesians by saying that: ‘Christians have every Spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms through Christ Jesus’. c1 v3
And these spiritual blessings come to through the Holy Spirit who has been poured out generously through Christ Jesus.
This is our security.
I’ll close there. Remember, today is the birthday of the church, Pentecost.
God’s Spirit has been poured out. Poured out on all Christians.
Has He been poured out onto you? Have we experienced Salvation? Are we being Sanctified? Do we have Security? Let’s pray.