I am so thankful for John Carter’s thoughts last Sunday as we prepared to partake of the emblems that draw our attention back to the fantastic gift of redemption exhibited on that cross some time ago. If you remember, he focused on two words of significance in the text he read (Titus 3:4-7): the word “might” and the word “hope,” both found in v7. The emphasis on these words sought to bring out the absolute confidence we as Christians should have when it comes to eternal life (v7). I have spent a lot of time thinking (i.e., meditating) on this idea this past week. It has blended well with our morning bible reading, which now finds us in Romans. In Romans 5:1, we read, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” God so desperately wants us to grasp the magnitude of His grace, the unfathomable depths of His love (Ephesians 3:14-19). Why is this so important? Let’s go back to Titus chapter 3 and consider some verses that surround the beautiful idea of grace.
“Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities,
to obey, to be ready for every good work…”
Paul says to the church in Ephesus, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” So often, when we speak of eternal life, we look beyond this life, this physical world in which we live. But the gospel of Christ is as much about now as it is about our future! God has created us through the work of Christ to do good works now, in this world. There was an “old man” mentioned in Titus 3:3, which was apart of the sinful world around him, something all of us were once every bit part of it. But now, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As new creations, part of the Christian journey here, those good works, involves the “putting off” of the old man and “putting on” the “new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Let’s remember a quote from last week’s lesson that I think is crucial here. It said, “The new life is now theirs, yet they are to actualize it-not in order to gain it but because they already have it”; that is, “Become what you are!” The “good works” we are called to do are not to make us what we are. Instead, we should see “good works” as what happens when sinful man collides with unimaginable grace, producing within man a new heart that wants “to learn what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10, NCV).
“This is a faithful saying and these things I want you to affirm constantly,
That those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good
works. These things are good and profitable to men.”
Paul’s exhortation to Titus was to “affirm constantly,” that is, assert confidently regularly. Assert what? Our tendency may be to direct our attention to the transformation that needs to be taking place in the life of the Christian; but although necessary, that would put the cart before the horse. Change begins, find its strength, its reason, in the amazing grace afforded us through Christ Jesus. When confidence is first placed there and left there, transformation becomes more natural, although not necessarily easy. May we all be influenced by His grace in such a way that we pursue good works, not to earn somehow what we don’t have yet, but because in Christ, we have all we need. Be blessed and live confidently in Christ.