Summary: Through baptism we receive the fortune of forgiveness that Jesus left us. We also receive the Holy Spirit so that we are empowered to live a new life.
Pop star Prince has died at age 57. It’s now been reported that Prince had no last will and testament. He was apparently paranoid of signing any kind of legal document lest he somehow be swindled out of his fortune. Of course now everyone is wondering who will get his millions. His six siblings? His lawyers? The government? We’ll be hearing about this in the coming months as there will no doubt be a fight over the fortune.
About two thousand years ago another prince left a fortune behind when he died—though no one seemed to realize it at first. It wasn’t until the Prince of Peace came back to life that people came to appreciate the fortune he had left them—a fortune worth more than all the money in the world. As we continue our sermon series on baptism, we’ll learn how through that sacrament God gives us this fortune—the promise of a heavenly inheritance and therefore a better bequest. Listen to our text from Titus 3:3-7. “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 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.”
I think everyone would be shocked if they find a will for the pop star Prince and discover that he left everything to the music producer who reportedly ripped him off early in his career. People usually don’t leave their fortunes to their enemies. Why, we often hear stories of children being written out of their parents’ will for the slightest of reasons. That’s what should make Paul’s opening words in our text astounding because he doesn’t describe the kind of people who seem deserving of inheriting a fortune. Look again at what Paul wrote: “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” (Titus 3:3).
Paul wasn’t describing a bunch of criminals serving a life sentence. He was writing to Titus, a fellow servant of God who was in charge of organizing the congregations on the island of Crete. Paul said to this Titus, “…we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions…” Paul’s foolishness had been quite obvious, for at one time he actively tried to destroy the religion that he was now working to promote. When Paul thought about his past he must felt like the player in Game 7 of the playoffs who knocks the puck into his own goal in overtime. Of course what Paul did was even worse. He went around having Christians arrested and approved of their executions. This was a man with innocent blood on his hands!