Summary: God changes those he saves into those who are devoted to good works.
Many of you know the slogan, “Once Saved, Always Saved.” Some Christians love how that phrase justifies a lack of godliness even after they walked the aisle, or were baptized, or made some profession of faith. Other Christians hate the saying because of its lack of Biblical precision.
Maybe we should better say, “Once Saved, Always Changed.” Those whom God saves he also sanctifies. Salvation is not the decision we make to follow Jesus, but Jesus’ decision to bring us to the Father. And he who began that work in us will be sure to complete it.
Warren Wiersbe warns us of the danger of a faith based on slogans: “There are many professors who are not possessors. A Christian is not sinless, but he does sin less.”
John Piper: “The Bible knows nothing of the modern idea that your soul might be saved while your life is wasted away…. But many secretly hope Jesus, while saving your soul, will leave your life alone.”
2Timothy 2.19: But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
“Once saved, always changed” is the theme of Titus 3. Please give your attention as I read this portion of God’s word.
[Read Titus 3.1-8. Pray.]
Francis Schaeffer (one of great Christian thinkers of the last century) wrote about living out the Christian faith in a morally failing world. In his aptly titled book, How Should We Then Live?, Schaeffer seeks answers to questions like, “What is the relation between a Christian and the culture?” I think this question should grip every Christian: “Now that God has converted us, how should we then live?”
One answer, Pietism, proposes that we retreat from the world and keep religion to ourselves – faith should be personal and private, without worldly effect or influence. The opposite idea, “triumphalism,” wants Christian truth forced on others: the faith should change the world without regard to the preferences of people or even whether it has properly impacted us. Instead of either of those, the Bible says that the kingdom of God is within, while its influence radiates out. Its rule advances by the grace of the gospel as it changes hearts and lives.
As a result, the true Christian makes a difference in the lives of others through the difference God has made in our lives. Jesus calls it salt and light – preserving, flavoring, blessing, influencing. We make a difference in the world when we are the people we should be – so transformed by the grace of God that we are an aroma of life to those whom God is saving.
This morning’s text shows Paul’s concern for the church’s witness in a fallen world. We too live in a culture that rebels against God. How should we then live? How can we be who we should be when surrounded by so much that is not the way it ought to be?
1. To Be Who We Should Be, We Must Remember Our High Calling (Titus 3.1-2)
This past summer Daniel was mowing the grass at Compass Church. While he cut the front of their large property, someone stole his gasoline cans. Back in July, during the middle of the night, someone egged our house and cars. A few weeks ago, Daniel and Rebekah biked to the grocery store to purchase some items for a taste-test challenge for her Chef’s Journal newsletter. While they were in the Kroger in Fairfield, Daniel’s bicycle was stolen. Friday, when I walked out to get the mail, I found that someone had spit their half-eaten candy in the church mailbox.
These are minor wrongs, almost irrelevant annoyances in day-to-day life. But they do show, in their small way, a difficulty of living gracefully in a world of sin and sinners.
Christians are not exempt from the problems people face. What shocks us, however, is that Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5.44-45). Instead of getting even with those who wrong us, Jesus wants us to “not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matthew 5.39-41).
So the effects of a fallen world create relational problems, especially with those who do not worship Jesus as Lord – who live for themselves. But there is more: most true Christians feel disappointment with the government that rules us. Corruption too often mars public officials, and even when it does not, they seem set on removing freedoms and replacing them with a nanny state – controlling us “from cradle to grave.”