Summary: This is a doctrinal sermon about regeneration.
“REGENERATION – THE BEGINNING” Titus 3:3-8
INTRO – “Complete Runner’s Guide” – kind of small. Not sure it’s really the COMPLETE guide, the complete book of running, but it’s got some good information in it.
The Bible IS the COMPLETE Book of running – running the race of the Christian life! Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” This race began w/ Jesus before the world was created, continues w/ Jesus as we keep our eyes fixed on Him, & will end w/ Jesus, either when we leave this life & go to be w/ Him, or when He returns to get us. Jesus initiates our faith; He is our source of faith; & He will perfect our faith in the end.
Every race I’ve run in has been started by someone firing a starter’s pistol or blowing an airhorn. The means of starting the race is not important. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a pistol, an airhorn, or a guy waving a green flag at a Nascar race. The important thing is that you hear it or see it, respond to it, start moving your feet or your car, & head toward the finish line.
The reason that the race analogy is used in Scripture is b/c it has such application to our salvation experience.
- 1 Cor. 9:24-25 (CEV) – “You know that many runners enter a race, and only one of them wins the prize. So run to win! Athletes work hard to win a crown that cannot last, but we do it for a crown that will last forever.”
o There’s the moment of entering the race.
o You run to win.
o You receive the crown at the end.
- 2 Tim. 4:6-8 (GW) – “My life is coming to an end, and it is now time for me to be poured out as a sacrifice to God. I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith. The prize that shows I have God’s approval is now waiting for me. The Lord, who is a fair judge, will give me that prize on that day. He will give it not only to me but also to everyone who is eagerly waiting for him to come again.”
o Paul clearly had a moment when he entered the race – Damascus Road.
o Throughout the race, he fought the good fight & kept the faith.
o He would soon receive his prize.
The main subject of this message today is the starting point. The word that describes this moment is REGENERATION (PUT UP ON SCREEN).
But before we jump into that, let me take just a moment to be very clear about something: Although Paul said that the athlete had to “work hard to win a crown,” & that HE had “fought the good right…completed the race…& kept the faith,” he is NOT saying that our salvation is contingent on our works. We are NOT saved by the grace of God, but then have to work in our strength to KEEP our salvation!
- Our salvation is a GIFT of God as Eph. 2:8 tells us. And God will never take that gift away from you once He’s given it to you. He’s not a cruel God like that.
- Phil 1:6 assures us that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The work of salvation that God starts in our lives WILL be completed by HIM, not by OUR good works & our feverish efforts.
- Jude 24 – “To HIM who is able to keep you from falling…” – The word for “keep” here means “to keep from being snatched away; to guard from being lost or perishing.”
- 2 Tim. 1:12 (NLT) – “…I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.” Word for “guard” is same word used in Jude 24. GOD WILL guard that which we’ve entrusted to Him. What is it that we’ve entrusted to Him? Our FAITH in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. God WILL keep that from being snatched away or stolen from us. If God guards it, it’s pretty safe, don’t you think???