Summary: Talk 6 in series. How the gospel shapes our relationship with the world. Dealing with a divisive person.
It hasn’t been all good news for QANTAS lately. There was the A380 incident with an uncontained engine failure. Other incidents include another engine failure, smoke in the aircraft, a bird strike and one aircraft hit by lightening. These incidents have hurt the QANTAS brand and how the company responds will be interesting.
I find the response of the pilots even more interesting. When an aircraft becomes unstable, I am confident that our pilots are well trained and respond to emergencies in the most professional way. Because when you’re a passenger in a plane, there is only one option for you, trust in those who are leading the way.
And in our unstable world, the grace of God is leading the way. The Christian life is a response to the love of God. Living in accord with sound doctrine is a response to the love of God. Appointing godly elders to watch over you is a response to the love of God. Vigorously engaging false teachers is a response to the love of God. Older men, be temperate, this is a response to the love of God. Older women, adorn yourself with reverent beauty because you love God. Younger women, be self-controlled and pure in response to the love of God. And young men—as brash as you can be—please control your affections and passions— do this in response to the love of God.
Isaac Watts wrote, ‘Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all’. Charles Wesley reportedly said he would give up all his other hymns to have written this one. Pretend for a moment that all of creation was yours to give away (be descriptive). This gift doesn’t even come close to matching the incredible grace of God that brings salvation to all people.
A common strategy in marriage counselling is to take couples back to their first love for one another. What sparked the flame? What drew you together? Remember that time when loving one another was easy? In Tit 3:3–7, Paul takes us back to a time when we were unlovable. There was no reason for God to love us. We were, according to verse 3, ‘foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another’.
In our rebellion there was nothing to commend us to God. Relationships usually start with something praiseworthy in the other person. There is a reason for the attraction. There is motivation to explore one another further. There is passion within our souls. But when God looked at us there was none of that at all. Verse 3 says that we hated others and others hated us. Sinners have a disdain for one another because autonomous beings will invariably clash with one another. Sin promotes self-centredness which leads to discord in relationships. People fight with one another. Relationships are fractured because the unregenerate person is enslaved by passions and pleasures. Alan Jones on 2GB spends every morning try to glue the pieces of humanity back together.
Hell is when God fully withdraws himself from life. It’s what we all deserve because that was our chosen direction in life. We were willing slaves to sin, we lived in collusion with the evil one, we were participants in a world destined for destruction. We were unattractive to God and deserving death. You once thought if there was a God, that somehow he would approve of you. Or maybe you didn’t even care. Whatever the case, God’s love is not unconditional. He is not just another ‘good mate’. Nor is his love incompatible with his justice. Our loving God is a just God who deals with his people according to their response to him.
This is what makes verses 4 so attractive. ‘But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy’. If you missed the point in verse 3, then surely its clear in verse 4, our unregenerate self could do nothing righteous. There was nothing to commend us to God. Yet the love of the God burst forth into this world.
The love of the God is a committed, strong, powerful love which penetrates a world frustrated by darkness. We needed a saviour and according to verse 4, God appeared as our Saviour. The kindness and love of God expresses itself in mercy. We needed a merciful Saviour because we cannot save ourselves. We didn’t even know that we needed rescuing. But in his mercy God came to us as our Saviour. Verse 5, ‘He saved us by the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour’.