Ready for good works, not saved by them!
I’m doing the epilogue at our international cafe this evening, where we gather people whose first language is Polish, Tamil, Mandarin, Lithuanian, Brazilian Portugese and American English! The cafe builds friendships, teaches English informally and has a speaker on a topic about UK life. This week, it’s the UK political system. For my epilogue I went to Titus 3:1-8 which addresses obeying authorities (so not too tenuous a link!) and the Gospel!
Paul wrote to Titus, who was a church leader in the 1st Century Crete with some instructions about what to do with his church!
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle towards everyone.
Paul wants the church to
1. Obey the rulers and authorities – because actually God put them there, even though they may be foolish or corrupt
2. Ready to do good
3. Slander no-one – that means don’t speak anything bad about anyone
4. Be peaceable and considerate – polite and not fighting
5. Gentle to everyone
These are all good things to do. People will notice when you are like that. But doing good things will not earn your way to heaven! That list of things to do may seem like a way to do good works to get in God’s good books. let’s read the next few verses.
3 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.
Paul is telling Titus that the members of his church once did the opposite of what he wants them to do in v1-2. They used to be foolish, disobedient, envious, mailicious. But something changed!
4 But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
When they encountered Jesus the met his “Kindness and love” and they were saved not by their own works, but because of God’s mercy.
If you think we have to do good works to earn our place in heaven, then you have not understood the Good News at all.
Jesus saves because of His mercy not our efforts.
In fact our best efforts to do good works to earn eternal life are like filthy rags
Let’s look at the next verses…
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 Saviour, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying.
Paul is telling us that we are saved through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit then uses that to make us born again – washing away our dirty sin and renewing us.
We are justified by his grace = justified is a legal term. It means “declared not guilty” and more positively “declared righteous”.
We become heirs having “the hope of eternal life” – God writes us in His will and he wont change it! “This is a trustworthy saying” says Paul!
Lastly Paul writes
And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Our part is to stop trying to earn our way to heaven and “trust God” and do good! That order!
Why not respond in prayer
Lord your Bible tells us it is foolish to earn our way to heaven through good works. They are just filthy rags. Thank you Holy Spirit that you bring to us what Jesus has done. Thank you Jesus for dying for our sin – we choose to trust you, to trust your goodness and kindness, not our own works. Amen