Welcome back to Crete for the fourth of our Summer postcards. I expect the weather there was better than it’s been this week in the South-West!
Last week we saw God’s great answer to sinful behaviour and rebellion against Him is not an instruction to pull-our-socks-up.
Instead, our Saviour Jesus appeared, to make us right with God by his death and resurrection, and to send his Holy Spirit inside us to change us from the inside.
So how can I be sure I am saved? And does salvation influence my behaviour?
These words in the middle of the letter to Titus are as powerful as dynamite for us:
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14)
How do these verses answer our questions?
1) Let’s say it again – salvation is fully a gift from God
The wonderful news at the heart of Christianity is that in Jesus “the grace of God has appeared.” If we ever tire of this, we miss the centre of the faith and the reason to party.
It’s like God gives us the BIGGEST EVER Christmas present with no strings attached. We don’t get saved by what we do but by what Jesus did. Jesus came, and he offers salvation to all people, wherever we are, whoever we are, whatever we’ve done.
All that God asks is that we let Jesus save us. We ask him to be our Saviour. And if we do that, it’s like we unwrap God’s gift to us. But this gift changes us…
2) Salvation changes our hopes
One sure indication that we have asked Jesus to save us is that he is our “blessed hope”. In other words, we’re looking forward to meeting him. We believe that although he died he is now risen, and he will come from heaven for all those who believe in him.
And when we see him… all will be well. Our worries will evaporate. Our tears will be wiped away. Our disappointments will fade. Does the thought of seeing Jesus encourage you? That’s one sign that your faith is in him.
3) Salvation changes our behaviour
The other thing our verses make clear is that God’s gracious salvation is powerful to change how we live. It teaches us to be upright and godly and to be eager to do what is good.
In other words, when God has opened our eyes to see how marvellous his gift of salvation is, we see that his blueprint for living in his world is by far the best way to live. And so we long to live his way, for him.
Where is that blueprint best seen? In the person of Jesus, of course.
So the person who has received God’s gift – has received Jesus – changes. Their hope is to see Jesus. Their example for living is Jesus. Jesus becomes absolutely central to everything.
It was these sort of changed people Paul and Titus longed to see on Crete. And it begs the question of us: is Jesus central to my life? If so, there’s more to see on our response next week…
With love in Christ