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.
4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
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 Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Tit 3:3-7 NIV)
To be a salve is to be bound by chains, whether you can see them, or not. Sometimes the unseen chains are stronger then those you can see.
I. Examine The Extreme Conditions Of A Slave
A. Stupid With Disobedience
-- Jack, Road Signs disobeyed by others (stupid, stupid, stupid)
B. Stung Through Deception
*When John Belushi died in the spring of 1983 of an overdose of cocaine and heroin, a variety of articles appeared, including one in U.S. News and World Report, on the seductive dangers of cocaine: "It can do you no harm and it can drive you insane; it can give you status in society and it can wreck your career; it can make you the life of the party and it can turn you into a loner; it can be an elixir for high living and a potion for death." Like all sin, there's a difference between the appearance and the reality, between the momentary feeling and the lasting effect.
-- Daniel Hans, Milford, Connecticut. Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 3.
C. Swayed By Desires
-- A baited trap, like the mouse who succumbs to the peanut butter.
D. Soaked In Disgust
-- Can’t see the good in others, and can’t see the bad in self. Hating and being hated. – blinded by sin, hating what you see in others. The image you see may be yourself.
II. Explore The Extravagant Compassion Of The Savior
A. A Kind Savior
* Our pastor was organizing an evangelistic outreach using small acts of kindness to demonstrate Christ's love. He phoned several neighborhood grocery stores and laundromats for permission to do specific services.
On one call, the employee who answered the phone hesitated, then said, "I'll need to ask the manager, but first, let me make sure I understand: You want to clean up the parking lot, retrieve shopping carts, hold umbrellas for customers, and you don't want anything in return."
"Yes, that's right," our pastor replied.
After disappearing for a moment, the employee returned to the phone. "I'm sorry," he said, "we can't let you do that because if we let you do it, we'd have to let everyone else do it, too!"
-- Ann Jeffries, Kansas City, Kansas. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."
B. A Loving Savior
*The cross is a love letter. It speaks loudly across the centuries. Jesus Loves You. Even you! Even Me! – It is personal. Take john 3:16 and put your name in it. For God so loved ______ that he gave his only begotten son.
C. A Merciful Savior
* Bob Weber, past president of Kiwanis International, told this story. He had spoken to a club in a small town and was spending the night with a farmer on the outskirts of the community. He had just relaxed on the front porch when a newsboy delivered the evening paper. The boy noted the sign Puppies for Sale. The boy got off his bike and said to the farmer, "How much do you want for the pups, mister?" "Twenty-five dollars, son." The boy's face dropped. "Well, sir, could I at least see them anyway?" The farmer whistled, and in a moment the mother dog came bounding around the corner of the house tagged by four of the cute puppies, wagging their tails and yipping happily. At last, another pup came straggling around the house, dragging one hind leg. "What's the matter with that puppy, mister?" the boy asked. "Well, Son, that puppy is crippled. We took her to the vet and the doctor took an X ray. The pup doesn't have a hip joint and that leg will never be right." To the amazement of both men, the boy dropped the bike, reached for his collection bag and took out a fifty-cent piece. "Please, mister," the boy pleaded, "I want to buy that pup. I'll pay you fifty cents every week until the twenty-five dollars is paid. Honest I will, mister." The farmer replied, "But, Son, you don't seem to understand. That pup will never, never be able to run or jump. That pup is going to be a cripple forever. Why in the world would you want such a useless pup as that?"
The boy paused for a moment, then reached down and pulled up his pant leg, exposing that all too familiar iron brace and leather knee-strap holding a poor twisted leg. The boy answered, "Mister, that pup is going to need someone who understands him to help him in life!"
Crippled and disfigured by sin, the risen, living Christ has given us hope. He understands us--our temptations, our discouragements, and even our thoughts concerning death. By His resurrection we have help in this life and hope for the life to come.
--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 75.
D. A Gracious Savior
-- Not anything you can earn, not anything you deserve, but truly, AMAZING grace.
III. Experience The Extraordinary Conversion Of The Saved
A. A Sparkling Rebirth
*A raw countryman brought his gun to the gunsmith for repairs. The gunsmith examined it and found it almost too far gone for repairing. He said, "Your gun is in a very worn out, ruinous, good-for-nothing condition, what sort of repairing do you want for it?"
"Well," said the countryman, "I don't see as I can do with anything short of a new stock, lock, and barrel. That ought to set it up again."
"Why," said the smith, "you might just as well have a new gun altogether."
"Ah!" was the reply. "I never thought of that, and it strikes that's just what I do want. A new lock, stock, and barrel. That's about equal to a new gun, and that's what I'll have."
Man's nature requires just this sort of repairing. The old nature cast aside as a complete wreck and good for nothing, and a new one imparted.
-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
B. A Spiritual Renewal
* Let me put it to you with the story of a simple, illiterate man who was converted through the work of the Salvation Army. He went regularly to the Salvation Army citadel. One day he came home rather disconsolate.
His wife said, "What's the matter?"
He said, "I've just noticed that all the people in the Salvation Army wear red sweaters, and I don't have a red sweater."
She said, "I'll knit one." So she knitted him a red sweater.
The next Sunday after he went to the citadel, he still wasn't happy.
His wife said, "What's wrong this time?"
He said, "I just noticed all their red sweaters have yellow writing."
They were both illiterate, but she said, "Don't worry about it. I'll embroider some writing on for you."
She had no idea what the yellow writing on the red sweater of a Salvation Army man said--Any of you know what it is? They have a yellow circle, and in it, BLOOD AND FIRE. That s their motto. (Unbutton the jacket of a Salvation Army man when he's ringing his little bells sometime; tell him you're just checking.)
The man's wife had no idea what the letters said, and she couldn't read anyway. So copying a sign from a store window opposite their home, she embroidered the words of that store sign onto his red sweater.
When he came back the next Sunday, she said, "Did they like your sweater?"
"They loved my sweater. Some of them said they liked my sweater better than their sweater."
What neither of them knew was that the sign on the store window she had copied read, THIS BUSINESS UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT.
That's what it means to get saved. That's what it means to get converted. That's what it means for the Holy Ghost to come upon you: this business under new management.
-- Stuart Briscoe, "Christmas 365 Days a Year," Preaching Today, Tape 135.
See: Ro 8:11; Jn 16:13; Eze 36:26; 2 Co 5:17
C. A Sensational Reprieve
-- White out covers all our mistakes. That is how it is with God’s forgiveness. God shows us our sin, we wish it would disappear, It is ugly. We ask God to forgive us, and the blood of Jesus instantly appears and blots out our sin, and we stand before God just as if we never sinned.
D. A Supernatural life
* Our three-year-old, Nicole, was as anxious for Easter to come as she had been for Christmas to come. Since my wife was expecting our third child in just a few weeks, many persons were giving us baby gifts since this was our first child in this church. Nicole had picked out a new dress and Mom had given her a new white bonnet. As we stopped at a store to buy her a new pair of shoes to go with her outfit, she once again said, "I can't wait for Easter, Daddy!" I asked her, "Do you know what Easter means, honey?" She replied, "Yes." "Well, what does Easter mean?" In her own sweet three-year-old way, with arms raised, a smile on her face, and at the top of her voice she said, "Surprise!" What better word could sum up the meaning of Easter! Surprise, death! Surprise, sin! Surprise, mourning disciples! Surprise, modern man! He's alive!
--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 162.
* The great Easter truth is not that we are to live newly after death--that is not the great thing--but that we are to be new here and now by the power of the Resurrection; not so much that we are to live forever, as that we are to, and may, live nobly now because we are to live forever.
--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 162.
Let me tell you about a man who was a slave of sin, and who found out about the amazing love and grace of Jesus.
- Life before Christ, what kind of person I was.
- The night the lights went out.
- The power of Jesus to save the worst of sinners. That sinner was me. He is real today, just as he was real when he came to me and delivered me from darkness, into his wonderful light.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Test him and see if he delivers, as he promised. He delivered me, he can deliver you.