On the outskirts of a small town, there was a big, old pecan tree just inside the cemetery fence.
One day, two boys filled up a bucketful of nuts and sat down by the tree, out of sight, and began dividing the nuts. "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me," said one of the boys. Several dropped and rolled down toward the fence.
Another lad came riding along the road on his bicycle. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me."
He just knew what it was. He jumped back on his bike and rode off. Just around the bend he met an old man with a cane, hobbling along. "Come here quick," said the boy, "you won't believe what I heard! Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls."
The man said, "Beat it kid, can't you see it's hard for me to walk."
When the boy insisted, the man hobbled slowly to the cemetery. Standing by the fence they heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me..."
The old man whispered, "Boy, you've been tellin'' me the truth. Let's see if we can see the Lord." Shaking with fear, they peered through the fence, yet were still unable to see anything. The old man and the boy gripped the wrought iron bars of the fence tighter and tighter as they tried to get a glimpse of the Lord.
At last they heard, "One for you, one for me. That's all. Now let's go get those nuts by the fence and we'll be done."
The locals say the old man made it back to town a full 5 minutes ahead of the kid on the bike.
While this is a cute story, it raises an interesting question: if, in fact, the Lord and Satan were seen dividing up the soul’s of men, on whose side would you find yourself -- the Lord’s or Satan’s?
As Sally and I have traveled these past few years and met many new friends, some Christians and some not yet Christians, we have learned that there is a great deal of confusion about what salvation is and what it means to be born again.
Ø There are people who think that they are saved but do not have a clue as to what that means and have no idea about a relationship with Christ
Ø And there are people who don’t think they can ever be saved because of their past deeds.
To make sure that there is no confusion with anyone here about what salvation or being born again is all about, we are going to take a quiz this morning.
In seminary we had a Prof who liked to start class by giving a pop quiz – he called it his “ten easy ones”. This morning I am going to ask you to answer ten questions about how one joins the Lord’s side, finds salvation, and gets to heaven. This is for your benefit and no one will see your answers, so be honest.
True or false:
To find salvation and get to heaven I must:
1) Obey God’s laws and commandments
2) Give money to the church
3) Do the best I can with what God has given me
4) Live a good life
5) Obey the Golden Rule
6) Attend church regularly
7) Get baptized
8) Take communion
9) Pray a special prayer
10) Join the local church
We will look at the answers to these questions in a minute.
First, turn with me to our text -- Titus 3:4-7,
In this passage Paul is writing to Titus and says:
4. . . when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5he 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, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
These verses give us godly incite as to what is necessary for one to be placed on the Lord’s side: i.e. how to be born again.
Vs. 4) “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared”
1) There was a time in History when an “appearance” from heaven, literally an epiphany, took place.
2) That “appearance” was JC, sent to earth as a sacrifice by the very Creator of the universe to demonstrate His divine kindness -- or His “goodness of heart” -- and His philanthropy, or love toward mankind. Two thousand years ago “… God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
3) It has been said so many times, but it bears repeating – God did not have to send us an epiphany, He did not have to demonstrate His kindness and love toward sinners. He chose to do it out of His great love for us! This act of God’s love has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with Him! Or in the common vernacular, this is not about me, it is all about Him!
4) Did God wait until man had all of his “ducks in a row” before He chose to demonstrate His kindness and love? No! “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
5) So, through the epiphany of JC, God revealed His kindness and love toward mankind, and it was through JC that, we find in verse 5 . . .
Vs. 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”,
1) He saved us! It is all about Him – it has nothing to do with us! Even though we want to “earn” our way into God’s good graces, Isaiah tells us in 64:6 that “all our righteousness is as filthy rags before Him”
2) God is the Saving One, it is about Him and His mercy – or compassion/pity (we did nothing to deserve this compassion)! In fact, according to 2 Peter 3:9, this mercy is available for everyone, because it is God’s desire that no one perish.
3) God has chosen, because He wants no one to perish, to shower His mercy on mankind and make a way for everyone to come to Him.
4) Remember, that way is NOT “because of righteous things we have done”, but it is because of what He has done!
5) How did He show this mercy and provide for man’s salvation?
6) “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”. As Christ said to Nicodemus, “you must be born again.” Jn 3:7
a) That is an interesting use of terms, “the washing of rebirth”.
b) When we were delivered into this world by childbirth, we had nothing to do with the process.
c) Our mothers were the vessel used by God to carry us, nourished us, and finally deliver us into this physical life.
d) In fact all we had to do with the process happened when the doctor swatted our bottoms and we began crying and demanding that our every need be met.
e) How similar it is when we are reborn. God does all the work and we make all the demands!
7) In verse 5 we also learn that salvation and rebirth are through the ministry of the HS.
a) The HS is the member of the Godhead who woos sinners, convicts of sin, and points the way to JC.
b) When a sinner responds and believes, the HS then places or baptizes them into the body of JC.
c) It is interesting to note that the HS is not seeking recognition in this passage or anywhere in the Bible. The HS always points people to JC.
Vs. 6) “whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior”
1) This rebirth and renewal that God showered on mankind has only one source – JC.
2) “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
3) If you are looking for true salvation, there is only one way – JC.
4) Even though it is not politically correct these days, it is biblically correct to reject salvation through Muhammad, Buddha, the New Age movement, self merit, or anything else other than JC! Remember that salvation it is all about Him!
5) If you have placed your hope in eternal life and your hope in getting to heaven, on anything or anyone other that JC, make no mistake, you are lost and going to hell! You have nothing for which to hope!
6) However, if you have placed your hope in JC then verse 7 is for you. .
Vs. 7) “so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”
1) Those He saves, He also justifies -- that is: they are found not guilty and are acquitted of all their sins – past, present and future!
2) All because of His wonderful “grace” – His unmerited favor – which He chooses to pour out on His own.
3) Resulting in the hope of living with God in the presence of JC for eternity – we become joint heirs with Him!
4) PTL!!!! What a marvelous and wonderful God who cared enough for sinful mankind to provide a way of salvation for all who will believe.
Let’s look back at the quiz we took. The answer to all of the questions is false. As out passage this morning has taught us, there is absolutely nothing that you or anyone else can do to earn salvation and eternal life! It is not about us – it is about Him!
According to the Bible, the only way to salvation and eternal life is by believing in JC!
1) The literal translation of “believing” means to “rely on, trust in, and adhere to”.
2) If you have never made the decision to rely on, trust in, and adhere to JC, then, according to the Bible, you are not saved and you have no hope for spending eternity with Him.
3) If you are relying on or trusting in your own “good works”, or in someone or something other than JC, then, according to the Bible, you are lost and will spend eternity separated from JC.
Now, back to my original question to you this morning:
If, in fact, the Lord and Satan were seen dividing up the soul’s of men, on whose side would you find yourself -- the Lord’s or Satan’s?
Are you trying to earn your way into God’s good graces by personal merit? You can never do that.
Are you placing your faith in someone or something else to get you to heaven? It or they will fail.
God loved you so much that He gave His wonderful Son as a sacrifice so that all you have to do is believe on Jesus and He will do the rest!
I plead with you this morning to make that choice right now, in the quietness of your own heart. If you will believe on Him, He will do the rest.
If you are a believer and have accepted JC by faith I want to direct a couple of questions to you:
1) Now that you are saved, are you trying to walk your Christian life in your own strength, trying to earn God’s approval? Remember, we are saved by faith through grace and our lives are lived by faith through grace. We can do nothing but chose to obey Him As Paul told the Galatians: “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”
2) Remember, when you share the gospel with unbelievers, don’t place unbiblical conditions on those to whom you are witnessing. God has done it all, our responsibility is to share the gospel and then step back and let Him do the convicting and saving.