Archive of Pastor Darby's Sermon Notes, transcribed from his original typewritten documents
THE GOSPEL CLASSIC
Sep 19, 1950
Good afternoon friends, I would like to think with you for few minutes today on a few verses from Titus 3:3-8. If you have your Bible handy turn with me to this salvation classic.
As the basis of this study, attention is called to Paul's words in his letter to Titus, especially the third chapter.
Titus was a young minister set in charge of the churches on the island of Crete, in the Mediterranean, near the mouth of the Aegean Sea. But Paul, now advanced in years and soon to finish his course, is traveling in Macedonia, and addresses this letter to his son in the faith, telling him haw he ought to behave himself in the house of God. In other words, he is exhorting and instructing him as to the way in which he, in turn, should exhort and instruct the different classes of Christians under his charge.
It is in connection with these exhortations and instructions that He gives us in chapter 3, this wonderful salvation classic, as it might be called, and which, in a few verses reveals the whole scheme of the Gospel, from the beginning to the end, from the start to the finish.
It commences thus:
"Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to do every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lists and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. Put after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men."
Here have first, our condition by nature, as stated in verse 3. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another." Such is the condition in which these people of Crete were before they became Christians, Paul included himself also in the description. He says: "We ourselves." And this indeed means every one of us as we were by nature, and before we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour- a description too, of every man and woman and child who is yet out of Christ. Look at it in detail. "We were sometimes foolish." "Sometimes" really means "all the time from our physical birth to our spiritual re-birth in Christ. We were foolish, not in the sense of imbecility, but in that indicated in the next word- "disobedient." No man is so foolish as he who disobeys God in anything.
But we were disobedient to God because, we were "deceived," deceived by sin, by Satan, by the glamour of the world, by the darkness and ignorance of our own hearts. It was because we were thus deceived that we were disobedient to God.
But being deceived, we were doing what? "Serving divers lusts and pleasures." In other words, instead of serving God we were serving ourselves. The word "Lusts" must not be taken in the limited sense now used of unchasteness, but in the broader sense, as including all desires and gratifications contrary to the will of God for us. We were seeking to do our own will and to please ourselves in all things.
As the result, we were "living in malice and envy."
This must be true in the very nature of the case. If I am serving my lusts and pleasures, and you are doing the same, of course I am crossing your lines continually and you are crossing mine. And if this be true, then necessarily, we are "living in malice and envy." And because we are thus living we are "hateful". Fill of hate ourselves, and objects of hate on the part of others. And so the picture concludes with the declaration that we were "hating one another."
Let no man say that this is not a true description of what berms before he found Christ. Indeed if he has really found Him, he will admit its truth to the uttermost, and if he denies it, it right well be regarded as an evidence that he is still in his sins.
A short while ago I was called upon to furnish a picture of myself for some printing that was to be done. I thought that I could take a picture with my little box camera and use it. Of course, the picture was not accepted. When it was placed under a magnifying glass it showed up many imperfections. I had to have one of the professional photographers here in Clifton make up a picture to send to the printers. My work was all right, but it did not stand up under a magnifying glass. The glass showed that the work that I had done was worthless.
And it is something like that I would do for you just now. I would put the magnifying glass of God’s Word, so much of it as is found in this single verse, upon your hearts and consciences, that you might see yourselves by nature as God sees you and be thus prepared to listen to and appreciate the offer of His grace.
We have here in the second place, our change from nature to grace. "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour,"
Observe the source of our change- the kindness and love of God; the means, the regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost; and the ground, the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Let us consider the source. The kindness of God means His kindness in a general sense towards ail. The "Love of God our Saviour toward man!! means that kindness in the special sense of the salvation He has provided for lost sinners. The word “appeared" is interesting. God’s kindness and love were seen in the Old Testament days as well as in the New, but it was then like the dawn of a new day which now has reached its noontide. It has now appeared. That the kindness and love of God is expressed in mercy is emphasized by the declaration that it was "not by works of righteousness which we have done ... He saved us." In other words, His salvation is a free gift without merit of deserving on our part.
Let us consider the means. There are two things which the Holy Ghost does, or is doing, to bring about our change from nature to grace; the first is our regeneration; the second our renewal. The first refers to our new birth, our becoming new creatures in Christ Jesus, while the second means the maintenance of that new life thus begun in Christ Jesus.
Take the analogy of our physical life. A child is just born into the world, He has life, but it must be maintained and continued from day to day, and year to year, if he shall live; and his creator has made provision for it. But what is true in the physical is true as well in the spiritual sense. When God begins this new work in us He prefects it unto the day of Jesus Christ. He not- only regenerates, but renews from day to day, and year to year. No unsaved man need hesitate to commit himself to Jesus Christ for salvation: God not only regenerates the believer, makes him entirely over, creating within him a new heart and renewing within him a right spirit, but continually gives him a supply of the Spirit of Christ Jesus, that he may be able to please Him in all things.
This leads us to consider the ground. This regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost is what God has shed upon us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. You remember that John the Baptist, in witnessing to Jesus as “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," said that He was the One who baptized with the Holy Ghost. "Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the "Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which you now see and hear." These words just quoted were spoken by Peter on the Day of Pentecost, and from that day until this God has been pouring out the Holy Ghost as the result of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, regenerating and renewing His people.
Notice therefore how our change from nature to grace is the wok of the triune God. God the Father, loving us and expressing his mercy toward us; God the Son, dying for us upon the cross, and purchasing us with his own blood; and God the holy Ghost, taking of the things of Christ and showing them to us, regenerating and renewing us in the strength of God from day to day. What a God and Saviour we have! What a salvation this is which God has given us in Christ!
Finally, we have our condition by grace; "That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying and these things will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men."
Observe that our condition is by grace one of freedom, me have been "justified by his grace"; second, one of hope, "we have been made heirs according to the hope of eternal life"; and third, one of obligation, " that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works."
Look at the condition of freedom: "That, being justified by His grace." What is the meaning of justified? some think that to be justified is simply to be forgiven. But the word represents something greater still.
The justified man, and he is every man who has come to God in Christ, is not only forgiven but regarded in God’s sight as though he had never sinned. He is a man against whom God has no charge to lay forever.
I have seen this illustrated by the case of the French military officer, Captain Dreyfus. You remember that he was charged with selling French military secrets to the German army and court-martialed for it. And because he was a Jew his hearing was utterly unfair, and in the face of evidence he was accounted guilty and banished to Devil's Island. But there were friends who kept agitating for a second trial, and when this was had, again in the face of evidence, he was found guilty. Now however, the President of France, to save the face of the nation, pardoned him. Captain Dreyfus was free. He went where he pleased and did what he liked.
But Dreyfus was not satisfied with the pardon; nor were his friends, nor a large portion of France satisfied with it. The whole world, indeed, had awakened to the unfairness of the judgment, and cried out for mother trial that the Pardoned man might be justified. The third trial was granted and at last Captain Dreyfus was justified of the crime. He is not pardoned now, but something different and something better. He is now regarded in the eyes of France and of the world as one who never committed the crime.
There are only two ways in which a man can be justified of a crime. One is on the ground of innocence, the other on the ground of paying the penalty for it. Captain Dreyfus was justified on the ground of innocence, for he was innocent. You and I cannot be justified of sin on the ground of innocence, for we are not innocent, but guilty. But we who have accepted Jesus Christ are justified on the other ground that we have paid the penalty of our sin, every particle of it- not in ourselves or of ourselves, but in the Person of our substitute who died, "the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God." Glory to God for a salvation that not only pardons, but justifies!
But our condition, by nature is also one of hope. We are "made heirs according to the hope of eternal life," or, as the Revised Version puts it, "that we might be made heirs of eternal life, according to hope." That is, we are already heirs of eternal life, only as yet we have not entered into the full consummation of it, nor shall we do so until our bodies are raised from the dead, and glorified, like unto Christ’s own glorious body. But although we have not as yet entered into that fulness of eternal life, we are, nevertheless, heirs of it, according to hope. We have the hope of it in our hearts based on the promises of a God who cannot lie.
Now God might have forgiven us without justifying us, and He might have justified us without making us heirs of eternal life; but He has been pleased to do all that, "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
Of what is Jesus Christ heir? The Scriptures tell us that as the God-man He "hath been appointed heir of all things." If then we are joint heirs with Him, what He has we will have throughout eternity!
Finally, our condition is one of obligation. And how simple and practical the obligation is, namely, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works."
He does not say "great works.” There are few of us who could maintain them. We cannot all build hospitals and churches or give our lives to work on the foreign field. But while we cannot all do great works, there is none of us who cannot maintain good works if we desire.
Moreover, the Spirit of God intimates just what He means by good works, which are the common, everyday things that you and I have the opportunity and ability to do, if we will. He does this in the preceding chapter.
Here are the "good works,"- Sobriety, temperateness, soundness in the faith, in love, in patience, not falsely accusing one another, not being given to wine; loving one’s husband and children, being discreet, chaste, workers at home; not purloining, if servants, but showing all good fidelity; obedient to employers, pleasing them in all things, and adorning the doctrine of our God and Saviour.
And notice another thing. Notice where the Spirit of God puts the good works! He does not put them before salvation, but after it. In this we see the difference between the religion of God and the many religions of men. Every natural religion, every religion of the world, puts works first, and salvation afterwards. God only puts salvation first, and good works afterwards.
God does not say "Be careful to maintain good works, that is, cease being foolish, disobedient, deceived, and serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another, and I will be kind to you, and love you and show mercy unto you." The world and its false religions would say that, and so put works before salvation.
But God says “You are foolish, you are disobedient, you are deceived you are serving divers lusts and pleasures, you are hateful, and hating one another. Yet nevertheless I love you, I have mercy on you I give my only begotten Son to die for you, I save you, I regenerate you, I renew you, justify you, I make you an heir of eternal life- now be careful to maintain good works".
He puts us first in a place where we can do good works, and then says; ”Be careful to do them." This is salvation from start to finish, from the beginning to the end of it.