I’ve prepared my monthly teaching for the 5th and 6th grade AWANA clubbers. This month the verse is Titus 3:5. Below are the slides and notes I will be using to present this material this coming Wednesday evening. My timing of this took 17 minutes. First is the notes for talking about the slide, then the slide image:
Today, we’re going to be talking about one of your memory verses – Titus 3:5. This is from the Ultimate T&T Challenge Book 1 (Challenge 3:6 – pg. 65)
Here is that verse – who would like to read it? “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”
Now, I’m going to read the verse in context. “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. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 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, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” This passage was written by the Apostle Paul to Titus, who he calls “my true son in our common faith” (1:4).
Titus was someone that Paul left in charge of the church he’d established on the island of Crete. You can see this on the map here. As you can see, this is in the Mediterranean Sea, just southeast of Greece and southwest of Turkey.
I want you to notice several things about this passage. (click) The first part of the passage describes how Paul and Titus used to be before their conversion to Christianity. Consider verse 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.” They weren’t acting very nice – they were disobedient and enslaved by passions and pleasures. They “lived in malice and envy”. (click) Do you know what malice is?
The New Testament dictionary describes Malice like this: ill-will, desire to injure, wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws, depravity, evil, trouble.
But then, God intervened in the situation. It says, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us”. So, while we were still sinning and rebelling against God, He stepped into history in the person of Jesus Christ and saved us. The Bible (click) says “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Notice that Titus 3:5 says that God saved us “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy”. This is very important – we did not and cannot do anything to merit salvation.
Instead, we are receiving God’s mercy. That’s the word used in Titus 3:5, and it means that we are not getting something bad that we deserve (punishment). Mercy is kind of the opposite of grace, which is where we are getting something we don’t deserve (God’s favor).
The meaning of the word “grace” is unmerited favor from God. Later in this passage (v.7) it says that we are “justified by His grace”. There are many places in the Bible that talk about this concept of Grace – the word appears 156 places in the New Testament to be exact. You need to understand that (click) this is a uniquely Christian concept. Some people wonder what sets Christianity apart from other world religions. Outside of Jesus, this is probably the main thing. No other world religion has a concept of Grace or unmerited favor from God – you always have to do something to please the god of other religions. Let’s talk about a few of them.
First, Judaism. This is the Jewish people – they believe in what we would call the “Old Testament”. They call it the Tanakh. Remember, we believe much of what the Jewish people believe, because we also believe what is written in the Old Testament. However, the Jewish people largely rejected Jesus as their Messiah. The New Testament talks a lot about the Jews and their beliefs. They believe that being a Jewish person (a descendant of Abraham) and adherence to the Law is what will get them into heaven. However, the Bible says “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20)
What about Mormonism? That’s also referred to as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” or sometimes abbreviated LDS. They believe that good works factor into their salvation. The book of Mormon is what they call their scriptures (which they say is “the most correct of any book on earth”). It says “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” By the way, who can say that they have done everything they can do? No one! Contrast this with the Bible which says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Then there’s Hinduism. Hinduism is a very diverse religion that began in India. They have the concept of Karma and Re-incarnation, which are connected. Karma, is a system they believe in where your behavior, whether good or bad, will affect what happens to you in the future – both in this life and the life to come. They believe that Karma affects what you are re-incarnated as. If you’ve led a good life, you will be re-incarnated as a higher life form (click) (maybe a King), but if you’ve lived a bad life, you will be re-incarnated as a lower life form (click) (maybe a bug). But the Bible says “Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27)
For example, Fakirs are holy men in India. Here is a fakir sitting on a bed of nails to demonstrate his religious devotion to the gods. They believe that eventually, if you keep living a better and better life each time, you work your way up through the “caste system” to be able to escape the cycle of birth and re-birth and achieve Nirvana. Nirvana, they say, is a place of perfect peace and happiness – it is the highest state that someone can attain, a state of enlightenment, meaning a person’s individual desires and suffering go away.
Here is a Hindu devotee lying on a bed of nails, being carried by fellow devotees during a religious festival in India. Hundreds of faithful devotees offer sacrifices and perform acts of devotion during the festival in the hopes of winning the favor of Hindu god Shiva and ensuring the fulfillment of their wishes.
Finally, Buddhism – Buddhism is based primarily on the teachings of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama – a spiritual teacher from India who lived from approximately 563BC to 483BC). Buddhism incorporates a variety of religious traditions, beliefs and practices. They believe in what is called (click) the “Eightfold Path”. These are the “works” they have to do to achieve nirvana or the state of enlightenment. Like Hinduism, they believe in the cycle of re-incarnation leading to nirvana, but they reject the “caste system”.
So, in summary, all of the other religions we’ve talked about, require man to work (often hard) for their salvation – to please God, but in Christianity salvation is a free gift.
Think about a gift – like a Christmas gift or a birthday gift. Do you work for that? No.
When someone hands you a gift, do you take out your wallet and pay them for it? Of course not. That would be an insult!
So, religion doesn’t save you – Jesus saves you. Religion is man reaching up to God
Christianity is God reaching down to men.
Now, I want to make sure you know that although we’re not saved by good works, that does not mean we’re not to do good works. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” and the book of James tells us that faith without works (good deeds) is dead. (James 2:26)
Now, back to our verse. The passage goes on to talk about the results of our salvation. It says “so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”. What does justified mean? Simply put, to justify is to declare righteous, to make one right with God.
Justification is God’s declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous. As this graphic shows, justification is where Jesus Christ’s righteousness is credited to us, and our guilt is credited to Jesus as he was on the cross.
The verse talks about “heirs”… What does “heirs” mean? The literal meaning of heir is “someone who has been appointed to receive an inheritance.”
An heir is a person who receives something of value from a father. The Bible sometimes uses the word heir to describe us as recipients of a gift from God
Let’s wrap this up – our verse Titus 3:5 teaches us:
- (click) We can do nothing to merit eternal life (salvation) from God.
- (click) We are saved by God’s mercy, which is not getting the punishment we deserve for our sins.
- (click) We are justified (made right with God) by His grace (unmerited favor), which is a uniquely Christian teaching – all the other religions we talked about require the person to do good works to be accepted by God
- (click) All we can do is choose to receive His salvation by faith.
- (click) Since we’ve received this free gift, we can and should choose to thank Him by devoting the rest of our lives to loving Him and others.
Who has questions either about our passage, what grace or mercy means or about the other religions we talked about?