Every week, on Monday, we will have a blog for you with resources for diving deeper into the sermon.
This past weekend was the start of our Not a Religion sermon series, exploring the differences between religion and the gospel. From the start, we have to understand that the way we, as a culture, often define religion is the same way the Bible defines false religion. Most often we want to define religion as the things we do to earn favor with God. But through Pastor Andrew’s sermon on Titus 2:11-12, we saw the big idea that the path to God is grace not works.
We see in the Titus passage Paul speaking in ways that counteract the understanding of religion in our time—this religion says, “You will only be accepted if you make yourself acceptable.” This same mindset has crept into churches, especially in the south. Being a Christian has been understood as praying a prayer and then acting right to stay in God’s good graces. But this is adding to the gospel. When you add to the gospel, you no longer have the gospel.
Rather, Paul says, “Grace has appeared bringing salvation.” Salvation was God’s initiative that had nothing to do with our earning it. In fact, God’s initiative is called grace because God gave us salvation when we deserved condemnation! That’s what grace is; it’s the unmerited favor of God. It’s being given something you don’t deserve.
When Paul says, “appeared,” he means that it was suddenly revealed. It was revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. When grace appeared, a person appeared. In the midst of our sinful rebellion, God sent Christ to take the punishment our sins deserved so that those who believe in him might receive the acceptance of God that Jesus deserved. God’s grace has saved us from God’s just sentence that was coming against our sin.
It’s not just a message of our being forgiven of our sin, but a message of complete restoration to everything that God created humanity to be. Christians will be in God’s kingdom forever under God’s loving rule. And this message of salvation is extended to all people. It’s a free gift to anyone who will accept.
The application for this text is simple, but it couldn’t be more important: trust the grace of God for salvation. For those of us who are believers, we never outgrow the gospel; we simply dive deeper into it. The Christian life is the fight to hold on to our faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and letting the Holy Spirit use the truth of God’s love in the gospel to transform us into the holy, redeemed person he desires we become.
If you are not a Christian, then the step is clear: believe in the message of Easter. Believe that Jesus has done everything necessary to save you. He calls you to leave your old life behind and follow him in new life as a response to God’s great act of love for you. The first step in that journey is baptism.
Featured Sermon Series Resource
Not a Religion reading guide: We have selected three separate passages to go with the themes of the Not a Religion series. This companion reading guide will last through the whole series and can be downloaded in full at the link provided. Or, you can have the verses and commentary sent to your email every day by texting MHPLAN to 41411.
-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)