Titus 3:4-5 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.
Actually, I wanted to continue on through verse 7, but that would have gotten pretty long. This is a beautiful summation of salvation and what it means, which is why Paul starts verse 8 with, “This is a trustworthy saying.” It is helpful to summarize and restate truth from time to time, because we tend to lose focus and forget what it’s all about. Everything in this passage is found in other parts of the Bible, recorded by various different people. This isn’t necessarily superior to those, but pulling it all together like this makes it easier to remember. We often forget that the canon of the New Testament wasn’t set for hundreds of years, not to mention the fact that until the invention of the printing press, everything had to be hand copied, so books of any sort were very expensive. This is the sort of passage that would be appropriate for the instructions in Deuteronomy to “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 11:19-20) If every church member knew this passage well, and particularly if they really understood it, our churches would be far better representations of the Body of Christ!
Having grown up immersed in Scripture, I tend to forget that very few of the people I encounter have the same background. Things that seem completely obvious to me, so as to go without saying, often come across to others as “deep truth.” That actually puts a heavy responsibility on me to share the truth that I know. Preaching is seldom a burden to me, because I have a tendency to preach every time I open my mouth! However, dumping truth on people isn’t very effective in leading them to appropriate that truth for themselves. I need the wisdom and anointing of the Holy Spirit not only to express truth accurately, but to help people understand how it applies to them and to the situations they face every day. Paul’s letters generally start with a section of what might be described as theology, but then they go on to a section of practical application. The theology is very important, but it makes little difference if it isn’t applied in daily living. I keep coming back to James 1:22 and our penchant for deceiving ourselves by failing to apply the truth we hear. That’s particularly pointed for me, because I am more than capable of failing to apply the truth I preach! As a pastor I need to be sure those in the church know the truth, and then come alongside them to train them in applying that truth.
Father, thank You for the many opportunities You give me to share Your Truth. Thank You for conversations, sermons, the Internet, and publishing. May I not give “hearsay evidence,” but express what You have spoken to my heart and enabled me to live out, so that people may be encouraged to believe that You want the same level of fellowship with them, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!