Monday, December 9

The full gospel

Scripture: 1 Timothy 5-6, Titus 1-3

Titus 2:11–14 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Titus 3:4–8 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 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, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Observation

In both of these passages, Paul speaks to Titus about salvation by grace, not by works.  This is the gospel, the good news: we are saved from our sin, the mess we’ve made, “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”  But there is more to the gospel than forgiveness of sins by God’s grace.

Paul also makes it clear that this grace leads us into a new life that says no to sin, and we “live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”  We are saved from our sin, and saved to new lives in which we are “eager to do what is good,” and we “devote ourselves to doing what is good.”

In other words, there is no conflict between salvation by grace and doing good deeds—provided you get the order straight!  We are not saved by doing good, but we are saved for doing good.  And if, after receiving salvation by grace, our lives continue unchanged (still trapped in sin, not doing good), then we have not received salvation by grace at all.  The full gospel is not just a promise of heaven, but the power for a new life now that results in good deeds.

Application

When a pastor gives a sermon on doing good (in whatever form), he may be charged with compromising the gospel, exchanging it for “moralism.”  That’s possible.  It’s also possible that the pastor is preaching the gospel of salvation by grace, and its necessary result: a godly life of good deeds.  Without Paul’s balance, we end up with a message of grace that ends with “salvation” and not life to the full.  Grace not only saves us in the sense of forgiving our sins and guaranteeing heaven, but it empowers us to live a new life now.  That is not moralism—that is the full gospel!

As a believer in Jesus, out of love for Him and gratitude for His salvation, and empowered by His grace—I am devoted to doing what is good!

Prayer: Lord, thanks for the full gospel that not only forgives my sin, but empowers me to do good in the world.