The Best Predictor Of Future Behavior
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” vs. 11
Life Defining Moments
Think back on your life and share with us what was a life defining moment for you; a moment that when you look back you see how you prepared and anticipated that time or that you live differently now for having gone through it.
Here are a few I came up with:
16th or 21st birthday
Death of a loved one
Allow me to share one of mine with you. Of course has you well know it has to include the love of my life, my wife. We were married on June 25, 1983. I had spent the previous night at our new apartment and my brother stayed with me. Claudia stayed at her parent’s house. Our wedding was at 7 p.m. so it was a long wait to see her that day. The wedding was great. The reception, well, let’s just say that the one thing people remember about our reception was the cake falling and crashing. It didn’t end as well as we hoped but here is the great part. We changed clothes and had a sendoff at the car. What really stood out was about 10 minutes into the drive away. We were talking and taking a deep breath after everything was over. The sun had settled and it was beginning to get dark but there we were, driving off into the sunset. About the same time we looked at each other, grabbed each other’s hand, and just smiled and realized we were on our way to start our new life. All the dating, all the planning, all the waiting; it had led up to this and now our lives would be different, together, and we were off. I will never forget that drive. It was a defining moment because it was really the first time we recognized that we were us now. It was the first time we were man and woman and we were on our way.
Paul writing Titus talks about this very kind of thing. Today we will take a closer look at Titus 2:11-15. If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word.
Read Passage – Titus 2:11-14
11 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. 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.
We have been studying the book of Titus. I think the verses we read this morning are the defining moments for this book. Everything in this book is about these verses. Everything before leads up to them and everything after is in light of them. Paul speaks in this passage about two appearings. We find the first in verse 11a:
“For the grace of God has appeared (that offers salvation)…” vs. 11a
Paul is affirming that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to be the sacrifice for us. He wants to make it really clear that everything that happened from the creation of this world until the time of Mary, a virgin, conceiving Jesus, was leading up to this very event. It’s apivotal point in history that everything was building towards.
The second appearing Paul mentions is in verse 13:
“…(we wait for)the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” vs. 13
The second appearing is what we are waiting for; it’s been what everyone has been waiting for since the time of Jesus ascension to the right hand of God. Now you might ask how I can be sure, or how Paul was so sure, this would happen? Look again at the title of todays sermon:
“The best predictor of future behavior…”Can you finish it? Right…”is past behavior.” This is a quote from that famous theologian (smile) Dr. Phil. Now Dr. Phil said this about people but it is equally true about God. God is faithful. He made and makes promises and not one of those promises has failed. He has been faithful since the beginning of time and has never, never, failed. Some promises are yet to be fulfilled. But the best predictor of God’s future behavior is his past behavior which is to be completely faithful. So if he promises tht Christ will return, he will.
And that leads us to the next part of this promise which finishes out verse 11:
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” vs. 11
That the gift of salvation is for all people. This isn’t a promise for the Israelites, not for the rich, not for the elite, not for any one group but for all people. Anyone who wants it can have it. God says that his desire is that none should perish (Mt. 18:14) and There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24) and the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23) So God puts the offer out for everyone and its your choice to take it or not. No one can do it for you and you cannot do it for anyone else, it’s an offer and a choice, your choice.
Looking Back To Look Ahead In…
So Paul breaks this promise down for us into two areas. I think he is trying to direct our thinking into looking back so that we can look ahead.
Grace (The Past)
The first area is that of grace. This is not a popular idea and many don’t like to admit this but we have all done something wrong at some point in our life. On order to correct that, we need forgiveness. So God provided a way of forgiveness in Jesus and that is grace.
Grace: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
This grace is representative of our past, our lives before Christ. Verse 12a:
“It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions…” vs. 12a
Notice the word Paul uses here, teach (ask congregation to underline it). A better translation of that word would be train. Training is the practice of working and practicing to finally get something right. It means you make mistakes but you keep going. Paul emphasizes the negative here. The continuing need to say ”no” to things that might seem good but that are not good for us. That takes time and practice. He continues this thought in the second half of verse 12:
“…and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” Vs. 12b
As we say not to the things that are not good for us, we say yes to the things that build us up.
Ex. The boxwood bushes in front of It’s A Small World in Disneyland. They don’t grow that way naturally. They are cut and pruned regularly so that they form the shapes we see and have come to love. They gardener says “no” to the branches that don’t grow the right way. But they also say “yes” to the ones that are adding to and solidifying the way shapes.
Our lives are the same. There is a constant need to prune and say no to the things that aren’t making us healthy and good. A word of caution, many of us get down on ourselves when we make mistakes. The good news is you are just practicing. Try again. Say “no” next time.
Hope (The Future)
That moves us to the second area that Paul covers; hope. Hope represents our future. Hope is looking ahead with anticipation and promise. Paul says in verse 13:
“…while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Vs. 13
What we have to look forward to is the promise of God that this is not all there is. There is more to come. This life is just a short period time in comparison to what is to come. Look at another verse that also talks about this in 1 Peter 1:3:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”
1 Peter 1:3
Hope is to desire with anticipation, to look forward to with confidence. What do you have to look forward to? This idea puts our troubles and struggles in perspective. It allowsus to hurt and be disappointed knowing that it won’t last. Paul also said; For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.(2 Cor. 4:17) We are promised we will have trouble. We will struggle and feel disappointment and frustration. That is temporary. The real future for us is one that has no more sickness, no death, no tears, no sorrow, etc. And…we will be reunited with those we love and have an eternity to spend with them.
Ill. Let me share with you one thing I have to look forward to, seeing my great-grandmother. I loved that woman and I am sure that I am the man I am today because of her prayers and love for me. I wish my wife and daughters could have met her. You know what part of my hope is? One day I want to introduce them to her. I want them to meet this woman who meant so much to me. And I want her see the kind of woman I married and the wonderful women my daughters have grown to be. I look forward to seeing her smile an look of approval. For her to give me that smile that meant so much to me here on this earth and I have to believe will be bigger and more special when we are in heaven together. That will be some day.
Living In The Present
Well that is the past and the future. What about now? Paul doesn’t leave that out. He says in verse 15:
“These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.” vs. 15
What he is putting out to us is the idea that we can live in encouragement. We are given the responsibility of teaching other about what we believe and using it to encourage. We can use it to correct to and I think we are pretty good at that. But what about to encourage? That is the idea that this can be good news and bring peace to many people.
Lewis Smedes (1921 — December 19, 2002) was a renowned Christian author, ethicist, and theologian in the Reformed tradition) wrote, “Is there a hope when hope is taken away? Is there hope when the situation is hopeless? That question leads us to Christian hope, for in the Bible, hope is no longer a passion for the possible. It becomes a passion for the promise.”