Thought for the Week - 19th MayPastor Gareth Watkins
Titus 3: 3-7
3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,
5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
In these verses, God is showing us the provisions that He has made for us.
He shows us the provisions He’s made for our natural selves. We were once these many things the verse lists. In Titus, Paul describes the detail that make up the ordinary person in the world; the ordinary person that you and I are. That condition is a condition we’d have been bound, lost and kept in if it wasn’t for God Himself sent His loving son into the world, so those conditions described here could be changed in each one of us. God sent Jesus Christ into the world that we could change our foolish lives, our disobedient lives, our deceived and lustful lives into a new type of life in God.
God sent Jesus Christ into the world to change us from the inside outward. That is what these verses in Titus tells us. Through the intervention of God, these things have occurred. Because these things have occurred, the next list of things have appeared. According to His mercy He has saved you and me.
There are different types of tenses: past, present and perfect. When we read that He has saved us, we know we are saved from our past, saved presently, and are being saved. The word being saved is a continual process. It goes on from the time we start, to the time we go on a bit further. We are saved and are being saved.
Christ has saved us because God has send Him into the world to save us from our sins. Not by our own righteousness, but by all that He has done for us. He has saved us. Those who are disobedient, lost, and serving various lusts can find regeneration – a new, regenerated person and personality – because of Jesus Christ. That is a past, present and perfect tense.
We read of the renewing of the Holy Spirit. Last weekend we held our May Conference. We felt of the presence of God across the entire weekend. The Holy Spirit was tangible. People were baptised in the Holy Spirit, people found God in a deeper way, and people were saved. It was wonderful! The presence of God and the worship was powerful. That sense that He renews us inwardly by the Holy Spirit is an ongoing process. If you’ve started, praise God! If you’ve gone on a bit further, praise God! And if you’ve been immersed in the depths of God, praise God! Praise God for that wonderful kindness to us.
There is more to go. That renewing is a past, present and future tense. It goes on until the days we pass on to Glory. Praise God for what He’s done!
Jesus has brought a way for all of us to have a new start, a new beginning. He knows that we’re weak natured. He knows what we need to sustain this life, to change our lives and to go on in these lives, unto a future day. What does He do? He baptises us and fills us with the Holy Spirit. Some people struggle with this. They don’t know if they need “that part”. Do we need that part?
The description of ourselves in verse 3 says we definitely need that part. That description of us in that verse definitely needs the Holy Spirit to change us, empower us and regenerate us from the inside out. The disciples needed exactly the same treatment – they all needed to have an encounter with Christ and be changed from the inside out.
In John 20: 19-22 we read:
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
What was happening there on the first day after the resurrection? The disciples had an encounter with the resurrected Christ. We all need this encounter with the resurrected Christ. The Christ that died, was no longer dead, and was now resurrected… and in 2019 we need that encounter with the resurrected Christ. Those disciples would never be the same again. Those disciples after this encounter with Christ found He was not dead, He was alive, and He was standing in front of them. They knew who they were meeting and who was standing before them.
Have you had an encounter with the resurrected Christ? If you haven’t, there is something missing inside you, because that is what Christ wants us to have – an encounter with Him, the resurrected Christ. The Christ that is alive is still alive! In 2019 we need this encounter with the resurrected Christ.
What happened when the disciples met with Christ? The fear was there. Sometimes when we meet up with Christ, there can be a fear. Sometimes there can be a dread. But it was an incredible experience for those disciples, and it’s an incredible experience for you and me! It’s awesome, it’s incredible, it’s magnificent and it’s a huge experience. It’s wonderful. Those disciples experienced an encounter with the resurrected Christ, and that’s what I want for people in 2019 – for people to have an encounter with the resurrected Christ.
This was the first encounter that the disciples had with the resurrected Christ. It goes on from there and something else occurs. We read in Luke 24: 48-49:
48 And you are witnesses of these things.
49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
These disciples who walked with Christ, who had an encounter with the resurrected Christ, were being told to go somewhere and wait for a second empowering of the Holy Spirit. A second experience. That, to me, makes all the sense in the world. Christ was dead, Christ was risen, Christ gave them this encounter with the resurrected Christ that He was, and then He tells them that they need the same power that He can now provide since He’s going to go up to heaven. A second experience.
Those who knew Christ and walked with Him on this earth, still needed to go on to have this second experience of the resurrected Christ; and then go on to be filled by the Holy Spirit. It’s the same for us. We need an encounter with the resurrected Christ, but we also need that infilling, that baptism of the Holy Spirit.
We need to be equipped for our lives as we live in 2019.
It’s not enough to say we had an experience. We need to be renewed and have a new experience, and for that experience to be onwards and upwards until we become heirs of a kingdom that has not yet come for us. There’s not enough talk in the church about that eternity that lays ahead, where we will become heirs with Christ Himself. Christ was resurrected, and you and I will be resurrected. The days are short sometimes. Our days are getting closer when we will meet Christ Himself, and we will be resurrected. We need to be renewed until that day.
Paul knew this and talks of these things in Titus. We once were foolish, but we were baptised in power of the Spirit. We once were disobedient, but we were baptised in the Spirit, and the Spirit empowers us to be witnesses. We one were living in various lusts, but we’ve been filled with the Spirit that means we haven’t got to be bound to do that anymore. We don’t have to live like that anymore. The devil knows our past, but praise God, God knows our future. And our future is in Him, not bound in those old things. Why? Because of the kindness and love of God for each one of us. He sent our saviour. The kindness and the love of God.
Are we living as rightly as we can before God? Are we as full of the spirit as we could be? God wants us to have a life of righteousness now. He wants us to know that salvation now. He wants us to know that renewing of the Holy Spirit today. God’s answer for the church and to the people of the church is to keep on being filled. It’s not a one off experience. This is now. Are we still filled with the Holy Spirit in the way that God wants us to be? Our days should be filled by God as God wants us to do. He’s sent His son to save us, that we could be witnesses wherever we go.
Many churches are in decline. Great, wonderful churches are closed. Those people must have known the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Those people must have known must have had an encounter with the living God, filled with the presence of God, and knowing eternity. But then what happened? Why are they empty tombs of places that belonged to Christian people? My answer is that they didn’t keep on going, following Christ, being filled, emanating the power of a saving God to the next generation and to the community. They lived for that day, and then they shut down. They lost what God gave them. It’s for the people and the church to go on being filled, and go on renewing, and go on with that washing and regeneration of our being.
It’s not an option. This is God’s way for ourselves to be transferred from being the type of people in verse 3 to people who are under the works of righteousness. We are saved now, and we are saved ongoing, until the day we are resurrected.
Are you lacking any good thing? If you’re lacking something in spiritual places, today is the day that you need to get before God and ask Him, because of the love of Christ, to renew you, to regenerate you, to give you the power to change. Speak to God and ask Him to have mercy and to renew you.
If we read Psalm 51, we see that David knew all about these things. He knew about being washed, renewed and regenerated.
Ask God. Pray to be renewed again. Pray to be changed and empowered again. God will renew the joy of our salvation again and again.