He Saved Us
The Baptism of Our Lord
He Saved Us
Text: Titus 3:4-7
There was a father once who had a number of children, and ooh I tell you, those children were something. They sure had a mind of their own. The father loved them though. He protected them tirelessly, even when they didn’t realize he was doing it. He provided for them graciously, even though they weren’t always thankful for it. In addition to all of that love, he also taught them what was right and good for them to do.
For example, there was a local cliff in town. All the other children loved to go near it. But it was so dangerous. The children didn’t realize it, but even though there was water below, the fall off the cliff could result in death. The father knew this, so he told his children exactly what to do and what not to do. He told them to stay away from the cliff, to not even flirt with the thought of the cliff but rather to stay on the straight and narrow and veer away from disaster and death.
But did the children listen? Of course not. The thought of the cliff was so exciting and exhilarating—so tempting. All the other kids were doing it. Why couldn’t they? So day by day they began to disobey their father more and more. They veered off the road toward the cliff more and more as they daringly dabbled with danger. The father knew it and repeatedly warned them about what he wanted and the danger of disobeying. But they didn’t listen. Finally it got to the point where they were pretty much doing the exact opposite of what their loving father wanted and they were at the cliff every day.
It sure seemed fun, until one false step too many one day. They fell—all of them. They all fell off the cliff. They fell all the way down into the water. It was disastrous. There was no possible way to climb out. The water was freezing and deep. The children were doomed, drowning, and on their way to death.
The father knew what happened. So what would he do? Would he just leave them? All his children disobeyed him all the time. There was nothing but disrespect, defiance, and disobedience. Now they were dying because of it. What would he do? Was it their fault they were drowning and dying? Yes. Did they deserve to be drowning and dying? Yes. But the father loved them too much. At just the right time, in his kindness and love the father took action. He rescued them from their helpless condition and saved them.
And that is exactly what our God has done for us.
Adam and Eve fell off the cliff. They fell right into sin and brought the disaster of death into this world. But they aren’t alone. Every human thereafter has also been born into sin and committed sin and drowns in their own guilt. We’re a part of that. We too have gone astray and were drowning in our own sins. There was nothing we could do. We couldn’t crawl out of the pit on our own. The distance we had fallen was too far. The holiness of our God is too high. The depth of our sins was too much. We were doomed, drowning, and on our way to death.
Our Father knew what happened. He knew what Adam and Eve did, he knows what you and I have done. What would he do? Would he just leave us? All humans have disobeyed him all the time. There’s nothing but disrespect, defiance, and disobedience to the very God who has made and preserved us! Now mankind was dying because of it. What would God do? Was it our fault we were drowning and dying? Yes. Did we deserve to be drowning and dying? Yes—we sinned. But our Father in heaven loved us too much. He took action to rescue us from our helpless condition.
This is made so clear to us today in the words of Titus 3. Listen again to the beautiful words of the apostle Paul as he describes the goodness of our God. “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.”
God saved us. We fell off the cliff—into sin—and were completely helpless as we were lost and drowning in our sin. But God rescued us from our helpless state and saved us.
Why would God do this? Not because of righteous things we had done. It’s not that we went to church the right amount of times or met the quota of prayers or donated enough time to community service. Our righteous acts could never match up to our righteous God, meaning that our actions could never pay for our sins. It’s impossible. No, we weren’t saved because of righteous things we had done, but it was because of his mercy. It’s because God looked down on us with pity and compassion and loved us too much than to let us rot in the filth of our sin.
So God in his mercy made a promise to Adam and Eve first that he would send one to save them from death and the devil. And he continued in his mercy over the years to continue that promise—even though people continued in their sin. People kept sinning and sinning but God in his mercy kept promising and promising until the time was finally right for God to take action to save us.
When was that time? It was, “when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared.” God revealed his goodness and generosity and goodwill toward mankind when his Son took on human flesh and appeared in this world. That’s the joy of Christmas that we just celebrated. Christ came here in the kindness and love of God to show his mercy by saving us.
In the analogy of the cliff, Jesus himself jumped off to the very depths of death to pull us up out of it. To pull us out of the depths of sin we were drowning in, he carried our sin himself. To pull us out to the death we deserved, he himself died. Everything that we have done and everything that we have deserved Christ took onto himself in his suffering and death. He made himself to be helpless and took our place in the pit of death so that we could be rescued from that helpless condition. We can truly say that by his suffering, death, and resurrection He Saved Us.
That was the first step. Jesus paid for the sins of the world and bought us back from death and the devil. But how does that gift of salvation personally become mine? That next step of this gift becoming mine is in the next sentence. “He saved us through the washing that works rebirth and through the Holy Spirit who works renewal, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
God does not just zap you out of your sin or fill your heart by a lightning bolt from heaven. God uses specific tools, or means, to work in your heart, bring you to faith, and give you this gift of salvation. One of those tools of course is his Word. “Faith comes from hearing the message,” the Bible says. You get faith in Jesus only when you hear the message of Jesus. That’s one of the tools.
Another tool of God the Holy Spirit is mentioned here. It’s a washing, a washing that works rebirth, a washing that gives you a new life in Jesus Christ. This special washing is called baptism. Baptism is not just a splash of water like you’re washing your faith or taking a bath. Baptism is not just someone showing they are committed to God because, “Jesus said, ‘Do it,’ and now I’m doing it.” Baptism is not just a way to become a church member. Baptism is a tool of God to accomplish something in your heart.
The Bible says, “All those who have been baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.” That’s how baptism is a washing that works rebirth. When anyone of any age is baptized, God clothes that person with the life and death of Christ and a rebirth takes place. Did sweet little Penelope understand that she was being baptized this morning? No. Does Penelope understand what baptism means? No. Could Penelope give you a clear confession of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? No. But is Penelope too young to receive the promise of Christ or to be clothed with the life and death of Christ? Absolutely not! God uses the waters of baptism to wash away sin and give new life to anyone and everyone. So most surely all of us who have been baptized, even little Penny today, have been reborn into God’s family and have received renewal through the Holy Spirit. The end of the verse says that God pours the Spirit out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior. And praise be to God that he in his mercy pours out his Spirit generously on people of every age, every color, and every culture.
What does that mean for you today then? Remember the father at the beginning? He took action. In his great love and mercy he saved his children who fell off the cliff. He rescued him and brought them to safety. And even though they had disobeyed him, they had his continual forgiveness. They remained his children and retained the full status of heirs to their father’s fortune.
That is our same joy today. God has saved us by rescuing us and bringing us to safety through Jesus Christ. And even though we disobeyed him—and even though we still fall into sin and disobey him—we have his continual forgiveness. We remain his children and retain the full status of heirs to our Father’s fortune. This is what the last verse tells us: “So that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
God has declared us innocent of our sin—he has justified us. He forgives us because of his undeserved love, his grace. Thus, because he saved us and because we have been reborn through baptism, we are now and always will remain his children. We are heirs to our heavenly Father, heirs set to receive the inheritance of eternal life in heaven.
The richness of our God’s goodness and grace is truly unfathomable as we ponder his love this morning. What a joyous day it is. Filled with the quiet peace that filled our hearts at Christmas, now we see Christ begin his ministry this morning. Now the Savior steps into action as his ministry kicks off at his baptism and his Father declares, “Yes, this is my Son whom I love.”
On this great day we see Jesus loved by his Father. We see Jesus who came in his mercy to rescue us from our sin. We see Jesus who then poured out his Spirit generously on us to give us rebirth in baptism. What a glorious day to ponder the love of our God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and to joyfully say He Saved Us.
Posted on January 12, 2016, in Church, Sermons and tagged Baptism, Church, Infant Baptism, Jesus' Baptism, Justification, Rebirth, Renewal, Salvation, Sermons, The Baptism of Jesus, Titus, Titus 3, Trinity, Washing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.