When you hear the word “God” what comes to your mind? How do you think of God when you think of Him? Where does you mind take you when you turn your thoughts to God? Listen to how the great A.W. Tozer opened his monumental little book, “The Knowledge of the Holy” with these words in chapter 1 [Read]
How we at EFC imagine God to be will determine whether we are a good church or not a good church. We are setting out through the book of Titus to learn what makes a church a “Good Church”. Last time we saw in the greeting, specifically verse 1, a good church knows that the Apostle Paul matters, which is to say we uphold the teachings of those God called as Apostles.
This time we are going to continue one more week through the greeting, but, this time see what it teaches us about God. In doing so we are going to see 3 reasons Why God is so Wonderful. A church is a good church because above all else it’s view of God is so high. As Tozer also says in his introduction, “we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is.” So, brothers and sisters, how will we as a local church think of God?
#1: God is So Wonderful because He is the Savior (v2, 3, 4)
The first reason this greeting teaches us that God is so wonderful is because God is a wonderful Savior. Notice how we are taken to this fact at least 3 times. In verse 2 Paul says, “a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life…” Then notice the end of verse 3 where Paul calls God, “God our Savior”. Finally then, in verse 4 speaking of Jesus he says “Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.”
A good church sees God as wonderful because we know He is a wonderful Savior. In 1707 Isaac Watts wrote with awe in his soul the words to the hymn, “Alas, and did my Savior bleed and did my Sovereign die! Would he devote that sacred head for sinners such as I?” Or how about Fanny Crosby’s timeless song, Blessed Assurance, where we sing, “This is my story this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long!
God’s people throughout history have known God to be a great Savior. He is the God who delivered Noah from the flood, and saved Israel from slavery in Egypt. Moses made music because God was a wonderful Savior; in Exodus 15:2 he sang these words, “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation…” The Psalmist in Psalm 95 sung the praises of God as a wonderful Savior, “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation…” In Revelation 7:10 the great multitude of martyred saints from the Tribulation will sing, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.” Another great multitude will shout in Revelation 19:1, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God!”
You can see how deeply affected these people were by God’s salvation – they sing and they shout and the declare God as a wonderful Savior. Do we sing and shout and declare to one another the salvation of our God? When God becomes your Savior it is not a little thing. Beware of people who think they’re saved but don’t think much of God as Savior. It opens up a whole new world where you see how wonderfully gracious God is and how He has powerfully loved you. A great local church is measured not by the size of its budget, the size of its attendance, the size of its programs, the size of its “impact” on the community, but, by the size of its God. How great is God according to this Church?
Application #1: What we call God shapes how we see God. How we see God will shape how we relate to Him. Paul calls God “our Savior”. He calls Jesus “our Savior”. What makes God’s salvation so wonderful is the realization of how sinful we really are (3:3). It is surely the underestimation of our sin that leads to indifference to God’s salvation. See your sin, all of it, in all of its wretchedness, but, let seeing it lead you to seeing then how God in His salvation has washed all your evil away by His own Son’s blood.
Application #2: Secondly, how we see God will determine how we serve Him. Paul calls God “our Savior”, and that reflected Paul’s commission to go and preach God’s Salvation to the lost. (Lordship Salvation: no one will see Christ as Lord of their lives until they see Him first as the Savior of their lives. No one will want to live for Christ until they see that He died for them as their Savior.)
How do you see God? Is your service to God a reflection of how you see Him? Don’t let Christian service be for the praise of men, for earning salvation, for working off guilt or because you’re guilted into it. Let it be because of how great you think God is and how worthy He is to be served.
#2: God is So Wonderful because He is Truth (v2)
The 2nd reason God is so wonderful is found in verse 2. You might miss it when reading through because it comes from the short comment Paul makes, “a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie…” We live in a world where dishonesty, duplicity, fake-ness, half-truth’s, deception, mendacity and lies run amok. How many spouses found out their marriages were a lie from Ashley Madison? Volkswagen is in hot water for some dishonesty over the emissions of its automobiles. Have all the emails from the private email server been handed over? It’s hard to know what to believe in this world.
But one thing you can believe is God. Paul says God promised before the world began eternal life to believers. And as Paul drives on with this thought, he adds this small, parenthetical statement asserting the veracity of God. God is so wonderful because God is Truth. You can’t overemphasize this attribute of God enough to us as believers. Why? Because when our entire relationship with God depends on believing Him then we must know that He is truthful. How can any meaningful relationship with God exist when you can’t rely on His words and His character?
Well here’s the deal: God’s words and God’s character are impeccable. Doubt of God is the result of a flaw in us – not a flaw in God. In Numbers 23:19 God said, “Am I man that I should lie or the son of man that I would change my mind? If I speak do I not act? If I promise do I not fulfill?” Those are rhetorical questions and God is pressing the point of His own perfect integrity. The prophet Samuel said to the disobedient King Saul about God, “The Glory of Israel will not lie” (1 Sam. 15:29). God doesn’t simply refrain from lying, Hebrews 6:18 informs us that “it is impossible for God to lie.” Why? Because God is truth, Jesus said that He Himself was truth in the flesh in John 14:6, “I am the way the truth and the life…” The same point is driven home in 1 John 1:5 when it says “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all”, light being the light of truth.
The fact that God is true is so important for the young pastor Paul was writing to. Titus was instructed to be a man of truth and the elders he appointed were to be men of integrity. In 1:7 they could not “pursue dishonest gain”. Slaves were to show their masters they could be fully trusted in every way (2:10). Why all this talk about integrity? First of all because it would set the Christians apart from the typical Cretan, who in 1:12 are said to be “liars”. Furthermore, the false teachers running around were in it for financial gain. Their teachings were not only a rejection of the truth but a means to financially exploit believers. Notice verse 10, 11, 14. On the island of Crete, like in this world, people who live by truth will stand in stark contrast to the world around.
Application: First of all we must not withhold any confidence in God. We must put all our trust in the One who is worthy of all our trust. God does not lie, let us not treat Him like He does. Let us treat Him like the God of truth that He is, by believing in Him with all our hearts.
Application #2: Let us practice truth in all our ways. If we know God is perfect in His integrity then let us become perfect in ours.
Illustration: Perhaps you’ve heard about the supermoon lunar eclipse that is supposed to happen tonight. Supermoon means the moon is closest to the earth in its orbit making it appear 14% bigger than normal and 33% brighter. A lunar eclipse means that the moon is going to pass through the shadow of the earth. The moon doesn’t have any light of its own. It is only bright because it reflects the light from another source – the sun. If the earth gets in between the moon and the sun the moon darkens because something is blocking its light.
As Christians we don’t have any light of our own. We are like the moon, we are bright only when we reflect the light that is shining on us from another source. Jesus said “I am the light of the world”. He is our source of light. And while it’s cool when lunar eclipses happen it’s not cool when Christian eclipses occur. In other words, when we let something get between us and our light Source it causes our light for Christ to dim. What could we allow to get between us and our Him? The same thing as a lunar eclipse: the earth. When we let the world come between us and the Lord Jesus Christ we lose our shine and grow darker. That means a dogged maintenance of truth in all areas of our lives, and integrity in all we do and say. What better way to reflect the God of truth we serve.
#3: God is So Wonderful because God is Sovereign
God is So Wonderful because He is the Savior, because He is Truth, and lastly because He is Sovereign. Notice verse 3, “and at His appointed season He brought His word to light…” To be sovereign means that God is absolutely free to do whatever He pleases. He asks permission from no one, is accountable to no one, relies on no one, and consults with no one. He is the absolute highest authority in all existence, rivaled by none, challenged by none. He rules His entire creation freely, doing whatever He wants and is not hindered by anyone or anything.
We see His sovereignty in the Gospels of our Lord, when Jesus showed His authority over the storms, over the physical body’s diseases and handicaps, over demons who obeyed Him when He spoke. Consider how Acts 17:26 makes God’s sovereignty very personal for us, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”
When we say God is sovereign we refer to what Paul is getting at here in the verse, that God orders the world, history, men and nations and so on according to His grand purposes. Specifically Paul was saying that God revealed Jesus Christ at the time when God had planned to in the flow of history. He says “and at His appointed time He brought His word to light…” In Galatians 4:4 the birth of Christ happened according to the sovereign timing and method of God when it says, “But when the time had fully come God sent His Son, born of a woman…” Or in 1 Timothy 2:6 the same thing is said, “Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given in its proper time.”
God reveals things progressively. He didn’t dump all of His revelation out at once. That’s why the Bible was written over a period of more than 1500 years. God revealed bits and pieces, parts here and parts there. He revealed some to men in the beginning, and then some more to men who came later, and more to men even later and so on. This is called progressive revelation
God has plans and because He is sovereign He has the power and authority to bring His plans to fulfillment. We all know what it’s like to make plans and have them ruined. We sometimes ask “What’s the point of planning?” A Yiddish proverb says, “Man plans and God laughs”. In other words we make plans but we are wise to remember things don’t always go according to plan.
Not with God however. These instances in our lives should be reminders to us that we are not sovereign and that God is. He never has to say things didn’t go according to plan. Ephesians 1:10 says that He purposed that His will would be “put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” It speaks of God’s control and God’s calendar. God’s plans will be done in God’s time. The world may seem out of control, but, it is more accurately described as “controlled chaos”.
So what comes to our mind when we think of God? At EFC, let us take Tozer’s advice when he says, “We must think of God more nearly as He is.” In doing so, a good church will know God is so wonderful – Wonderful because He is Savior, because He is Truth, and because He is Sovereign.