Titus 3:7, 8
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.…
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs, etc. There are three subjects in these verses of vital interest to man which require to be brought out into prominence and impressed with indelible force.
I. THE MORAL RECTIFICATION OF THE SOUL. "Being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." This means, I presume, not that being pronounced right, but that being made right. Forensic justification is an old theological fiction. Those who have held it and who still hold it have ideas of God incongruous and debased. They regard him as such a one as themselves. "To be justified" here means to be made right. There are three ideas here suggested in relation to this moral rectification of the soul.
1. All souls in their unrenewed state are unrighteous. We do not require any special revelation from God to give us this information. Man's moral wrongness of soul is revealed in every page of human history, is developed in every scene of human life, and is a matter of painful consciousness to every man. We have all "erred and strayed from the right like lost sheep."
2. Restoration to righteousness is the merciful work of God. "Being justified by his grace" - "his grace," his boundless, sovereign, unmerited love. Who but God can put a morally disordered soul right? To do this is to resuscitate the dead, to roll back the deep flowing tide of human sympathies into a new channel and a new direction, to arrest a wandering planet and plant it in a new orbit. He does it and he alone. He does it by the revelation of his Son, by the dispensations of life, the operations of conscience. "Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living."
3. There is the heirship of eternal good. "Being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Eternal life must mean something more than endless existence; for mere endless existence, under certain conditions, might be an object of dread rather than hope. It might mean perfect goodness. Goodness is eternal, for God is eternal Goodness is blessedness, for God is blessed. A virtuous hope is not hope for happiness, but a hope for perfect goodness. He whose soul is made morally right becomes an heir to all goodness. This heirship is not something added to this inner righteousness. It is in it as the plant is in the seed. Man's heaven is in righteousness of soul and nowhere else. No man can be happy who is merely treated as righteous if he is not righteous. Such treatment, even by God himself, would only enhance his misery. To be treated as righteous if you are not righteous, is an outrage on justice and a revulsion to moral nature.
II. THE ESSENTIAL FOUNDATION OF ALL TRUE FAITH. "And they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men." The basis of all true faith is faith in God. In him, not in it. In him, not in men's representations of him. "He that cometh to God must believe that he is." To believe in him implies:
1. To believe in what he is in himself. The only absolute existence, without beginning, without succession, without end, who is in all and through all, the all-mighty, the all-wise, the all-good Creator and Sustainer of the universe. This faith in him is the most philosophic, the most universal, and the most blessed and ennobling faith.
2. To believe in what he is to us - the Father, the Proprietor, and the Life. "Not willing that any should perish." This is the faith that is enjoined upon us everywhere in the Old Testament and the New; not faith in infallible propositions, in infinite personality; not faith in man's ideas of God, but in God himself, as the Source of all life, the Fountain of all virtue, the Standard of all excellence. "Trust in him that liveth forever."
"Not in priesthoods, not on creed,
Is the faith we need, O Lord;
These, more fragile than the reed,
Can no rest for souls afford.
Human systems, what are they?
Dreams of erring men at best,
Visions only of a day,
Without substance, without rest.
Firmly fix it, Lord, on thee,
Strike its roots deep in thy love;
Growing ever may it be,
Like the faith of these above.
Then though earthly things depart,
And the heavens pass away,
Strong in thee shall rest the heart,
Without fainting or decay."
III. THE SUPREME PURPOSE OF A TRUE LIFE. "To maintain good works." What are good works?
1. Works that have right motives. Works that society may consider good, that Churches may chant as good, are utterly worthless unless they spring from supreme love to the Creator. "Though I give my body to be burned, if I have not love, I am nothing." "Love is the fulfilling of the Law."
2. Works that have a right standard. It is conceivable that man may have a right motive and yet his work be bad. Was it not something like this with Saul of Tarsus when he was persecuting the saints? We make two remarks in relation to these good works.
(1) The maintenance of these works requires strenuous and constant effort. "I will that thou affirm confidently, to the end that they which have believed in God may be careful to maintain good works." There are so many forces within and without us to check and frustrate the maintenance of good works, that we require to be constantly on our guard to see that our motives are right. It may be that good works flow from angelic natures as waters from a fountain, as sunbeams from the sun; but it is not so with us. Their light in us is the light of the lamp, and to be clear and useful there must be constant trimming and feeding with fresh oil; for the streams to be pure, the fountain must be kept clean. We must "watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation."
(2) The great work of the Christian ministry is to stimulate this effort. "I will that thou affirm confidently, to the end that they which have believed God may be careful to maintain good works." "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God," etc. In four other texts of Scripture we have "a faithful saying." The first is 1 Timothy 1:15, "That Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." The second is 1 Timothy 4:8, 9, "This is a faithful saying, Godliness is profitable unto all things." The third is 2 Timothy 2:11-13, "It is a faithful saying, If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him." The fourth is our text, "This is a faithful saying." What? That God makes men morally right by his grace. This is an undoubted fact. That God is the essential Foundation of all true faith. Who can question this? Or that the supreme purpose of moral existence is to maintain "good works." Who will gainsay this? Or that all ministers of the gospel should faithfully and constantly exhort their hearers to maintain good works. These, indeed, are all faithful sayings, and should be practically realized by every man. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.