The Great Things of God
By Dr. Roger D. Green
The Bible is a great Book. It is filled with great truths, and everything you read in it is great, because it is inspired by a great God.
The Bible is a totally unique Book. It doesn't matter how many times you read a particular portion of Scripture, it is always fresh. It never gets stale, old or redundant. It is always new and invigorating. The Bible always meets the need of your life.
One of the great troubles I had going into the ministry when I was a young person was that I was afraid of peopleI still am. In fact, I discovered that there's a greater distance from the pulpit to the pew than there is between two people on the same pew, so that's one reason I'm in the pulpit.
The ministry is unique; nothing can compare to it. One of the most unique things is that the pastor has only one message, and he has to deliver it to hundreds of people. It's up to the Holy Spirit to dissect and apply it to the needs of every listener, and He does a wonderful job. That is very encouraging to me.
People will come up to me after Ive preached and tell me that they really needed to hear what I said and that it settled something in their hearts; yet usually each of them has heard something different from the same message. Many times they get something out of my sermon that I didn't intend; but that's how the Holy Spirit works.
What we need tonight is a church that has an aggressive attitude; a church that is aggressive in spirit, determined that God is a separatist God. The philosophy of religion today is contrary to that.
Most religious programs on television have the same attitude. They say, "Lets all come together." They are trying to erase the lines and say we are all basically the same. I differ with that philosophy because, truly, we are not all the same. I say this in kindness, but I say it in all honesty (the grammar isn't correct; nonetheless, it is true): There aint nothing on the topside of the earth like a Baptist! Catholics are not like Baptists. Charismatics are not like Baptists. We are differentmuch different!
God said, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate." God is a separatist God, and we need to be excited about the message that Paul gives to us in Titus:
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
"Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."Titus 2:1114.
"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee."Titus 1:5.
Paul left Titus in Crete to "
set in order the things that are wanting." Our churches today still need somebody to do just that.
In the best of churches there is "want." There are things that are not quite right. There are some things that we have gotten so used to hearing and seeing, that they have become commonplace. Sometimes we cant even see some things that have either gotten out of order or completely disappeared.
Its amazing what we get used to! For instance, my church has a good-sized auditorium. When I first came to that church it was uglyred carpet, red pews, dark wood, gray walls and dim lighting. It was built that way, and no one had changed it for twenty-three years.
The ladies were ripping their hose on the splintered wood on the pews; there were holes in the carpet; the ceiling leaked. They just kept patching what was there.
We finally put in new pews and carpeting and painted the walls, and now it is beautiful. However, during the remodeling, some of the people said to me, "Preacher, we dont mind that youre doing this, but why are you doing it? We dont understand." The problem was they had seen it that way so long that it looked natural to them; they didnt see the flaws.
I shut up the auditorium, and we met in the gymnasium for two weeks. I wouldnt let them see what was going on, what was taking place, until it was all finished. Then came the Sunday when I opened the doors, and they saw the new auditorium for the first time. They couldnt believe what they saw. Then they said, "Preacher, we now understand. We couldnt see it before, but what a difference it has made!"
Sometimes thats the way it is in serving the Lord; thats the way it is in churches; thats the way it is in our little corner of the world. We have done some things for so long, they have become normal and natural, and we assume that they are right. As a result, we are failing in our serv-ice for Jesus Christ, and we have become mundane and have lost our excitement.
Sometimes God places a man in a pulpit for no other reason than to set things in order, "things that are wanting."
Sometimes we need to be taken back; we need a new view, a new vision of the Word of God. We need to be reminded of things in which our vision may be "wanting."
I want to give you four basic, great things that God has given to us:
I. A GREAT REVELATION: SALVATION BY GRACE
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men."Titus 2:11.
The first great thing that God has given to us is a great revelation, and that revelation is found in the phrase, "the grace of God."
The grace of God is simply the unmerited favor of God. God does for man what man cannot do for himself. God does for us what we do not deserve.
We are sometimes spoiled. For example, I came out of the holiness movement; thats where I was brought up through the years. When I finally understood the truth of the grace of God, my life changed, and it never went back to being what it used to be. I am still excited about the grace of God, and I cant get over that.
There is, however, a danger in our faith. Some people are born into a situation where all they hear all their lives is "the grace of God"; thats all they know. As a result, some lose their excitement. One of the reasons they lose their excitement is that they do not understand the other side of the issue and the danger of it.
There are those who say, "Im as good as you are!" Well, theres no disputing that. Im sure there are a lot of people who are better than I, but Im not talking about who we are or what we are; I am talking about what we believe. My dear friend, not all things taught are of equal importance. There is nothing as important as the grace of God! Nothing! God manifests His grace by doing for us what we do not deserve; God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
There is a philosophy, a dogma, which leads people to believe that there is something they can do to merit favor with God and earn the right to go to Heaven! I know thats being taught because I was raised that way; thats where I came fromhang on, pray through, turn loose, endure to the end! Some of you have been there too.
I have heard over and over about the damnable doctrine of the Baptist! Let me let you in on something: there is nothing more damnable than leading an individual to believe that there is something he can do to merit or earn salvation. That is damnable, because the Bible says:
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us."Titus 3:5.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
"Not of works, lest any man should boast."Eph. 2:8,9.
In our churches today there is a "wanting" for a magnification of the grace of God. We ever need to be reminded that we are recipients of the finished work of Jesus Christ, not because we deserve it or can earn it, but because it is based upon one monumental truth: "For God so loved the world, that he gave
" (John 3:16).
What a wonderful and great revelation! It is Gods ability to build on mans inability.
"That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."Titus 3:7.
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."Rom. 3:24.
The word justified simply means to be made as though we had never sinned. I am justified in Christ! God looks at me through the blood of Christ, and all He sees is perfection. Thats the grace of God. Oh, that we would understand that!
Every once in awhile people get upset about what we preach concerning the grace of God. A lady in our church said to my wife, "You know, we love the preacher and we thank God for him, but weve never had a pastor down here who is so dogmatic about the grace of God." Then she went on to say, "And hes not very tolerant of this works crowd, is he?"
Im glad she got the picture. Im not tolerant of that crowd, because toleration is a straight road to Hell! Toleration is misleading!
Listen, had there been a law whereby man could have been justified, then Christ would not have died. The grace of God, a great revelation: "The grace of God that bringeth salvation."
I have three questions for you: How good is good enough? How much is enough? When do you know youve achieved a standard?
We are not saved by our works; we work because we are saved. The grace of God: thats the motivation; thats the peace and contentment. If I am to lay my head on my pillow and know that if I die, the next breath I take is going to be in Heaven, then I cannot rely upon my abilities; I must rely upon the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Oh, that we may understand that! Are you saved? Are you born again of the Spirit of God? Do you know that you have trusted Christ and that what youve claimed is the finished work of Jesus?
Gods grace has appeared unto all men. The grace of God is the unmerited favor of God, and it is freefreely given. It is given without cost; you cant do anything to buy it. It is purchased, bought with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. What a great revelation!
Have you ever taken the Word of God and shown the grace of God to someone going through the turmoil of hanging on and praying through and turning loose?
Have you shown him that the grace of God is a gift? Have you shown him that simply in faith he can claim Christ as his Saviour? Have you seen the light come on in his eyes when he recognized this truth?
I remember the first time I sat in a Baptist church. You know who got me there? A pretty little girl! I later married her. My oldest sister introduced us, and our first date was at a church service. When I got home, my sister asked me, "How was it?" She meant the date, but I said, "Sis, you wont believe this. I actually saw a man take the Bible, and he preached it verse by verse!" Id never seen that before in my life! All I had seen was someone loosen his tie, pop open the top shirt button; his veins would pop out like garden hoses on his face, and hed rant and rave. Hed go down deep and come up dry and give nothing to anyone there, and the people went out as hopeless as they came in.
Ive seen them pull people down the aisle. Ive seen them pound them on the back and say, "Do you feel it yet? Have you prayed through?" I always wondered: What do you pray for? What do you wait to feel? How do you know?
Salvation is not a feeling; salvation is a truth!
Years ago when I was a young preacher, I was asked to preach in a church. There was a crowd in the church, and I just reared back, plunged in, let it rip and just preached. (Most everyone there didnt have a Bible with him because those people, not being taught the Word of God, wait on emotionalism.)
The pastor said he wanted to give the invitation. I agreed. A girl about seventeen or eighteen came forward crying. She knelt down, and about fifteen or twenty people got around her, and not one of them, including the preacher, had a Bible in his hand. My wife, another person and I were the only ones singing the invitational song. These people were just hollering and carrying on, and this girl was almost in hysterics.
My wife quit playing the piano with one hand and reached up and got hold of my sleeve and said, "Go lead that girl to the Lord!"
I bent down and said, "The preacher is there."
She said, "I dont care whos there! That girl is going to die!" I stood there for a few minutes, and my wife said, "If you dont, I will!"
So, to save face, I picked up my Bible and walked over to the crowd and said, "Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me." They let me through, and I got down in front of that little girl, and everyone got really quiet. I took my Bible and went through the plan of salvation. I asked her if she believed the Book, and she said yes. Within a few minutes she put her faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and the peace of God was in her heart.
Do you know what the preacher said? He said, "Ive never seen that before!" What a tragedy! The great revelation of God is, "the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men."
Lets be awakened to the reality that Gods grace is the only hope to a lost and dying world. Dont go on the assumption that someone is all right just because he is religious and in a church somewhere. You must be born again by the grace of God to be all right.
II. A GREAT OBLIGATION: TO LIVE GODLY
"Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."Titus 2:12.
The second great thing that God has given to us is a great obligation.
Look at the first two words of this verse: "Teaching us." Thats in reference to something that has already been said. What is teaching us? The grace of God teaches us.
The grace of God teaches us that "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."
There is a life to be lived beyond salvation. There is an obligation, something we are to do. He gives us two things we are to do: a negative thing and a positive thing. There are some things we are not to do, but there are some things we are to do.
This is where most people get into trouble. They try to stop things, but they never replace those things with something else. As a result, the thing they tried to stop will come back into their lives with a greater grip than it had before.
The negative side of this verse says we are to deny two things: ungodliness and worldly lusts. We are to deny an ungodly lifestyle.
Paul said in Colossians 3:
"Mortify [put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
"For which things sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience."Vss. 5,6.
These are sins of the flesh. We will be guilty of these things if we dont govern and put authority over our flesh. This is one of the reasons so many Christians have such defeated lives.
Why do you think Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I"? Why do you think he said, "I die daily"? Hes telling us that if we do not discipline our flesh, it will control us. We are to crucify, mortify, the sins of the flesh. He tells us that God will judge the children of disobedience.
"In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them." Vs. 7.
Hes talking to the Christian. Somewhere along the line weve been sold a bill of goods that since were saved, we are immune. No, when you get saved you become the target! The Devil is going to have a heyday with you.
Before you got saved, you did what you wanted to do. You even had ambitions of doing some things that you would love to do, you would love to commit, you would love to have; but for whatever reason, those things were never brought into your life. After you were saved, the Devil immediately made it possible for you to have those things.
One of the most startling verses to the Christian in all the Word of God is James 4:4: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
He is talking to Christians. Is he talking about the physical act? No! Hes talking about having a courtship and an affair with the world, and that is contrary to Scripture.
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."II Cor. 6:17.
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."Rom. 12:2.
Paul then talks about the sins of the mind:
"But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds."Col. 3:8,9.
How you think controls how you live. How you think justifies what you do. Do you realize that our sins are committed mentally before they are ever actually committed? We justify them, we reason them out, and then we do them. We say, "Well, its not so bad. I can get by with it."
My friend, you are not an exception: you are the rule. God keeps the records.
"And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him."Col. 3:10.
We are told to put off, and then we are to put on. When God says, You put off, and you put on, that is a personal obligation. That is not something God will do for you; you must do it for yourself.
We are lazy. We say, "Well, Im saved. Lets see what God is going to do for me." No, God has told us that there is a process of growing up, and as we start learning biblical truths, there are obligations and a performance that we will have to do for ourselves. When we put off something, thats real obligation.
No one prepared me for bed last night; I did that for myself, on purpose, and with the intent and plan to go to bed.
Before I came here tonight, I purposely got in the shower, purposely got cleaned up and washed my hair, and I purposely dressed in this suit. I put off, and I put on. No one else did it for me; it was my obligation.
So many of us have the Flip Wilson mentality"The Devil made me do it!" We blame the Devil for a lot of things hes not guilty of. We are guilty of our own shallowness. We want to blame others for our failures, when in truth our problem is ourselves.
We are to deny ungodliness. Everything we do must begin with the preface, Will this honor Christ?
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."I John 2:15,16.
We have allowed the world to come into our churches. We have allowed the world to sit in our pews. We have allowed a worldly attitude to regulate how we are going to serve God.
Not all that goes under the guise of religion is right. There are a lot of things that go on in churches, including Baptist churches, that are a reproach to Almighty God.
Several years ago a man came to me to complain. One of the things he said was, "Youre controlling." Never in twenty-seven years as a pastor had anyone told me I was controlling; but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that was part of the purpose of a man of God. Isnt he supposed to stand in the pulpit and preach and teach the Word of God? Isnt he to tell the people, "This is the right way to walk"? Isnt he to tell the people, "This is the wrong way; stay away from it"?
If that is control, give me more of it! You cant turn people loose to their own wills, because if you do, they will follow worldly lusts. Why? Because it is in us. We have a depraved nature, and that nature hungers after that which satisfies the flesh.
The "me" in each of us is what causes the biggest problems. If you want to know who is to blame for most of the problems, faults, failures and difficulties in your life, walk up to a mirror and say, "There he is! You cant blame anyone but that individual. The person I see in the mirror is the one I have to deal with more than anyone else during the whole day! Its me!"
We are to "live soberly, righ-teously, and godly, in this present world" (Titus 2:12). Sometimes we are so futuristic that we are of absolutely no use in the hour in which we live.
When God says to "live soberly," He means we are to live sensibly and reasonably.
I have had to deal with a lot of drunks in my ministry. I know one man whose life speaks volumes. When he was sober, he was one of the best men youd ever meet. He was kind, gentle, good, a good worker; but when he got drunk, there wasnt a sensible bone in his body.
I was going down a four-lane highway in our town one day, and all of a sudden the cars were backed up and horns were blowing. I looked ahead and saw that this man had come out of a bar and was staggering through four lanes of traffic. I thought, Id better get him out of there. So I found a place to pull off the highway.
He got to the side of the road and started hugging a telephone pole. I got him in my car; and between the time I picked him up and the time I got him home and put to bed, he was convinced that God had called him to preach!
There are a lot of people who are drunk on the essence of the world. We are drunk on the diet of the world. As a result, we do not think sensibly. We need to realize that there is "wanting" in our lives, and we should live sensibly, soberly and righteously.
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Matt. 6:33). "His righteousness" means right living. Can you imagine the ground that Christianity would gain if Gods people, born again of the Spirit of God and saved by His grace, would just live right! We cause more trouble in our own witness than anyone else could possibly cause for us.
We are to live godly. Godly: "piously, rightly." We are to allow God to be seen in us, having the fruit of the Spirit.
If you were to stand before Jesus Christ right now, this instant, this moment, would He be pleased with the life you are living? Would He be pleased with how you think, how you feel, and what you do? Would He be pleased with what motivates you? Would He be happy with your life? Would He say to you, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant"?
After we put off the negative (worldly) things, we are to put on the positive (godly) things.
III. A GREAT INSPIRATION: HES COMING AGAIN!
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."Titus 2:13.
The third great thing that God has given to us is a great inspiration.
This world is not my home,
Im just a passing through.
I have been asked to preach at many funerals, including my oldest brothers funeral and the funeral of one of my sisters. You cannot preach someones funeral without a hope. I have preached at lost peoples funerals; and it is horrible, especially when a longing eye looks at you and pleads, "Preacher, give me hope."
The greatest gift you will ever give a family is the knowledge that their loved one had put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ. That is the greatest gift you can possibly give to someone.
After I preached my sisters funeral, we went to the cemetery. I had sorrow in my heart, but I also had a hope, because she knew Christ. She was saved; she was a godly lady. As I left the cemetery, I said, "Sis, Ill see you in the morning."
The great inspiration that God gives to us is that one of these days this "mess" is going to be over.
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
"Wherefore comfort one another with these words."I Thess. 4:1618.
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
"In my Fathers house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."John 14:13.
What a great inspiration! One day Jesus will come again! I dont know about you, but Id rather be caught up than dug up! Jesus will come again. Can you see it?
It was appropriate that Jesus was thrust into a borrowed tomb because God knew He wasnt going to stay there very long. The third day He rose, and the Bible says that when Mary and Martha and the others got there, the stone was rolled away, and the angel said, "He is not here: for he is risen" (Matt. 28:6).
For some days after His resurrection, Jesus walked the face of the earth, and over five hundred people at one time saw Him. He walked out on the hillsides of Galilee one day, just outside Jerusalem; and we read that He ascended, and while He ascended, an angel observed those who were troubled, and said:
"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."Acts 1:11.
Do you think we will have to be introduced to Jesus? No! When we get there, we will know Him because He is the only One with nail prints in His hands. Oh, my Saviour, my Lord, and my God!
IV. A GREAT SALVATION: THE GREATEST OF ALL
"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."Titus 2:14.
The fourth great thing God has given unto us is a great salvation.
"Who gave himself for us"dont miss that phrase.
"Redeem us from all iniquity"the purchase has been made.
Theres not a reason in the world for an individual to die and go to Hell. Theres no reason for that when the price has already been paid.
Trust Melisten to the simplicity of that truth. Jesus is saying to a lost and dying world, Just trust Me. How simple it is!
"A peculiar people"that means they were purchased, bought, paid for, belonging to another.
"Zealous of good works"the purpose in all this; that is what we are to do. Titus was sent to Crete that he might set things in order that were "wanting." There is "want" in every church.
Have you lost your zeal, your fire, your direction, your hunger, your thirst, your duty? What is it that is "wanting" in your church and in your life?
God has not only called us unto salvation, but He has given to us the obligation to separate ourselves from the world and to live unto Christ in a godly manner.
We need to examine ourselves and not be a stumbling block before a crooked and perverse world. May we be as the psalmist when he said, "Search me, O God
And see if there be any wicked way in me." Is there a fault, a word, an attitude that needs to be changed?
The greatest scene of revival is when Gods people get the world out of their lives!