When the Kindness and Love of God Appeared

When did the kindness and love of God appear? Whenever Paul uses the word “appearance” in the Pastoral Epistles, he refers to Christ’s appearing on earth (2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 1:10; 4:1, 8; Tit. 2:13).

“Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher” (2 Tim. 1:9-12, emphasis added).

Notice two things here. One, God’s grace appeared through “the appearing of our Savior.” Two, God’s grace appeared “through the gospel.” The kindness and love of God appeared through the appearing of Christ in history and through the gospel. When Jesus came in history, the kindness of God appeared. That is the historical appearance of Christ. When we heard the gospel, the love of God appeared to us. That is the personal experience of Christ.

Paul wrote, “When the goodness of God appeared, he saved us.” The reference is to “us,” those who are saved. Thus, Paul is talking of the kindness of God that appeared when we heard the gospel, when we trusted Christ, when we tasted salvation, when he saved us. The kindness and love of God appeared to us when He saved us through the gospel.

The point of salvation then is when God saved us at the appearance of God’s kindness and love to us through the gospel.

A Comprehensive Salvation

(Part 10 of the Sermon Series, “How We Can Impact Our World for Christ.”)

We started in Tit. 2:1 about “How We Should Live for Christ.” We end it today in Tit. 3:3-8 about “Why We Should Live for Christ.” In vv. 3-8, Paul explained the reason for godly living. We were slaves to sin once, but God saved us in order to do good works.

Paul then gave a summary explanation about how God saved us in vv. 4-7. I call it a “comprehensive salvation.” In one stroke, Paul gives a definitive statement about the work of God in our salvation.

We note three things about this comprehensive salvation—(1) The Point of Salvation (v. 4); (2) The Procedure of Salvation (vv. 5-7); and (3) The Purpose of Salvation (v. 8).

The Point of Salvation

The point of salvation is when the goodness and love of God appeared to us through the gospel. “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us” (Tit. 3:4-5). The “goodness” of God (chrestotes) refers to His “kindness, generosity.” (Gingrich) (Eph. 2:7) The words “loving kindness” is actually only one word in the Greek, philanthropia, “love for humanity, kindness, generosity.” (Gingrich); “love of mankind, affection for people.” (Louw-Nida) It comes from two root words—philos meaning “love and affection” (HELPS Word Studies) and anthropos meaning “mankind.” In the NKJV and NASB, it is translated only as “love.”

Note two things. Paul uses the word philos for the love of God toward us, not agape.[1] God’s love is philos love—love and affection for people. Also, the noun philanthropia refers to God’s love for humankind in general, and not just for the elect. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people” (Tit. 2:11, emphasis added). God’s love appeared to the world when He gave His Son (John 3:16). God’s love is for everyone in the world, including every sinner.

Paul said, “When the goodness and loving kindness of God appeared, he saved us” (vv. 4-5). God showed His kindness and love to us by saving us from our sins. That is the nature of the kindness and love of God. It is a saving love.

Our God is not a God who just sits on His throne loving people while doing nothing to save them from their sins. Our God is not a God who merely watches us from a distance, oblivious to the pain of this world. God so loved the world that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ. Whoever believes in Him shall be saved from sin and death. God’s love is a saving love.

[1] In Tit. 2:2, he used agape, “love,” for older men. But in the next breath, in Tit. 2:4, he used philandrous, “love their husbands” for young women. Then in Tit. 3:4, he used philanthropia, “loving kindness,” for God. Thus, in Titus, Paul exchanges the word philos and agape, using philos for God and agape for people. Divine love is not necessarily agape love.

But God Saved Us By His Mercy To Do Good Works

Paul wrote, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures . . . But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us (Tit. 3:4-5, emphasis added). Paul gives the reason for godly conduct. We were slaves to sin once. But we are now saved from sin by the mercy of God.

The conjunction “but” indicates a strong reversal. We were going this sinful way, this foolish, disobedient way. But then the kindness and love of God appeared through the gospel. We responded to the gospel in repentance and faith in Christ. We turned around and trusted Christ. God then saved us from our sins.

Do you like to sing the song, “Amazing Grace”?

The author of this famous hymn was John Newton. His Christian mother taught him God’s Word. But after she died when Newton was 7, he went on to live a life of sin.

Newton lost his first job because of “unsettled behavior and impatience of restraint.” He deserted the Royal Navy. He was caught, flogged, and imprisoned. He then became a sailor of a slave trading ship. One day out at sea, the ship went through a terrible storm.

Newton had been reading Thomas a Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ, and was struck by a line about the “uncertain continuance of life.” He also recalled the passage in Proverbs, “Because I have called and ye have refused . . . I also will laugh at your calamity.” He converted during the storm.” He became a captain of slave ships, hoping to control the abuses of the slave trade, promoting the life of God to people on board. Eventually, he quit his slave trading job and became a pastor of an Anglican church.[1]

In his famous song, Newton wrote, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind but now I see.”

When did you turn from your sin and trusted Christ as Savior? That’s when the God’s kindness appeared to you and saved you from your sin.

God saved us by His own mercy and grace alone. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5). The Holy Spirit worked a new birth in us. He gave us a new development, a new nature, and a new spirit in us. God saved us when the Spirit gave us new life.

Thus, the reason for godly living is that we were once slaves to sin; but we are now saved by God’s mercy. God saved us by giving us the new life of the Spirit. Being transformed by the Spirit, we should now live the godly life and do good works to others.

[1] “John Newton: Reformed Slave Trader,” Christianity Today. Cited May 13, 2017. Online: http://www.christianitytoday. com/history/people/pastorsandpreachers/john-newton.html.

The Sinful Attitudes of Malice and Envy

Fifth, we were “passing our days in malice and envy” (v. 3). The noun “malice” (kakia) means “dislike, ill will, hatefulness (TI 3.3), opposite κοινωνία (fellowship).” (Friberg) It refers to “a feeling of hostility and strong dislike, with a possible implication of desiring to do harm—‘hateful feeling.’” (Louw-Nida) Malice is hateful feeling toward others—the opposite of loving fellowship. Paul wrote, “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice [kakia], slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (Col. 3:8).

The noun “envy” (phthonos) means “in a negative sense envy, jealousy over the good success of another (MT 27.18).” (Friberg) Malice and envy are connected. Malice is hateful feeling while envy is its manifestation. (Ellicott) We were once living in malice and envy, writes Paul.

Sixth, we were once “hated by others” (v. 3). The Greek is stugetos—“loathsome; despicable.” (BAGD) Have you watched the movie, “Despicable Me”? That’s what the word “hated” means—“despicable” (NRSV). We were once despicable and detestable—hated by others.

The NKJV and NASB have “hateful”; and the ESV, “hated.” It can mean “hated” by others—in the passive sense. It can mean “hateful” of others—in the active sense. I think the translation—“hated by others” in the passive sense, fits the meaning of the term “despicable” and the context of being “detestable” (Tit. 1:16).

Have you behaved in a way that caused others to hate you? We once caused others to hate us. We were once despicable and detestable that people hated us.

Seventh, we were once “hating one another” (v. 3). Paul uses a different but synonymous word for “hating”—miseo. It means “to dislike strongly, with the implication of aversion and hostility—‘to hate, to detest.’” (Louw-Nida) We were hated by others. Then we responded in kind, hating others also. We were hated by others and hating others. Paul seems to say, “We received hate and we gave hate.” This is a mark of spiritual darkness (1 John 2:9).

This how we lived once, Paul said. We were slaves to our sinful nature and our sinful ways.

Slaves to Sensual Pleasures

Fourth, we were once slaves to various passions and pleasures. The word “slaves” is from the word douleuo—“to serve as a slave.” (HELPS Word Studies) It is actually a present participle in the Greek—“serving” or “enslaving to” passions and pleasures.

The word “passions” (epithumia) refer to cravings of the sinful nature (Gal. 5:16). “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). Peter describes these lustful passions as corrupting or “defiling” (2 Pet. 2:10). If you give in to your lusts, it will corrupt your very soul.

The word “pleasures” is from hedone, where we get our English word, “hedonist.” It means “enjoyment; in the NT in a bad sense, as indulgence and lack of control of natural appetites (sensual) pleasure, passion, lust (2P 2.13).” (Friberg) Love of sensual pleasure is a mark of sinners in the last days. In the last days, “people will be . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:1, 4). Note that love of pleasure is the opposite of love of God.

“A Brazilian porn star who grew up in a deeply religious family has declared that God has no problem with her work because he sees the good in her heart.

“Kamilla Werneck, 25, from Rio has starred in hundreds of adult films and divorced her husband of three years to embark on a relationship with another woman, yet describes herself as having ‘evangelical faith’.

“Speaking to host Nicole Puzzi on the adult TV show Pornoladina she said: ‘I think God sees inside our hearts. He judges the good and the bad things you do, and I do good things for people. I’m a good person at heart and that’s what matters.’”[1]

But the Bible teaches us that love of pleasure is the antithesis of love of God. You cannot love God and love pleasure at the same time. We used to live that way—serving various kinds of passions and pleasures but not God.

[1] Siofra Brenan, “‘Evangelical’ porn star who left her husband for a woman insists God doesn’t judge her lifestyle as he sees her ‘good heart,’” Mail Online. Cited May 13, 2017. Online: http://www.dailymail. co.uk/femail/article-4452188/Evangelical-porn-star-insists-God-doesn-t-judge-her.html.

The Reason for Living the New Life

In Tit. 3:1-2, Paul gives a reminder for godly living. In vv. 3-8, he gives the reason for godly conduct. The reason includes a majestic summary of the meaning of our salvation from sin. Note the conjunction, “For,” in v. 3, which indicate the reason. The reason is that we were slaves to sin once but now saved and transformed in Christ to live the godly life. We were foolish, disobedient slaves to our sinful passions. But when the goodness of God our Savior appeared in Christ, He saved us. He transformed us by the power of the Spirit to live the new life.

“For we ourselves were once foolish” (Tit. 3:3). The adverb “once” (pote) means “of the past once, formerly.” (Gingrich) “Just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy” (Rom. 11:30). Isn’t that what we were before Christ saved you from your sin? Most of us here were “once” slaves to sin.

Paul then writes about seven sinful attitudes that we used to live by. These are the paradigms of the heart; the thoughts and intents of our sinful nature. The first four are inward sinful attitudes; and the last four, outward. The inward sinful attitudes concern our own selves; and the outward, other people.

First, we were once “foolish” (anoetos), which means, “without understanding, foolish (GA 3.3), opposite σοφός (wise).” (Friberg) It refers to being “insensible . . . to spiritual values.” (Marshall) It does not mean that we were once unwise, thoughtless, or crazy. Rather, to be foolish is to lack spiritual understanding about God.

Second, we were also once “disobedient” to God. “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient (Tit. 1:16).

Recently, we baptized three people in Bacolod City. One was brother Samson, a senior who’s still single. He’s been attending Bible studies and worshiping in our church there. He told me that he lived a long, sinful life. He used to do all the bad things he can think of—all the vices—smoking, drinking, gambling, and womanizing, etc. Whenever he talks, there’s always a cuss word every two sentences.

Pastor Dan told me that Samson is ready to be baptized. They’ve seen major changes in his life. Samson wanted to share his testimony of new life in Christ. He told me how the Lord has changed him, point to another guy next to him. He said, “I was a sinner once. I brought that man, another sinner like me.” I’m glad that Jesus is in the business of saving sinners like us.

Like Samson, we were once disobedient to God.

Third, we were being “led astray” (planao), which means “be misled or deluded, wander about.” (Gingrich) Being led astray is being misled from the right path to the wrong path and thus getting lost. The Cretan believers were led astray before by their pagan religions and by pagan values. Many of us were led astray once also by false religions, false beliefs, and false values.

Show Perfect Courtesy to All

Paul wrote, “Remind them . . . to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Tit. 3:2). The words “to show” are a present participle in the Greek—“showing forth (endeiknumenous)” or “demonstrating.” We are not only to be courteous to all people. We should demonstrate courtesy to all. We are not only to show courtesy sometimes. We should be showing courtesy all the time continually. The voice is middle voice, indicating action of the subject on itself. Hence, we are to cause ourselves to keep showing courtesy to everyone.

The noun “courtesy” (prautes) means “considerateness.” (Gingrich) It is “a quality of gentle friendliness gentleness, meekness (as strength that accommodates to another’s weakness), consideration.” (Friberg) To be gentle and considerate is to accommodate your strength with another’s weakness.

Randy Kilgore wrote in Our Daily Bread,

A few years before he became the 26th U.S. president (1901–1909), Theodore Roosevelt got word that his oldest son, Theodore Jr., was ill. While his son would recover, the cause of Ted’s illness hit Roosevelt hard. Doctors told him that he was the cause of his son’s illness. Ted was suffering from “nervous exhaustion,” having been pressed unmercifully by Theodore to become the “fighter” hero-type he himself had not been during his own frail childhood.

Upon hearing this, the elder Roosevelt made a promise to relent: “Hereafter I shall never press Ted either in body or mind.”

. . . .

The temptation to press too hard, to demand too much, to force progress, or to orchestrate success can lead us to harm others even when we don’t realize it.”[1]

We are to show courtesy and consideration to all people. Courtesy has to do with “gentleness of attitude and behavior, in contrast with harshness in one’s dealings with others.” (Louw-Nida) Thus, “courtesy” and “gentleness” are the opposite of “roughness, bad temper, sudden anger, and brusqueness [unfriendliness].” (Knight) To show perfect courtesy and gentleness is to avoid roughness, bad temper, sudden anger, and unfriendliness.

Literally, the Greek reads, “showing every consideration for all men.” (NASB). We are not only to show some courtesy to all men. We should demonstrate every courtesy to all men. The implication is that we should show every consideration to all people in all situations. We are to show consideration to all when it’s hard for us to do so and when it’s easy. We are to show consideration to all people in good times and in bad. More, we are not to show every consideration only to some people, but to all people.

That is how we show godly conduct to all people. That is how we impact our world for Christ.

[1] Randy Kilgore, “Gentle Influence,” Our Daily Bread. Cited April 9, 2017. Online: https://odb.org/2016/ 08/30/gentle-influence/.

Be Gentle

“Remind them . . . to be gentle” (Tit. 3:1-2). The adjective “gentle” (epieikes) means “reasonable, fair, kind, gentle, good” (Liddell-Scott); “gracious, forbearing.” (Louw-Nida) To be gentle is to be fair and kind in the treatment of others.

Peter wrote, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle [epieikes], but also to those who are unreasonable” (1 Pet. 2:18, NASB, emphasis added). Peter says that there are gentle masters and unreasonable masters. Thus, gentleness is reasonableness, fairness, and kindness in treating other people. The opposite of gentleness is unreasonableness, unfairness, and unkindness to others.

Jesus was gentle to others. He said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:28-29). How was Jesus gentle? He treated others with respect, esp. the un-respectable people of society—the poor, the blind, the lame, and the lepers. He was kind to His enemies. On the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them.” He was gentle to those who wanted to kill Him.

We are to be gentle to all people, esp. people who hurt us. We are to treat them reasonably, fairly, and kindly.

Avoid Quarreling

“Remind them . . . to avoid quarreling” (Tit. 3:1-2). The Greek word is amachos—“peaceable, not quarrelsome.” (Gingrich) It means, “not disposed to fight or quarrel.” (Friberg) Marshall wrote,

“The word had the force of ‘invincible’ (‘somebody with whom no one fights’; so in Josephus Ant. 15:115); but it also had the meaning ‘not having fought’, i.e. ‘taking no part in a battle’ or ‘disinclined to fight’ (Epigr. Gr. 387:6; MM25; LSJ). This is the force here, ‘placable, inoffensive’ (Fee, 201).” (Marshall)

Are you somebody whom no one has fought? Then you are “invincible.” Does no one want to fight you? You are peaceable. Have you not fought anyone? You are not quarrelsome. Have you not been involved in a fight? You are peaceful. Are you disinclined to fight your wife? You are peace-loving (not “under-da-saya” or henpecked husband).

Pastors and church leaders, this is a qualification of church leaders. “Therefore an overseer must be . . . not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome [amachos]” (1 Tim. 3:1, 3). (emphasis added) Pastors are to avoid any quarrel with anyone (Tit. 3:9).

Does this mean that Pastors should not file cases against anyone? My answer is Yes, as much as possible, to avoid any quarrel. But if it is for the greater good and for the sake of justice, there might be some value in filing a case. Paul brought his case up to Caesar in Rome.

The bottom line is the motive of one’s heart. Is it to glorify God and to seek the greater good, or merely, to take revenge, to hurt someone, or to bring him much pain?

Do Not Slander Anyone

From godly conduct towards officials, Paul now moves to godly conduct towards all people. “Remind them . . . to speak evil of no one” (Tit. 3:1-2). The verb phrase “speak evil” is from blasphemeo, which means “revile, defame, slander.” (Gingrich) It means “to speak against someone in such a way as to harm or injure his or her reputation.” (Louw-Nida) Paul is saying, “Do not slander anyone.”

“How are you related to Ma. Helen Trocino?” the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) staff asked me. I went to their office to claim the NBI clearance of Mylene.

“I’m her husband,” I said.

“Ma. Helen Trocino is under Q. C.”

“What’s Q. C.?”

“Quality Control. The NBI has to interview her. She has a court case on file. Are you aware of any case filed against her?” the NBI staff asked.

“She doesn’t have any case,” I replied.

I was shocked. Afterward, I sent Mylene a text message, telling her that she needed to visit the NBI office for an interview for her “case.” She replied, “Don’t you have anything else to do?”

She did visit the NBI. The interview was finished in a short time. Soon after, she told me that “Ma. Helen Pepito” has a court case indeed—a case of “oral defamation.”

Oral defamation is slander.

How many people have used Facebook to slander others? Facebook was created for friendship, not for fighting. Be careful what you write in Facebook. Write only things that glorify God and build up people.

Paul is not saying that we should no longer evaluate and censure the bad things of other people. Paul himself criticized the false teachers in Tit. 1:10-16. Rather, we should slander no one.

Paul used the same word in 1 Tim. 6:4, “He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander [blasphemeo], evil suspicions.” (emphasis added) There were people in church who taught false teachings. They loved arguments. The result is envy, division, and slander inside the church.

Slandering other people is a sign of the last days. “In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive [blasphemos], disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy” (2 Tim. 3:1-2). (emphasis added) The ESV has “abusive” (NASB, “revilers”; NKJV, “blasphemers”). Slander is verbal abuse. If you are slanderous, you are abusive, a reviler, a blasphemer.

Slander no one.