INTRODUCTION (Read Titus 2:1-15)
The apostle Paul has instructed his younger apostolic ambassador Titus, as to the proper form and function of church leaders and church members on the
The Scriptures leave no doubt that our faith is a soteric faith, which means that it is a religion of salvation. But salvation from what? The answer is that (1) we are saved from the damning effects of our own sin to a certain extent in this life and (2) we are saved from the wrath of God that metes out an exact and proportionate judgment on such sins. So, the heart of the Christian message is that God has promised to save some from certain judgment for their sins through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ. If you remove this essential aspect of Christianity you no longer have Christianity. This is because Biblical Christianity is more than just another perspective about reality, it’s more than just an ethical lifestyle, and it’s more than a social phenomenon and movement. At its core, it is a message of salvation from God’s wrath, focusing upon the historical person of Jesus.
Christianity then, is a proclamation of the gospel or the good news of salvation. But just what kind of salvation does this entail? It is evident from the epistle to the Galatians that individuals can talk about and propound a “gospel” which is not really the good news of God's saving grace in Christ, but a sick perversion of it (cf. Gal. 1:6-7). Throughout its history, as the church has encountered the world and taken the gospel to unconverted cultures, it has learned over and over again that there are many different conceptions of “salvation” held by unregenerate men which must be corrected lest they undermine and redefine God’s intention in the gospel message. Even within the church itself, God’s people have always found it necessary to defend the gospel against counterfeit and misleading interpretations of the precious words “Jesus saves.” Given this fact, we need to ask an all important question about verse 14: From what does Jesus save us, and how has He done so?
TEACHING/APPLICATION - Christ is our Penal Substitute (Titus 2:14a – “who gave Himself for us . . .”)
TEACHING/APPLICATION - Christ is our Penal Substitute (Titus 2:14a – “who gave Himself for us . . .”)
Verse 14 says that Christ gave Himself for us (o]j e;dwken e`auto.n u`pe.r h`mw/n). However, we need to look at (1) what it means for Christ to give Himself up for us and (2) we need to identify who the “us” is.
1. The reference to Christ’s giving of Himself is a wonderful Scriptural example of what has been called Christ’s penal, substitutionary, and satisfactory atonement. Penal means that Jesus suffered the penalty for sin, Substitutionary means that He suffered that penalty on behalf of sinners, and Satisfactory means that He satisfied God’s claims of justice against a sinful people. In other words, the sinner was found guilty and charged as a criminal for transgressing his own conscience and worse, Christ’s commandments. If you can think of it in a courtroom-like situation, it could go something like this:
- The sinner stands condemned to pay an eternal penalty for his own sins to satisfy the Divine Judge’s justice when lo and behold, the Son of the Divine Judge enters the courtroom, steps between the divine Judge and the condemned sinner, and agrees to pay the penalty of the condemned sinner even though the Son of the Divine Judge is Himself innocent.
- The Divine Judge agrees to this plan (as it was a plan that was enacted before the world was created), the Son has the penalty of the sinner’s lawless deeds placed on His records (despite the fact that He’s never committed a crime as He’s the Son of the Divine Judge), the Son then becomes a substitute in behalf of the condemned sinner so that the sinner doesn’t have to pay his own penalty (u`pe.r) and the Son then bears the punishment of the sinner.
- The Divine Judge accepts His Son’s substitutionary bearing of the sinner’s penalty because it satisfies the Judge’s claims against the previously condemned sinner. He did it by bearing it for us. So, when we think about the death of Christ, we think of it as a PENAL, SATISFACTION that was made by way of SUBSTITUTION. So, we have three things (1) He bore the PENALTY due us, (2) He SATISFIED the claims of God against us, and He does that by bearing them Himself as our (3) SUBSTITUTE. Those are the three things that are important in preaching/teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (Penal, Satisfaction, by Substitution). There are folks that leave out the PENAL aspect of it, they leave out the SATISFACTION aspect of it, and then the SUBSTITUTIONARY aspect of it. So when we leave any of those things out when preaching the atonement of Christ is not the gospel of the NT but some other gospel!
- The word translated “for” in verse 14a is a Greek preposition (u`pe.r), that literally means “over” or “above” and can also be translated “in behalf of.” It literally has the idea of Christ coming in over the top of us and standing between the sword-like Judgment of God which laid over the top of our heads like the sword of Damocles. Are you familiar with the story of the Sword of Damocles? Here it is in it’s entirety,
There once was a king whose name was Dionysius. He was so unjust and cruel that he won himself the name of tyrant. He knew that almost everybody hated him, and so he was always in dread lest some one should take his life. But he was very rich, and he lived in a fine palace where there were many beautiful and costly things, and he was waited upon by a host of servants who were always ready to do his bidding. One day a friend of his, whose name was Damocles, said to him – “How happy you must be! You have here everything that any man could wish.” “Perhaps you would like to trade places with me,” said the tyrant. “No, not that, O king!” said Damocles; “but I think that, if I could only have your riches and your pleasures for one day, I should not want any greater happiness.” “Very well,” said the tyrant. “You shall have them.” And so, the next day, Damocles was led into the palace, and all the servants were bidden to treat him as their master. He sat down at a table in the banquet hall, and rich foods were placed before him. Nothing was wanting that could give him pleasure. There were costly wines, and beautiful flowers, and rare perfumes, and delightful music. He rested among soft cushions, and felt that he was the happiest man in all the world. Then he chanced to raise his eyes toward the ceiling. What was it that was dangling above him, with its point almost touching his head? It was a sharp sword, and it was hung by only a single horsehair. What if the hair should break? There was danger every moment that it would do so. The smile faded from the lips of Damocles. His face became very pale. His hands trembled. He wanted no more food; he could drink no more wine; he took no more delight in the music. He longed to be out of the palace, and away, he cared not where. “What is the matter?” said the tyrant. “That sword! That sword!” cried Damocles. He was so badly frightened that he dared not move. “Yes,” said Dionysius, “I know there is a sword above your head, and that it may fall at any moment. But why should that trouble you? I have a sword over my head all the time. I am every moment in dread lest something may cause me to lose my life.” “Let me go,” said Damocles. “I now see that I was mistaken, and that the rich and powerful are not so happy as they seem. Let me go back to my old home in the poor little cottage among the mountains.” And so long as he lived, he never again wanted to be rich, or to change places with the king.
My friends, when we are sitting in the lap of luxury and comfort of sin, the Holy Spirit beckons us to look up and we too, like Damocles see the fierce sword of God’s wrath and justice hanging over our heads. By the convicting power of the Spirit, we envision God’s wrath dangling above us, as if hanging by only a single hair. We imagine what would happen if that wrath would break out against us and realize that there is danger every moment that it might do so. Like Damocles, our smile fades, our face becomes pale, our hands tremble, we want no food, no drink, and no carousing in the things of the world. All we can think about is how we long to be freed from our conviction of sin and the harder we try we think, “O’ the wrath of the great Judge that hangs over my head, I’m so frightened I dare not move.” However, when we taste the sweet fruit of the gospel, we see Christ moving in over us in between the top of our heads and the point of God’s perfect wrath and it is almost as if Jesus says, “I know that the great sword of my Father’s justice rests above your head, and that you are afraid that it will fall at any moment. But if you have faith in Me, you have no reason to fear, for I lost my life bearing your wrath. My Father’s justice was satisfied when I took your punishment and because of my scars, you are healed!”
Oh brothers and sisters, may we see the greatness of God’s impending wrath and appreciate the glorious penal, substitutionary, and satisfactory atonement of Christ on our behalf!
2. Paul says, “who gave Himself for US . . .” So, according to this verse, Paul is telling Titus and the Christians on the isle of
The prophet goes on to say,
The words of the New Testament confirm the prophet Isaiah’s line of reasoning. The author of Hebrews says that Christ was manifested at the consummation of the ages, “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” being “once offered up to bear the sins of many” (9:26, 28). By taking upon Himself the sins of His people, the elect, Christ bore the penalty of death which sin deserves. Jesus said it Himself when He referred to His coming death and interpreted it as “My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” (Matt. 26:28). Peter writes that this “precious blood of Christ” was the means of our “redemption” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Redemption required that He die as our substitute. Thus Paul describes the Mediator as one who “gave Himself as a ransom on behalf of all” (1 Tim. 2:5-6), using a Greek word for “ransom” whose prefix gives it the literal sense of “substitute-payment.” This conspicuously mirrors the saying of Jesus Himself that He came “to give His life as a ransom [release-price] in the place of many” (Mark 10:45).
What else could Peter have meant other than the doctrine of penal substitution when he wrote to the believers in the church that the innocent Christ “Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). The substituting of the innocent in the place of the guilty, for the sake of rescuing the guilty from condemnation, comes out just a few verses later when Peter declares: “Christ also suffered for sins once, the just One for the unjust ones, in order that He might bring us to God” (3:18 -“the just u`pe.r the unjust ones.”).
Finally, what could be a clearer illustration of this point than to have Christ declare for whom He specifically died? He says, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” And “even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, 15).
The perspective of the prophets and apostles both being witness, is that One who was perfectly righteous stood in the place of those who are unrighteous in God’s sight, bearing the curse or penalty of their sin by dying in their place, in order to set them free from condemnation and secure their eternal benefit. There is no other way for sinners to be brought back to God. When it comes to correctly teaching and proclaiming the penal, substitutionary, and satisfactory nature of Jesus’ atonement, we must realize that this doctrine is a matter of infinite personal importance. It makes the self-conscious rejection of this doctrine a matter of dreadful, eternal consequence. “For we know Him who said ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’ . . . It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:30-31). Our only hope is that Christ’s saving death is received by God precisely as a “sacrifice for sins” in behalf of our sins (cf. v. 26).
CONCLUSION We not only have greater reason to glory in the cross but more importantly, cause for rejoicing that Christ has died for all of us who believe the gospel! Oh what great joy is brought to us by the revelation of Christ’s gospel, especially when He says that He “did not come to be served, but to serve . . .” and how did He serve us? By giving his life as “a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Brethren, if you are here and you believe, then you are one among that many and you can take joy in knowing that God the Father is satisfied in what Christ has done in your behalf!