Three Key Truths About Salvation

Why Jesus is My Hero #24 of 52

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 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, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” (Titus 3:3-8)

This is the gospel of Jesus Christ in five verses – and what encouraging verses they are! Here we see three key truths about salvation:

1. Saved FROM sin

When you say “Jesus saves”, the obvious follow-up question is “saves from what?” How you answer that question basically defines your gospel. Many Christians seem most excited about how he’s saved them from a life of purposelessness and insignificance – and it’s true that the gospel is a solution to them both; other people focus on salvation from poverty and sickness and all the trials of this life – and because of the gospel Christians can look forward to a glorious future where all that stuff is banished forever. But in these verses in Titus, primarily we see Jesus saving us from our sin and its effects in our lives – Jesus saves us from lives lived in opposition to God. Once we lived only for ourselves, enslaved by every whim of our human nature, and living under his condemnation. But now we have been set free and made heirs of the glorious hope of eternal life – not that we never sin, but that sin is no longer our master. Sin is now an anomaly in the life of a believer, rather than the norm.

2. Saved BY God’s grace and mercy

Given how we all once lived, it comes as no surprise that we could not possibly earn salvation by our own effort. Someone who is a slave of sin doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide they’re going to love God instead today. Our salvation is purely the result of God’s loving kindness and mercy, poured out on us utterly undeservedly, on people who have done nothing to merit it. This is such a wonderful encouragement – since when we stuff up and fail it means we can’t somehow “undeserve” God’s salvation. We didn’t earn it in the first place, and God already knew what we were like when he saved us. Phew!

3. Saved FOR good works

Finally, we see the purpose of God’s salvation – that we should begin living new lives devoted to godly living. This would be impossible on our own, but God has poured out his Holy Spirit on believers, we’ve experienced “the washing of regeneration and renewal” – we’re new creations in Christ! Christians a experience a fresh start at their conversion, and indeed every day as they repent again and again – God’s mercies are new every morning. Hoorah!

I don’t know about you, but I find that a real challenge – so often I find myself living for myself exactly as I would if I weren’t a Christian. I need to constantly remind myself that the whole reason I exist, the whole reason I’m still here on this earth, is to serve Jesus Christ. All things were made for him – he’s what it’s all about! It makes me want to start praying more for a right focus, a right sense of purpose each morning as I begin my day.

Paul wants us to know these key truths of the gospel, saying that “these things are excellent and profitable for people” – I think I’m beginning to see why!

Announcing PrayerMate 1.2 – An iPhone Prayer App


Today I am thrilled to announce the release of the most exciting version of PrayerMate yet, jam packed with features and improvements over the previous version.

PrayerMate is a Christian prayer app for iPhone or iPod Touch which allows you to easily and simply organise your prayer life. Set up various categories, enter the people and topics you want to pray about, and every day it will offer up a selection of items to pray through.

In this blog post I want to highlight three flagship features new to v1.2:

1. Reminders

No matter how easy PrayerMate makes it to organise your prayer points, it’s no good to you if you don’t get on and pray. Now you can get PrayerMate to remind you to pray once a day with a handy alarm. You choose the time, and you’ll receive a notification each day. N.B. Only supported on iOS 4.0 upwards.

2. Password Lock

PIN Code Screenshot

Perhaps you feel a little uncomfortable entering your prayer requests into PrayerMate, knowing that they can be a very personal or private thing. With version 1.2, you can now set a four-digit PIN code which will need to be entered before anybody can gain access to PrayerMate.

3. Pinned Categories

To avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed with prayer requests, PrayerMate has always offered you the ability to limit how many items you pray for each day. Now with ‘pinned’ categories, you can combine that with a commitment to always praying for certain items in every session. Want to make sure you always pray for your family every day? Simple: just ‘pin’ the family category, and they’ll be prioritised, even if there are other items in other categories that you haven’t prayed for as recently.

Other New Features

PrayerMate 1.2 also offers a number of minor improvements, including:

  • Subjects can now be added directly from prayer mode, making it easier to follow up on those “I’ll pray for you!” promises
  • Subjects can now be entered with fewer touches
  • A new screen showing recently prayed items
  • Ability to archive old prayer points without having to delete them altogether
  • Statistics about how many times you’ve prayed for things has been moved into the settings screen to reduce the sense of guilt and stress it was inducing
  • New icon colour scheme, involving less pink

Same Old Intuitive Interface

Despite all the swanky new features, PrayerMate remains the same easy-to-use app with the same intuitive interface. Every day you’re presented with a series of index cards to pray through, and you just swipe them to the left to move on to the next one.

May it help you in your prayer life! Buy it on the App Store today.

Always Abounding in the Work of the Lord

Why Jesus is My Hero #23 of 52


Living wholeheartedly as a Christian is hard. The world is constantly bombarding you with messages about what’s important, what you should value. A lot of it is about status and where we find our significance: you need to be working for a well-known and respected company doing a high-paid and important job; you need to wear the right brands and use the right phone; you need to have been to an exclusive university; you need to take your holidays in luxurious locations and fly on the right airline; you need to marry well to someone smokin’ hot who also has a great job and wears the trendiest clothes.

Living wholeheartedly as a Christian often means the opposite of all those things – not that any of them are necessarily wrong in their own right – but we know that they’re not the be-all and end-all, they’re not where we ultimately derive our significance. Being a Christian might mean we want to be able to give as much of our money as possible to gospel ministry, so we might fly on the second best airline and watch slightly crummier in-flight movies and have slightly less leg room; it might mean we settle for second hand technology off E-Bay rather than having the momentary thrill of paying over-the-odds for the brand new equivalent; it might mean we stay in a lower-ranking job that means we’ll have more stable hours that ensure we can get involved in midweek church commitments; it might mean we’re willing to stay single in order to have more time and attention for gospel work, or that we treasure godliness in our spouses more highly than their Gucci handbag. It may not mean any of those things, but sooner or later it is bound to bring you into conflict with the world’s values, and require you to be willing to be thought a fool by those around you. Every time you speak openly of the gospel with those who do not follow Christ you risk being written off as crazy or outdated.

That’s why the resurrection of Jesus is such an important bedrock for living the Christian life. As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 15:19:

“If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied”

If I’ve given up status in the world’s eyes all my life, only to find out that there is no life after death, then I’ve been an idiot – I’ve missed out on all these great opportunities for no reason at all. Pity me. But, continues Paul,

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”

Christ’s resurrection from the dead was the “firstfruits” of what was to come, says Paul. Because he was raised, Christians can be confident that they will be raised also. There is a resurrection to come, a New Creation in which all those little sacrifices for the gospel will pale into insignificance. It will all be proved worth it because of that glorious future that awaits us.

It’s no wonder then, that Paul concludes the chapter with these words:

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.”

It takes real guts to defy the value system of the world and die to self every day. It takes real courage to stand up for the gospel in a world that thinks it foolish and weak. Living wholeheartedly as a Christian is hard. But if Christ was raised, then it is utterly worth it. Be strong. Be immovable. Be always abounding in the work of the Lord – it is not in vain!