DUNCAN/For the grace of God has appeared
Please turn to Titus 2:11-15. In verses 1-10 of chapter 2, Paul gives exhortations to various groups of people at different ages and stations in life as to their character and conduct. And he exhorts them in their character and conduct to show that they are those who have been changed through the transforming work of God’s Holy Spirit. In verses 11-14, Paul gives us the reason why Titus and the elders ought to promote godliness among the various groups and types of people in these congregations in these Christian churches in Crete. In verse 11, Paul says, “For the grace of God has appeared.” In other words, Paul says the reason these Christians ought to obey the Word of God is because of God’s grace. In relation, there are five things that Paul teaches us about God’s grace in this passage. Specifically, Paul tells us that grace transforms, grace teaches, grace looks for the blessed hope, grace works, and that grace will not be disregarded.
I. Grace Transforms.
In verse 11, Paul says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.” Grace is the sovereign favor of God. And since we are fallen and rebellious sinners, it is unearned. Nobody deserves God’s forgiving grace. And Paul is saying to these people, all of whom like us are sinners, that God’s salvation-bringing grace has appeared to them. Paul is saying, “God’s grace not only forgives, God’s grace transforms.” And therefore, Titus and the elders in these churches must expect and encourage every member of the flock called by grace to live and to grow in righteousness by grace. Since God has manifested His grace to all kinds and classes of people in the Christian church, then all kinds and classes of people in the Christian church are to commit to living a life of godliness. In Titus 2:1-10, Paul says “live this way.” And then in verse 11, he says, “Let me show you why.” And he points you to God’s grace. Because God has manifested His transforming grace, we must manifest that transforming grace in our lives.
II. Grace Teaches.
In verses 11-12, Paul says, “the grace of God has appeared… instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.” So Paul says that grace not only transforms but that grace teaches. He is telling us that the salvation-bringing grace of God is a teacher of godliness. Where grace reigns, grace trains. And Paul addresses that truth in a couple of ways. First, he speaks of our denying ungodliness and worldly desires. That is, renouncing the sinful desires, urges, and tendencies that our fleshly selves have. And then, Paul speaks of God’s reigning in grace and training us in grace in three areas which include self, our relation to others, and our relation to God. When he speaks about self, he speaks in term of living sensibly. He speaks of self-control in which we have control over ourselves and are not driven by our desires. When he speaks of our relationship with others, he speaks of our living righteously. That is, that we are living in justice and integrity towards our neighbors. To say it in Jesus terms, we are loving our neighbors. Lastly, he speaks of our living godly in the present age. In other words, we are living with devotion to God. We are seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. We are glorifying God in all that we do. Thus, Paul is saying that God’s sanctifying grace is manifested in our self-mastery, in our neighbor love, and in our devotion to God.
III. Grace Looks for the Blessed Hope.
In verse 13, he says that it’s not only that grace transforms and teaches but that grace looks “for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” He’s telling us that the salvation-bringing grace of God is a teacher of hope and that grace looks for the blessed hope. Grace trains us in hope. Grace trains us in the certain expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promises and plans and especially the glorious return of Jesus Christ. Paul knows that as Christians attempting to live a godly life, we do so in a fallen world. And that lends itself to discouragement because we all find ourselves in situations some of which are not going to get better. Therefore, Paul is reminding you that if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ today, you have the confident expectation that in the last day you will see your Redeemer in your resurrected flesh. By reminding us of the absolute certainty of the appearance of Jesus Christ, God gives us blessed hope that transcends every situation in which we find ourselves. So grace not only transforms and teaches, it looks to the blessed hope, the appearing of Jesus Christ.
IV. Grace Works.
In verse 14, Paul tells us that grace works when he says that Jesus “gave Himself … to redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Notice in this passage that Paul stresses that Christ gave Himself both to redeem us from a life of practicing evil and to purify us so that we manifest His grace in a life that is zealous for doing good. We are saved by God’s grace. We receive it through faith. It is Christ who saves us. But when Jesus saves us, He not only forgives our sins, He begins a work of transformation which will culminate on the day of the blessed appearing of Jesus Christ when all of our sin is eradicated and we never ever sin again. God, in His mercy, not only wants to see us forgiven, but He wants us to be won from a life of sin to a life of goodness and obedience.
V. Grace Will Not be Disregarded.
In verse 15, Paul reminds us that grace will not be disregarded. Specifically, Paul says, “Let no one disregard you.” In other words, Titus is to say, “Thus, sayeth the Lord” about these things. Titus is to speak authoritatively to the people of God that grace reigns in righteousness. Believers experience true Christian liberty. By God’s grace, believers are freed from a life of sin and freed to obedience and good works. So Paul says, “Titus, teach people that if they really understand grace, they will be the most zealous, willingly committed, faithful, Bible-believing, Bible-obeying Christians because grace trains us and teaches us to deny ungodliness and to live sensibly and righteously and godly in this present evil age.” May God transform us by His salvation-bringing grace so that we live sensible, righteous, and godly lives in this fallen world seeking to give Him all the glory.