Grace of God
(11) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
(12) training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
(13) waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
(14) who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
The story is told of a young girl who left work early so she could have some uninterrupted study time before a final exam in religion class. She studied all night. When she arrived at class in the morning everybody was cramming as much last minute information as possible. The teacher walked in and said, "Let’s do a quick review before the test." They followed him through the review that was laid out on the study guide, but then he began to talk about things the young girl had never heard covered in class. Several hands went up. Students said, "We never had this information before." The teacher picked up the text book and said, "Everything is in the book and you are responsible for everything in the book, so you need to get ready to take the test." The assistants passed out the test; the professor said, "Leave your test face down on the desk until everyone has one. I will tell you when to turn your paper over and start." Two minutes later the class heard, "OK, you may start."
When the young girl turned her test over, every answer was filled in! A note at the bottom of the last page said: "Your Final Exam is now over. All your answers are correct. You are blessed with an ’A’ on the final exam." Every student read the same thing and looked up at the professor in utter astonishment. When the professor was sure all eyes were on him he said, "You passed the test for one reason only--because the creator of the test took the test for you. All your study time, class time, and hard work in preparation for this exam did not help you get the 'A.' You have just experienced GRACE."
As Titus says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” Grace is unmerited favor. Grace is getting something we do not deserve. What we deserve is a punishment that is fit for the crime – that is a punishment that is equal with our sin. Our sin is that we have not served an all-wise, all-seeing, all-powerful God. God's omnipresence places Him at the scene of our misbehaviours. God's omniscience makes Him aware of our every thought, word and deed. God's omnipotence can overwhelm all opposition. Instead of pouring out His wrath upon us however, God extends His grace towards us. He does not turn a blind eye to our sin because that would violate His holiness. God offers complete justification. He will forgive and forget. He will let us start over; give us a clean sheet. God declares us to be righteous.
The plan of salvation is substitution. Grace is God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. God executed divine judgement not on us but upon Himself. At the cross, the Son of God died in our place--such is God’s grace. Grace is the free sovereign approval of God to those who should not be approved. Grace is complete undeserved blessing.
Notice that Titus says this grace is for all people. God has made His grace completely inclusive. There is not a single person that God does not desire to see saved and redeemed.
Revelation 22:17 says, “The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” It says let anyone who wants it have it for nothing. There is no price, no fee, no hidden charges. It is a gift. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.
There is a story about Billy Graham which illustrates grace. I have to tell you that this story is on the internet in several versions, so I kind of wonder about it, but in any case, it goes like this:
In the early days of his evangelistic career, Billy Graham was invited to speak at a town in Georgia. You know this is a bad story because it is in Georgia—just joking. That particular day, Rev. Graham was running late, like most of us most of the time. As he was driving to his destination, time loomed ever closer to his appointment, and he leaned ever harder on the gas pedal. Then he heard the siren, of course. He pulled over to the side of the road whereupon a policeman approached his car and asked him if he knew how fast he was going. Being a man of God, he told the truth and admitted that he was going over the speed limit, well over the speed limit. He was then asked to follow the policeman to the home of the Justice of the Peace. The Justice looked at the ticket and told Rev. Graham that this was going to cost him $30.00. That does not sound like so much today, but this story takes place in the late 1940's and that was a lot at the time. Well, Rev Graham figured he did not have any choice but to pay, but the judge said, “Wait a minute. Since the ticket has already been written, and we both know you are guilty, the ticket must be paid, but under the circumstances I will pay it for you. You go on and hold your meeting.” So, Billy Graham continued on to his way, knowing that he had experienced grace that day, not God's grace but the grace of the justice of peace. Of course he had also experienced God's grace in that he had been forgiven of all his crimes against God by the acceptance of His Son Jesus. Jesus is the true Justice of all humankind.
Titus is not content with just telling us about the grace of God, he also wants us to know that grace moves us to a different way of living. Grace brings about a change in our relationship with God. That relationship produces a change in the way we live, a change in attitude, ambition, and action. The same grace that redeems us also reforms our lives and makes us godly. The gospel teaches God's people God's way. This is due both to our own will and the will of the HS in us. Out of gratitude for the grace of God, we turn away from the old to a new way of living.
V12 says the gospel trains us to “renounce ungodliness.” Essentially ungodliness can be defined as having a lack of love for God or having no regard for Godl. This essentially describes our modern culture. By ungodliness, Titus means all things contrary to God. Whatever would lead us to doubt God, whatever would cause to us to deny God as the source of our being and the purpose of the world, whatever would cause us to deny God's influence on our soul, whatever is opposed to the true worship of God—this Titus says we should renounce. We should have nothing to do with that kind of attitude.
We are born with a natural desire to draw near to God. Ungodliness is an unnatural weird way of living. It goes against the grain of our own creation.
John Henry Newton (July 24, 1725 – December 21, 1807) was a British sailor who became an Anglican clergyman. Starting his career at sea, at a young age, he became involved with the slave trade for a few years. He worked his way through the dregs of ungodliness. After experiencing a conversion to Christ, he became a minister, hymn-writer, and later a prominent supporter of the abolition of slavery. He was the author of many hymns, including "Amazing Grace" and "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken." Newton disowned ungodliness!
Titus tells us also we should renounce “worldly passions.” These are the desires or wants of the world that have no regard or love for God. Literally these desires or passions flow from a godless mind set or way of thinking. People without God live in gluttony, drunkenness, lasciviousness, anger, malice, and greed and revenge.
By contrast Titus calls us to “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” we are to be devout and righteous and holy people willing to worship God in all circumstances. We are to be examples. Sometimes people claim to be Christians and act like everybody else. Titus call us to a different way. We are to be like Jesus in this “present age” reflecting His love and forgiveness to all people.
Now there is a mistake we want to avoid in reading these verses from Titus. The mistake is to suppose that grace is earned. A careless reading of Titus would say that we should give up ungodly living and worldly passions, and live disciplined, upright, and godly lives and if we do that we will have the blessings and grace of God. That is not what these verses say. In fact they say just the opposite.
In verse 11, we are told what God has done, not what we have done. On that first Christmas, God revealed his grace in the baby that was born in Bethlehem. We are even told the purpose of that baby—the salvation of all people. The emphasis is that salvation is something that God has done. In v14, we read, “He gave himself for us, to rescue us from all wickedness and to make us a pure people who belong to him alone and are eager to do good.” there is no idea in any of this that anything we do will save us. Salvation is in Christ alone. However, there is certainly the idea that when we believe on Christ and receive the HS a powerful change is wrought in our lives. We have a new purpose in life. We are God’s people: By God’s grace we become “his own special people.” Throughout the Bible we see God at work together his people and move them in the right direction. The direction God has in mind is his kingdom. The Christian life is a directional life. We are going somewhere. We are looking forward to something. We look forward to the final consummation of the universe in Jesus Christ.
That is what the whole universe is moving toward. But the amazing insight of Christianity is that you as an individual are part of this universal movement. God is at work in your heart to give you his grace to make you part of his kingdom army. When we realize what that baby from Bethlehem has done for us it stirs a passion in our souls to serve him. Our motivation for serving Christ does not come from some duty or obligation but rather it flows from a grateful heart, it flows from our understanding of the grace of God.
When people work an eight-hour day and receive a fair day’s pay, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and wins a trophy for their performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for long service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award--yet receives such a gift anyway--that is the grace of God.
If you have questions or comments, email Tony Grant
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