Questions & Answers
Mortimer J. Adler taught his students: "If you have the habit of asking a book questions as you read, you are a better reader than if you do not," (How To Read A Book, p.#58). This study applies that good counsel to a portion of Paul's letter to Titus.
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works." - Titus 2:11-14.
What Is The Grace of God?
The grace of God is best understood in terms of a giver-receiver relationship. It is not like an employer-employee relationship (where salary or wage is paid for work done). It is not like a seller-buyer relationship (where the buyer receives what he paid for). Grace is better represented by the giver-receiver relationship.
If you give me something I need, simply because I need it and you want to give it - that's grace. I didn't earn the gift; I didn't pay for it. You gave it because I needed it, and you wanted to supply my need.
Think of your relationship with God (or perhaps, your potential relationship with God). Would you want to stand before God to receive exactly what you have earned, based on past and present behavior? Or, if salvation were offered as a product for sale, would you be able to afford it? The grace of God is not like earning a wage by the merit of work done. And it is not like buying a product.
Grace is best represented in terms of giver-receiver. God is the giver. He wants to supply what we need, that we do not deserve and cannot pay for. God, in His infinite generosity, mercy and grace, wants to supply what we need. God is the giver.
When we obey the gospel - we become receivers. Our obedience to the gospel (both initial and post-baptism) is our active expression of the desire to receive and use what God is willing to give.
The gospel is the story of divine generosity. God gave His only begotten Son; Jesus gave His life; the Holy Spirit gave us the Word. When we respond to this divine generosity, as instructed in the Word, we become receivers. As we continue to respond (walking by faith after baptism), we keep what we received. This is grace. Without it, we would be lost.
What Did The Grace Of God Bring?
Exactly what we needed - Salvation. "For the grace of God... brings salvation." That word "salvation" can be considered as a term that conveys the basic idea of rescue; being saved. If you are in danger, and someone comes to your rescue - we call that "salvation."
There is nothing more dangerous than sin! It alienates us from God. It brings destruction and ruin. It causes national instability and cultural confusion. Sin kills marriages, families and churches. It turns relationships into ugly enmity. It provokes the wrath of God and sets the sinner in the direction of eternal punishment. There is nothing more dangerous than sin.
God has made it possible for us to be rescued from sin. Because we have sinned, we cannot do sufficient work to merit or earn salvation. Because we have sinned, we cannot purchase salvation as one would buy a product (this is the point, in Titus 3:4,5).
Because of the generosity of God and the unselfish humility of Christ, it is possible for sinners to be rescued from sin. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." In the preaching of the gospel and the writing and distribution of the New Testament, the grace of God appears to all to hear and receive.
Who Can Be Saved?
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." Who can be saved? Anyone who wants to, with desire sufficient to produce the response of faith. In the gospel plan, God makes salvation available to "all men."
Throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament, one theme is - God's love for all men and His provision of salvation for all men. This begins in the form of a promise (Genesis 12), becomes prophecy (Isaiah 2, Jeremiah 31) and then reality as expressed in the Great Commission, which is based on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Follow this into Acts chapter two and chapter ten. "But in every nation, whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him," (Acts 10:35).
The call of the gospel is: "Whosoever will." Paul wrote, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved," (Rom. 10:13). The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. The gospel is universal in what it offers. It knows nothing of race, blood or geography; it is the grace of God, making salvation available to all men.
What Does The Grace Of God Teach Us?
This passage says, God's grace not only provides salvation, but also instruction. Not only is God willing to save us from sin. He wants to teach us to live without sin. God gives salvation, but also instruction.
What does His grace teach us? "Denying ungodliness and world lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age." God gives us salvation, then instruction. If we want the salvation, we will comply with the instruction, so that we learn to say "no" to sin.
How does this work? First, the grace of God offers pardon (forgiveness of sin already committed). Because of Christ's sacrifice, there is a way out of sin. Obeying the gospel is our acceptance of that pardon. But once you accept the pardon, by obeying the gospel, you can become a student of God's instructions, to live without the burden of sin, "soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age." So divine generosity offers pardon from sin, and instruction in godly living.
What Can We Look Forward To?
Verse 13 says, "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." If you become a recipient of salvation from God and keep that gift (by following God's instructions), there is this blessed hope you can live by. As a Christian, walking by the light and saved by the grace of God, I know, whatever difficulty I experience here, I will not experience after death! Whatever pain, hardship, trouble, stress or persecution, it will all seem so small one day, when I settle in to my eternal home.
One day, all inequalities will be resolved, all wrongs made right, all faithful service rewarded, all true character revealed, and anticipated reunions consummated.
What Did Jesus Do To Make This Possible?
All the blessings revealed in this passage and in the New Testament depend upon the sacrifice of Christ. He gave Himself for us, in an act of absolute unselfish humility (see Phil. 2:5-11). He "gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father." He offered "one sacrifice for sins forever," then sat down at the right hand of God (Heb. 10:12). Anyone who sincerely wants relief from sin can be rescued, then taught to be godly - because of what He did for us.
Why Did He Do This?
The answer is, "...that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works." Typically, we do not show much mercy toward people in trouble they created. If someone is an innocent victim, we may be urgent in showing mercy. But if someone is suffering, due to their own foolish choices, we may not show much interests in helping (see Rom. 5:7,8). But Jesus "gave Himself for us" to help us out of trouble we created; to redeem us from the lawless deeds we chose. He gave His life, so that the impure can be pure . . . and His!
What Are You Doing About All Of This Right Now?
Because of the grace of God, you can be rescued from sin. Jesus gave Himself to make salvation available to you. Today, you can become a recipient of this grace, be saved and learn to live right. You can have the blessed hope, and look forward to the glorious appearance of the Lord. This is the gospel message for people today, but you have to make it personal. Are you living today in response to the grace of God? Have you acted on the truth given in this passage?
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 9-9; September 2002