Study in Titus. Presentation 04. Grace Appearing Chap 2v11-15. Presentation 04. Introduction.
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In the earlier verses of this chapter Paul has been impressing upon Titus the kind of target preaching that would enable different groups within the church to live consistent and godly lives, role model lives, which would in turn make the Christian gospel attractive to the unbelieving community. Now neither God, nor his apostolic representatives, asked people to do the impossible. And in response to the commonly asked question, “How can I?” Paul now focuses not on human weakness but upon divine provision.
Paul knew the importance of God’s grace if such consistent Christian testimony was to be produced. He begins by reminding Titus of ‘the grace of God appears to all men’. Wonderfully, there is no rank or, class or, age group or, sex outside of the saving influence
of God's grace. Without discrimination or distinction God's grace has appeared to a whole cross-section of humanity. The use
of the word, ‘appeared’ in v11 is significant!
It is regularly used in scripture to describe
a ‘sudden appearance’, as God stretches
out his hand into time to release men
from the fortress of their despair.
Wesley describes how the grace of God
breached the dark and apparently
impregnable walls of his own misery and imprisonment to sin:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature's night,
Thine eye diffused the quickening ray,
I woke the dungeon flamed with light,
My chains fell off my heart was free,
I rose went forth and followed thee.
That is the grace of God appearing.
This word "appeared" is also used to describe the silent dawning of a new day and indicates how God, in Christ, not only came into our world but also how he continues to come into our hearts.
God rarely explodes into people’s lives as in Paul’s case on the Damascus Road. A quiet arrival is more normal in Christian experience. Although it is quiet, the change of direction produced in us by grace is nevertheless visible for all to see!
People will quickly recognise that our lives have taken on a completely new commitment and have begun to travel in a quite new direction. The work of grace cannot be hidden.
In Acts 11v23 we read that when Barnabas went down to Antioch ‘and saw evidence of the grace of God [at work in peoples lives] he was glad’!
He saw lives that were formally crushed and broken by sin now restored and revitalised. This is a very wonderful, awe-inspiring, never to be forgotten experience!
Grace liberates and changes the direction of people’s lives but how does it continue with this process of transformation? Paul tells us in v12… Here we discover that grace is in the teaching profession. This is why Paul lays such store on a biblical teaching ministry. Grace opens our eyes and illumines our minds and applies the truth of God’s word which is being expounded. In Eph. 4v 8ff we learn that the ascended Lord gave grace gifts of ministry to his church. For what purpose? We are told, "for the equipment of the saints ".
The Greek word translated "equipment" carries the force of bringing people back into circulation. If we can develop the coin analogy, it is to restore them to the purpose for which they were originally "minted".
We are each one of us equipped by God to minister to each other in order that we might enable one another to become mature in our faith – christlike – this is God’s great objective for our lives.
There is an important progression in Paul's thought. In v12 we read of grace teaching us to say, 'no' to ungodliness and by implication to say, ‘yes' to self-control, uprightness and godliness.
Then we find in v14 that Paul speaks of Christ, 'redeeming us from all wickedness to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good'. But lying in between these two statements is the controlling phrase,
'he gave himself for us'.
We can draw an important conclusion from the positioning of v13. The school of Christian character-building has the death and rising of Christ as the core subject of its curriculum.
Jesus’ death defeated the reign of sin in our lives and
has given us the power to say ‘no' to sin because sin
no longer has the stranglehold that it had on us
before we became Christians. Similarly, because
Jesus has risen from the dead, he makes
available, to all who have placed their trust
in him, his resurrection life. So that
Christians are the possessors of a
new nature that says 'yes' to
It is important to see why the negative comes first. Dying comes before rising again. Nothing that refuses to die can ever be raised again.That is why the gospel always begins with repentance, by saying ‘No’ to what is wrong.
On a construction site rubble must be bulldozed away as a necessary preliminary to any new building work. In the same way, and with
the help of God’s Spirit, we are to say ‘No’
to, to die to, to clear out of our lives, all
that would hinder the construction
And as we learn how to die daily to ungodliness we begin to make room for growth in godliness. Newness of life comes out
of death. The hymn-writer says:
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
He has recognised that there is life on the other side of the deaths that we die.
On the positive side of the instruction, those qualities that we are to build into our lives include, ‘self-control, uprightness and godly living’. They indicate respectively, a right attitude to oneself, to others, and to God.
First, to live a self-controlled life carries the idea of coming to terms with oneself. It describes a heart at leisure from itself and set free from itself and its own importance. It has been detached from the tyranny of self and is able to say with the apostle, 'all things are lawful for me… but I will not be brought under the power of any‘, 1Cor. 6v12.
Christians who fail to develop self-control in their lives become enslaved, often by good and legitimate things. The very things that God intended to be our servants can so easily become our masters.
Secondly, to live righteously involves having a right attitude towards others and to stand in a right relationship to them. You see it is simply not enough to say, ‘I’ve never done anybody any harm’, that is far too negative and reflects a self-centred approach to daily living.
One has to develop a positive attitude of love towards others. That involves self-giving. We read that Jesus ‘went about doing good’ Acts 10v38. This is what it is to live righteously!
Finally, to live ‘a godly life’ means to live in a right relationship towards God. It involves actively seeking to please him so that we confess and repent of our failures immediately we become aware of them. This relationship is foundational. If we fail here, then we will fail in all other relationships.
We must never lose sight of the fact that all of our horizontal relationships are necessarily dependent upon the vertical relationship.
You may be asking, “What incentives do we have for both living in a world of grace and labouring in the workshop of grace?”
Paul tells us that our greatest incentive ought to be the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. The focus of expectation of the Christian should be locked in the forward position as he awaits the day of Christ’s return. He knows this world is not his home and he longs for the establishment of Christ’s coming kingdom.
Christ’s return is far from being an impractical escapist doctrine. It heralds the day when we will stand before God’s throne of grace.
On that day we will either be shamefaced because on earth we have not submitted to God’s transforming grace and allowed it to refashion our lives or, we will beam with delight, as we marvel at all that God has been able to achieve in us and through us. For his goal is to bring glory to his name through his people.
On that great day will there be a smile on your face and on mine?