Apart from our Lord’s name, the word grace is the sweetest utterance in all of Scripture. It signifies God's acceptance of the unacceptable; His relationship with those He was only at enmity with; and His peace being granted to those who deserve nothing but His tormenting justice in the fires of perdition for eternity.
Grace is God’s unmerited favor to man—granting us what we do not deserve… eternal life and granting us the forgiveness of sins from the curse of the Law. It is God’s free sovereign will in action; redeeming for Himself a remnant people for His own pleasure, purpose and praise.
It's Not About Us; It's All About Him
Grace robs man of any glory and boasting; grace crushes pride and exalts the Lord Jesus Christ; grace is a gift not based on anything of worth contained in man, but only in that what is worthy of a holy God and perfectly agrees with the council of His own will.
Left to myself, full of my own goodness, clothed with the rags of my own righteousness, I am only worthy of one thing—eternal punishment in an everlasting hell forever and ever; in unmitigated fury and gall; unrelenting, undiminishing; unforgiving. In short, I am worthy only of God’s wrath. But yet, instead of enmity, He gives us His unfailing love; instead of His justice, He gives us His inexhaustible mercy; instead of His wrath, He has without consideration for any goodness in any of His creatures, poured out upon His own that He knew before the foundations of the world His matchless, unfathomable grace. Oh what a Savior in response to sinners!
G.S. Bishop defines grace this way with these powerful words:
"GRACE IS A PROVISION for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the axe of justice, so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures, so averse to God that they cannot turn to Him, so blind that they cannot see Him, so deaf that they cannot hear Him, so dead that He Himself must open their graves and lift them into resurrection."That's grace... amen?
The One Triune God of Grace
God is the God of all grace (1 Pt. 5:10); and the giver of all grace (James 1:17). His throne is a throne of grace (Heb. 4:16) that we may approach to find help in time of need. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29). Grace was upon Christ (Luke 2:40); He spoke with grace (Luke 4:22); and was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Grace came by Christ (John 1:17), was given by Christ (1 Cor. 1:4) and even foretold by the prophets (1 Pt. 1:10). The riches of grace was demonstrated and manifested in God’s kindness through Christ (Eph. 2:7). We were “chosen by God before the foundations of the earth… to be adopted as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:4-6).
The Divine Character of Grace
God’s grace is described in His Word as being: great (Acts 4:33); sovereign (Rom. 5:21); rich (Eph. 1:7); exceeding (2 Cor. 9:14); manifold (1 Pt. 4:10); all-sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9); all-abundant (Rom. 5:15, 17, 20); and glorious (Eph. 1:6). The very gospel itself is a declaration of grace (Acts 20:24, 32). God’s grace is the source for: election (Rom. 11:5); the call of God in ministry (Gal. 1:15); justification (Rom. 3:24; Titus 3:7); faith (Acts 18:27); forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7); salvation (Eph. 2:5,8); consolation and hope (2 Thess. 2:16).
As His children and saints, we are heirs of His grace (1 Pt. 3:7); under His grace (Rom. 6:16); received grace from Christ Himself (John 1:16); abound in gifts of grace (Acts 4:33; 2 Cor. 9:8, 14)); established in grace (Heb. 13:9); strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus for ministry (2 Tim. 2:1); should be growing in grace (2 Pt. 3:18); and should speak with grace for the edifying of one another (Eph. 4:29). Most importantly God’s grace is not to be received in vain (2 Cor. 6:1); not to be abused (Rom. 3:8); is not a license for sin (Rom. 6:1, 15); and is not antinomian (against the law) (Jude 1:4).
It is clear to see that the Christian life is all of grace and nothing for which we can take credit for or find something of merit within ourselves to boast of. "Apart from Him we can do nothing" (John 15:5). Charles Spurgeon commenting on this wonderful reality says,
"Consider this, believer. You have no right to heaven in yourself: your right lies in Christ and His grace. If you are pardoned, it is through His blood; ifyou are justified, it is through His righteousness; if you are sanctified, it is because He is made of God unto you sanctification; if you shall be kept from falling, it will be because you are preserved in Christ Jesus; and if you are perfected at the last, it will be because you are complete in Him. Thus Jesus is magnified-for all is in Him and by Him; thus the inheritance is made certain to us-for it is obtained in Him; thus each blessing is the sweeter, and even heaven itself the brighter, because it is Jesus our Beloved "in whom" we have obtained allAnd further he states,
"When Jesus gave himself for us, he gave us all the rights and privileges which went with himself; so that now, although as eternal God, he has essential rights to which no creature may venture to pretend, yet as Jesus, the Mediator, the federal head of the covenant of grace, he has no heritage apart from us. All the glorious consequences of his obedience unto death are the joint riches of all who are in him, and on whose behalf he accomplished the divine will. See, he enters into glory, but not for himself alone, for it is written, "Whither the Forerunner is for us entered" (Heb. 6:20). Does he stand in the presence of God?-"He appears in the presence of God for us" (Heb. 9:24).The Apostle Paul brings this tremendous grand truth of God’s grace to where we live every day in Titus 2:11-13. He describes to us three practical stages of grace: 1. Saved by Grace; 2. Sanctified by Grace; and, 3. Glorified by Grace. In other words, we’ve died once to the penalty of sin; we die daily to the power of sin; and one day, we will be free from the presence of sin.
Saved by Grace—
We’ve Died Once to the Penalty of Sin
Titus 2:11 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.” Here the Apostle Paul makes grace more than a theological concept or another attribute of God— he makes it embodied in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord. “The grace of God has appeared” after having been long hidden in the loving counsels of God (cf, Col 1:26; 2Ti 1:9,10). This is grace incarnate. The grace of God has now been embodied in Jesus, the brightness of the Father's glory," manifested as the "Sun of righteousness" (cp, Heb. 1:1-3). This is describing “the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us” (John 1:14). This is God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity, coming to earth; taking on the form of a bond-servant. This is Divine Love clothed in humility, God’s gracious gift condescending to fallen mankind (cp, Phil. 2:5-8).
It is He, Christ Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). As the Apostle John says, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
The Greek word epiphainomai for “appeared” here, means to be made clear or manifest. The essential meaning of the word is "to appear suddenly upon a scene" and it is used particularly of divine interposition. It signifies the dawning of light upon darkness. Such was the incarnation of Jesus Christ—the Light of world. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5).
For what purpose did Christ humble Himself and put on flesh? For the purpose of “…bringing salvation to all men.” This is the saving and delivering of sinful man from the right reward of our transgression against a holy God—eternal punishment. Christ comes, grace incarnate, “bringing salvation to all men.” This does not mean that all men will be saved—that would be called universalism. On the contrary, “all men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord did we not…depart from Me you who practice iniquity. The road is narrow that leads to eternal life and few are they that find it."
“All men” is not a numerical designator—but one of scope. The gospel is for all people of all races, all nations, all tongues and tribes of the earth. The gospel is to be proclaimed to the four corners of the world. We are to call all men to repentance. It simply is referring to mankind, not everyone in mankind. In other words, the gospel is not for a spiritually elite who are more gifted; more noble; more good; more civil; more moral; not as sinful, who God somehow looked down upon and thought, “they really are special and have lived a life better than most…I will save them.” Not so. It is referring to humanity in general; of all peoples of all lands. The Lord will call His own from among them. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient to cover and forgive every sin that would ever be committed, by every one that would ever believe. Paul describes this truth in his opening words in Titus 1:1-2, “Paul, a bond-servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago.” Out of all humanity, it is only those whom God has chosen to believe that will be saved (Rom. 10:9-10).
Sanctified by Grace—
We Die Daily to the Power of Sin
The new life in Christ represents a new way of living in this world. Salvation is completely transforming. We have been not just "made over", we have been regenerated--born again.
We once were as Paul says we were:
“as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one." "Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving," "The poison of asps is under their lips"; "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness"; "Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace have they not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom. 3:10-18).
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Eph. 2:1-3).
"For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:3).
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).It is so clear that we are totally depraved people. Sinners; not because we commit acts of sin; but sinners, because by nature we are sinful. And sinful by nature people always will commit acts of sin. Depraved doesn’t mean that we are doing bad things and only bad things that are in themselves entirely bad. It doesn't mean that we are as bad as we could be. For even "the rain falls on the just and the unjust." Unsaved people can be generous, doing acts of great humanity for others, showing love and kindness to their neighbor, having warm, rich meaningful families and relationships, being productive and philanthropic in their communities, etc. But rather depraved means that we are completely inable to satisfy God by our own good works in order to appease His wrath, meet the demands of His justice, and atone for our sins. But when the entrance of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ saves us, we are born again. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things are made new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Notice what Paul says, all things are new; all old things pass away. Complete life transformation by the gospel of grace. That is good news! And new lives in Christ demand a new way to live. We cannot say that we are new creatures in Him and live the same old life we used to live in the world. "A good tree produces good fruit" and the new life will evidence itself in Christlikeness.
Though justification and sanctification are two different realities spiritually, they are two inseparable truths as well. All those whom the Lord saves, He sanctifies (sets apart for His use and glory). If we claim to know Him there must be the fruit of the transformed life lived. To illustrate this point, when I was in Germany several years ago ministering at an Air Force base in Bitberg, a young man came up to me after one of the meetings and told me that he had been a Christian since he was ten years old—but there had been no change in him since then. He said, “Steve, I have my fire insurance, but I am still the same person I’ve always been. I said a sinners prayer, and if I really meant it, it’s OK, I am still a Christian and going to heaven one day. It doesn’t matter how I live; after all, we all struggle with sin, right?” Is that genuine Christianity? Live anyway you want and grace has got you covered? Of course not. Grace doesn’t wink at sin nor pacify sin. Grace drives us to further obedience in Christ. The root of our salvation is the grace of Christ; but the fruit of our salvation is the life of grace evidenced in the believer.
This is Paul’s point here. Grace is, “instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). Notice here, when salvation comes, so comes the new life. We are saved by grace, and also sanctified by grace.
A Faithful Teacher
Grace is our daily teacher. This word instructing means to train by discipline; to train a child. It is a similar word for tutor found in Galatians 3:24. Grace is now our daily tutor, training us in righteousness and Christlikeness. It faithfully instructs us in two things: “to deny ungodliness and worldly desires.” Ungodliness here means the rejection of everything that is reverent and of all that has to do with God. This is lawlessness or premeditated disobedience against the Lord Himself. This a total disregard for the things of the Lord and His chaste ways for us.
Worldly desires is the passion behind the irreverence. It is the strong overpowering lustful desire of our hearts. Epithumeia is the Greek word here and signifies the dominating unrestrained passions of one’s life. Grace empowers us not to live a life of lust or unrestrained pleasure against the standard and holiness of God. Everyday, grace teaches us to surrender our lives to Christ as a living sacrifice, and not simply give in to the desires that would defy the Lord and His reverent standard for us, but to use the instruments of our flesh as weapons of righteousness. In other words, we can have victory over the desires and passions that would pull us away from being fruitful in service to the Lord and most effective as a witness and vessel for the Master's use.
Paul gives us great hope and surety in our walk in the Lord when he says in Romans 5:2, “we stand in grace.” This is our security in sanctification. Spurgeon, when commenting on this verse to his congregation in London said, “Our finite sins can never exhaust his infinite grace.” Isn't that good? That is real hope for us beloved. When we do sin, “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2:1). Once again, grace doesn’t wink at sin, give license to sin, minimize what sin is, or underestimate its compromising influence and deceiving power; but grace teaches us not to sin; not to succumb to the lustful passions of our lives or that which would exalt itself against the reverence of God; grace instructs us daily to live for the Lord.
As brother Spurgeon once again so aptly encourages us,
“Yes, there is no safety like that which comes of dwelling near to God. For His best beloved the Lord can find no surer or safer place. O Lord, let me always abide under thy shadow, close to thy wounded side. Nearer and nearer would I come to thee, my Lord; and when once specially near thee, I would abide there for ever. What a covering is that which the Lord gives to His chosen! Not a fair roof shall cover him, nor a bombproof casement, nor even an angel's wing, but Jehovah Himself. Nothing can come at us when we are thus covered. This covering the Lord will grant us all the day long, however long the day. Lord, let me abide this day consciously beneath this canopy of love, this pavilion of sovereign power and grace.
Glorified by Grace—
We will One Day be Free from the Presence of Sin
This is our great hope and comfort—we shall be free from the very presence of sin when on that glorious day we shall see Him and we shall be like Him. “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;” (Titus 2:13). “Those whom He justified… He glorified” (Rom. 8:30). As we are making our way through this world struggling with being new creations incarcerated in unredeemed flesh; we are waiting for the return of our Lord and to serve and reign with Him forever in glory…amen?
This is our hope. This is our joy. This is our unfading motivation in living for Him. This will prove the antidote to worldly lusts, and the stimulus to "live in this present world" conformably to this expectation. One day we will be with Him and we will be like Him; so we press on for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4). Notice that Paul calls this a blessed hope (cf, Rom. 8:22-23; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 John 3:2-3). This should produce in us great joy in the journey as we find comfort in the great promise of the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.
In JF&B’s great commentary on the Bible, they insightfully say,
“Blessed… bringing blessedness (Rom.4:7-8). Hope, that is, the object of hope (Rom. 8:24; Gal. 5:5; Col 1:5). The glorious appearing, there is but one Greek article to both "hope" and "appearing," which marks their close connection (the hope being about to be realized only at the appearing of Christ). Translate, "The blessed hope and manifestation (compare Note, see on Tit 2:11) of the glory." The Greek for "manifestation" is translated "brightness" in 2 Thess. 2:8. As His "coming" (Greek, "parousia") expresses the fact; so "brightness, appearing," or "manifestation" (epiphaneia) expresses His personal visibility when He shall come.” That really conveys this great truth.
Here Paul gives us one of the great verses on the deity of Christ found anywhere in the N.T. – “our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” He is our Savior, the very meaning of His name, Jesus. But only a great God can save; and He is both—fully man and fully God. He is the Son of Man made flesh; but He is eternally, God the Son. He is Jesus our Savior; but He is the Lord, our Sovereign. There is but one Greek article to "God" and "Saviour," which shows that both are predicated of one and the same Being. Of Him who is at once the great God and our Saviour.
This is the theme of one of the great doxologies of Scripture: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).
May our hearts rejoice in His grace today as we look towards the blessed return of our King for His people. And in the meantime, may we submit to our loving disciplinarian—our faithful instructor and teacher of grace, as we learn to walk faithfully and humbly with the Lord each day saying no to worldliness and ungodliness.
And beloved, may we keep fresh on our lips this wonderful benediction for the “gracelife” pleasing to the Lord: “For me to live is Christ; and to die is gain.”
From the crucible of grace...