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Titus 2:11-15: The Appearing of Grace and Glory Print E-mail
Sunday, 18 September 2011

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Normally Paul begins his letters with doctrine and then moves to practical instructions. For example, we saw this in the book of Romans. Paul spends the first eleven chapters explaining his gospel to the Church in Rome. Then, in chapter 12 he moves to more practical instructions. We see a similar pattern in the book of Ephesians. Yet, in his letter to Titus, and particularly in chapter 2 of Titus, Paul begins with the commands (2:1-10) and then moves to the doctrinal basis for keeping those commands (2:11-15). Thus, for Paul itís not so much the order that matters, but the connection between our doctrine and our practice, our belief and our behavior. We can obey because we believe. So then, in Titus 2 Paul begins with commands for the older and younger men, the older and younger women, and the slaves, and then moves to the basis for those commands (notice the ďForÖĒ in verse 11). Yes we each have commands to keep according to the Bible. We are called and commanded to live a certain way. We are to do this for the sake of the gospel (see v. 5b, 8b, and 10b). But we must never forget that there is a sure and solid foundation for us actually keeping these commands. What is this foundation? What is the basis for us keeping the commands outlined in 2:1-10? In short, it is the appearing of the grace of God. Look at verse 11a. Godís grace has appeared in the person and work of Jesus Christ our Savior. From there, Paul gives us two reasons for Christís appearing which are his solid foundation for our obedience. What are these two reasons?

First, Christ appeared to bring us salvation (v. 11, 14a).

Paul tells us one reason Christ appeared in the rest of verse 11.  Look at that with me.  Christ appeared, bringing salvation for all people.  When Jesus took on flesh and dwelt among us, He was the very incarnation of Godís grace.  John said that Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14) and from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  If you want to know what the grace of God is like then you need not look any further than the person and work of Christ.  Through His willingness to take on flesh and suffer on the cross for us, He became for us the embodiment of Godís grace. 

John Stott writes: ďOf course grace did not come into existence when Christ came.  God has always been gracious, indeed the ĎGod of all graceí.  But grace appeared visibly in Jesus Christ.Ē 1  ĎGrace appeared visibly.í  God sent us His grace in the form of His Son who through His obedience and death brought us salvation.  This is the gloriously good news of the gospel.  This is what God has done for us in Christ.  And this is the basis, the solid foundation, for our own obedience.  We obey, we are dignified, reverent in behavior, loving of others, self-controlled, and humble, because of the work of Christ.  He has appeared to bring us salvation through faith in Him. 

After Paul gives us a second reason for Christís appearing, which we will consider in a moment, he returns to the idea of Christ appearing for our salvation.  Look at how he describes it in verse 14a.  Christ came to redeem us from all lawlessness.  The language of redemption points us back to Godís delivery of His people from slavery in Egypt, or the Exodus.  God redeemed His people by sending the ten plagues and crushing Pharaohís army in the Red Sea.  He set them free.  In the same way, God has set us from free from slavery to sin by sending us Christ.  Christ appeared, the grace of God appeared, to redeem us and bring us salvation.

And He did this for all people.  He did it for older men and younger men.  He did it for older women and younger women.  He did it for slaves and for the free.  He did it for all who will turn from their sins and put their trust in Him.  This is what we mean by the free offer of the gospel to all men.  We preach to all men, we exclude none, because Christ came for all.  Godís grace has appeared in the person and work of Christ, but how will people know this if we do not tell them? 

In Paulís commands to the various groups in 2:1-10, he kept saying that we are to obey for the sake of the gospel.  Our obedience adorns the gospel.  Thus, we should obey because of the gospel, through the power of the gospel that has redeemed us and saved us; and we should obey for the gospel, so that it will look great to others.  We should obey so that when we go and preach this glorious good news of the appearing of grace, people will already be eager to listen because they have seen the difference that the message has made in our own lives.  May our lost friends and neighbors see the fruit of the gospel in our lives.  And when they come to us and ask us: ĎWhat makes you so different?í  May we respond in all humility: ĎThe grace of God has appeared in the person of Christ and through faith in His work He has saved me.í

Second, Christ appeared to make us holy (v. 12-13, v. 14b-15).

We see the connection between our obedience and Christís work come together in verses 12-13.  Look at those with me.  Paul says that Christ appeared to bring us salvation, as we have considered.  But He also appeared to train us.  What did the appearance of Christ train us to do? 

First, the negative: it trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.  The work of Christ trains us to hate our sin.  How does this work?  Practically speaking, every time we are tempted by sin, by ungodliness and worldly passions, we must remember what those sins cost our Savior.  We must hear the nails and smell the blood.  We must remember His words: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me (Matthew 27:46).  We must remember the price He paid so that we can see our sins for what they really are, namely an abomination and the reason for our Saviorís death.  In this way, the appearing of Christ trains us to renounce our sins.

Second, the positive: Christís appearance trains us to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives.  Not only are we to simply say Ďnoí to sin, but we are to say Ďyesí to living righteous lives.  Not only are we to hate disobedience, but we are to love obedience.  We are being trained to forsake sins of commission (evil actions that we do) and sins of omission (good actions that we fail to do).  And notice that Paul tells us that Godís grace trains us to do this in the present age.  Yes, none of us will be perfect on this side of eternity, but that does not mean that we can live however we want to until that Day.  No, Christís work will make us holy in this age, right now.  Every day we are to be growing in holiness. 

Look at how Paul describes this in verse 14b.  Christ appeared to purify for himself a people for his own possession.  Christ came to capture a Bride and to make her pure and spotless (Eph. 5:25-27).  They will be His people and they will be zealous for good works.  If you are looking for practical ways to pursue this, let me recommend a great book: Holiness by J. C. Ryle.  We recently studied this book in Sunday School and it was very encouraging.  Obviously there are many more resources out there for fighting against our sin (not to mention reading, meditating on, and memorizing Godís Word, which is the greatest resource along with the Spirit).  But the key is to fight.  By Godís grace and the strength that He supplies through the Spirit, we must fight for holiness. 

And lest we miss it, Paul gives us something to always keep in mind as we fight.  Look again at verse 13.  We are to never lose sight of our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Letís be honest, the fight against sin is long and hard.  It can be discouraging and overwhelming.  That is why we must always remember our blessed hope.  Christ is coming.  He has appeared to show us the grace of God and He will appear to show us the glory of God.  He will appear again and our transformation into His image will be complete.  The battle with sin will be over and Christ (and all those in Him through repentance and faith) will be victorious.  Thus, we can be encouraged in our fight for holiness because ultimate holiness is promised.  It may not always feel like it.  It may seem like it is forever away.  But the truth remains: Christ will appear again and He will finish the work He started at His first appearance, namely the work of purifying His Bride.

Since Christ has appeared to save us and make us holy and has promised to return to consummate that mission, we must keep preaching the gospel to one another.  As we said above, the lost need to hear the gospel of Christ so that they can turn from their sins and be saved.  But believers need to hear it as well because it is the foundation/motivation of our holiness.  Paul closes this section by telling Titus to keep preaching this good news.  Look at verse 15.  Paul began in verse 1 by commanding Titus to teach what accords with sound doctrine.  From there he gives instructions for various groups within the Church (2:2-10).  The he comes back and reminds him of the work of Christ, the appearing of Godís grace, to save us and make us holy, which leads him back to telling Titus to teach these truths.  Titus is to help the Churches in Crete make the connection between sound doctrine and sound living.  Likewise, we are to help each other make that connection.  My calling is to keep the gospel before us so that the lost can be saved and the found can be sanctified.  Christ appeared to make us holy and we must keep that ever before us by preaching the gospel, even to believers.

Before we are done this morning, let me ask one more question: when Christ came, what exactly did He do to accomplish all of this?  What did He do to save us and make us holy?  Paul answers with five unbelievably powerful words in verse 13: who gave himself for us.  Do not miss the weight of that little phrase.  Think about each word.  Christ gave.  Nothing was taken from Him.  No, He willingly and freely gave.  And what did He give?  He gave himself.  He didnít give money or possessions or fame or whatever.  No, He gave what we needed most: himself, his own life, his own blood, his own death.  And why did He give himself?  He gave himself for us.  He gave himself to redeem us and purify us.  He gave Himself to make us His own possession.  He gave Himself for us because there was no other way.  Our sins, our rebellion, demanded a price.  It demanded the very wrath of God.  And Jesus gave Himself to bear that penalty for us, for your salvation and your sanctification. 

I encourage you to remember that little phrase.  When you are tempted with sin, think to yourself: He gave himself for us.  When you are discouraged and full of doubt, remember: He gave himself for us.  When you cannot find the strength to sing and give, recall: He gave himself for us.  And when you grow weary in this life, weary in the battle against sin, weary in the battle to be more like Christ, shout it with everything you are: HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR US.  He gave himself for us.  All praise, all glory, all obedience, all our lives belong to the One who gave himself for us.  Amen.

1 John Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy and Titus TBST (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), p. 193.

~ William Marshall ~

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