2020 has been a difficult year for the world. And as people in the world, it has been a difficult year for us. We have learnt to live in a new normal. And the new normal is anything but normal. Perhaps we find ourselves looking around and wondering where the world is headed. And how this is all going to end?
To that I think we have to hold our hands up and say that we don’t know. We don’t know how or when the current pandemic is going to end. Or where current thinking is going to take us. However, we do know where the world is headed ultimately, and where it is all going to end. Because the scriptures tell us exactly.
We are living in between the two appearing’s of Christ. God’s Christ has come once. 2000 years ago, he came. And his coming changes everything for us today. And sometime soon, known only to the Father, he will come again. 2020, with all its struggles, is still a year of grace. A year to get right with God. A year to receive God’s grace and know it, as the world awaits the Lord’s return.
In this message I want us to consider Titus 2:11 – 14 in order that we might grasp what it is to live in the light of God’s grace to us in Christ.
- The Grace that Saves
v.11, ‘For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.’
2000 years ago, a great event took place. An event so earth shattering that the world would never be the same again. God’s grace, his,
favour broke in on a sin darkened world. And made itself known to underserving and sinful men and women.
Isaiah described it in this way, ‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.’ (Isaiah 9:2)
We are talking, of course, about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- his birth to the then virgin Mary
- his spotless life
- his teaching
- his miracles
- his death, burial, and resurrection from the dead
- his ascension back to heaven
Grace came when Christ came. Because in his coming he brought salvation and rescue. Salvation and rescue from what? Salvation and rescue from sin, its power, presence, and penalty. Sin is a terrible thing. It is ultimately responsible for all suffering in the world. It is what is behind:
- abuses of all and every kind
It is what fuels:
and it is what separates us from God who calls down his wrath upon us. God’s wrath is his settled holy anger against our sin. And if we understand anything of who God is then that will terrify us. Because God doesn’t just keep his anger to himself. One of the places that God’s anger is unleashed is hell. And hell is a real place. A place of unending tournament away from the love of God. The reason that we need God’s grace is because we are under his wrath. Only his grace can save us. That’s what makes this verse so wonderful,
‘For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.’
And at the heart of that grace is the cross. At the cross Jesus willingly suffered and died as a substitute for sinners. He took God’s settled and holy anger against sin on himself. He was punished, so that sinners might be set free.
Paul says in verse 14 that he ‘gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from every lawless deed.’ Who’s the us? All who believe. ‘For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men’, that is, all kinds of people who will believe. It doesn’t matter if you are:
- young or old
- rich or poor
- respectable or not respectable
- moral or immoral
you need this salvation. And you can have this salvation if you turn to God in repentance and believe in what Christ has done. And you will be saved. Rescued from your sin. And if that is you and you have been redeemed by the grace that saves, then you are ready to learn from this grace.
- The Grace that Teaches
What does the grace of God teach us?
First of all, it teaches us what to say no to. Look at verse 11 again,
‘For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts’
It teaches how to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. To reject them and give them up. Ungodliness is everything that is country and opposed to God. It is un – god – ly.
- Un – true
- Un – right
- Un – holy
- Un – pleasing to God.
The great tragedy of ungodliness is that there can be no relationship with the living God because of it. And the result of ungodliness is unrighteousness. Because when God is pushed out of the picture then what is right is pushed out too. That is why the second thing that the grace of God teaches us to say no to is ‘worldly lusts’. Because worldly lusts come hand in hand with ungodliness. What are worldly lusts?
They are the things that chapter 3:3 says we used to serve.
- Sexual lust
- Love of money and accumulating wealth
- Selfish ambition
- Excessive yearning for material possessions
- Drinking to get drunk
- Lust to have all that this world can give
Why does grace call us to say ‘no’ to these things? Because it was these very things that were condemning us to hell in the first place. Romans 1:18,
‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,’
We cannot hold onto worldly lusts and have a relationship with God at the same time. The two simply do not go together.
Continuing in sin once we have been saved is like,
- The heavy drinker going back to his drink after having had a liver transplant because of alcohol poisoning.
- The smoker returning to his cigarettes, after having recovered from lung cancer.
It’s madness. So here is my question to you. Are you saying ‘no’? Not out of guilt, but because of grace. But the grace of God doesn’t just teach us to say ‘no’. It also teaches us to say ‘yes’ too. ‘Yes’, to a life that pleases the Lord.
v.11, ‘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’
There are three areas where saying yes matters:
In relation to ourselves. God’s grace teaches us to live ‘soberly’
What does that mean? It means we know how to take the faith seriously. And how to be serious about the things that matter. We know how to fight the passions that used to rule over us. We are no longer taken captive by them. Instead of them controlling us, God helping us, we are fighting back against them. Does this describe you? Are you serious about the faith? Are you fighting against the sins and ways of thinking that used to rule over you?
In relation to others. God’s grace teaches us to live ‘righteously’
It teaches us how to respect and regard our neighbour. How to live uprightly in society. How to be above reproach. To be fair and honest and just. To love mercy and do justly. Are you above reproach? Do people see a difference in you?
In relation to God. The grace of God teaches us how to be ‘godly’.
And this is where the rubber really hits the road. The Christian life is not just about personal self-control and upright behaviour before others. It’s about a relationship with God. If you are a Christian, that is the reason that you were saved. To know God and to be like God. To be godly. Look at verse 14,
‘Jesus Christ, 14 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.’
There can be no godliness without God. It doesn’t come by our willpower or resolutions alone. The Christian life in all its aspects is a life of dependence upon God.
So, are you depending on him? Not in the future, but in the present. No tomorrow, but today. Not later, but now. The grace of God teaches us to live this way because the grace of God has come to prepare us for what is to come.
- The Grace that Expects
Look at verse 13, ‘looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ’
Maurice Roberts has said, ‘The history of our little world is not unlike some great symphony composed by a master musician. It has its moments of drama and its passages of calm. It has its movements and its overall progression. But above all else, it will have its terrible finale, a finale more dramatic, more conclusive and more final that the greatest genius of man could ever imagine or devise.’
Why receive the grace of God in Christ Jesus? Why take notice of the cross where Jesus died all those years ago? Why give yourself to saying no to some things and yes to others? Why go about the trouble in living a certain way? Because the Lord Jesus is coming back again. If you are a Christian then you are living in the light of what God has done, as you wait for what he will do. You’re ‘looking for the blessed hope’. In other words, you are waiting expectantly for Jesus to return. There is,
- An earnest yearning.
- A confident expectation.
- A patient waiting.
Like the child who stays up late waiting for her father who has promised to return, the Christian is waiting for Jesus. I have two questions for you in the light of this.
The first one is, are you waiting and looking? Because he is coming. He has promised it. And he cannot lie. Our very salvation depends on it.
The second question is, how are you waiting? The hope of the Christian is described in verse 13 as ‘blessed’ And that is because it brings happiness and delight with it. Consider it a moment with me.
Jesus, the God Man, the Saviour of his elect, will come on the clouds with his angels. He will return. Literally and physically. His appearing will be glorious. No longer will he be despised and rejected by men. Instead he will be worshipped by all men. When he appears every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess that he is Lord.
His appearing will be before the eyes of all. Every eye will see him. Everyone living will see him. And everyone who has died will be raised to see him. And in that moment, for the believer, all sin will be done away with fully and finally. All tears will be wiped from their eyes. All joy and bliss will be realised.
- Faith becomes sight
- Hope becomes reality
There will be no more,
And his people shall see him and be like him, for they shall see him as he is. What a hope!
But that hope is only for those who having accepted God’s grace in the past, and are living godly lives in the present. In other words, it’s only for those who have been saved. Have you been saved?
Make no mistake, the Lord Jesus will return. But he will not return with grace and mercy. There will be no grace or mercy on the day of Christ’s return. No, on that day there will only be judgment.
Today is a day of grace. What does that mean? It means that today is another God-given day for you to get right with God before it is too late.
The grace of God calls you to repent and be saved. It calls you to turn and be changed. And it calls you to look to Christ and live in the light of his coming return.
Why not turn to him right now?