The Grace of God Has Appeared

Titus 2:11

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).

In the passage above, Paul reminded Titus of the grace of God – what it does for us and also what it requires of us. Many like to think of grace in terms of what we receive, but not what we must do. Yet we must accept all that the Bible teaches about it. Let us examine this passage and see what it teaches about the grace of God.

The Grace of God Has Appeared

It is important to understand that grace has “appeared” (Titus 2:11). This implies a couple of things:

  1. It was previously hidden – This does not mean that God never showed His grace prior to Christ’s coming. His choosing of the people of Israel and giving them the promised land were acts of His grace (Deuteronomy 6:10-12; 7:6-8). Many other Old Testament passages also speak of the concept of grace. But God’s grace was fully realized in Christ. John said that Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). In Him we have received “grace upon grace” and “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).
  2. It could not be found without God revealing it – We are “helpless” otherwise (Romans 5:6). Jeremiah said, “I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

When the grace of God appeared, it brought salvation. Paul wrote elsewhere, “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). We are saved by grace, but saved from what? We are saved from sin. A prophecy of Jesus before His birth stated, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and everyone of accountable age has sinned and deserves this punishment (Romans 3:23). Therefore, it is impossible to be saved without God’s grace.

This grace has been extended to “all men” (Titus 2:11). Jesus died for all, not just for a few. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Peter explained God’s impartiality in this regard when he spoke to the household of Cornelius: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34-35). God has not arbitrarily selected some to be saved and the rest to be lost – as the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement teaches – He offers salvation to everyone.

The Grace of God Instructs Us

So many people think of grace as nothing more than the gift of salvation. That is certainly part of it. However, there are also instructions that are part of God’s grace as well. This is why Paul described his message as “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Why would instruction be part of God’s grace? It is because salvation is conditional. Offering salvation, but not telling us how to obtain it, would not do us any good. So God revealed what we must do to be saved.

  • Conditional salvation for non-Christians – Grace is extended to all (Titus 2:11), but not all will be saved (Matthew 7:13-14). There are certain things one must do to be saved – believe in Christ, repent of sins, confess his faith, and be baptized (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 2:38).
  • Conditional salvation for Christians – It is possible to “receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1), which means that one who becomes a Christian can later forfeit his salvation. Therefore, after becoming a Christian, one must be “faithful until death” in order to receive his reward (Revelation 2:10).

The message of God’s grace instructs us to deny certain things. Paul mentioned two of them that encompass all that is condemned:

  1. Ungodliness – This is to act in a way that is contrary to the character and nature of God. Paul said we sin when we “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
  2. Worldly desires – This means to lust after those things that are contrary to God. John wrote, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (1 John 2:16). James said that such lusts lead to sin which leads to death (James 1:15).

The message of grace also instructs us to live a certain way. Paul said we do these things “in the present age” (Titus 2:12), which means we are to do them now, not wait for sometime in the future. Notice how he said we are to live:

  1. Sensibly – Other translations use the word soberly. This means we give thought to what we are doing. We are not to act aimlessly, but must intentionally follow the will of God.
  2. Righteously – To live “righteously” is to live in harmony with the standard of righteousness revealed in God’s word (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16).
  3. Godly – This means we conduct ourselves in a way that is in harmony with the character and nature of God.

The Grace of God Provides Hope

Paul said this is a “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), which means it is a blessing from God (grace). We have no hope otherwise. When we are “separate from Christ” and “without God,” we have “no hope” (Ephesians 2:12).

This hope will be realized when the Lord returns. Peter said that we have “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5). Because of this, we “eagerly wait” for the return of Christ (Philippians 3:20).

While we are to live godly in this life (Titus 2:12), the reward is in the next. False teachers promise earthly rewards for serving the Lord (or for donating to their “ministry”), but Jesus did not. The Lord said, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Those who teach that “godliness is a means of gain” in this life are teaching “a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:3-5). Through the grace of God we have a hope for a reward that is far greater than anything we could imagine in this life.

The Grace of God Is Seen in Jesus’ Sacrifice

Jesus “gave Himself for us” (Titus 2:14). His sacrifice on the cross was the ultimate demonstration of grace. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Grace is extended because of God’s love. Paul said that “because of His great love with which He loved us,” we have the opportunity to be saved “by grace” (Ephesians 2:4-5). This love is seen in two ways:

  1. From the Father – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Because of His love, He was willing to send Jesus to die on the cross.
  2. From Jesus – “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:17-18). Jesus did not just die on the cross, He willingly sacrificed His life for us.

Furthermore, consider the three things that Jesus’ sacrifice did:

  1. Redeemed us from every lawless deed – This means we do not have to receive “the wages of sin” (Romans 6:23).
  2. Purified us – “Through His blood” we can have “the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Ephesians 1:7).
  3. Made us His own possession – We now belong to Him. Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

Since we are His people through His grace, we must now be “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). This means we cannot live any way we want to live. Instead, we must obey Him. After mentioning His great love that motivated Him to die for us, Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). Earlier in that same discourse, He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). If we love Jesus, we must obey Jesus – not grudgingly, but willingly and zealously.

Conclusion

The grace of God makes it possible for all to be saved; but sadly, not all will be. If we want to take advantage of God’s grace, we must meet the conditions He has given. Once we do that, we must continue in faithful service to Him.


When you subscribe, you’ll also receive 3 free PDF’s: Plain Bible Teaching on the Gospel, the latest issue of Plain Bible Teaching Quarterly Review, and Road Trip.