Dear radio friends,
Open your Bible to the Word of God in Titus 2:11-13. We read: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our SaviourJesus Christ.”
Titus had been sent by the apostle Paul to the church on the island of Crete. He was instructed that he must teach God’s people to live a godly life, to live a life that was consistent with the salvation that they had received in Christ. Paul puts it this way in verse 1 of the second chapter: “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.”
Sound doctrine is not simply orthodox doctrine, but it is, literally, wholesome or healthy doctrine. When the truth of God is only vaguely in our heads but not governing our life, we are dead. But when the living truth has taken the heart captive through faith, governing the feeling and the willing, then we have healthy doctrine.
The believers on Crete needed that sound or healthy doctrine because they, as we, lived in an especially evil time and an evil place. Paul refers to this in the first chapter, verses 12ff., where he says that the society could be characterized as being filled with evil beasts. Men were given over to sin, so they were like beasts. And they were idle gluttons. Then, in verse 15, he says that their minds and their consciences were defiled and they were abominable and unto every good work disobedient. The church in Cretelived among gross and horrible things, where the moral nerves of the society had been cut, that men were past feeling. In such a world did Jesus say to His people: “You live to Me.”
In chapter 2 Paul goes on to give the specifics of how Titus is to teach men and women in the church, and young men and young women, and the employees — all of them — how they are to live. He says in verse 10, “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” That is really the point! He says, “You must teach the people of God to adorn the doctrine of God.” That is, that their life in every point is to show the beauty of God and the reality of His salvation in their life. Then, to fortify that, to give a compelling reason why they must live in a way whereby the truth of God is constantly being adorned, he says, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” The point is this: God’s saving grace teaches us to live a godly life right now.
Saved by grace. That is the one glorious truth of the Scriptures. That is the one doctrine above all other doctrines — salvation is all of God’s grace. Do you know that? Do you know that in your heart? Then you will also know how to live a godly life. To live an ungodly life, to live indifferently, to live apathetically, to live using the “F” word, to live without prayer, to live without repentance — and then for you to say, “I’m saved by grace,” that is blasphemy. The worst blasphemy is not committed out in the world someplace. It is committed by those who outwardly say they are saved by grace but who live an ungodly life. That is the worst blasphemy before God. That means that you do not know in your heart what you are talking about when you say that you are saved by grace. When you have been saved by saving grace, real grace, then you have the motivation, in that grace, for a godly life.
It is the grace of God that has saved us. We read, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” The word “grace” means, as you might know, undeserved favor. God’s grace is, first, that He does not give us what we deserve — that is, damnation. But He gives us what we do not deserve and can never earn — salvation. It means that there is nothing in you or in me or in any other child of God that has worth of ourselves. There is no value in us. We have value in Christ, by grace. But of ourselves we are vile sinners, devoid of any good thing whatsoever.
But we are saved. Why? Because God in His own heart would be gracious and merciful and abundant in mercy. He willed to save us. He had a favor to do so. To be saved by grace means that the decision for salvation is God’s decision — not the sinner’s. God, out of mere grace, from eternity, elected and chose those whom He would save because He would do so.
We read in II Timothy 1:9 that it is God who has “saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose (now note the words) and grace.” God has saved us according to His own grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. It was an eternal grace. God chose to give us this grace before the world began, before we had even any being, before we had done good or evil. We are, then, saved by an eternal, particular, wondrous, and amazing grace of God. Those who are saved are no better in themselves than those who go to hell. Those who are saved are no better than those who are hardened before God in their unbelief and are left in the vileness of their sins. But when we are saved, it is because God has been gracious to us. And in that grace, He has brought us to salvation. Let us keep that straight. We are not saved because we are more worthy, because we are made of better stuff, because we made the right choice, because we stood a bit better than the next guy. No! No flesh may ever glory in the presence of God. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (I Cor. 1). We are saved by grace.
Now that grace, says the apostle Paul, has appeared. Literally, it has broken through the gloom of our sins. It has appeared in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has come, by God’s grace, into the world, to die and to arise again and to ascend before His Father. Really the text is speaking, first, of the appearance of God’s grace and the appearance of Christ to bring us salvation. Then, second, when Christ comes again to bring us glory. Verse 13 tells us that God’s grace is going to appear again in the coming of the Son of God when He returns again in glory. We read that we look for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
So, the grace of God came to us. It came first when Christ bore our sins in His own body on a tree to obtain our pardon. Then grace also comes when Christ returns at the end of the world and brings us in complete salvation to Himself. So grace, grace that has appeared, speaks. It speaks to our hearts. It tells us how to live a godly life. Grace is not a cheap ticket to heaven on a bed of lust and drunkenness and cursing and evil. But grace has taught our hearts to sing, has taught our feet to walk obediently to God, has taught our hands to work the things of God, has taught our eyes to love the things of God, has taught us how to live. God’s grace changes our life. It produces a holy life. Where there is grace, there will be Christian living, there will be Christ-like desires, there will be repentance.
That is because God’s grace is God’s power working in our souls, overpowering our dead will of sin and inclining our desires unto new and holy things.
Paul says in I Corinthians 15:10, “By the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Paul is talking there of a power, a power to free him, a power to bring salvation; of an irresistible power that broke down a stubborn heart and now subdued him and worked powerfully in him unto a new and holy life.
That power of God’s grace is worked, of course, through means. We call them the “means of grace.” God works the power of His grace through His Word, through the preaching of His Word, through prayer, and through friends. God’s grace is a power that is felt. It actually energizes you that believe. It gives you an ear to hear and an eye to see and a heart to believe.
God’s grace has come to you, says the apostle. It hath appeared to all men, that is to all kinds of men — to all ages, young and old, to servants, to married and unmarried, to husbands and wives, to business men in the world, to the housewife at home, a college student, young people, little children. It has appeared to you. It is actually present now. You can say, “I am what I am by the grace of God.” God’s grace has appeared. And it has appeared to teach us how to live.
We read: “It teaches us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” The appearance of God’s mighty grace to our souls has an effect. It instructs our hearts. It teaches our feet. It moves our soul to a godly life. Does the appearance of God’s grace have that effect upon you?
There are some who say that if you teach that salvation is all of grace, you will produce careless Christians — that men will remain indifferent in their sins, that you are giving people a permission to engage in ungodliness. No, says the Word of God. No, says God. The very opposite is true. The truth of God is clean contrary to that perversion of this truth, to that lie, to that slander. It is grace, and it is only grace, that is the compelling reason to live a holy, Christian life. Not works. If you look at the Christian life as an attainment that you have accomplished by your decision, then you are not going to live soberly, righteously, and godly. But you will become cold and sterile and you will become self-righteous. But when you see God’s grace to one who is so despicable as yourself, so deserving of eternal destruction, and when that wonderful grace of God shines in upon your heart, it will teach you how to live.
That word “teach” means lead step by step. The teaching of grace does not throw you into confusion. It does not simply move you along as the spirits of the demons. But it leads you step by step in an intelligent, principled, heart-felt, Christian life. It is a good teacher.
It teaches us, first of all, what we must avoid. God’s grace teaches us that we must deny ungodliness and worldly lust. Ungodliness refers to a life without regard for what God says. It arises out of inward contempt for God. Ungodliness is to say, “I’ll go my own way. I’ll do what suits me. I will give myself to what I please.” That ungodliness, then, shows itself in many forms: fornication and envy and murder and backbiting, slander and being cruel and disobedient. That is our nature. By nature we are ungodly. Now the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness, to hate even the thought that I would live without regard for God. The grace of God teaches us that we must deny worldly lust. Worldly lusts are sinful passions that are found in the world and that are found in our flesh — all the things that modern entertainment seeks to glamorize and promote: sexual lusts and drunkenness and greed and pride and on and on would go the list. God’s grace in Christ is teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts.
That word “deny” is a strong word. It means to renounce. It means to repudiate. It is the word that was used concerning Peter when he “denied” the Lord. When Peter denied Jesus, that was strong. That was emphatic! So also grace teaches us to be strong, to be emphatic, to repudiate ungodliness and worldly lusts. Do you see in your life things that are displeasing to God? God says, “Grace has now appeared.” What does grace say to you? Grace works within you the desire, the inmost desire, to repudiate your own lusts and your ungodliness.
And then, as a good teacher, it teaches us what to do — that we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world. That, of course, means that grace produces a great change. The Christian is not someone who is under cover in this present world, hoping that no one will notice him, being secretly ashamed of being identified with Christ. No, no. A Christian is not a dead fish floating belly-up downstream with the world of filth — evil-speaking and swearing and drinking, just like everybody else, only he has religion on Sunday. That is not a Christian. That one is not saved.
But a Christian is alive. He is living and he is swimming upstream, against the stream of the world — in sobriety, righteousness, and godliness. We are to live soberly, not drunk — not physically drunk, but not drunk either with the things of this world, not saturated with the things of this world, not living for the things of this world. What do youlive for? What is your deepest enjoyment? Are you drunk with sports? Are you drunk with yourself? Are you drunk with looks? Do you stand in front of the mirror? Are you drunk with fashion? Are you drunk with popularity? The Word of God says that grace will teach us to live soberly, to think right, to think about Christ.
Then we are to live righteously. That means upright, faithful lives to each other, faithful lives in marriage, faithful lives to our friends.
And we are to live godly. That is, we live for God’s eye. We live for His smile. We live in such a way that He does not frown upon us.
Grace produces a change. This change does not rub off. This change has a lasting effect.
First of all, grace teaches us to do all of this — to live a godly life — in this present world. So it does not rub off when you go out into the world, not the grace of God! God’s grace will not simply be something we talk about on Sunday. It will be the present power driving our life in this world. You see, you and I, as children of God, are not saved simply for God’s glory in heaven. We are saved for God’s glory on earth, right now, in this present world — in the dating that we do, in the friends that we have, in the recreation that we pursue, in the life that we live, in our devotion to the church. We are to adorn the doctrine of God in all things. We are to show how beautiful is that grace. So we want that grace in our home. We want it in our work. We want it in our school. We do not want that grace hid. We do not want to wear camouflage in this world — the camouflage of indifference and shame. Grace is something that is seen.
Secondly, the grace of God will have this effect, it will control our aspirations. It will control what we want. That is always the effect of a good teacher, you know. Some of the best teachers have a way of creating in others the desire to be like them. Good teaching produces a yearning, a desire to be that. So also grace. Grace teaches us to look ahead for the glorious and blessed hope, says the apostle, of the appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. Grace produces in us an eager waiting, a waiting for Christ to come, a waiting for Him not as a prisoner on death row is waiting for his sentence of death, but the waiting of a school-boy for summer vacation! He can hardly wait for it to start! Do you eagerly wait for Jesus to come? That is what grace is teaching you to do. It directs you to heaven. That is the gauge by which you can measure your faith today.
Do you want Christ to come? Then grace has taught you the magnificence of Christ. Grace has given you a right view of this earthly life. It is vanity. It has nothing to offer. Your life is above in Christ. Then you will live. You will know how to live. You will live a godly life filled with hope for His return. You will do that because you are saved by grace.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word. We pray that the instruction of Thy Word may enter into our hearts and change us day by day in true repentance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.