Series: Stuff You've Got To Know
Grace Has Appeared
September 16, 2018 | Randy Smith
Grace Has Appeared
Sunday, September 16, 2108
Pastor Randy Smith
Let me begin with a very bold statement: Unrighteous living happens because we are either not depending on the Holy Spirit within us or we are not saved and do not have the Holy Spirit within us.
God has set-up the Christian life in such a way whereby everything is done for Him must be done through Him (Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6). A life pleasing to Him can only be accomplished with the strength He provides. It is our responsibility to be those branches grafted into the Vine of Jesus Christ whereby the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit pulses through us and empowers us to victorious Christian living (Jn. 5:1-10). This is the context of Christ’s words: “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).
So our text this morning, verses 11-12 of Titus chapter 2 teaches us that God’s grace has appeared for this very purpose, to empower us to live godly lives.
God’s goal for you is Christlikeness. Let me ask you, how would you feel about a camera that didn’t take pictures or a hammer that couldn’t pound nails or an oven that wouldn’t produce heat? That is how God feels about a Christian that doesn’t become more like Christ. That is God’s goal and purpose for you. Now, how does He accomplish that?
Verse 11, “For the grace of God has appeared” to make us more like Christ! Or put another way, the Holy Spirit lives within us to make us more holy! That is where we are going in this brief sermon this morning as we look forward to the many baptisms.
So if it is God’s will for His children to be more like Christ and He has supplied all the power we need for change, what does it say when the church acts no differently than the world? Where is the evidence that God cannot only save us, but also strengthen us to live lives pleasing in His sight? Do we dare show the world that our flesh is greater than His grace, or with Him now living in us that we still desire ungodliness over righteousness?
Today’s sermon is about grace and its past and present manifestations. “Grace Has Appeared!”
1. Past Grace
First we read about past grace in verse 11. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.”
If we are in Christ Jesus, grace was operating in our lives that first gave us salvation. This is often the most common understanding of grace in today’s church. Maybe you have heard the definition that grace is everything for nothing to those who don’t deserve anything. You know the acronym: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. You know we were not saved by your works but rather by God’s grace. You have memorized Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” You praise God that your standing before Him is based solely on the merits of Christ’s sacrifice, believing that His atonement on the cross has cancelled your sin, past, present and future. You find assurance that salvation from beginning to end is completely in His hands. For He saved you in spite of your sin (in the past) and “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (in the future)” (Phil. 1:6).
“For the grace of God has appeared” (Tit. 2:11a). And grace appeared in its fullest form in the Person of Christ Jesus. The two are inseparable and intertwined. Jesus is the personification of grace. He is the One “full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). It is through Him we receive “grace upon grace” (Jn. 1:16). So as verse 11 concludes, it is by His work of grace (and only His work of grace) that salvation is brought to all people.
I remember reading about Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest men, who in June of 2006 announced that he would donate 85% of his $44 billion fortune to five charitable foundations. Commenting of this extreme level of generosity he said, “There is more than one way to get to heaven, but this is a great way.”
But God is not impressed with our man-made attempts to earn His favor whether it is giving our time and money or the myriad of systems we commonly call religion. He is holy and we are sinners. All the good works in the world will never remove our sin nature and make us righteous before Him. If we are to have any hope, it would be contingent upon Him taking not only the first, but also the last step.
And this He did. In His love and mercy and grace He sent His Son to the cross to take the penalty for sin that we deserved. And through faith in Christ we can receive His righteousness and the total forgiveness for our transgressions. We can avert our destiny to hell (that we deserve) and live with the promise of heaven (thanks to grace). He made a way for us to be, Titus 3:7, “justified by His grace.”
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You who are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?
Julia H. Johnston and Daniel B. Towner
Grace Greater Than Our Sin, 1910, 1938.
2. Present Grace
So there is a past effect of grace. For those of us in Christ Jesus, we received grace the moment we trusted the Savior. All of our sins were forgiven as we were delivered from eternal condemnation.
Yet for many of us, this might be our only understanding of grace. So as we move to the second point I want you to see that grace is still operative in our lives today. There is also a present grace. Listen carefully, for grace not only delivers us from sin’s condemnation, but it also delivers us from sin’s domination. Or put another way, we can say grace not only delivers us from sin’s penalty but also from sin’s power.
You see, many Christians have great misunderstandings in this area. Are you among the multitude of those in error? Let’s find out:
Do you believe there is no need for grace once you come to Jesus? If so, you need to read Titus 2:11. Do you who understand that good works did not save you in the past disregard any responsibility for good works in the present? If so, you need to read Ephesians 2:10. Do you think it is all right to sin because we are now living in the age of grace? If so, you need to read Romans 6:1 and 15. Do you think you were saved by grace but now must become like Christ solely through your own efforts? If so, you need to read Galatians 3:3. If you answered “yes” to any of these questions you are in serious theological error that will have drastic ramifications on how you live your Christian life.
As a church we must get this straight. I fear there is great confusion in this area so permit me to begin unraveling it through an illustration.
Let’s pretend I would desire nothing more than having dinner with the President of the United States. But since he does not consider me a personal friend nor have I accomplished anything worthy of an invitation, my chances are empty. Furthermore, even if the President were into donations for an evening with him and the Mrs., there is no way I could compile the funds that would be necessary.
Basically, I have only one hope. I could write to the President: Express the honor it would be to dine with him, inform him that I am unworthy of such a privilege and plea with him for mercy and compassion. So if he invites me over it would not be a credit in any way to my merit, but rather a display of his goodness and grace in giving me something I do not deserve.
Let’s pretend the dinner happens and I have the time of my life. What is the greatest way I can express my appreciation? Would it be pressing five dollars in his hand to thank him for the evening? Absolutely not! Such an action would be an insult as my gift would not equal his benevolence, but moreover, it would cast shame on his goodness. For the gift-giver is most glorified when others believe his motives are pure in giving the gift. And the greater the gift and the greater the recipient is undeserving of the gift, the greater the glory for the gift-giver!
No, a feeble attempt to pay the President back is not how I would honor him. The best way to honor him is to show others how my evening with him has influenced my life. If I invite those undeserving to my house for dinner. If I make a greater commitment to serve him as an American citizen. If I have greater trust in his decisions. If I speak well of him to others.
Now stop and think for a moment. Do you understand the spiritual application of this illustration?
There is absolutely nothing we can do to have fellowship with God. If the relationship is to be established, He must take the initiative. He must provide the means for us to be reconciled. He must remove our sin and redirect our hearts to seek after Him. We deserve justice. So all we can do is beg for mercy and grace on our behalf.
That is why Christ died on the cross. That is why Titus 2:11 says, “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men (all men and women who trust Him).”
But does it all end here? Can I just keep sinning because I am under grace? Is grace still operating in my life once I get saved? And what does God now expect of me once I am saved by grace, the unmerited act of His goodness?
For the grace of God has appeared, verse 12, “instructing us (from the negative) to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and (from the positive) to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.” Grace saves us from sin’s penalty but grace also saves us from sin’s power in order to do what is right! As John Piper once said, “Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon.”
Let me show you the power of grace recorded in the Scriptures. In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul speaks of the Macedonian church. Though poor and undergoing affliction, they begged to help (verse 4), did it with joy (verse 2) and gave beyond their ability (verse 3).
Yet what moved this Macedonian church to act in an unnatural way? No wonder Paul opened this account in verse 1 saying, “Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia.”
Is grace only necessary to bring us to Christ? Do we sin at will because we live in an age of grace? Is holiness and godly living unimportant? Do we receive what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace?” For the grace of God has appeared, verse 12, “instructing us (we could also say empowering us) to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”
Grace Bible Church, the command in verse 12 is to “live…godly in (this) present age. It is not about just following a set of rules. The calling for Christians is much higher than that! It is about emulating God’s character. And there is no way we can even scratch the surface of that one apart from His enabling power called grace.
For there is past grace that brought us to God and there is present grace that empowers us to live the Christian life like God.
Considering the specific instruction in Titus 2 and rightly understanding grace someone once said:
Watching a trapeze show is breathtaking. We wonder at the dexterity and timing. We gasp at near-misses. In most cases, there is a net underneath. When they fall, they jump up and bounce back to the trapeze.
In Christ, we live on the trapeze. The whole world should be able to watch and say, “Look how they live, how they love one another. Look how well the husbands treat their wives. And aren’t they the best workers in the factories and offices, the best neighbors, the best students?” That is to live on the trapeze, being a show to the world.
What happens when we slip? The net is surely there. The blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ, has provided forgiveness for ALL our trespasses. Both the net and the ability to stay on the trapeze are works of God’s grace. (But) we cannot be continually sleeping on the net. If that is the case, I doubt whether that person is a trapezist.
Juan Carlos Ortiz, Source Unknown
The sermon is entitled, “Grace Has Appeared.” Why should we accept this instruction and obey it?
Simply put, we follow through in obedience for our own assurance, but also to glorify God by showing others that we take great delight in living by God’s Word. We show the world that we understand the evil we were rescued from and no longer wish to live in it. We show others that we want to turn from the sin that put our precious Savior on the cross. We show others that we are no longer under the domination of sin and Satan. We show others that we have been given a radical new nature that pursues a radical new way of living. And we show others the power of God’s grace in our lives. Can people look at your life and say, “Grace Has Appeared?”