For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory 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, eager for good deeds.” — Titus 2:11-14
Last Sunday was the day we set aside to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, better known as Easter. What the Lord put on my heart to share with you about today is grace. Grace is what Easter gave us. Grace is the culmination of the unselfish act of the Son’s sinless obedience to his heavenly Father during his brief time among us. Jesus could indeed have refused to “take the cup” of obedience. But he would never have done so. He knew from some early age that he was born to die; born to become the sacrificial Lamb who paid the price for all the sin and ungodliness, or the “every lawless deed” Paul writes to Titus about.
“Grace” is the most important concept in the Bible, Christianity, and the world. It is most clearly expressed in the promises of God revealed in Scripture. The entire Bible points to grace. Grace is the unmerited, undeserved favor that God so richly lavished upon all who choose to accept it. It’s unconditional. That view alone is so difficult to grasp.
I experienced that last week when a very precious lady asked me to pray with her. She had a rough past and made many mistakes before coming to Christ. Since so doing, she has been striving to “make up for what I did; to pay him back.” I was so glad God opened the door for us to talk and pray because it gave me the opportunity to share with her what the Bible says about grace. I explained to her that none of us can “pay it back” and that God doesn’t ask us to do that. At the same time, the Holy Spirit helps us to understand what being a Christian really means and through our overwhelming gratitude for what God has done comes the pouring out of good works done for him.
There is an important distinction here and Paul illustrates it very well in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Just think about how we humans are. It is so difficult to resist taking credit for what we do. If our works could get us into heaven, would we really be able to overcome the temptation to take credit for that as well rather than praising God for our salvation? God created us so he knows our human nature. Our works should be a natural outpouring of grace, not conditional for it.
It was such a blessing to see the relief on this dear lady’s face when we finally did have our time of prayer. How hard it must be to live your life always looking over your shoulder wondering if you are “good enough” for God. I’m so thankful that he did what he did for me on the basis of his own merit, not mine. If it was on my own, well, I would probably never get to heaven.
Understanding that foundational truth is so freeing. We don’t have to “strive” to please God. We just need to put our full faith and trust in him and live in a way that follows the biblical example Jesus gave us. I love Paul’s illustration of that in Philippians 2 where he outlines what that example is and how we can follow it.
Being a Christian is all about living in the power and hope of grace. Our reward is seen in our Titus passage in the blessed hope of redemption that is coming to us which is all part of God’s perfect plan.