On Grace

winter parkThere is likely no more celebrated and yet widely misunderstood concept in scripture than the grace of God.

Is grace permission for Christians to live any way they want without repercussion? Is grace license to sin? The Apostle Paul says no, yet his understanding of grace was so radical that he feared it might be misunderstood as license to sin (Romans 6:1).

So, what then is grace, and what does it do? Titus answers that question for us.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, righteously, and in godliness in this present world, as we await the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for Himself a special people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:11-14, MEV)

The grace of God does three things:

1) Grace brings salvation.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the age of this world and according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among them we all also once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and He raised us up and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast. (Ephesians 2:1-9, MEV) *emphasis mine

For by grace you have been saved through faith. What a great sentence!

We are saved because of the grace of God. He looked upon us in favor and love and procured salvation for us through His death and resurrection allowing us to stand before God justified and sanctified in His name. Thank God for His grace!

It is His grace that calls us to repentance (Romans 2:4; Zech. 12:10). It is because of His grace that our sin is washed in the waters of baptism and we are filled with His Spirit (Ephesians 1:7-14). Thank God for His saving grace.

2) Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts.

Some see grace as license to sin, almost as a supernatural version of the coveted “get out of jail free” card in Monopoly. This is not solely a problem in the modern church but was an issue the Apostle Paul found necessary to address in the first century church as well.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may increase? God forbid! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (Romans 6:1-2, MEV)

So Paul makes very clear that grace is not permission to live unrighteously.

Don’t let anyone convince you the grace of God is license to sin. Grace is a teacher and its curriculum is holiness. Grace “teaches us to deny ungodliness” and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. Grace brings salvation and then teaches us how to walk in righteousness.

3) Grace causes us to live in anticipation of the soon return of Jesus Christ.

A soul truly touched by the grace of God is a soul that will be “looking for that blessed hope”, the soon return of Jesus Christ. The grace of God doesn’t baptize us with an unrepentant passion for the thrills of this world. The grace of God, as Paul and Titus understood it, births in our hearts a hunger for the soon return and full redemption of Jesus Christ. Grace lifts our eyes from this world in anticipation of the next!

Furthermore, this Grace described is understood to be available for all men. No one is exempt and no one is overlooked. It’s grace that is amazing, free, and available to all.

The scriptures go on to tell us to “teach these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.” (Titus 2:15). Don’t be intimidated to teach this kind of grace.

Grace that brings salvation. Grace that doesn’t permit us to live sinfully but rather teaches us to live righteously. Grace that lifts our eyes off this world and awakens in our hearts a longing for our eternal home. Grace that cause us, like a kid in December, to eagerly await the coming of our Lord. 

That is amazing grace.

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