Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Titus chapter 2 as we look at the Grace of God upon our lives and what it produces, how Grace Changes Everything! As in Pauls day, many people today have lost sight of what Grace is all about. Many picture God as some kind of cosmic Santa Clause, you know, Hes making a list, Hes checking it twice, Hes gonna find out whose naught and nice, Jesus Christ is coming to town! Let me say this, first of all, none of us are good and if that is you concept of God, if you think God loves you only when you do good, you dont know His Grace! Let me explain with this illustration involving C. S. Lewis. We are told:
What makes Christianity different from all other religions of the world? Years ago that very question was discussed at a conference. Some of the participants argued that Christianity is unique in teaching that God became man. But someone objected, saying that other religions teach similar doctrines. What about the resurrection? No, it was argued, other faiths believe that the dead rise again. The discussion grew heated.
C. S. Lewis, a strong defender of Christianity, came in late, sat down, and asked, Whats the rumpus about? When he learned that it was a debate about the uniqueness of Christianity, he immediately commented, Oh, thats easy. Its grace.
How right he was! The very heart of the gospel is the supreme truth that God accepts us with no conditions whatever when we put our trust in the atoning sacrifice of His incarnate Son. Although we are helplessly sinful, God in grace forgives us completely. Its by His infinite grace that we are saved, not by moral character, works of righteousness, commandment keeping, or churchgoing. When we do nothing else but accept Gods total pardon, we receive the guarantee of eternal life.
Good news indeed. What a gospel! What a savior!
- Source Unknown
In this letter Paul is writing to his son in the faith, Titus, who is ministering on the island of Crete. He was sent there by Paul to bring order back into the church, to raise up godly leaders, faithful men, to show the qualities of a sound church, what they are all about, and-so-on. And here in Titus chapter 2 Paul is going to show Titus and us how that is all accomplished. So with that said, lets begin reading in Titus chapter 2; starting in verse 11 and see what Gods Grace is all about and what it produces in our lives.
Notice what Paul is saying as he starts out with the basics our salvation. It is not the works of man that brings salvation. It is not being good that brings salvation. It is not giving to the church or even going to church that brings us salvation. You see, those are all works that we must do to obtain salvation and yet the Scriptures tell us that we cant work our way into heaven, we cant earn our salvation. Listen carefully to what Paul tells us in Galatians 2:19-21, For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
In other words, the Law is powerless to save us, it can only point us to our failure to meet the standard of perfection that God has set. In fact, Paul says if it were possible to be saved by the law, by doing good works, then Christs death on the cross of Calvary was in vain, it was empty, it was meaningless! Of course that is not true.
Then how are we saved? Paul tells us that, . . . the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Titus 2:11. Do you see that, the Grace of God not the works of man saves us! But what does Grace mean? It is Gods unmerited favor towards sinful man, it is not based on our deserving it, or it wouldnt be Grace. It is God freely giving this gift of life to us. Charles Stanley put it like this, Gods kindness toward humanity, without regard to the worth or merit of those who receive it, and without their deserving it.
You see, we cant earn Grace we can only receive Grace. Paul put it this way in Ephesians 2:8-9, verses Im sure we are all very familiar with. He said, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. You see, we are saved by the Grace of God through Faith in Jesus Christ and not by the Law through Works. As Jesus hung on the cross of Calvary, He cried out, It is finished! or Paid in full, TETELESTAI in the Greek. He was saying that our debt for sin was paid in full, it is finished, we dont have to work for it, or earn it, just receive it by faith! You see, it is based upon God and His faithfulness and not upon me and my faithfulness or you and your faithfulness, which should make everyone of us shout, Praise the LORD!
Maybe you heard of the story of the man who died and went to heaven and St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates. St. Peter says, Heres how it woks. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things youve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.
Okay, the man says, I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.
Thats wonderful, says St. Peter, thats worth three points!
Three points? he says. Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service.
Terrific! says St. Peter, thats certainly worth a point.
One point? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.
Fantastic, thats good for two more points, he says. TWO POINTS!! the man cries, At this rate the only way I will get into heaven is by the grace of God!
Thats right! Now you have got it! said St. Peter.
That is the reality and that is awesome, we can rest in that truth. Can you imagine entering heaven, standing before God and He says to St. Peter, Peter, roll that film footage on Joes life and lets see if his good deeds outweigh his bad deeds, if he is worthy enough to enter into My kingdom and dont forget that special footage of his heart! That would be horrible and we would all fall far short of Gods righteousness, which He requires for us to enter in!
And here is the beauty, Paul tells us in II Corinthians 5:21, For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. God pushed the delete button and all that film footage is gone, replaced with Gods righteousness that is received by faith in Jesus! What a breath of fresh air, what peace, what assurance we have in our salvation because of what God has done and has given to us. All we must do is receive it by faith!
For those of you who are still struggling with this Law and Grace issue, think about it, you cant make Grace any better by adding the Law or works to it, you can only cheapen it by doing that! You see, under the Law God demands righteousness from His people and yet the Scriptures tell us, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23. But, under Grace God gives us His righteousness. Paul in Philippians chapter 3 goes over all the things he could boast about, all his heritage, his religiosity, he was a good Jewish boy, he kept the law as best he could, but he goes on to say, Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. Philippians 3:8-9.
Under the Law righteousness is based upon Moses and good works and yet the Scriptures tell us, As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. Romans 3:10-12. But under Grace righteousness is based upon Christ and His character not ours! It is as Paul said in Romans 5:18-19, Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.
We can see that under the Law blessings followed obedience. In Joshua 24:19-20 we are told, But Joshua said to the people, You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good. But under Grace God bestows His blessings upon us as a free gift, not because we deserve it. In Matthew 5:45 we are told, . . . For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
And under the law there is absolutely nothing we can do to achieve the demands of God, but through Gods Grace we can do all things, we can meet Gods demands not based on what we can do, but what He has done, as Paul tells us in Galatians 2:16, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
And so we are SAVED BY GRACE, it all starts there but it does not end there with Grace! We also STAND BY GRACE as Paul tells us in Romans 5:1-2, Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. If it wasnt for the Grace of God we would not even be here, we dont deserve to stand before a holy and righteous God and yet, because of His Grace that He extends to us, we are told in Hebrews 4:16, Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
You see, because of the righteousness that has been imputed into our lives by faith in Jesus Christ, we can boldly come before God, stand before Him, not in our own righteousness which are like filthy rags, but in His righteousness! Folks, it may be hard to get an audience with the President of the United States but not with the Lord! We can have access to Him, the King of kings and Lord of lords any time of the day or night!
Let me explain. When John F. Kennedy was the President of the United States he had security around him 24 hours a day. You could not just walk by them and see the President because the security would stop you! But there is a picture of his young son he affectionately called John-John who got by all those big, strong security guards and was able to climb up onto his daddys lap. He had instant access, no security guard could stop him from going to see the President. How come? Because he was his son and thus he had access to him anytime of the day or night, he could see his dad!
Folks, we are children of God, sons of God and because Grace has brought us to the Savior, we have bold access to the Father. We can come before the throne of God where we can find comfort, help in time of need. So we can STAND BY GRACE.
We also SERVE THROUGH GRACE. Paul, in I Corinthians 15:10 tells us, But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. You see, God enables us to serve Him, not because we are so good, or we deserve it, but because of the Grace that God extends to us. Yes, we can do it on our own, but we will blow it. But in Grace, even when we blow it, there is God picking us up, encouraging us to go on. You see, it doesnt mean that the work is easy, but He will give us what we need when we need it to see us through and finish the work, so we can serve Him. We SERVE THROUGH GRACE.
We are also SUSTAINED BY GRACE as Paul tells us in II Corinthians 12:9-10, And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Gods Grace sustains us in all that we do. Again, God will give to us what we need when we need it so that out of our weakness, our inability that He is shown strong, not us! We are SUSTAINED BY GRACE.
Here is one we may not think about but God can minister GRACE THROUGH OUR SPEECH, what we say. In Ephesians 4:29 Paul said, Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Now, when we run into people, when people come across our path, what are we imparting to them? You see, as His representatives, the Grace He bestows upon our lives we can let flow through us and minister to others that they may see the Grace of God and be drawn to Him, they would get saved by SAVING GRACE! And so, God can minister GRACE THROUGH OUR SPEECH.
And lastly, God gives GRACE FOR US TO GROW BY! Peter put it this way in II Peter 3:18, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Where does growth come from? Through the tough times, the difficult times, that is where we grow. And to grow in His grace means that no matter what we are going through, God will see us through it, we dont have to jump through hoops to get Him to respond to us, all we need to do is trust in Him, not because we deserve anything but God wants us to grow in Him. Thus, God gives us GRACE TO GROW BY.
To kind of sum this section up on what Grace is all about and to start moving to our next section, our next topic, listen to this story from H. A. Ironside. He tells us:
Some years ago, I had a little school for young Indian men and women, who came to my home in Oakland, California, from the various tribes in Northern Arizona. One of these was a Navajo young man of unusually keen intelligence. One Sunday evening, he went with me to our young peoples meeting. They were talking about the epistle to the Galatians, and the special subject was law and grace. They were not very clear about it, and finally one turned to the Indian and said, I wonder whether our Indian friend has anything to say about this.
He rose to his feet and said, Well, my friends, I have been listening very carefully, because I am here to learn all I can in order to take it back to my people. I do not understand all that you are talking about, and I do not think you do yourselves. But concerning this law and grace business, let me see if I can make it clear. I think it is like this. When Mr. Ironside brought me from my home we took the longest railroad journey I ever took. We got out at Barstow, and there I saw the most beautiful railroad station and hotel I have ever seen. I walked all around and saw at one end a sign, Do not spit here. I looked at the sign and then looked down at the ground and saw many had spitted there, and before I think what I am doing I have spitted myself. Isnt that strange when the sign say, Do not spit here?
I come to Oakland and go to the home of the lady who invited me to dinner today and I am in the nicest home I have been in. Such beautiful furniture and carpets, I hate to step on them. I sank into a comfortable chair, and the lady said, Now, John, you sit there while I go out and see whether the maid has dinner ready. I look around at the beautiful pictures, at the grand piano, and I walk all around those rooms. I am looking for a sign; and the sign I am looking for is, Do not spit here, but I look around those two beautiful drawing rooms, and cannot find a sign like this. I think What a pity when this is such a beautiful home to have people spitting all over it too bad they dont put up a sign! So I look all over the carpet, but cannot find that anybody have spitted there. What a queer thing! Where the sign says, Do not spit, a lot of people spitted. Where there was no sign at all, in that beautiful home, nobody spitted. Now I understand! That sign is law, but inside the home it is grace. They love their beautiful home, and they want to keep it clean. They do not need a sign to tell them so. I think that explains the law and grace business.
As he sat down, a murmur of approval went round the room and the leader exclaimed, I think that is the best illustration of law and grace I have ever heard.
- H. A. Ironside, Illustrations of Bible Truth, pp. 40-42
One pastor put it this way, and correctly so. He said that Gods love for us flows from His character, not ours; it is not dependent on anything we have done or will do. In fact, if you do nothing to serve Him the rest of your life, He will not love you any less.
Now, in saying that, what is the logical conclusion, human conclusion a person can come to? If that is true then you can do whatever you want, it doesnt matter, you dont have to do a thing, you are saved, it is all covered by the blood, it is all about Grace! Because of the fear of people getting out of control because of that, they have come up with the idea that you are saved by grace but your own good works sustains you. That again is mixing Law and Grace and they dont mix, just like oil and water dont mix!
Paul dealt with that issue in Romans 6:1-2 where he said, What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? We dont obey Gods Word to earn approval from God but out of love, it is a love relationship that causes us to live lives that are holy, as Ironside showed us with that story. Notice again what Paul said to Titus, For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14.
Now here is the thing, the Gospel of Grace affects ones present behavior on the one hand by focusing on Gods unmerited favor in the past, what He has done for us. And it also promotes godly behavior by focusing on the future, the return of Jesus, being received up into glory with Him! The Lord is coming back, thus live accordingly!
Yes, correct doctrine is very important but you must apply that correct doctrine to your life or it is empty, it is worthless. As I shared with you on Thursday, Paul spent 11 chapters in Romans laying down correct doctrine and then he opens up chapter 12 by saying, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2. And through the rest of the letter he is admonishing them to live a life that is pleasing to God, according to the correct doctrine they have been taught. He does this again in the first 3 chapters of Ephesians and then in chapter 4 he opens up by saying, I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3. And for the next 3 chapters of the letter he speaks of living what they believe, showing that their faith is real!
You see, this is where the rubber meets the road, living a life that is pleasing to God, not out of the Law, but out of love! God does not want us to add Law to Grace. But He does want obedience but the obedience is an overflow of a heart full of love, not legalism!
Let me give you an example of the Grace of God that is extended to all people, even up to the last moment of their life. We are told:
Last night at church (Brooklyn Tabernacle), Pastor Cymbala had a praise report for us.
One of our choir members is a medical assistant, and Pastor Burgos had run into her yesterday and mentioned that we had missed her and heard that she was going thru a lot. She said she was and that she had a patient that she was looking after that was terminally ill. Pastor Burgos asked her if she has had a chance to witness to her patient, and she said that she hadnt and that she felt extremely intimidated by him because he was so smart, and he had a lot of books on Buddhism and new age in his home. She said that he was very afraid and under a lot of pain medication, and at times would wake up and call for her and want to hold her hand.
The other day she went to the Christian book store connected to our church and bought him a card, that spoke about Jesus. She brought it to him and he broke. She lead him thru the sinners prayer and he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
It was Peter Jennings!
As far as I can tell, and from the source this came from, it is legitimate. Gods Grace is amazing as John Newton so accurately stated in the song he wrote because he knew his life was evil and out of that life he lived he saw Gods AMAZING GRACE! The song goes like this:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found. Was blind but now I see.
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.
When weve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, Weve no less days to sing Gods praise, Than when wed first begin.
Gods Grace is so amazing because we truly dont deserve it and that is the point, that is Grace, Gods unmerited favor towards us, not because of who we are or what we have done, but because He has freely given it to us through Jesus Christ! And that Grace is extended to all, all can receive it but not all will and that is the tragedy! It is a free gift that is found in Christ and even up to the last minute of a persons life, they have a chance to receive it, that is GRACE!
Thus, Paul tells Titus to teach others of the Grace of God, exhort them and rebuke them when needed because if they receive the Grace of God into their lives they will live accordingly, not out of the Law but out of Love! You see, we are saved by Grace, we are sustained by Grace and we will be received up into glory by the Grace of God! How awesome is that! It is all based upon His faithfulness not ours and thus, we can have assurance of our salvation because it is finished! It has been paid in full! Thus, Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you. Titus 2:15. May we do that and live in the Grace of God manifesting the character of God in our lives for as John said, Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. I John 3:2-3. I hope you have seen how Gods Grace changes everything!