“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” -Titus 2:11-14
We often hear people talk of God’s “saving grace”, but in this passage Paul gives us a different facet of God’s grace–”training grace”. Immediately prior to this passage (Titus 2:1-10) Paul teaches sound doctrine for the Christian life. Now Paul gives the theological basis for the lifestyle he taught in those verses. The Greek word that is translated “grace” is χαρις (charis). One implication of this word, and I believe so here, is that grace “kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues” (Strong’s Concordance). Therefore, once one trusts in Jesus as Savior, believing the gospel, there is more to follow.
Salvation is typically thought of to mean the regeneration, conversion (faith and repentance), justification and glorification (upon the second coming of Christ), but many do not know or consider one important aspect of salvation–sanctification, the process in which Christians are transformed daily to be more conformed to the life of Christ and produce “fruit”. The power of the Holy Spirit and the atonement of Christ do not simply provide believers with salvation, but also enable and invite the Christian to a holy life.
Salvation For All People
The mention of God’s grace bringing salvation for all people could easily be misinterpreted or used as a proof-text for the heretical “universalism” doctrine, but I think it is necessary to mention the concept briefly. James Strong (Strong’s Concordance) makes it clear in defining the word translated “all” that it very rarely means all persons individually, but are almost always used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts (Gentiles, Jews, rich, poor, etc.). God is not a respecter of persons, but has made redemption possible for some of all nationalities, social classes, and backgrounds.
Godly Lives In The Present Age
What’s the point of living godly lives right now? Does it do any good? The best answer to these questions is simply that there is a major point and impact that living a godly life has. First of all, at the absolute highest level of meaning, living a godly life glorifies God, which is the ultimate purpose of the creation of humans. In response to what Christ has done for us in his life, death, burial, and resurrection we could at least respond to his grace by living as he wishes.
Second, living a godly life has an impact on those around us. To live in the manner that we are instructed to apply in the New Testament will show love to the hurt, will lend a hand to those in need, will show the love of God to the hopeless, will give to those without, and so forth.
Thirdly, (and least importantly) living a godly life benefits us. It means that our character may be different from what it could be or used to be, whether in the slightest degree or the greatest. In living godly lives we can experience more joy and less regret for the many unnecessary intentional sins could have been avoided.
Finally, living a godly life in “the present age” does not just relate to now, but is tied to the past and future! It is tied to the past in that it is done through the empowering and inviting by God to do so; It is possible because of the work and grace of God. It is tied to the future in that it is applied in anticipation of the “Blessed Hope”–the second coming of Christ. Also, in response to God’s grace and the gospel, we should be “zealous for good works”. Works are not a way to earn salvation because Jesus’ atonement secured the salvation of the elect, but works are a result of the transforming work of the Spirit. If we are being transformed by God one evidence and result will be that we do “good works” which glorify God and help others.
My hope is that I have clearly shown you the basis for living a godly life, the results of the gospel and the work of the Spirit, and have shown you the benefits involved in living such a lifestyle. Remember, God empowers us to do his will so do not lean on your own strength and will to be transformed; it is the gift of God that is the basis for sanctification.
Soli Deo Gloria!
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