For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (verses 11-14)
How do we live holy, in the midst of a world that has so many distractions and temptations? How do we maintain purity of mind and imagination? How do we keep actions and attitudes, words and deeds, pure, set aside for Jesus only?
Paul himself experienced a transformative moment, one from which he never recovered. Travelling on the Damascus Road, he was stopped dead in his tracks by the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. He was “arrested,” as it were, and set down on a completely new course for the whole of his life thereafter. That encounter completely blinded him, but not before he saw Jesus himself (as Paul testifies in 1 Corinthians 15:8), turning his whole world upside down. What a glorious appearing.
But what about us? These verses in Titus 2 speak of two other “appearings,” not just for Paul but for all people. These appearings carry salvation in their wake, providing for us the solution for holy living now.
The first looks back to the cross. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (verse 11). Christ’s death was the venue in which the full dimensions of God’s grace were most plainly revealed. There is no clearer view anywhere of its incomprehensible depth. Beyond anything we could expect, beyond anything we could earn for ourselves, God himself has dealt with our sin, washed us clean, justified us fully through Jesus’ blood, declaring us absolutely holy and blameless in his sight. Grace has appeared. Yes. What a glorious appearing.
Allow your eyes to fully focus on this event. Because, Paul says, this appearing “teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions.” The extent of Christ’s sacrifice and the depth of God’s grace instructs us. Like a father training a child through word and discipline, so, too, the growing comprehension of the “grace of God that brings salvation” scourges away our bent toward sinning. Oh, it’s a process. But by this means, the Lord intends to teach us to say “No” to our old way of life. More strongly yet, he intends to teach us “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.” What a glorious appearing.
All of this continues while we wait for the second “appearing” – “the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.”Paul calls this our “blessed hope” – it’s meant to grip us, propelling us forward in expectant anticipation.
This “appearing,” too, is tied up with salvation. On that day, our “Saviour” will come to reap his redemptive work. His purpose is to “redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own.” Just as the cross teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness, so the coming “appearing” of our Saviour is meant to grip us with his own heart’s desire that we be holy. What a glorious appearing.
So, look back. Open your eyes to the appearing of God’s grace at the cross, bringing salvation. Look forward. Open your eyes to see that first glimpse of his appearing, the One who paid the price so we could be purified, set apart for him, the One who is our Saviour.
May his appearing transform us.
O Lord, I long for your appearing. With eyes open to the grace of your salvation, continue your good instruction within, teaching me to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. And rivet my eyes on that future day when your appearing will bring everything to a glorious conclusion. Strengthen me to live, now, as your own. Amen.
Memorize: Join me in memorizing these verses, to be better gripped by both appearings.