Titus 2:11–15 (NKJV)
In this passage, Paul seeks to teach Titus, and by extension the church at Crete, the way to respond to the grace of God given to us by the work of Jesus Christ. Grace should drive us toward a holy lifestyle, full of gratitude for the wonderful grace of God. The elements of that lifestyle are the topic of discussion today, and will help the believer understand the proper response one should have to the glorious gift of salvation brought to us by His marvelous grace!
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 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 2:11-15
15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
Grace is available to all men, not to just a few. It has effected salvation in many souls, and has appeared to all through Jesus. Even in this period of time some three to four decades after the death and resurrection of Christ, His reputation and story of grace is still prevalent among individuals around the known world, perhaps even more so than right after the events occurred. This wonderful grace teaches us how to live, even without saying a word. The grace of God simply elicits a response in the heart if it is truly understood and embraced by the believer. The grateful recipient of grace should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Believers should not long for the life of sin paraded before us by the unsaved masses. Instead, believers should be points of light among the darkness of this world, permeating the darkness with glorious light, holy and evident, in order to win the lost. The effect should be the furtherance of the gospel, not the adulteration of the believer. Grace also prompts sober, righteous, and Godly living in this present age. Grace does not just bring forgiveness of sins already committed, but also enlivens holiness in the heart of a believer. In so doing, grace gives the believer not only forgiveness, but also power to overcome the temptations to sin that may arise daily. God does not just wipe away the record of sins past, but empowers and emboldens the believer to reject temptation and live above sin. While momentary and rare stumbles may happen, they should be the exception and not the rule, and the believer should call on that grace again to move past the sin and begin a new trajectory of holiness and reverence before God.
Paul gives further motivation for this grace-filled, Godly lifestyle. Believers should look for the “blessed hope and glorious appearing” of the Savior, Jesus Christ. The idea of an epiphany (manifestation, appearance, coming) should serve as a motivation for grace-filled behavior. The gospels’ accounts of Jesus’s teaching on the rapture of the church and the second coming of the Lord to set up an earthly kingdom are still part of the landscape of Christian teaching in the time of Paul’s writings. The appearing of Christ is an ominous event, and should inspire fear in the hearts of unbelievers and reverential awe in the hearts of those who have accepted Him as Savior and Lord. With that in mind, if any further motivation were to be needed, the believer must live with the motive of being ready when He comes. The second part of that motivation, though, is to live with gratitude for the grace that has been extended by the work of Jesus Christ, “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people.” Therefore, believers should be zealous, performing good works and worshipping God in spirit and in truth.
In light of these rationale and these points of motivation, Paul instructs Titus to speak, teach, and even rebuke when necessary, allowing no one to despise him or his words. This could seem like a daunting task for a young minister, addressing those older and younger, and assuming a role of leadership over those who would normally be authorized to instruct him in normal Jewish or Gentile society. However, the work of the ministry is not for the weak or timid. Instead, God calls us to embrace the boldness of the Holy Spirit as we minister to one another. Roles, societal conventions and norms, and individual points of view are not to skew or dismiss the gospel of Jesus Christ. Tell the truth, win the lost, disciple the saved, and set forth the called to do the work of the ministry. This is the work of the bishop, the pastor, the leader, and even the member in the body of Christ.