A Good Church is characterized by the Grace of God.
God’s Grace is a major theme in the Bible
Grace defined is simply unmerited favor; getting something kind and good we don’t deserve.
God’s Grace and the Christian Life: it defines the Christian life. It is essential for the Christian life and it energizes the Christian life.
God’s Grace Saves Us (11, 14a)
Firstly, notice that our salvation is because of God’s grace. Verse 11 says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared…” This verse is referring to Jesus Christ. He is the embodiment of God’s grace and He appeared. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the Glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Then verse 17 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Only in Jesus Christ can someone find the grace of God. The Roman Catholic Church says that you can’t get God’s grace directly from Jesus Christ, but, you have to go through the Roman Catholic Church to get it. They say He they are the dispensers of God’s grace through the sacraments. But the Bible says that anyone can come to Jesus. The Bible says it is by faith in Him that you receive God’s grace, not religious works like the sacraments. If you want to be saved, if you want the grace of God to flood into your life then there is only one thing you must do and one thing you can do: you must put your trust in Jesus Christ.
Salvation is a free gift available because of God’s grace. Remember grace is receiving something kind you didn’t earn. That’s what the gift of salvation is, it’s unearned. It’s a gift. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, it is the gift of God.” It’s not bought by us it’s brought to us. It’s not earned by us, it’s offered to us. If we want it, we have to open our hands and take it. It’s on our front porch, it’s been delivered. God’s grace has brought it. The all-important point is that Without God’s grace there would be no salvation. Where there is no grace there is no salvation.
And notice the verse says that God’s grace has appeared to all men. God’s grace is intended for all mankind. Second Peter 3:9 says, “God does not want any to perish but wants all to come to repentance.” First Timothy 2:4 says that “God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” And, in verse 6 it says, “Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all men”. That means two things. One, everyone you talk to is someone whom God’s grace can save. Second, the fact that God’s grace is for all mankind means it is for you. You’re not too far. You aren’t beyond His love. Turn to God’s grace. Turn to Jesus Christ. Turn and be saved.
Paul mentions salvation 3 times in this letter and we can see a different aspect of salvation each time. First, here in verse 11 when he says the word salvation. Salvation defined means to be delivered away from danger. The second place Paul talks about salvation is in verse 14 Paul refers to salvation again by saying, “Jesus gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness…” People who are saved are redeemed. Redeem means to set someone free by paying a ransom for them. Then thirdly, salvation is referred to in 3:7 he says, “so that, having been justified by His grace….” People who are saved are justified, meaning they are now declared righteous in the eyes of God’s court.
God’s Grace Sanctifies Us (v12, 14b)
Next we see that God’s grace not only saves us, but, it sanctifies us. It propels our spiritual growth. Notice verse 12, “It [God’s grace] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age”. Godly living is what we were saved for as Paul says in verse 14, “Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness” (that’s salvation!), “and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” (That’s sanctification!).
God’s purpose for giving you and I grace is not only to save us from our sins, but, to also learn how to live godly lives that please Him. The focus of this passage is not salvation or the 2nd coming of Christ, it is godly living. Salvation and the 2nd coming are presented as reasons for godly living. The context suggests this; Previous verses describe how various groups are to live to be godly (older, younger, slaves, etc. in 2:1-10); Subsequent verses continue the instructions for godly living (3:1-2)
Godly living is called sanctification. Sanctification refers to our daily experience of setting ourselves apart to be used by God for His holy purposes. His grace instructs us to do that, or, as the passage says, “it teaches us”. Teach means “child training”. Our Father’s grace is behind His training us up in godliness. Paul said, “By God’s grace I am what I am…” In what ways does His grace train us? In two ways: negative and positive.
First the Negative: deny ungodliness and worldly passions. Ungodliness refers to someone who does not reverence God. It’s the person who is flagrantly evil but it is also the “good” person who ignores God and tries to be “good” on their own. They live without God and without any regard or reverence for Him. But Grace teaches a person to live for God, to want to please Him, to take His name and His will seriously.
Worldly passions points out the person who is obsessed with the things of this world. They are the worldly plans, priorities, and possessions that distract and reroute a person’s energy away from serving God. A person who has received God’s grace begins to turn away from obsessing and worrying over the things of this world. Their attention is focusing with evermore intensity on the things that will not pass away, the things that are currently not seen.
Then we see the Positive lessons Grace teaches us: be self-controlled, upright and godly. Self-controlled we have seen several times so far – it is a highly prized virtue in the Christian life. It means to restrain yourself from sinful and worldly urges and passions, and, it also means to compel yourself towards godly and righteous things. Self control is the last fruit of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5.
Upright means dealing rightly with others and conforming to God’s commands in His word.
Godliness refers to how you are towards God. It refers to the inner heart devotion you have towards Him. It encompasses the fact that you know He sees your heart, examines your heart and has heart-level expectations of you. Godliness is living for God from the heart outward.
Sanctification takes place “in this present age”. Notice the time elements here. Salvation in the past (v11), the coming of Jesus Christ in the future (v13-14), and in between, right now in verse 12.
This age, this time period we live in, is characterized by evil. Christians’ lives are to be in contrast to this evil age – that is, Christians are supposed to live good, upright, holy, righteous and godly lives. (Romans 12:2; 2 Peter 3:10-14)
Christians must realize this present age is terminal. Just like God did away with the evil in our life at the cross of Jesus Christ, and just like we are growing further and further away from evil in our every day living, God will do away completely with this evil age. It is coming to an end. Realizing this crystalizes our priorities while we live in this age. Let us live godly lives that are “rebellious” towards the dark system governing the current world.
That’s Paul’s purpose in this passage: we are saved to be godly. Salvation first, then sanctification grows out of salvation; we are saved from our sins so we can now live apart from them. Contrast with Jude 4 “who say God’s grace is a license for sexual immorality” We are not saved so we can continue in sin, but, so that our lives become in contrast with sin.
God’s Grace Gives Us a Sure Hope (v13)
Lastly God’s grace gives us a the sure and blessed hope of Jesus Christ’s Return. Notice verse 13, “…”
“Sure hope” is redundant. Hope in the Bible means you are certain something will happen and are eagerly waiting for it to finally come about. Hope is used otherwise to refer to something you wish or want to happen but you don’t really know for sure. That’s not Biblical hope. 1 Peter 3:15; Hebrews 11:1
By God’s Grace we are Waiting for Jesus Christ – and this waiting is active, not passive. Not like sitting in a waiting room, passing time.
- Waiting means living a godly life because you know He is coming.
- Waiting is characterized by hope (eager certainty) of His coming
- Waiting means enduring hardship because you know when Christ returns your trials will be over.
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