Grace, Mercy, Justice, and the Love of God

A Study of Titus 2:13-3:8

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. 

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, [but] gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [This is] a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. [Tit 2:11-3:8]

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men,

Have you ever had an epiphany about something?  Sometimes we refer to these now as an “Aha” moment.  Here is an “epiphany” that comes right from God.  Let us take note as to who it appears to, and what it is. It is the grace of God that bring salvation.  Grace, that is completely undeserved, for that is what grace is… a gift that is given, not because the recipient deserves it, but because the giver desires to give it.  None of us deserves this grace, and nothing that is called grace is ever deserved.

Paul says in Romans 4:4 regarding the gift of righteousness given and put into our “bank account”:

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Did you all know that we have a running account?  We thank God, don’t we, that Jesus Christ shed His blood for us and cried “It is finished”, or “paid in full”.  But not only is debt of sin cancelled, but credits of righteousness are in infinite supply and sin debt, as Paul states in Romans 4:8 cannot be added:

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

And note where this comes from.  It is by grace! Freely given, not owed to any one of us.  One of the advertising campaigns for the USMC shows a Marine in his dress uniform with that slick sword and white hat saying, “Earned, never given”.  This has great appeal to anyone looking to make something of themselves, and gets to the human pride.  The righteousness that God gives in Christ is very much the opposite.  God’s grace is given, never earned.  God owes us nothing!  He gives freely.

For by grace ye are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  (Eph. 2:8-9)

This grace of God appeared to all men.  How?  It appeared in the person of our Lord Jesus.  The person of our Lord Jesus is shining to us in the scriptures, and as we study these, God’s holy words,  we come to see the face of Jesus Christ, and believing His word, the “veil” over our eyes of understanding is lifted and we see the glory of Christ.  It is there, and has appeared.  I know this because He said it.  The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men!  How we pray for that veil to be lifted as the Word of God is taught.  How we pray that churches will faithfully teach the scriptures!  Methods, programs, and all such things to persuade people into the church will never save a single person.  They need their eyes open to the truth in God’s word, and God does that through His word.

For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (II Cor. 4:6)

But this grace does not leave us in sin, nor leave us just to continue in our sins because we are forgiven.  This grace credits righteousness to our account, and teaches us.  As the Lord told the women caught in sin “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more” (John 8:11), so He who brings grace and truth teaches us.  The salvation bringing grace is

Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ;

God’s grace teaches us how to live.  Grace infuses into the heart of the believer a will to do and to live, and better yet, to be the way that He intends us to be.  The promise to Israel of a new covenant said “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts“.  (Jer. 31:33) We receive this now, completely by God’s grace.

Do this and live, the Law demands
But gives me neither feet nor hands.
A better word the gospel brings.
It bids me fly and gives me wings!

By God’s grace we deny ungodliness.  This idea of ungodliness is anything that is against God.  If we look at Jude’s epistle, we see the end of the ungodly:

Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.  (Jude 1:14-15)

And the worldly lusts?  Think of them all, and this is the best that this world has to offer.  The grace of God gives us will to deny our base nature, and even changes our wants.  But it is not just the negatives.  Ephesians 4:22-32 shows us what grace does:

  1. verse 25 has grace making a liar truthful-Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. [Eph 4:25]
  2. verse 28 has grace turning a thief into a giver-Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. [Eph 4:28]
  3. verse 29 has grace turning speech that corrupts to speech that builds up (edifies)-Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. [Eph 4:29]
  4. vss. 31-32 has grace changing maliciousness to kindness and a forgiving attitude-Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. [Eph 4:31-32]

We live soberly, righteously and godly-in the way that is in harmony with God.

He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Mic. 6:8)

As so much of the world is crying out for “justice”, which is righteousness, the truth is that in this world there is very little of it.  Even more, most who are crying out for “justice” do not want righteousness, they want what others have (covetousness, anyone?) or vengeance on a wrong done against them.  We usually demand justice against others and mercy for ourselves.  But grace teaches us to live righteously, or as it says in Micah to do justly.  Justice is not everyone getting an equal share.  Justice is righteousness, doing what is right.  The equal share theory says “steal from him and give to me”.  That is not justice, it is theft.  Jesus Christ will judge righteously, and woe to the world when He does!  Read the book of the Revelation, and realize that the hands that open the seven seals are the same nail-scarred hands that now receive sinners in mercy, and extend grace to undeserving sinners.  We live righteously now as believers, knowing we have a great hope.  We are looking for the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Notice that we are not waiting to die and go to heaven, for our citizenship is in heaven, as we learned in Philippians 3:20.  But we do not fear death, for we believe He has given to us eternal life, our Savior who IS the resurrection and the life.  And we are waiting for Him to appear, with hope. Those who characterize us as “sitting around and waiting for the rapture” and say that this is a lazy Christian life show scriptural ignorance in this matter.  The scripture says, right here, that we are to live looking for our Lord, for that is our great hope.  It is not to change the world.  Scripture calls this a present evil world, and it is only mercy that delays the judgment that will come.  As much as this is a great jumping off point for teaching about the imminent return of our Lord to catch us away, we need to move on and stay with the subject at hand, as Paul did.  Let us be satisfied to say rather than saying, in theological language, “I have a dispensational, pre-millennial, pre-tribulational view of eschatology” (which I do), to say that I “live soberly, righteously, and godly, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ”.

Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Let us never use grace as a license to sin, because Jesus our Lord gave Himself as a payment to bring us out of that mess.  The grace of God does not take us out of the slavery of sin to leave us in sin.  He bought us for Himself.  His grace is greater than all of our sin, and there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1), so why would any saved person want to hold on to their sin?  You are free from it, never go back!!!!!  We are His workmanship, His masterpiece, His trophy, His peculiar people.  Yes, we are peculiar.  Stop trying to fit in with the world’s system.  When the Christian and Christian churches begin trying to fit in and be “relevant” and “hip”, they tend to move away from scripture, and the Gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes (Rom 1:16) to programs and marketing schemes that may or may not draw a crowd.  But what have we won them to?  He gave Himself for us so that we would be a holy people, separated for His use.  We are not going to change the world by being like it.  People need to be saved, and the Gospel of Christ, that He died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again (I Corinthians 15:3-4) is what will save the sinner and change him.  Our good works, whatever they may be, spring from our salvation.  And remember not to let our good works be the standard that judges other Christians, but let us do them unto the glory of the God who saved us.  Other Christians have their call too, and they answer to Christ, and not to us.

These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.  Let no man despise thee.  Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.  For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

So just a little trip into the past here.  Notice that Paul here says “we ourselves”.  This is our condition before God’s grace.  We are called to meekness, which is not a quality that the world treasures.  But remember the principal that our Lord taught.  He did not say blessed are those that seek their share, or blessed are those who level the playing field, but

“blessed are the meek:  for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:  for they shall be filled.  Blessed are the merciful:  for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt. 5:5-7)

When you think of meekness, do not ever think of a wimp!  Think about the Man Jesus Christ.  I like to liken this quality to a pressure vessel, a boiler if you will.  You fill it with all sorts of internal pressure.  Then it bursts, and creates a fabulous explosion, showing its weakness.  The boiler is showing its strength when it is holding all that high pressure steam inside.  That is what meekness is:  it is quiet, controlled strength.

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

It is by mercy that we are saved, and that is God’s mercy.  Let us go back to remember that God in grace acted toward us in mercy because He loves us and is kind.  And he acted toward us in mercy when our condition was malice, and envy, and hatred toward each other…”while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us“.  (Romans 5:8)  We don’t deserve His grace and mercy, which is precisely why we say it is by grace and mercy.  If it is deserved, it is neither grace nor mercy.  If we labored to make ourselves deserving of grace, then it would be our just reward, but we do not deserve a bit of it.  Our righteousness that God credits to our account is given freely and completely by grace, because He wants to give it.  And that you can never work yourself to be deserving of this grace:

And if by grace, then it is no more of works:  otherwise grace is no more grace.  But if it is of works, then it is no more grace:  otherwise work is no more work.  (Romans 11:6)

Our attitude toward others as those who have been and are saved by grace should always reflect the kindness and love that God our Savior has toward us.  You say they don’t deserve it?  That is what makes this grace.  No one deserves grace, it is given freely.  He saved us, not by making us right all of the wrongs that that we did, but by making us new.  By the washing of regeneration, He turned lying, malicious, hateful thieves into righteous people in Christ.  Grace continues its saving work to make us truthful, honest, faithful, kindhearted and loving givers.

That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Let us seek the Lord and His will.  He made us just, not by our own good, but by His grace that is greater than all our sin.  Those that God has saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross in dying for our sins and forever putting away all grievances against us are seen by God as completely righteous and “in Christ”.  We can now live as who we are in Christ, not with the hope that someday we will get what we deserve, but that we are now the heirs of eternal life.  We also do not need to hope that others get what is coming to them, but that they may be saved from it as we were.  If you have not placed your faith in Jesus Christ our Lord as the only one who can save you, please listen:  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the creator of the universe, came once into this world to save sinners.  He died for our sins, was buried to forever put them away and rose from the dead victorious over all of them.  He conquered death.  He fought the battle that only He could and won, and offers to you the grace freely, if you will only believe the good news that He said in His word.  To believe on Him is to receive God’s grace and justice by His mercy that He gives because He loves us.  Don’t fight His grace and please, do not think that you can ever save yourself, or add to what the Son of God has already completed on your behalf.  There is no hope in anything or anyone else.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!

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