Been away for the past few days with some of my girls. Hard to get to my computer, but have been enjoying working my way through Titus.
And, if I’m picking up what Paul has been laying down for Titus, then grace and good works go hand in hand. To be a fan of one, should lead to the embrace of the other. To revel in God’s unmerited favor is to respond in accord to God’s unambiguous commands.
Might seem a bit counter-intuitive. We tend to think of grace being the antithesis of works. That abiding in grace is ceasing from all effort. And while it’s true that no amount of good works are going to earn acceptance with God, it’s equally true than when we get grace, grace is going to compel us towards good works. Paul calls it grace training.
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 . . .
(Titus 2:11-12 ESV)
While grace is the means to salvation, it is also our mentor towards godly living. While we enter the holy of holies on the merit of Christ’s finished work alone, when we enter the world we do so renouncing ungodliness and worldly passions. While we look for a place and time yet to come, we live in accord with its principles and tenets even now. And it’s grace that teaches us how.
Paul talks about the manifestation of grace later in his letter to Titus. Grace arrived on the scene when the Savior appeared. It saved us not because of our righteous deeds and merit, but according to its own righteous way and mercy. It saved us “by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit” not by the weighing of our works and the rewarding of our best effort. Rather, being justified solely by grace through Christ our Savior, we became “heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (3:4-7).
And then Paul pens this great implication to such great truth:
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
(Titus 3:8 ESV)
Insist on grace alone, says Paul, and those who believe it will be motivated towards good works, as well. Grace teaches us to live godly lives. It trains us to seek after righteousness.
Good works, then, come as a response. If He died for us, how can we not want to live for Him.
Godliness, then, emerges as a reflection. Having rescued us from the bondage of sin, He now delights to reshape up is in the very image of His Son. The more we become like Jesus, by grace, the more we we will act like Jesus, known for our good works.
To live in grace and do nothing for God is to not really get grace at all. For the grace that has appeared, is grace that teaches us to pursue godly living in anticipation of the glory soon to be revealed.
Grace training. Every child of God has been enrolled in it.
God’s glory. The reason we should all desire to be good students of it.