Notes on Titus 2.11-14: a threefold grace
August 3, 2015
"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, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." (Titus 2.11-14)
According to Titus 2.11-14, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ fulfills a threefold office.
In its first office, grace is a redeemer. Call it "saving grace." Saving grace comes to us, not as a result of our righteousness and good works, but as a result of God's own mercy (Titus 3.5) and through Christ's self-giving act of redemption. By virtue of Christ's saving grace, the redeemed are set free "from all lawlessness . . . for himself." Christ purchases us. And we become his treasured possession, his chosen people.
In its second office, grace is a teacher. Call it "training grace." Because of Christ's training grace, the church becomes a school of virtue. The vices of ungodliness and worldly passion are renounced. The virtues of prudence, justice, and godliness are pursued with zeal, in faith, love, and steadfastness (Titus 2.2).
In its third office, grace awakens within our hearts hope for a vision of beauty and happiness. Call it "hope-inspiring grace." Jesus Christ, our Great God and Savior, is glorious. He is the radiance of divine and supernatural light, which transcends the visible forms of all created lights, which no man has seen or can see (1 Tim 6.16). And he is the radiance of our glorified human nature, the Last Adam and Life-Giving Spirit (1 Cor 15.45). Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious vision of Jesus Christ is guaranteed to us. And this guarantee births happiness and hope. We were redeemed for this happy sight. We train in virtue in preparation for this happy sight (Heb 12.14). It is our "blessed hope" that we will one day see his face.
Grace comes to us in many forms and in many colors. Grace saves sinners. Graces trains saints. Grace satisfies our deepest longings with the beautiful and happy vision of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ.