the weblog of Alan Knox

Grace to live…

Posted by on Jun 4, 2007 in discipleship, scripture | 15 comments

I often think of grace in terms of salvation. Paul says that we are saved by grace (Eph 2:8), justified by grace (Rom 3:24), chosen by grace (Rom 11:5), gifted by grace (Rom 12:6; Eph 4:7), redeemed and forgiven by grace (Eph 1:7), among many other benefits that we receive because of the grace of God. I realized recently, though, that I’ve often seen the benefits of grace as being future benefits. But, I had the opportunity to teach from Titus 2 a few weeks ago, and at the end of that chapter, Paul says that grace teaches us to live now…

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 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 2:11-14 NKJV)

If we remove the adjectives and prepositional phrases in order to get to the basic structure of the sentence, we get the following:

Grace has appeared teaching us [in order] that we should live.

Besides describing grace as that which brings salvation to all men, in this sentence Paul is also telling us that grace teaches us how to live now (“in the present age”). I think this is very important. We are not saved by grace so that we can then live by the law. We are saved by grace so that same grace can teach us how to live. We are not saved by grace so that we can live with God in the future. We are saved by grace so that same grace can teach us how to live with God now.

What does this passage tell us about living by grace? First, the grace that teaches us how to live, is the grace from God that saves. There is no difference between saving grace and living grace. Now, this may sound simplistic, but the implications are huge. If God has given you the grace to be saved, then he has also given you the grace to live.

Next, grace teaches us that we should live a certain type of life – specifically, a life that demonstrates sobriety (self-control), righteousness (uprightness, justness), and godliness (piety). And, this is not a life to be lived for some future, eschatological existence. Instead, the life that grace teaches us how to live is to be lived now, while we are on this earth. If we expect God’s grace to be effective in salvation, we should also expect God’s grace to be effective in teaching us how to live today. This kind of life is no more theoretical or idealistic than is our salvation. If salvation is real, then our self-controlled, righteous, godly life can be real as well.

Grace also teaches us that we must deny certain things as we live. Primarily, we should deny anything that opposes God (ungodliness) and the desires that this world offers (worldly lusts). Again, these are not things that we have to find and remove for ourselves. Because of his grace, we can trust God to point out where we are ungodly and where we are desiring the things of the world. As we learn to walk in the grace of God (the life that grace is teaching us how to live), we will also learn how to deny those things (like ungodliness and worldly desires) that are contrary to God and his grace.

Finally, grace teaches us that in order to live as we should today, then we should live expecting the return of Jesus. Note that every eschatological vision in the New Testament comes with the same purpose: be prepared for Jesus to return at any moment. Or, as Jesus himself said, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming”. (Matthew 24:42 NKJV) This is not a time for believers to fear, but it is a time for which believers want to be prepared (grace teaches this!). The coming of our Lord is a blessed and glorious time for believers. Grace teaches us how to live in such a way that we are prepared for his return.

So, to repeat something that I said earlier: God does not save us by grace so that we must then live according to the law. God saves us by his grace so that we can then live according to his grace. If we trust God for salvation, let’s also trust him to teach us how to live. If someone is not living a godly life, don’t teach them to change their behavior. Instead, point them to God and teach them how to live in his grace. If someone is not demonstrating righteousness and justice toward others, don’t try to change them by forcing them to serve others. Instead, point them to God and teach them how to live in his grace.

We trust God and his grace for salvation. Let’s also trust God and his grace to teach us how to live today. Don’t trust rules, trust grace.


15 Comments

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  1. 6-5-2007

    Steve McVey of Grace Walk Ministries (www.gracewalk.org) says, “Grace is the divine enablement for us to be all that we have been called to be and do all that we have been called to do.”

    This also reminds me of Terry Rayburn’s blog at http://www.graceforlife.com and his internet radio program that airs on Grace Walk Internet Radio and is archived on his site. His tagline is “Living in Grace With Jesus. Because Grace Didn’t End With Salvation.”

    Indeed we (the church in general) are good at ushering people into our doors and into salvation “by grace alone, apart from works,” but once we get them in, we tend to put them under law and rules and principles to live by, rather than the same simplicity and grace that brought them to Jesus.

    At salvation, grace is just getting started. :)

  2. 6-5-2007

    I love the last 2 paragraphs you wrote…Grace, Grace and more Grace…amen!

  3. 6-5-2007

    I love the last 2 paragraphs you wrote…Grace, Grace and more Grace…amen!

  4. 6-5-2007

    I love the last 2 paragraphs you wrote…Grace, Grace and more Grace…amen!

  5. 6-5-2007

    I love the last 2 paragraphs you wrote…Grace, Grace and more Grace…amen!

  6. 6-5-2007

    I love the last 2 paragraphs you wrote…Grace, Grace and more Grace…amen!

  7. 6-5-2007

    I love the last 2 paragraphs you wrote…Grace, Grace and more Grace…amen!

  8. 6-5-2007

    I love the last 2 paragraphs you wrote…Grace, Grace and more Grace…amen!

  9. 6-5-2007

    Part of the reason we misunderstand grace is that we misunderstand eternal life and the kingdom of heaven. Eternal life doesn’t start when we die. If it’s eternal, it’s already going on. The indwelling of the Lord by His Holy Spirit is our current contact with the kingdom of heaven. Grace is the empowering gift that enables us to walk with God in this life.

    I often ask people, “Why do you want to go to heaven if you don’t want to spend time with God while you’re here?”

  10. 6-5-2007

    Joel,

    I agree that grace is just getting started at salvation, just like life is just getting started at salvation.

    jada’s gigi,

    Welcome to my blog! I know that some may be concerned, but I don’t think you can ever get enough nor give enough grace. So, I agree: “Grace, grace, and more grace!”

    David,

    You said: “Grace is the empowering gift that enables us to walk with God in this life.” Amen!

    -Alan

  11. 6-5-2007

    Alan, I was reminded of an article I wrote just over a year ago that I think really goes along well with this post of yours. It’s about grace being the “essence” of the Christian life. Just thought I’d share it if anyone’s interested.

    http://articles.graceroots.org/2006/05/sufficiency-of-grace.html

  12. 6-5-2007

    You said: “There is no difference between saving grace and living grace.” That became my walking-in-the-truth thought for the day. Thanks, I needed to hear it.

  13. 6-5-2007

    Joel,

    Thank you for linking to the article. I will try to read it soon.

    Mary,

    I’m glad that I was an encouragement to you today.

    -Alan

  14. 6-14-2009

    I loved your exposition. And I agree heartily.

    One thing would firm it up a little bit more, for me anyway, would be how you get the “[in order]” before the “that we should live”.

    There is a difference in English. And you reflect that as you go on to use “how to live” as synonymous with “[in order] that we should live”.

    Is this something more clear in the Greek?

  15. 6-14-2009

    David,

    The word translated “that” in most English translations is the conjunction “in order that”, which is often shortened to “that”. I like “in order that” because it is clearer in English. Also, the “that” (or “in order that”) grammatically goes with the verb phrase “we should live” (a subjunctive 1st personal plural verb). The other clause (“denying ungodliness and worldly lusts”) are participial phrases.

    I don’t think “how to live” is strictly synonymous with “in order that we should live”. However, since the clause “in order that we should live” is dependent upon the independent clause “grace has appeared”, it seems that our living is dependent upon grace.

    -Alan