Titus 2:11-14… “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” (KJV).
When you read the New Testament, there is not one mention of a Christmas celebration. Of course, we all know about the shepherds, the wise men, the singing angels, the facts of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem and finding there was no room in the inn. In the writings of Peter, John, and Paul, there is not one reference to a Christmas celebration. Didn’t they care? Were they opposed to a celebration?
This past June, when I was meditating on writing a message about Christmas, the above text stood out in a fresh way. I discovered, in my studying, that the early Christians, the apostles, did not see the life of Jesus as we do. We see the life of Christ in segments: the birth, the hidden years, His ministry, the cross, the resurrection, and the ascension. It is easier to study when we break up the life of Jesus into segments. The early church saw the life of Jesus and His ministry and His return as one complete picture. All the great events are blended together into one which they called “the appearing of Jesus Christ” (note also 2 Timothy 1:8-10).
There are two “appearings” in our text (Titus 2:11-14). “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared” and “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” This first appearing is history and covers the thirty-three years of Jesus’ life and ministry, from His birth to His ascension; the second appearing is part of prophecy and remains today. Paul calls it “our blessed hope.” This appearing is closer now than when this verse was written. The first appearing is called the grace that God bringeth. The second appearing is called the appearing of His glory. These are two different things. The in between is called the “age of grace,” the age in which we now live. The word “appearing” (epiphaneia, Strong’s 2015) means “epiphany” or a shining forth.” Strong’s Concordance defines it as “a manifestation,” that is, specifically the advent of Christ (past or future). It also means “appearing, brightness.” The first appearing began in Bethlehem and God’s grace has been reaching out until this day. Grace means that the first subject on God’s agenda to discuss with man is not judgment, but love. The first thing God discusses with you is not condemnation, that is, punishment for sins, but as John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (KJV). God’s first concern with man is not judgment, but love and grace.
Paul writes, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” or “God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone!” (v. 11, MSG). This does not mean that all are automatically saved, but that all can be saved. God’s saving grace is available to all. Salvation is more than just a place in heaven, and it is more than just an insurance policy against going to hell. Note v. 12… “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (KJV), or in The Message Bible, “We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now.” Salvation manifests itself by a change of lifestyle; repentance is seen here. The grace of God lifts man from living his life on the world’s level and all its evils to a lifestyle God ordains. Salvation gives man a great desire to please God with every part of his being. Denying ungodliness or rejecting wickedness means stopping the entrance of sin, worldly lusts, and sinful pleasures. Salvation causes a man to live soberly. The word “sober” refers to lawful living, responsible living, taking life seriously, self-mastery or discipline, learning, and being honorable. This happens when a heart has been changed by God. Paul says, “In this present world” (age); this is for now, not after we die.
Salvation causes the believer to be always watching. Paul writes in v. 13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (KJV). There is a glory that is yet ahead; this is reality, not a dream, not wishful thinking, and not escapism. Jesus is returning. While we wait, Jesus is making a people for Himself with His characteristics in the believer and with doing “works,” doing the works of the Holy Spirit or being responsive to the Holy Spirit (v. 14). The Lord works in this present age through you. This, my friend, is what Christmas is all about. Jesus came to be a Savior, a Redeemer. Jesus came to bring salvation, and He begins right where you are. He is ready to accept you and to change you to live a lawful life, which is simply “the lifestyle of the kingdom of God.”
Pastor George Belobaba
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