Pastor Scott Andrews | November 14, 2021
Titus 2:11-14 – Part 2
So, in about two months or so, we will begin a series in the book of Revelation. I’ve been doing a fair amount of study, so let me give you a sneak preview – actually I guess I should call it a spoiler alert – are you ready? Jesus is coming back. So again, I ask, are you ready? I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but it is how the Book ends. If you’re one of those people who read the last page or chapter of a novel before reading it – here you go – Jesus wins. Which means we win.
Years ago, the movie Braveheart aired on TV. We didn’t watch it at the theater, but with such wide acclaim, we wanted to watch it. But we weren’t available when it aired over two nights. No problem, I just recorded it – but it took two video tapes. The night finally came we had enough time to watch the movie, so popcorn in hand, we got ready for a three-hour event. I plugged in the tape. About halfway through, I thought, wow, they sure expect you to know a lot. We get to the end of tape, and William Wallace, the hero, died! I jerked the tape out and realized I had put in the wrong one – the second tape – end of the story when the hero dies. We never went back to watch the first tape. Who wants to watch a movie when the hero dies?
Well, in our book, the story of all stories, the hero dies, all according to God’s plan. But He was raised again the third day. And before ascending to heaven, Jesus promised to come back. He told them, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself.” When He ascended at the Mount of Olives, the disciples stood gazing up into the sky, dumbfounded. Two angels appeared and said, umm, what are you doing? He told you He was going, and He told you He was coming back. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go.”
In Luke 21:28, He said it like this, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” If that is true, we should both look for and be prepared for His return. It should both encourage and motivate us as followers of Jesus, because He’s coming back. He wins at the end of the book – the culmination of all history. Here’s the question: do we really believe that? Do we live eagerly hopeful, like we actually believe Jesus is coming back? How would it change your life if you really believed it? Would it change your passions, your plans, your priorities?
Now, I know it’s become popular to mock the Christian faith, and even scoff at any idea of His return. Just like Peter said, in the last days, mockers will come with their mocking – don’t miss this – following their own lusts. Do you see the connection? They will mock, because they want to live in their sin. You see, if you want to be the lord of your life, you must deny the Lord of the universe. They will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” Sounds like a scientific argument to me. Peter then reminded them of a couple important things they were overlooking – that escaped their notice. You want to go to science? Fine. First, God created everything that is out of nothing; and in judgment, He once destroyed the earth with a flood – meaning, He can and will judge the earth again. Listen, if you are questioning the Christian faith and starting to doubt, wondering if He’ll ever come back – peel back the layers – you’ll find in the depth of your heart, the desire to live after your sinful flesh.
Jesus is coming back. And, if His coming is closer now than when we first believed – it is even closer now. And will be closer at the end of this sermon, this day, this week, this month, this year. And at some point, the last person to be saved will be saved, the trumpet will sound, and Jesus will come back. So we should eagerly anticipate and prepare for His return.
Which begs a couple questions: first, how do we prepare – we’ll come back to that. And second, what are the reasons believers look forward to the return of Christ? Because I think, a lot of us don’t – we like life just as it is. Why, if we are distracted by the good life, should we look forward to the return of Christ? I could think of a few reasons – perhaps you can think of more:
- Because then, the dead will be raised. I did a funeral a week ago Friday – I have another one this Saturday. They’re not hard if the person was a believer, because we have a hope. Those who have believed in Jesus, to whom we say goodbye – for a time – will be raised. There is coming a day when all those in the grave will hear His voice and come out.
- Which leads to the second one, death will be defeated, and be no more. No Covid, no cancer, no heart disease. Paul said the last enemy to be destroyed is death. We will no longer pray for sick people; we will no longer grieve those we’ve buried. There will no longer be any sickness or death – not even tears. He will wipe away all tears from our eyes. We will enter the joy of our Master.
- And then, third, all that is wrong will be made right. I’m sure you’ve noticed – we live in a broken world. Spend a couple minutes on social media or your favorite news station or website, and you will be quickly reminded – our world does not work right. Even creation groans having been subjected to futility. There’s a reason there are tsunamis and hurricanes and tornados and supernovas and colliding galaxies. The world doesn’t work rightly, and even creation itself is waiting for the sons and daughters of God to be revealed. All will be made right. Interesting, last week was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. I suppose brothers and sisters around the world are looking for their redemption.
- Next, we will no longer struggle with sin in these fallen bodies in this fallen world, facing the enemy of our souls. The devil himself and his minions will be cast into the lake of fire. We will finally know the ultimate victory of Christ over sin – our sin.
- Fifth, not only will we receive new bodies, but we’ll receive a new home – the new heaven and new earth. There will be no sun there because God Himself will be the light. It will be perfect – no longer any natural disasters or famine or peril or sword or politics – which means you won’t need social media either. Christ will be King – God will be all in all.
- Sixth, we will finally do what we were created to do – worship God through unhindered glorious relationship – unimpeded by sin. Have you ever had those times of special intimacy with the Lord – a time of worship, time in the Word, prayer when you saw God do amazing things? Have you ever had those dry times – when you doubted, and wondered where God was? When Jesus comes back, we will never doubt again.
- You see, seventh, then will we know, even as we are known. All those why questions to which there are seemingly no answers – we will know. I am reminded of C. S. Lewis who once suggested – when we get to heaven, as we enter the gates, we will take one look around, and the first words to escape our mouths will be, of course.
- Eighth and ultimately, we get Jesus, our greatest treasure. If Jesus is your greatest treasure, you will look for, long for, and prepare for His return.
There is indeed much to look forward to as we eagerly await the coming of our Christ. Don’t be lulled to sleep. Don’t be distracted by all this world seductively offers. Don’t love the world – love its Maker. I didn’t think it would take three weeks to get back to Titus 2, but here we are. Let’s reread the text – Titus 2:11-14.
A great text. You’ll remember I suggested we should think of God’s grace which has appeared, in past, present and future terms. Here was the outline:
- God’s Grace in Justification (11) – in the past.
- God’s Grace in Sanctification (12) – in the present.
- God’s Grace in Glorification (13-14) – in the future.
Past, present and future terms. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. We have been saved in the past by grace through faith in the Gospel. We are being saved in the present by grace through faith as we are transformed into a people for God’s own possession. And we will be saved in the future when Christ returns to get us – so we long for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.
Remember also, I shamelessly stole an outline Josh told me about that went like this: Grace is with you in the courtroom, when you were declared righteous; grace is with you in the classroom when you are instructed to be righteous; and grace is with you in the waiting room as we await the return of Jesus Christ, when you will be righteous.
Now again, we normally think of salvation in past terms. When were you saved? When did you come to faith in Jesus? When were you born again? And all that is true – they are appropriate questions. We were saved when we were born again – when we were justified – sins removed and received the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. That’s what verse 11 says – For the grace of God has appeared (past tense), bringing salvation to all men. Jesus appeared, and in His first coming, He was bringing rescue – salvation. He did that through His incarnation – becoming the God-man – through His perfect, sinless life and His substitutionary death on a cross for sinners.
Which then brings us to the second point or the second room – the classroom. We go from having been saved, to being saved – from justification to sanctification. The process of being made more holy. And by the way, those are inseparable. You see, if there is no growth in Christlikeness, you were stillborn. You can’t say you were saved if it does not change your life. There’s got to be an upward trajectory – a growth in holiness.
For the grace of God, which is the subject of this long sentence, has appeared, verse 11. Verse 12, the grace of God, having brought salvation, is also instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly passions – meaning we live differently. If there is no difference in the way you live – if you are still pursuing ungodly and worldly desires, then you have not experienced the grace of God.
Because His grace is instructing us to deny ungodliness. Ungodliness is just that – it is ungodly – godless thoughts and actions. (Romans 1) Don’t think yourself ok because you prayed a prayer. Yes, that is what saved you in the past, but it must also be saving you in the present. Jesus must be both Savior and Lord of your life. His grace is instructing us to say no to any thought, word or deed that is inconsistent with His character – that is ungodly.
By the way, the word instructing is different from the normal word teaching. It’s the word from which we get our pedagogy, and speaks of strict instruction, training, encouragement, admonition, correction, and discipline. That’s what the grace of God does, you see. Yes, God’s grace saved you, but the work of grace is not finished. It goes on to instruct, train, correct and discipline us for the purpose of godliness. That is, to say no to ungodliness and worldly desires. Worldly desires are what this world pursues, especially as it relates to sensual desires. We are living in a world of unmitigated sexual desire and sin. The grace of God instructs us to say no.
George Barna, a professor and researcher at Arizona Christian University released a startling survey a couple weeks ago. 39% of 18-24 year-olds (Gen Z) identify as LGBTQ. Oh, and 40% of young adults don’t believe, don’t know, or don’t care if God exists. Remember, Peter said in the last days, they would deny God – any return of Jesus – because they want to pursue their own lusts. Here’s my point – there is an unprecedented number of people pursuing sexual sin and an equally unprecedented number denying or dismissing the existence of God. Do you see? I’m not trying pick on the LGBTQ community – simply citing facts the Bible said we would see. A dismissal of God so we can live in sin. I could say the same thing about anyone engaged in worldly desires, sensuality, sexual sin. Let me say it like this: if you are up late on the computer, one thing is for sure – you are not thinking about the return of Christ.
So, the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ is teaching us to grow in Christ-likeness and say no to sin. Before you were saved, you had no power in yourself to say no. The truth is, you gleefully pursued sin, even though it is self-destructive. But now, if you are a follower of Jesus, you actually can say, in fact, should say no. In Romans 6, Paul said it this way:
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? [that’s what water baptism is a picture of – the baptistry is a coffin in which we died, but were raised again]
4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; [before we were saved, we were slaves to sin – sin we must – but no more – God’s continuing grace instructs us to say no]
7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Do you see – sin is no longer your master. You’ve died to sin – you have a new master. You are no longer under law and the slave master of sin, you are under grace. Christ saved you, redeemed you from the slave market of sin – and He has given you His Spirit by which we live.
The point is, grace changes the way we live. Notice verse 12: to deny ungodliness and to live sensibly – that’s a word we’ve seen throughout chapter 2 – to live in grace-empowered, Spirit-filled, self-control – this is an inward grace. Also, to live righteously – that’s an outward grace toward others. And godly – that’s an upward grace, toward God – in the present age. Do you see – you’ve received a new nature by grace – now pursue what that new nature should – to be like Jesus. And you can do it – you have the grace of God which is saving you.
Which brings us to the third room – the waiting room – in verses 13 and 14. We were saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. We have been justified, we are being sanctified, and we will be glorified. When? When Jesus returns, and it is for His return the Christian longs. I’ve asked you this question before, but when is the last time you looked up and longed for the return of Jesus? As I suggested, most of us like our lives just fine – so we don’t look toward the sky. Our attitude is, I want you to come Jesus, just not yet. But when we remember what awaits, and what we leave, it becomes our longing.
Now, from the earliest days of church history, verse 13 has been an important verse declaring the deity of Jesus Christ. It’s the same phrase as II Peter 1:1 which speaks of the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. These two verses have forever been seen as the lynchpins clearly declaring the deity of Jesus. Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. The construction of the sentence is such that God and Savior both refer to one person – Jesus. He is both our God and our Savior. Having been saved in the past through justification, being saved in the present through sanctification, we are also looking to be saved in the future through the return of Christ, who is our great God. We look for it – we long for it – and so we prepare for it. John said it this way in I John 3:
2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Same truth – we are looking for the return of Christ, and with our hope fixed on Him, we pursue purity. Which goes back to what I said earlier – we are looking for and preparing for the return of Christ. We want to be found purified, prepared and ready. I’m reminded of Jonathan Edwards, that Puritan pastor who God used, in part, to bring out the Great Awakening in the 18th Century. He made 70 resolutions by which to govern his life, before he was 20 years old. Here are a few of them:
Number 17 – Resolved, that I will live so as I wish I had done when I come to die.
Number 19 – Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump. (In other words – everything I do, I’m going to keep the second coming of Christ in mind. I’m going to live with that hope.)
Number 50 – Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. (There’s the future look again.)
Number 52 – I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, That I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to an old age. (In other words – I don’t want to be one of those guys who gets to the end of his life, and says, if I had it to do over, I’d change a lot of things. Instead, I’m going to live that way now – why not live in such a way that when you come to the end of your life and look back, you can say, that’s the way I wanted to do it.)
Having mentioned our great God and Savior, Paul reminds us of the gospel in verse 14 – “who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
Jesus gave Himself, His life a ransom for sinners. He did so to redeem us – the word speaks of buying us, paying a ransom – with His own blood – purchasing us from the slave market of sin – to redeem us from every lawless deed. Lawless deeds speak of everything that violates the law of God. And to purify for Himself a people for His own possession. I Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Proclaiming His excellencies are the good works we are zealous to do, that were prepared in advance for us to do – to proclaim Jesus to others as our great God and Savior – who has saved us, brought us to life, and is purifying us. And you, too, can become part of His people – a people for God’s own possession – by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Last week in Ephesians 1, Michael pointed out the stunning truth that we are God’s inheritance. This week, we see as such, we are a purified people for God’s own possession.
Let me close with this – this text surrounds us with the first and second coming of Christ. In the first coming, He brought salvation to us by His grace. In His second coming to which we long when He comes in full glory – for all to see – He will vindicate our faith. That’s another reason to look forward to His return – to silence the mockers and punish the persecutors. We need not look forward to His return with dread, but with glorious, expectant hope – when all will be made right, and Jesus will receive the reward of His work on the cross – a people for His own possession, to bring Him glory for His unspeakable grace. Charles Spurgeon said it this way:
“we are compassed about, behind and before, with the appearings of our Lord. Behind us is our trust; before us is our hope. Behind us is the Son of God in humiliation; before us is the great God and Saviour in His glory.” And so we long to hear these words of Jesus, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.