The grace of God has appeared, 2:11-15
Paul has just given Titus some ethical instructions on the behavior of young men and women, of old men and women, and of slaves, instructions on how to behave as followers of Christ. Paul now gives Titus the theological basis for these instructions, a basis established in Christ's coming to broken humanity. That basis is the doctrine of redemption.
v11. The Christian life is driven by the humanizing power of God's grace active in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In the coming of Christ, God's eternal love toward humanity, a love that fosters our salvation, was revealed in human history and preserved for us in the gospel.
v12. God's amazing grace toward humanity, revealed to us in the coming of Christ, humanizes us, it shapes and moulds us toward Christ-likeness, while leading us away from a life lived without God, a life in which the world's desires hold sway.
v13. Even our perception of reality is transformed by the humanizing power of the gospel. Although we live in this present age we know that it is but shadows of another reality and so we are constantly aware of that other coming of Christ at the end of the age, of that day when Jesus, our God and Saviour, will take us to himself.
v14. In the end, the humanizing of God's people is down to Jesus, for he came and gave his life for us, rescuing us from the power of sin and death, and enlivening us to live a new life for God.
v15. Having given the theological basis for his ethical instructions, Paul now encourages Titus to teach these truths firmly and with authority, and to not be put off by those who might show disrespect toward him.
The babe that changed the world
"Nothing ever changes, everything remains the same, unless JC changes you."
The insignificance of Christ's birth, of his epiphany, of his appearing to us, is made clear in the Christmas story. The birth of a baby boy in a backwater province of the Roman Empire is without significance. In fact, from a secular point of view, the whole of Jesus' life is insignificant - a carpenter-builder becomes a Rabbi and although innocent, is executed as a common criminal to ease local political tensions. So, insignificant birth, insignificant end.
Yet, this appearing of Christ, this epiphany, is significant if you know where to look:
First of all, Christ's coming to this earth serves as God's instrument of salvation, yet God's salvation of humanity is not something you can see. It was possible to see Jesus crucified if you were living in Jerusalem in 33AD, but that his death served to rescue us from eternal loss, served as God's instrument of salvation, the pathway to eternal life, that is but seen through the eyes of faith.
Second, Christ's coming to this earth serves as God's instrument of beautification, but again, it is not easily seen. In the midst of human depravity there have always been those who have sought to humanize their environment, to uplift the human spirit and gentrify nature, but in the end, altruism is a rare quality. When a person identifies with Christ, they find that his epiphany has not only saved them, but is humanizing them. We can tell each other that we should be "zealous for good works", that we should "live lives that are self-controlled, upright and godly", but nothing much happens in the telling. On the other hand, when we rest on the indwelling-compelling of God's love in Christ, we are indeed humanized.
So, Christ's epiphany has made us holy and is making us holy, and in so doing has lifted our eyes from the magnetism of this age to "the hope of glory", to that other glorious epiphany of Christ.
1. What does the word "epiphany" mean when applied to Christ?
2. Christ's epiphany humanizes ("teaches") us. How is it that God's merciful kindness ("grace") in Christ encourages us to "renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives"?
3. What is the "blessed hope" for a Christian?
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