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.Briefly today, back to Titus in order that we might finish with the Pastorals in 2009. I am tempted to give you 500 words on the use of the word “For” here, but I’m going to refrain from that to tell you this instead: this paragraph ought to make you weep, or want to weep.
Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-14)
If you live in this world at all – if you are actually in the world, even if you are not of the world (and you should not be of the world, but you must be in it)—you can see that people need saving. Often we go to the headlines to work this out to talk in some kind of meta-narrative way, but I can tell you that in my own life, the people around me need saving. The guy who quits his marriage to save his job needs saving from his self-contained and sinful values. The little guy who gets caught in a brush fire needs saving from a world in which the punishment for our sinfulness if death and suffering. The beer-gourmand needs saving from his beer, and the teetotaler needs saving from his tea.
And most of all, for the readers on this blog, the religious people need saving from the high-fallutin’ idea that their systematics make them the court of final appeal for other Christians and the church. The Grace of God has appeared, people! And it’s bringing salvation to all people -- it’s good news for all the people.
You know: good news. It's a refuge from this world. It's the joy that set before us. And it's good news to people who are hurting and dying. This is why it should make you weep: because it is so lavish, and we are often so stingy with it when it comes down to really being faithful to our alleged ideals.
Let's review what Paul has said up to this point:
- The church must be set in order
- To do so, we need Elders
- Elders are mature men who have manifested the fruit of the spirit
- They do so in order to credibly preach the word of God
- They are credible because they live like they believe this stuff
- They must teach others to do so as well
- Because the Grace of God has come, to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works