Taught by grace

June 30, 2011

Undoubtedly we’ve all had a memorable teacher in our lives at one point or another, whether in school growing up, on the job, or at a later point on our life. Teachers, instructors, mentors, and tutors all serve a common purpose – to make the seemingly complex and difficult into something tenable, simple, and attainable, and then to see their students be successful in what they’ve learned.

In writing to Titus, the Apostle Paul spoke of a teacher that every Christian who has trusted in Jesus for salvation has available to them - the grace of God:

“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”
(Titus 2:11-13 NKJV)

Paul says that God’s grace teaches us:

  1. To deny ourselves and put to death lusts of our flesh (Luke 9:23-27; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 4:2)
  2. To live in sobriety and in self-control in light of the judgment to come (Romans 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; James 4:4-10)
  3. To eagerly anticipate the return of Jesus (1 Peter 1:13; Philippians 3:20; 1 Corinthians 1:7)

Why does grace teach us to do these things, and what is the outcome of being taught by grace? Paul gives one clear answer - salvation. The LORD really wants us to be a part of His family, to be a “son of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36), and to overcome and inherit all things (Revelation 21:7). Said in a bit of a different way, God’s grace is the teacher that sets us up for success, blessing, and reward in the age to come.

A false understanding of grace is becoming increasingly more common in the Christian faith today. Grace is presented as the empowerment for effortless success in life in this age or as the license to continue in compromise without repentance. There are many obvious biblical reasons as to why this is wrong. However, the underlying reason why this message is false is because it focuses on the Christian’s ultimate success, peace, and comfort in this present evil age instead of the age to come.

The teacher of grace has our greatness in another age in mind. Without a grade school teacher’s basic multiplication and division lessons, a student can never attain to a prestigious engineering career 20 or 30 years later. In the same manner, grace teaches and trains us now to inherit a lasting, full blessing at a future time.

This is why believers are called continually by the New Testament authors to live as a stranger, pilgrim, and sojourner, laying our lives down and completely hoping in the promises of the age to come (1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 2:11; Philippians 3:20; 2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 11:13). And this is why the final outworking of grace mentioned by Paul in Titus 2 is a deep longing for the return of Christ. The second coming of Jesus is worthy of our most lively and eager expectation, because it is only when He returns that all wrongs will be made right, Satan will be imprisoned, and we will be consumed with the reason for our existence – to enjoy making much of Him forever.

Are you letting God’s grace be your teacher today? Are you heeding His promptings and looking only to and boasting only in the cross as your weaknesses are being revealed? May He work in us an all-consuming anticipation for His return by His abundant grace, and may we live as a stranger here, longing for the Day that the teacher called “God’s grace” sees the fruit from his labor!

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About the author

Joshua Hawkins is a pastor, Bible teacher, and content creator for disciples of Jesus from College Station, Texas. He co-hosts The Apocalyptic Gospel Podcast, a weekly audio show exploring how a first century Jew would have understood the Gospel. He's also an all-around tech nerd and enjoys road cycling.

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