Titus 2:11-14 ESV
“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.”
Biblical Faith and Salvation
Many people today are teaching God’s grace as though it is merely forgiveness of all sins and the guarantee of heaven when one dies. And the only requirement they make to receive this forgiveness and guarantee of heaven is if they “believe” (not defined) in Jesus, or they pray a prayer, or they merely acknowledge him or make a public confession of him or they just accept his grace. And this usually happens just once, end of story.
But biblical faith comes from God. Jesus is the author and the perfecter of our faith, so this faith must align with God’s divine character and will. And this faith is gifted to us by God and it is not of our own doing. So, we can’t make it up according to our own will and purpose. And we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness, and of our sinfulness, and of our need to repent (die to sin) and to obey him (Jn 6:44; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; 1 Pet 2:24).
Also, biblical faith is present active, not past tense only, i.e. it is that whoever believing (present active) in him shall not perish but shall have eternal life (John 3:16). And we are saved (past), we are being saved (present) and we will be saved (future) when Jesus returns for his bride and he takes us to be with him. Then and only then will our salvation be complete and provided only that we walk in obedience to our Lord in his holiness and righteousness and not in sin, and that we keep on to the end.
If you read through the books of the New Testament, in context, it couldn’t be more clear. For our salvation from sin and our eternal life with God hinge upon us forsaking our lives of living in sin and on us walking in obedience to our Lord in holiness and in righteousness. For if we walk (in conduct, in practice) in sin, according to the flesh, and we don’t walk in obedience to our Lord in his holiness and righteousness, then we don’t know God, he doesn’t know us, and we do not have salvation and eternal life in him.
All throughout the New Testament we are given this picture of faith as something that has a beginning but then it must continue steadfast until the very end or we don’t have what we thought we had. For Jesus said that not everyone saying to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. Many will hear him say one day, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity. I never knew you.” (see Matthew 7:21-23)
[Matt 7:21-23; Jn 8:31-32,51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Col 1:21-23; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 5:9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:1-5; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 2 Tim 1:8-9; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Jas 1:21-25; Eph 4:17-24; Jude 1:1-25; Lu 9:23-26]
God’s Grace to Us
Not only are most people in America teaching a faith in Jesus Christ and a salvation from sin which are not doctrinally sound, and which are giving many people a false hope of salvation from sin and of eternal life with God, but they are also teaching God’s grace wrongly, too. They are teaching God’s grace as a free pass for their sins so that they can go on living in their sin only now guilt free and punishment free.
But the Scriptures do not teach that. Yes, they teach forgiveness of sins, but that forgiveness is conditional upon us repenting of (turning away from and dying daily to) our lives of living in sin to now walking in obedience to our Lord (see the Scriptures noted above). For Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died to deliver us from bondage (addiction) to sin not just to forgive our sins.
If you have not read the whole of the New Testament, please read it, and then read it again and again and again until it becomes a reality in your life. But don’t stop reading and please read it in context and pay close attention to the individual words and their usage and even to their verb tenses, which don’t always come through clearly in English translations (that is where the interlinear is helpful). And read prayerfully and carefully seeking after truth.
For God’s grace to us has to do with the purpose for which Jesus died on that cross, and it wasn’t just to forgive us our sins, but it was to cleanse us from our sins, to eradicate sin from our lives, to free us from our slavery to sin so that we would now, by God’s grace, be slaves of God and of his righteousness. For Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us on that cross (Rom 6:1-23; 2 Co 5:15).
Okay, so then let’s go back to the top and read that passage of Scripture again from Titus 2:11-14. And let’s pay close attention to what it tells us that God’s grace is and does. It does not just forgive us our sins so we can go to heaven when we die, and it does not forgive our sins so we can go on living in sin without guilt. Rather, it trains us to renounce (say “No” to) ungodliness and worldly lusts (passions).
And it trains (instructs) us to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age while we are waiting for our Lord’s return. And this is not optional. We can’t “get saved” and then be on our way to heaven guaranteed if we do not renounce sin a live upright and godly lives for the glory of God, in submission and in obedience to our Lord. For, again, if we live in sin we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God.
And why did Jesus give himself up 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, which are the works of God which he prepared in advance that we should walk in them (see Eph 2:10). So, again, our salvation from sin is all about us dying to sin, forsaking our sins, giving them up and now us walking in obedience to our Lord, living holy and godly lives for his praise.
Rejoice in the Lord
By Ron Hamilton
I could not see through the shadows ahead;
So I looked at the cross of my Savior instead.
I bowed to the will of the Master that day;
Then peace came and tears fled away.
Now I can see testing comes from above;
God strengthens His children and purges in love.
My Father knows best, and I trust in His care;
Through purging more fruit I will bear.
O Rejoice in the LORD
He makes no mistake,
He knoweth the end of each path that I take,
For when I am tried and purified,
I shall come forth as gold.
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