Amazing, Incredible, Extravagant Grace!
Pastor Jefferson M. Williams
Chenoa Baptist Church
The Kitchen Sink
After I proposed to Maxine, our mutual friend Terri had a serious talk with me. She said that now that I had committed to Maxine satan was going to throw the kitchen sink at me. He would do something to question that commitment and my love for my little redheaded girl. She warned me to stay alert.
A couple of days later, I received, out of the blue, a phone call from a girl I dated in college. It didn’t really work out, mainly because shows about six feet tall without shoes on. I had to stand on the second step of her apartment stairs just to look her in the eye.
She was a international stewardess and told me that she had a weekend layover in Washington, DC and was wondering if I would like to come pop and spend the weekend with her. The tone of her voice was seductive and I felt the hair stand up on the back on my neck. This is exactly what Terri had warned me about not 48 hours earlier.
Was I tempted to go? Yes. In fact, that was kind of my modus operandi when I was younger. “Faithful” was not a word that most of my girlfriends would have used to describe me.
But that was before Maxine. And before Jesus. I was able to no because I wanted to say yes to Maxine and honor my commitment to her.
So I said, “I don’t think my fiancé would like that.” She was silent for a second and then told me how happy she was for me.
I hung up and called Terri and told her, “The kitchen sinks name is Anne!”
Where we’ve been
In chapter one, Paul is writing to Titus after leaving him on the island of Crete. Titus is to identify, train, and launch elders in each of the nearly 100 churches on the island.
Why? Because there is a herd of false teachers that are misleading these baby Christians. These elders must be able to “hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 1:9)
Starting in chapter 2, Paul encourages Titus to “preach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.” (Titus 2:1) Paul then gives five types of people that the sound teaching should be directed at - older men, older women, younger women, younger men, and slaves.
Paul commands Titus:
“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8)
In the first chapter of Titus, Paul has focused on doctrine, right thinking versus false teaching. This is foundational and necessary to start our Christian journey.
But in chapter two, he will make the case that doctrine leads to duty, belief affects behavior, and orthodoxy results in orthopraxy.
In other words, if we say we are Christians, how we live out our faith is just as important as what we say we believe.
There is something supernaturally beautiful about a church that is full of people who take the call to follow Jesus seriously.
A watching world is desperate for hope and we have the honor of being ambassadors of Jesus Christ to them.
Turn with me to Titus 2:11.
In chapter 2:1-10, Paul gives the how. In 2:11-15, he will give us the why.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” (Titus 2:11)
In this section of verses, Paul is going to give the motivation behind living godly lives. We will learn the driving force behind living for Jesus in a crazy, mixed-up fallen world is the amazing, incredible, extravagant grace of Jesus Christ!
In Greek thought this was a favor offered without an expectation of repayment. But it was only done to friends.
In Biblical thought grace is the “unmerited/undeserved favor of God given to unworthy sinners.”
The word “appeared” is fascinating Greek word that gives us a beautiful word picture of what Paul is trying to communicate.
The word “epiphaneia” is the visible appearing of something or someone that was invisible prior.
In classical Greek, it could refer to dawn or day break when the sun leaps over the horizon in our view. It can also mean an enemy jumping out of ambush.
But the most appropriate usage for our text is that of a god or a hero breaking into a hopeless situation in order to rescue someone from danger.
This grace appeared at the Incarnation of Jesus! At the birth of Christ in a manger in Bethlehem the epiphany of God’s grace burst on to the world’s stage revealing God’s heart and ushering a new age.
Jesus is the face of grace! Not that God’s grace wasn’t present before but now, in Christ, He is the hero that comes to rescue hopeless sinners.
His incarnation brought the offer of salvation. Salvation from what? The real question is salvation from who?
“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:10)
By Jesus’ sacrificial, substitutionary death on the cross, Jesus had mercy and took our sins upon himself and lavished grace instead.
One day, I came home from work and Joshua meet me at the door saying “I didn’t mean to, Daddy!” I had told him time and again, not to put pencil or pens into the fan but both boys liked the way it sounded.
It seems he had done it again, but this time the fan broke.
I looked down at Josh and said, “What do you deserve?” He replied with tears, “A spanking. But I didn’t mean to do it, daddy.”
Instead of a spanking, I said, “I’m going to give you mercy. That means you deserve to be punished but I’m going to chose to not punish you.” And then I said, “Go get your shoes on.”
As we drove into the Dairy Queen parking lot, his eyes widened. I said, “I gave you mercy when you broke the fan. You didn’t get what you deserve. That’s mercy. But now you are going to get something you have earned or deserved, a Blizzard, and that’s called grace. And grace has a name. His name is Jesus!”
This grace has appeared that offers (ESV “brings”) salvation “to all people.” So does this mean that everyone has heard the Gospel? Obviously not because we still have a plethora of people groups that haven’t heard the Gospel yet.
Or does this mean that all men will be saved, which is called universalism?
That’s not right because not all men will accept the offer of salvation.
We need to take the text within its context. Paul is saying there is only one Gospel and it is available to all types of people - old and young men and women and even slaves.
Let me ask a question - is there anyone beyond the reach of God’s grace?
Each week, I’ve shown a clip of false teaching.
[“I want him to die and go to hell]
Commentator Adam Clark likens this to the sun. The light and warmth of the sun affects the whole earth but the sun doesn’t shine on the whole earth at the same time, only half, and with varying intensities.
This grace leads to a radical transformation in one’s heart and soul. The caterpillar becomes a butterfly and they are forever changed.
Paul wrote to Timothy:
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (I Tim 1:9-10)
Grace transforms but it also teaches. We look back to the birth, life, death, a resurrection of Jesus to see the face of grace. And that should overwhelm us with gratitude and lead to living differently on the sin island of Crete.
“It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions…”
Paul personifies grace and says it our teacher. God’s grace teaches us like a parent would instruct a child.
We currently have a child in our house. Her name is Luna and she’s getting bigger but she’s still just a puppy. And puppy’s needs lots of encouragement and disciple.
We aren’t much different than a hyper puppy. We need to be instructed by the Holy Spirit as to how to live as followers of Jesus is this world.
Paul explains to Titus that grace teaches her disciples two things, one negative and one positive.
Grace teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and world passions.
Pastor David Guzik writes, “The reality of our faith can be demonstrated by what we say no to.”
I’m not talking about sin management, behavior modification, will power, trying harder, guilt trips or inspiring messages.
The Puritan preachers of the past used the word picture of a live oak tree. During the fall the leaves die but they don’t fall off the tree. They stay there all winter and only when the new bud come in do they fall to the ground.
We can only say no by the power of the Holy Spirit and because of a deep understanding of God’s grace.
What are we to say no to?
ungodliness and worldly passions.
We are to renounce anything that sets itself up against God and His Word and ways.
When we think of these two terms it is usually in the context of lust and sexual passions. While this is true, it also covers our anger, ambition, selfishness and idol worship of power, prestige, popularity, or prosperity.
In a recent article, Lynne Kittle lists ten sins that every Christian must bring into the light. Here are six of that list: failing to love God with our whole heart, walking in unbelief, prayerlessness, living fearfully, bitterness, and hurtful words.
We live in a crazy, mixed-up world that throws the kitchen sink at us trying to take our eyes off of Jesus.
The apostle John recognized this and wrote:
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (I John 2:15-17).
Remember that these people don’t always look “evil” or ‘bad”. Many times these are very moral people that go to church but do not have a relationship with Jesus.
Recently, Maxine and I attempted to watch a new show on Netflix. It starred one of our favorite action stars and I love the premise of the plot. But we turned it off with a loud NO less than 15 minutes into the first episode because of content that defined “ungodliness and worldly passions.”
But truthfully, there was a part of me that just wanted to skip the bad parts and watch the rest. But we had to say no to watching that show.
Scott Hubbard writes:
“The “No” of self-control is not the calm “No” of a wedding RSVP. It is the terrible “No” of self-denial — of refusing to gratify the inner beast that barks for satisfaction. Self-control can feel like severing an arm or tearing out an eye.”
The grace of God helps us to see these situations as they truly are - this world calling our hearts to eat the bologna on the floor when God has a steak dinner waiting for at a banquet table.
and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”
Instead of living worldly lives and giving to our passions, Paul continues and says to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives.
Self-controlled - we’ve seen this word again and again through Titus. This is how we relate to ourselves.
Upright - this how we live in relationship with others.
Godly - this is a life lived dependent on God by taking God and His ways seriously.
Jerry Bridges, in his classic book, “Disciplines of Grace” writes:
“Self-control expresses the self restraint we need to practice toward the good and legitimate things of life, as well as the outright denial of things clearly sinful. Upright or righteous conduct refers to just and right actions toward other people, doing to them what we would have them do to us. Godliness is a having a regard for God’s glory and God’s will in every aspect of our lives, doing everything out of reverence and love for Him.”
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
This is not an unattainable ideal, pie in the sky fantasy life. This is what is expected of us as followers of Christ. This is how we stand out in a world that in a “world that says no to nothing,” as Francis Schaeffer called it.
Paul is not talking about behavioral modification, will-power, or human effort. It’s only grace that enables us to to live this kind of life.
The Puritans used the example of a live oak tree to give us a word picture of this verse. The leaves on an oak die in the fall but do not fall of the trees. The leaves hang on through the snow and wind and they don’t fall until new life pushes the old leaves out as new ones come out.
I attended the Practical Shepherding Pastors Retreat this week and one of the speakers and I were eating dinner and I told him that I was preaching through Titus and he was excited because he was going to use these very verses in his talk!
He challenged us, not just as pastors, but as Christ Followers to remember how we live matters and that our lives might be the only Bible someone ever reads.
Another one of the speakers was a pastor for 50 years and is now in his mid-seventies. About ten years, we started meeting with groups of men eight at a time and saying, “Follow me as a I follow Christ,” He’s discipled hundreds of young men over the last ten years at an age where others are playing golf or obsessed with the their physical problems.
God give us a new set of values and goals and leads to eternal life:
“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:20-22)
We are live this life out “in this present age” in between two glorious epiphanies, the already and the not yet. We look back to the appearing of God’s grace seen in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But we also look ahead to the return of the King and that changes our entire outlook.
“…while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…” (v. 13)
When we hear the word “wait” we might have a picture of waiting in line at the grocery store, passive, bored, and scrolling through Twitter.
But the word used here means “active expectation, desire, a deep longing that causes people to live their lives in accordance with the coming of Jesus in the front of their minds.
Grace teaches us to yearn for His return, which Paul calls our “blessed hope.”
Other churches actually bragged about the believers in Thessalonica:
“They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” (I Thess 1:9-10)
Pastor David Guzik described the difference between his first and second comings.
“His first coming was to save the soul. The second coming will be to resurrect the body. His first coming He saved individuals. The second coming He will save redeem society. His first coming ended with a crucifixion. The second coming will be a coronation. At the first coming, He was hung on a tree. At the second coming He will sit on a throne. The first coming was in humility. The second coming will be in glory!”
When is Jesus going to come back? We don’t know! And anyone who sets dates in a teacher to be avoided because they obviously don’t know the Bible because only the Father knows (Matthew 24:36).
This will be another epiphany - an “appearing” of something that was previously hidden.
This is also one of the clearest verses on the Deity of Jesus in the Bible. He is our “great God and Savior.”
A story is told of a gardener who tended a royal garden. A tourist was admiring the flowers and asked the gardener how many times the owner of the vineyard visits and he replied that the owner had been there four times and not in 12 years. The tourist marveled that the garden was in pristine condition and said you must think the owner is coming back tomorrow. The gardener replied loudly, “Today, my good man, today!”
The understanding that Jesus is returning should affect our decisions, our actions, our motivations, our thoughts.
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:11-13)
“…who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14)
Paul was a brilliant theologian but, no matter how high his doctrine soars, he always brings it back down to earth, where the rubber meets the road.
He takes past grace, present, and future grace and boils it down to amazing, incredible, extravagant grace.
Jesus didn’t offer a bull or a goat to atone for our sins. Jesus, Himself, was the offering.
The theologian R.C. Sproul, was asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” He responded, “There’s only been one good Person and the bad thing that happened to Him He volunteered for it.”
Paul uses the terminology of the slave market and says that Jesus “redeems us for all wickedness.” Jesus paid with His blood to buy us out of sin’s control and make us useful for His service.
If you remember from our Galatians series:
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” (Galatians 4:5)
God gave us a beautiful picture of this in the life and marriage of the prophet Hosea. Hosea was commanded by God to marry a woman named Gomer. She was a promiscuous woman and ends up being sold into slavery.
In an incredible display of amazing grace, Hosea goes to the slave market and joins the other men to bid on his own wife.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Jesus didn’t die on the cross just to buy us back but to purify us:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
He buys us out of the slave market of sin and puts His royal robes of righteousness on us.
Because He chose us!
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” (Eph 1:11-12)
This is the Gospel!
Past grace delivered us from sin’s penalty - our justification.
Present grace delivers us from sin’s power - our sanctification.
Future grace delivers us from sin’s dominion all together - our glorification.
And what, according to Paul, should be our reaction?
Remember Paul’s description of the false teachers on Crete:
“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” (Titus 1:16)
Because of the grace of God in our lives we are eager to do what is good.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10)
We are to be zealous, a word meaning to be on fire. How’s your temperature? Have you been so affected by the amazing, incredible, extravagant grace of God that you are on fire to do good woks that point toward your love for Jesus?
Martin Luther reminds us that God doesn’t need your good works - your neighbor does.
Wonderful Grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free;
O the Wonderful Grace of Jesus reaches me!
Do Your Duty
Paul ends this chapter the way he began it, by directing Titus what and how to teach these things.
“These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.” (Titus 2:15)
Titus is to encourage, challenge, rebuke, equip and disciple the older men and women, the younger men and women, and even slaves to live out their faith in between the Incarnation and the Second coming of Jesus.
What was the motivating factor? The amazing grace of Gospel!
Paul told Timothy to live in such a way that if they try to despise his message his life would testify against them.
I don’ know if you saw the video of a very well known popular Gospel singer, who I have seen in concert, cussing his son out in a ridiculously profane rant.
There is a disconnect between his actions and his beliefs. And that has given the trolls on line an opportunity to blaspheme the Gospel that he sings about.
Ending Song: Amazing Grace