by Mike Ratliff
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. (Titus 2:11:14 ESV)
The following is a quote from a sermon by John MacArthur titled ‘The Undying Faith of Christians Facing Death’ in the context of Matthew 24.
“There are false Christians today in the world, there were in the past, there will be in the future. The world is always full of false Christians. There are more false Christians than true ones. I’m afraid to say there may be more false prophets than true prophets. They’re certainly more false representatives of Jesus Christ than true representatives of Christ. But as things get worse, as persecution escalates. The false are going to fall away, they’re going to fall away for reasons that He gives us here. “False prophets will lead them astray,” verse 12, “because of iniquity being increased, their love will grow cold,” they’ll hold on to their sin. The world as it moves is going to get worse and worse and worse. The world’s evil is going to escalate and escalate, we’re seeing it in our own culture today. And people love their sin and as their sin is legitimized, as their sin is normalized, as their sin is legalized they’re going to cherish their sins more openly and more publicly and they’re not going to be interested in the things of Christ and suffering for the cause of Christ.”
That statement really shouldn’t have surprised us. It didn’t me. I’m really not very good at this apologist stuff in that I get discouraged very easily as I research the doctrine, sermons, and what is said by false prophets, and so-called christian leaders. Over time, I need to get away from it and rest in my Lord for awhile and get refocused on where my hope really lies. These jokers talk a lot about ‘vision’ and ‘hope’ and ‘transformation’ et cetera, but it doesn’t take very long to see that they are looking for all that from within. They see the potential to be within themselves to do it all. Their hope is in themselves. They may throw God and Jesus around a lot in there sermons, but the focus is all about what they can do and how God has to bless them because they are doing or because they have developed and are pursuing their vision.
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. Let’s unpack this passage and be encouraged together in the Lord. The way the translators of the ESV worded this passage by using “For” tells us that this is a continuation of thought or an explanation of what point came before. Therefore, we look back. In Titus 2:1-10 Paul said:
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. (Titus 2:1-10)
Here we have the Christian lifestyle lived out in the context of applied sound doctrine. It is a masterful statement of the proper way Christians should live in this fallen world. Then He gives us the Gospel basis for this in vv11-14. Here is the Greek for vv11-14:
᾿Επεφάνη γὰρ ἡ χάρις τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡ σωτήριος πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις, παιδεύουσα ἡμᾶς, ἵνα ρνησάμενοι τὴν ἀσέβειαν καὶ τὰς κοσμικὰς ἐπιθυμίας σωφρόνως καὶ δικαίως καὶ εὐσεβῶς ζήσωμεν ἐν τῷ νῦν αἰῶνι, προσδεχόμενοι τὴν μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὃς ἔδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, ἵνα λυτρώσηται ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀνομίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἑαυτῷ λαὸν περιούσιον, ζηλωτὴν καλῶν ἔργων.
Here is a word-for-word translation of vv11-14:
Appeared for the grace of the God deliverance to all men instructing as child us, that having denied the irreverence and the worldly desires, sobermindedly and rightly and reverently we might live in the now age, awaiting the blessed hope and appearance for the splendor of the great God and deliverer of us Jesus Christ, who gave himself on behalf of us, that he might redeem us from all lawlessness and might clean to himself people special, jealous of good works.
This is the theological basis for the way real Christians should live as God has commanded. It is because the grace of God (χάρις τοῦ Θεοῦ) saves and instructs us to live in a new way. No one can truly claim to be a genuine Christian, a recipient of this saving grace, without also being a pupil of God’s training grace. This causes us to rejoice in our changed lifestyles. We see the atonement through the eyes of the truly redeemed not as simply students of theology. Because Christ gave Himself on our behalf, we become a people zealous for good works and the μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα, “blessed hope” becomes precious to us. What is this μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα? Paul gives us the answer in the following phrase, “καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ.“ That is, our blessed hope is the appearance of the splendor of the great God and deliverer of us Jesus Christ. Amen! What true believer doesn’t anxiously await to be united with the Lord forever. I yearn for this day after day. This is my blessed hope. Is it yours?
I heard a sermon once in which my pastor at that time was preaching about the death of believers. I actually heard him stop in the middle of his sermon and pray for God to not take him to Heaven yet, because he wasn’t ready. He still had a lot more stuff to do. I lost a lot of respect for that man that day. It wasn’t long after that that I got a job in another city and we moved. He moved on as well to a much larger church in another state. It was just a few years later that he had to leave the ministry. The last I heard, he was real estate agent. Where was his blessed hope? Where is yours?
The word μακαρίαν is the accusative, singular form of μακάριος which, in the context of the Christian describes being especially favored: “blessed, happy, or privileged.” It should be understood by Christians that we are blessed now and yet we have an enormous prospect of future consolation and reward from God and thus are able to face the present with courage and hope.
The word ἐλπίδα is the accusative, singular form of ἐλπίς which, in the Christian context, describes solid assurance. This assurance or hope is directed toward the future. This hope is strengthened by Sacred Scripture, by the work of Jesus, and by God’s present gift of the Holy Spirit to believers.
Those who do not have God in their lives are without hope (Ephesians 2:12).
Soli Deo Gloria!