THE GRACE OF GOD
This blog is based on the outline of a sermon preached by Jimmy Chrisman at Liberty Avenue Baptist Church, Berea, KY, on October 3, 1976; and edited on November 7, 2020 for this blog by J. David Chrisman (with the intent of retaining his original language style and structure).
The grace of God is a very important subject for us to study today. In the passage we read today, we find these wonderful words – words that are among the most classic utterances of Scripture.
Today’s text is Titus 2:11-15: 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. 15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
Grace is the unmerited favor of God toward mankind. I once asked a little boy in Sunday School to define “grace” and he said, “It is something for nothing.” What an excellent definition from one so young!
Another definition of grace is “something granted as a favor rather than as a right.”
And yet another definition is: “All that God can do for man on the basis of what Jesus did through His birth, life, death, and resurrection.”
Our human minds can hardly grasp the full meaning of this grace of God. But when you understand, by inspiration of God, its full meaning, you will leave the limits of human reasoning and move into the spiritual riches of divine truth and privilege.
The word “grace” is used more than 170 times in the New Testament alone. I would like to trake the letters of this word today – and these verses we have read together – and let them spell out the majesty of this wonderful word: G-R-A-C-E
G = GOD’S grace brings salvation to all mankind – teaching us to deny worldly lusts and ungodliness and live soberly, righteously, and godly lives. Notice the three miracles wrought by grace:
First, God’s grace brings salvation.
Where else can salvation be found? Go to Wall Street and study its endless miles of ribbon and tickertape and look upon its millions of dollars ready to by wagered – with the hope of making still another dollar – and you will not find salvation there. Study the intent expressions on the faces of those men who have so much to do with the financial structure of America and you will not find salvation there.
Go to the Halls of Learning where they deal in knowledge, wisdom, facts, and figures; but you will not find salvation there because their primary responsibility is to train the mind and not to groom the soul.
Go into your shops and factories and the merchandising areas of our cities and you will not find salvation there – for these places only deal with the material needs of mankind in this present world.
Grace is neither bought nor wrought by hand of man. It is the free gift of God to needy mankind. When I see Jesus dying on the cross, I see the free gift of God’s grace in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.
Second, God’s grace teaches self-denial (“denying ungodliness and worldly lusts”). Even psychologists today are learning that controlled living is the only victorious way of life [editor’s note: it’s interesting to see how different psychological theory and practice are in 2020 vs. when my father wrote this in 1976 – and such theory and practice have not been necessarily for the better in this particular area (but that’s an argument for an entire book of its own)]. No one is strong enough to control his or her life apart from the grace of God.
One of the reasons for moral failure in America is that we have, as individuals and as a nation, tried to get along without God. We have tried to control ourselves without the Savior. We have tried to rule ourselves without the Master. This attitude of Godless living can only lead to ruin and decay.
I want to add that Christianity does not consist merely of negatives. There is no particular virtue in leaving off all that is bad unless you replace these evil things with positive good. Christ taught that Godly living is not just the absence of evil, it is the presence of goof through the grace of God in Him.
Third, God’s grace teaches us that we should live soberly. This does not mean that we should live without a smile. It means we should be serious-minded, wise in our thinking and actions; to have a strong heart and mind; to use common sense.
God’s grace imparts the life that was forfeited through the sin of Adam. In Adam, all die; but in Christ Jesus, shall all who put their faith and trust in Him be made alive.
R = REJOICE! This word is used throughout the Bible – far more than mournful words such as “wail” or “moan.” Sin, like all synthetic stimulants, has its terrible after effects and leaves its scars on the soul, the mind, and the body. 1Timothy 5:6 reminds us, “But she who lives in pleasure [indulgence] is dead while she lives.”
Real genuine and victorious living begins when the grace of God appears in its beauty and significance to you, when you actually commit and surrender your life to Jesus Christ. “Righteously” could be interpreted as “rightly.” There are not many ways of living your life – just two: the right way and the wrong way. Life is an open and shut proposition. As the Bible says, “He who has the Son has life [the life]; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1John 5:12).
There is only one way to salvation and that is God’s way. God has outlined the road to Heaven. He made the rules simple and plain. He has given us the equation and the compass. The way outlined in His Book is to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus said that he that climbs up some other way is a thief and a robber. It is the way of the cross that leads home. It is the grace of God and only the grace of God that brings salvation. You cannot work for salvation. You cannot make your own way to Heaven.
A = APPEARING – the great and glorious appearing of the great God and our savior Jesus Christ
On that unforgettable night 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, the angels hovered over the Judean hills and said together, “Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth and good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
The centuries have rolled by and still the world longs for and looks for the peace that the angels sang about. You may ask, “Where is this peace?” I’ll tell you where it is. It abides in the hearts of all who have trusted His grace. There will be peace in this world in the same measure to those who have trusted in Jesus Christ. I could say to all the leaders of government today that there can be no peace until Christ has come to the hearts of men and brought His peace.
But His glorious appearing is more than an incident of the past, it is the hope of the Christian future. There beats in the heart of every Christian the glorious hope of Christ’s return. This hope is a stimulant toward righteous living and conduct and makes Christ more than a figure of history. “This same Jesus will come in like manner as you have seen Him go” (Acts 1:11).
C = CHRIST who gave Himself for us
The motive of grace is the infinite, compassionate love of a merciful God; but the work of grace was the death of Christ on the cross.
Unless we view the grace of God through the suffering of the Lord Jesus on the cross, we cannot comprehend its true meaning and purpose. When I see Christ hanging there, the spikes in His hands, the crown of thorns on His brow, the blood shed for our sins, I see the picture of God’s grace toward mankind. I know that we cannot work our way to Heaven.
Only as we bow in contrition and confession and repentance at the foot of that cross can we find forgiveness. There is the grace of God. We don’t deserve it. A man said to me one time, “When I get to the judgment of God, all that I will ask for is justice.” Man, you don’t want justice before God – you better ask for mercy! And you can ask for it NOW! If we all get justice, we all go to Hell.
E = EXORT
We should all, as Christians, have given our lives to this very thing. This is exactly what Paul had done. This is what Jesus asks that we do. We ought to be exhorting people to accept these great truths which are the embodiment of the grace of God. Every Christian should dedicate themselves to this great task. With one voice we need to proclaim Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Friends, the grace of God is a reality. Thousands have tried, tested, and proved that it is more than a cold creed, a fake doctrine, or a worthless theory. The grace of God has been tested in the trials of human experience and has been found to be more than an equal for the problems and sins of humanity.
I challenge you to let the Holy Spirit spell out this matchless word of grace upon you and the tablets of your heart. Receive Christ today. You can know Him personally. You can know the grace of God if you will let Him into your heart. Please do so while the Holy Spirit is calling ou to make this commitment to the Lord Jesus.
© 1976 by Jimmy Chrisman
© 2020 by J. David Chrisman
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.