“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us…” (Titus 2:11-12a).
Have you ever noticed that Paul said that the grace of God teaches us? If so, do you know what His grace teaches us?
Grace is one of the ten most misunderstood words in the Bible. Though it sometimes means unmerited favor, it has a wide range of meanings, including favor, thanks, and gift.
In Titus 2:11, Paul said that “the grace of God…brings salvation” and that it “has appeared to all men.” What did he mean?
The word salvation does not occur elsewhere in Titus. The word save occurs once, and there it refers to being born again (Titus 3:5).
In Eph 2:8-9, one of his best-known statements, Paul linked salvation and grace: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
God’s grace that brings salvation refers to all He had to do to bestow favor on mankind so that people could have everlasting life. His saving grace includes the Incarnation, Jesus’ sinless life, His many attesting miracles, His substitutionary death on the cross, His resurrection, His post-resurrection appearances, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11), and the untold millions of people who have shared the saving message with those who need to hear it. God’s grace, if wedded to faith in Christ for everlasting life, brings salvation.
That salvation has appeared to all men in that God’s grace was publicly manifested, recorded in Scripture, and available to all who respond to God’s natural revelation with a desire to know Him.
Paul is not saying that grace teaches us the faith-alone message. It does. But here Paul talks about what God’s grace teaches about living a God-pleasing life.
I purposely left off the rest of Titus 2, v 12, which reads: “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” That is not how we are born again. That is what our lives can and should look like once we have everlasting life.
Paul went on to say that this sanctified life requires “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 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” (Titus 2:13-14).
If we keep our focus on Christ’s soon return, we can live righteous lives (cf. Matt 24:45-51; 1 Thess 4:13-18; 5:1-11). We are not only born again by faith in Christ; we can also live a godly life if we walk by faith in Him (Gal 2:20).
Contrary to what some think we teach, the gift of everlasting life is not a license to sin. It is an invitation to holiness. That is what the grace of God that brings salvation teaches us.