December 22, 2017
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
It’s the Christmas season – and it’s far into it already! We need to take a two or three-blog break from our study of Winners Or Whiners? and concentrate on the season. So let’s consider Advent. Advent is generally defined in Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedic College Dictionary as, “A coming or arrival, as of any important event or person.” Applied to the Christian faith, the word means, “The birth of Christ” or “The second expected coming of Christ.” As a season, it applies to the four Sundays before Christmas. Let’s concentrate on the first definition – the birth of Christ. Our featured Scripture is Titus 2:11 through 14:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teach-
ing us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly,
righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and
the 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.
The Apostle Paul was one to run on with a sentence. This one sentence contains 74 words! But, oh, what words! It certainly has to do with Advent because Paul begins with “…the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men….” God’s grace, God’s salvation arrived with Jesus being born being born in a manger! Actually, it arrived nine months earlier when, as recorded in Luke 1:38, Mary agreed to ‘lend’ her body to the Lord to fulfill what the angel Gabriel told her in verse 35: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore …that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”
But what does this first Advent of Christ mean to us – to all mankind?
• Titus 2:11 – God’s “…salvation has appeared to all men…” Some, of ‘limited atonement’ theology, believe that Jesus died only for those who are saved! The Lord, being omniscient, knew who would respond to the gospel and who would not. So His payment for sin on the cross only covers those who accept Him as their Savior! But why then does it say in our Scripture that salvation has appeared to all men – meaning all humankind? And what about such Scriptures as…
✞ Romans 5:6 – “…Christ died for the ungodly.” According to Romans 3:23, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So all are ungodly!
✞ II Corinthians 5:14 – “…Christ…died for all….”
✞ I Timothy 2:3 and 4 – “…God our Savior…desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.”
✞ I Timothy 4:10 – “…the living God…is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”
There are more Scriptures, but we’ll let this suffice. Thank God that His “…salvation has appeared to all men….” All of us are invited in Revelation 22:17: “…whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” (See John 4:14; 6:55).
• Titus 2:12 – “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age….” What is teaching us? “…the grace of God that brings salvation….” Perhaps the greatest gift God has given to humanity – other than His own Son Jesus Christ – is the record of His grace that brings salvation, the Bible! Without the Scriptures, how could we ever know His grace and salvation?
But it is more than just “Come to Me…[and] be saved…”! (Matthew 11:28; John 3:17). We are told in Hebrews 12:14, “Pursue…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord….”
✞ “…denying ungodliness….” – Anything that goes against God and His will is to be denied access into our lives! Take Philippians 4:8 (Good News Bible) for instance, which addresses our thought life – and remembering that all outward living comes from the thoughts of our mind! (See Luke 6:45): “…fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.”
✞ “…denying…worldly lusts….” Worldly lusts are that which people pursue instead of God. We are admonished in I John 2:15 through 17:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust
of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father
but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he
who does the will of God abides forever. (See also Matthew 6:19-34; Mark
8:34-37; I Timothy 6:6-10).
✞ “…we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age….”
▸ Soberly – It means, “…with a sound mind…temporately, discreetly….” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions).
▸ Righteously – an adverb based on the word righteous which means, “…equitable (in character or act); by implication innocent, holy…” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).
▸ Godly – this would mean acting like God – so people can see Jesus Christ in and through us! (See I Corinthians 12:27; II Corinthians 4:6).
▸ In the present age – This present age is ungodly because Satan is allowed dominion over “…all the kingdoms of the world…and their glory…” (Luke 4:5 and 6). It is far too easy for Christians to get distracted with the things in the world ! No wonder we are told in I Peter 5:8 to “…be sober, be vigilant…”!
Let’s finish this study of Advent from Titus 2:11 through 14 on Christmas Day.