Each of the steps of our "Grace of Christmas" series has built on the previous one. When we hear the announcement of grace, we must accept it by faith. Then, we are able to live a life of grace as we are remade in Christ's image. But God's grace doesn't end there. We have hope in the full revelation of Christ's grace in His return.
Titus chapter 2 takes us through the first part of this sequence. There, we learn that God's grace has appeared to all to bring salvation and equip us to live godly lives. The letter to Titus thus gives us a helpful definition of grace: the gift of God that enables us to walk in His righteousness. Paul goes on in chapter 3 to take the reader to grace's natural conclusion: we are saved, "so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." God's grace in Christ culminates in His return, when we will fully receive the benefits of His saving grace.
Anticipation with Expectation
"Hope" for the Christian isn't mere wishfulness; instead, it is anticipation with expectation. Think of all the excitement of a kid waiting for Christmas morning -- then magnify it in proportion with the greatness of the gift that we expect to receive. Remember, when the angel announced Christ's birth to the shepherds, he declared "a Savior: Christ, the Lord." Often, we stop at Jesus's role as Savior and Messiah, and forget about his role as LORD. But when He returns, He will return as Lord over all creation, including our lives! That means that a big part of our hope of grace is Christ's Lordship in our lives as He sets us free from sin and transforms us into His likeness.
What will it mean to be transformed into Christ's likeness? As mentioned, we will be free from sin, but we will also be free from death. We will receive an eternal, imperishable body, like Christ's, and death will be no more. In Romans chapter 8, the sequence looks like this: "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Notice how every part of the sequence is in past tense -- even the parts that, for us, will happen in the future. That means that our total salvation, including our future glorification, is already a settled issue for God. Our hope is sure, for grace will accomplish God's purpose for us!
This Christmas, remember that while Christ's first coming begins our salvation, His second coming completes it. Let us live in light of that perfect grace.
Merry Christmas! Listen to the whole sermon series here.