Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Titus 2

2:11-14. We don't and never naturally expect God's grace -- His favor -- to teach or discipline us to "deny ungodliness" -- after all, somebody's smile is gonna provoke a different reaction than their frown, right? But the text is right here saying that it does teach us that, and maybe we'll spell out something today to help us believe it.

One way to "escape" the text, to our own detriment, is by redefining things. In the First century, Paul tagged the Greek culture of the time as looking for wisdom (1 Cor 1:22), and sure enough, the Christian appeal was often couched as providing wisdom -- but got into trouble by trying to provide just more of the same Greek wisdom, instead of the wisdom of God (1:24).

Similarly, nowadays, our "escape" from the text plays to the current culture, to our own detriment and theirs. We tend to redefine things like "gospel" and "grace" into synonyms of power. Just as in the First century, ears perked up if you offered wisdom to the audience, today, ears perk up if you offer power to the audience.

And so, explanations blithely go about telling us that when Titus 2:11 talks about the grace of God instructing us, it's "really talking about" the grace of God empowering us. And we clap for that! Just like in the First century, and for hundreds of years afterward, we clapped when we were told that the grace of God produced wisdom in us. The Protestant Reformation was a strong reaction to the "in us" mentality, giving God back the right to act, to do things "on His own." The "sola's" became famous slogans for that.

And so the Reformation beat back hundreds of years of the redefining of grace solely as the empowerment of us, or of wisdom as solely what wisdom was in us. God's favor is big -- huge -- and is as high above what we have inside us as He is.

But I was going to say something about how God's grace teaches us. God's grace must first have the prequisite recovered by the Reformation -- that it's His, not a redefinition for something inside us. Let's be glad for that! If the only teacher we had to learn from to deny ourselves, was ourselves, we could very often find the teacher somewhat unmotivated.

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