“Connecting Hope to Grace” by Pastor Andy Braams

Another Hub Sunday means another message about hope. You may wonder why this word has been the theme over the past 14-15 months, but when you stop and think about it, hope is one aspect of life we all need. And for many, hope has been in short supply since March 2020.

Last month, I talked about where hope is found. I shared that hope is found in the heart, in the church, and ultimately in Jesus. Romans 5 was the text for that, but our reading that day was from Titus 2. Today, I want to dive further into Titus 2 to show that not only is our hope in Jesus, but that we should be doing something about it if that is true.

Because even if we know our hope is in Jesus, too many people look (including us) for our hope elsewhere – in the economy, in our heath, in our family, and even in government. None of those areas was designed to bring hope, and most will lead you the other direction – even to the point of despair. And part of the reason for that is because we have a false view of hope.

Most people use the word hope as a wish. I have repeated this idea countless times over the years, but particularly in the last 15 or so months since we began this emphasis. In essence, they have defined the word to mean the same thing as wishing for something, as in, I hope this happens. But for the Christian, at least, hope is something that is sure that we have yet to experience. In that sense, it is very similar to faith, as both are defined biblically.

We know this idea is true inherently because we all use the word hope as a verb and as a noun. For instance, if we say, “I hope the Chiefs win today,” we are using the word as a verb. But we might also say to someone, “Do you have any hope that it (whatever it is) will get better?” In that case, hope is a noun. But what we need to realize is that from the Bible’s perspective, hope is a noun.

So, let me position today’s message with the following question: Where do you place your hope?

Titus 2 is a passage that talks about the hope that we are to have. Paul called the hope for Christians a blessed hope. A hope that is blessed because it is a hope about the return of Jesus. Let me provide four quick thoughts from our verses today about this blessed hope.

God’s Grace Leads to True Hope (v. 11)

Without God’s grace, salvation is not possible. Without salvation, hope is not lasting. Hope that does not last is not real. And that means that we could only have a hope that is really like a wish. But again, biblical hope is not a wish. Biblical hope is a fact based not just on something we might want, but on something that is already true. And the truth of the hope we have is due to the truth of the grace of God.

Verse 11 says the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people. It has made salvation possible for all people but that does not mean that all people are saved. For instance, the EA Wolves have brought a good football team to the area. You can watch them most any week in the fall, and sometimes that is here in Fairfax. So, the improved team has been brought to the area, but not everyone cares or is involved. Likewise, God has brought salvation – He has made it available to all, but that does not mean that everyone will care or want it. Only those who respond will truly receive it and get the hope that comes with it.

True Hope Will Make Us More Like God (v. 12)

The grace that appeared is not only to save us in the moment; it is to prepare us for eternity. I have often equated Titus 2.12 with a booster shot of grace. We know that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2.8), but we are also continuously being saved. That is, we are continually becoming more like God as we continue to receive the grace He gives.

Now, I should point out that everyone (EVERYONE) gets what is called Common Grace. As the saying goes, “It rains on the good and the bad,” meaning we all get some common good from God’s grace. But to those who respond to the grace God gives towards salvation, a special outpouring of grace is given. And as we receive that grace into our lives over time, we begin to become like God.

As the text says, that grace trains us to renounce the ungodliness in our lives. It causes us to deny what the world offers us and begins to transform us to be people who are more like God as we prepare to be with God – for eternity. And as we become more like God, we desire to be even more like God. And as that happens, the hope we have in God grows stronger and stronger and make us desire Him all the more.

This idea becomes even more clear with the words “the present age” at the end of verse 12. So, how do we learn to be more like God? Well, certainly the Bible is a big part of that, but as always, context matters, and we see in the preceding verses (2.1-10) that the older saints are to guide the younger saints to live according to the principles of God. In other words, we are to disciple others.

Discipling is necessary so that we do become more like God, and so that we are ready to be with God – for eternity. And that leads us to verse 13.

True Hope is Hope in the Return of Jesus (v. 13)

I hear a lot of Christians say that they hope Jesus will return soon. The idea behind that statement is the world is a mess and if Jesus returns, it will be fixed. That may be true. But if we are honest, the world is a mess because of people like me and people like you – because we are sinners. The return of Jesus will not just fix the world; His return will fix us. The true hope of the Christian is not that the world will become better, it is that we are with Jesus. Of course, when that happens, we become better. That is, we become as we were intended to be. In truth, we are restored to what mankind was created to be.

As I mentioned in the last point, we are in training right now. God’s grace is preparing us for God’s glory. But verse 13 talks about that glory becoming a reality – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (God and Savior both link to Jesus in this verse.) We will be changed in the blink of an eye as Paul writes elsewhere. But now, as we wait for the change that will happen when Jesus returns, we have a chance to practice living as we will for eternity.

We wait with hope. We wait with purpose. But we do wait, both patiently and earnestly. We learn to balance our waiting between those two ideas. But what are we to do while we wait?

True Hope Links Thought with Action (v. 14)

Verse 14 should convict every Christian at some level. The verse is straight forward – Jesus gave Himself to redeem mankind. Those who believe are being purified. And those who are being purified are eager to serve (to give back) to the One who gave Himself for us.

This verse really summarizes the previous three verses. Jesus gave Himself equates to the grace of God appearing (v. 11). The redemption from lawlessness and purification relates back to the training and renouncing of ungodliness and worldly passions (v. 12). Instead of worldly passions, we have hope in Jesus (v. 13), and therefore we have a passion (an eagerness, that is being zealous) to serve God because Jesus served us through His death.

The reality is that too many Christians do not really match theology with praxis (thought and action). James knew that and so he wrote that we are not to be hearers only; we are to do what God’s Word says. But James writing was a reminder based upon what Jesus said earlier. Jesus had a word for people like that – fools!

The courses I teach at seminary are education courses. I chose Christian Education as my field because of its practical nature. But just because it is practical does not mean that I practice it as well as I should. Thus, one thing I teach my students each semester is that I am a fool. Now, that puzzles them, and some may wonder why the seminary would allow a fool to teach them. But I not only teach education, I teach Christian Education, so I am teaching with Christian principles in mind. Therefore, I remind them that the Bible calls us sheep and that sheep are dumb. That gets a few laughs, but then I have them think about the Sermon on the Mount.

You might remember that we did a lengthy series on that a few years ago. But, for the students, I just have them think through all that Jesus said as it is recorded in Matthew 5-7. Then I ask them how Jesus concluded that sermon. Most do not remember, so I prompt them a bit. It is at that point that they realize that I am not the only fool in the room.

See, Jesus closed that message stating that the one who hears His words and does them is like a wise man, and the one who hears His words and does not do them is like a foolish man. When I make choices not to live by His words, or any words in the Bible, I am like a foolish man. In other words, I am a fool.

If we carry the idea of understanding who Jesus is and what He has done, to the text in Titus 2, Paul makes it evident that someone who really appreciates what Jesus has done will be zealously working for Him. We may say that we love Jesus, but do our actions show it? And by actions, I don’t just mean what we don’t do; I mean what we do. Do our actions match our thinking? If not, then we are fools.

I would suspect that for many people here, our thoughts and actions are somewhat in harmony with each other. But, if we are honest, we know we have a lot of room for improvement. So, let me give you a couple of ideas for how to improve your thoughts and your actions, particularly as it relates to hope.

First, it has been said that, as individuals, we become like the people we are around most. Specifically, Jim Rohn is attributed with saying, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Granted, you may work with people who may drag that average down, but what are you doing to offset that with the other people you choose to be around? Of course, you are one of the five people that coworkers or family members, etc. have to be around. Are you above the average for them and helping to raise them, or are you lowering them?

Second, consider that previous thought as it relates to hope. Are people more hopeful about life, and especially about Jesus, because you are around them? Or do people find themselves wanting to get away from you because you are toxic to them and to any hope they may, or could, have?

However you may have answered either of the previous questions, today is the opportunity to change your approach or make it better. I can assure you that someone in your life needs to you be better than average. They need you to be on the high side of those five people – to elevate them, to give them courage, to give them hope.

As we have seen in this message, true hope begins with the grace of God. When the grace of God appeared, it brought a new kind of hope and a new kind of purpose for living. That hope is for us, but it is not to be bottled up by us. As the saying goes, we are to be like a river, not a reservoir.

So, just as I did last month, I ask you today:

What’s Next?:

If you have hope, who will you help? Will you do it today?

If you need hope, who will you contact? Will you reach out to them today?