The Appearing of Grace
In Titus 2:11 (ESV) Paul says that the “grace of God has appeared.” In the Old Testament, God made Himself known to Adam and Eve as one in tenderness and compassion. God crafts Adam, breathes life into him, sets him in the Garden to work, and creates a helper fit for him (Genesis 2).
God’s kindness is shown in His care for His creatures (Psalm 145:9). God is gentle and kind, tender and sovereign. And as His creatures, God never does any of us wrong. He is holy, holy, holy and He is “righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works” (Psalm 145:17, ESV).
Has God Changed?
And yet, when we read in books like Exodus, God appears quite differently doesn’t He? To Moses in Exodus 4: a burning bush; to Pharaoh: powerful and mighty; to the Israelites in the wilderness: a pillar of fire and of a cloud; to the Israelites on Mt. Sinai: a thick, dark cloud of thunder and lightening, and a terrifying blast of a trumpet sound, and fire!
So why the change?
God has not changed (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). But instead, man has changed. Because of God’s holiness, ever since Genesis 3, there is none who is good and no one is righteous before God (Romans 3:9-11). Therefore, His appearing in holiness is a terrifying sight and flame of fire towards those who are hostile as unbelievers (Romans 8:7-8).
But, notice what God does in Exodus 33. Moses wants to see God’s glory, and in order to appear to Moses, He conceals Moses in order to save to him as an act of grace!
The Glory of Grace
But now in Christ, Paul tells us in Titus 2:11 that the “grace of God has appeared” in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, fully God and now fully man. The grace of God appeared to men, but not by concealing man, but by God concealing His glory.
In the Old Testament God’s grace shows no bounds. And in the New Testament God’s grace shows no depths.
He came meek and lowly, humbly and gentle. His excellency veiled in flesh; His holiness wrapped in swaddling clothes; His greatness, hid in a manger. Grace is God’s unmerited favor and love toward the undeserving — toward His enemies (Romans 5:8-10).
God is not obligated to show grace. The glory of God’s grace is shown in His freedom to be gracious to whomever He will.
Jesus Christ is the fullness of God’s grace on display. Christ veiled His glory so we could more fully see His grace. This was the plan since before the foundations (2 Timothy 1:9). The grace of God is His favor toward those who deserve only punishment.
The Bible says that we are saved by grace alone, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9). God summons man to respond in repentance, which means the rebels we are must lay down our arms, and surrender to Him. Embracing Christ by turning from ourselves and turning to Him in faith. The gospel is a gospel of grace.
Grace is only amazing when we are aware of our desperate condition.
As John Newton once said, “The more vile we are in our own eyes — the more precious Christ will be to us!”