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Easter ColorsThe Gospel of God

II.  The Grace of God Has Appeared

 

For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people.  Titus 2:11 (ESV)

 

As we embark on our voyage into the Gospel of God, this scripture from Titus gives us our starting point:  "the grace of God has appeared."  The word we take off on here is "appeared."  In what sense can we understand the wondrous grace of God appearing?  If it appeared - past tense - that says to me that somebody saw it.  It also suggests to me that there was a time when it could not be seen and then, all of a sudden, it appeared...it could be seen!

 

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)  1John 1:1-2  (KJV)

 

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  John 1:14  (KJV)

 

The "WORD" was made flesh!  "The brightness of God's glory, and the express image of God's person" was made flesh (Heb.1:3).  The apostles heard, they saw and they touched the Word of life.  This is stupendous!  This is THE pivot of all existence!  This is THE SOURCE, THE ISSUE of all creation for all time entering the human experience.  The Eternal Son of God taking on a human body and showing Himself as fully man and fully God is the embodiment of all the Grace of God and all the Truth of God.  This is the floodgate of the Fountain of Eternal Life being opened physically into the stagnant cesspool of sinful humanity: 

 

"Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"  John 1:29 (ESV).

 

These words, spoken by "the greatest prophet that ever lived" (at least up to the time of Jesus), shook kings, priests and demons to their core!  It was not the great miracles that John the Baptist did that made him the greatest prophet.  It was not his standing in the religious community that made John the Baptist the greatest prophet.  It was not the movement that he started in the desert that made him the greatest prophet.  What made John the Baptist the greatest prophet?  It was these few words proclaiming the immediate presence, the appearance of the Word, the Gospel of God in their midst that made him the greatest prophet.  It was not himself that made him great...it was the greatness of his message, the greatness of the object of his message, that made him the greatest prophet that ever lived - "The Grace of God has Appeared!  Behold The Sacrificial Lamb who will end all sacrifices!!!!!!"

 

How pregnant are these words, "the grace of God has appeared."  The God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob - the God of Israel - manifested Himself, made Himself plain and obvious, to human beings just like you and me.  Don't you reckon these guys quizzed Mary, the mother of Jesus, as to what it was like to be impregnated with the Son of God?  Don't you suppose they asked what it was like to carry the Son of God in her womb? Don't you think they wanted to know what labor and childbirth was like for her as she gave birth to the only begotten Son of God?  Don't you think it must have struck them how human, how "normal" she was?  Don't you think they must have marveled at the physical-ness, the tangible-ness, the human-ness, the normal-ness of this Lamb of God?

 

This was no gigantic apparition, no nebulous force, no distant big, bad being, no other-worldly alien, no far-out wierd spook.  They walked with Him.  They talked with Him.  They touched His fully physical body.   They went and got Him groceries.  They ate with Him.  They saw Him get tired.  They saw Him sleep.  They saw Him cry.  They watched Him make things with His hands.  He washed their feet!  He told them stories about things they were all familiar with to illustrate things they had never dreamed of.

 

And in the face of all His normality, they had to come to grips with the fact that they really believed He was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.   

 

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Mt 16:16 (KJV)

 

Indeed, the GRACE of GOD appeared!...FULL of Grace and Truth!

 

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.  Hebrews 2:14-16 

 

What are we to make of the fact that the Word of Life was made "manifest" to us?  Here is something:  Jesus plunges, head and heart, into our human condition of hopelessness and depravity.  Finding Himself wrapped with flesh, with all His natural being tempted just like we are, and with all His humanity and His mortality screaming, "Noooo!!!" He sobbed to the Father:  "Not my will but thine be done."  Bloody sweat dripped down on those words as they hung between Heaven and Hell; and those divine, self-defying, self-denying words echo through the ages, over the course of history to this very day. 

 

What love for us and what commitment to the Father are in the poingnant phrase, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"  Jesus Christ endured something so that we will never experience it:  The Father will never forsake us!

 

Look at His followers fearfully cowering in the shadows of the fearsome noonday darkness on the edges of "The Place of a Skull."  Hear with them those immortal words gasped through parched lips from a tortured, twisted body spiked to the Cross, "It Is Finished!"  We can only imagine what they thought was "finished" at that moment.

 

But we know.  It was made manifest (plain and obvious) to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see.  The grace of God has appeared!

 

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.  Hebrews 1:1-4  (ESV)

 

17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.  Hebrews 2:17-18 (ESV) 

 

This is the Good News - the Gospel of God.  If you want to know what God is like, look to Jesus.  If you want to know how God thinks, listen to Jesus.  If you want to know how much God loves you, look at the Cross of Jesus.  If you want to know how powerful God is, follow Jesus for three years and see the lame walk, the blind see, the leper cleansed, the hungry fed, the storms calmed, the demons flee, the grave opened and the skys parted for the Father to receive Him to His right hand!  But that's not all - If you really want to know what God is like, if you really want to know God for yourself, if you really want to know how powerful He is, He will come to you and by His Holy Spirit, through the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, He will manifest Himself to you.  HE WILL LIVE IN YOU!

 

15 ¶ If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 ¶ I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.  John 14:15-18 (KJV)

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.  Matthew 3:11 (KJV)

Lu 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?  Luke 11:13  (KJV)

 

Yes!  Not only did God jump into the morass of human history to stop the madness and the pain 2000 years ago.  He is waiting, right now, to jump into your brokenness, your sin-stained existence, and your weakness and give you an entirely new life.

 

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 1Corinthians 5:17

 

There you are, thrashing and gasping about, lost in the abysmal sea of self and sin - hopeless.  In the darkness your eyes strain to make out the name of the luxury liner slowly coasting by: "The Gospel Ship of Jesus Christ."

You cry out, scream out, "Jesus!  Help, Jesus!  Save me, I am drowning, I am lost!"

He comes to the railing, in glistening robe, with gentle, loving face.  He throws no life-ring to clutch at.  He offers no bouy for your weak arms to clasp.  Instead, Jesus throws off His kingly robe, stands up on the railing and plunges into your hopelessness, your sin, your pride, your desperate circumstances, and your rebellion.  No, He does not just throw you an idea or a wish or a book to spur you on and tell you to hang on for dear life...NO!....He jumps into your life with you, right into your very being, and He holds you up.  He is the eternally tireless life-guard who has never lost a single soul that truely cries out to him.  He will never leave you!  He will never let you go!

This is the Good News!  The Grace of God has jumped into my life!  I Believe it.

   

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  Titus 3:3-7

 

For the next sermon, Click here to go back to The Gospel of God outline.

 

 

The Scripture quotations marked "ESV" are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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