Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Advent Words Day 3 ~ Salvation

 

Day 3: Salvation

"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people." Titus 2:11

 

Yesterday we looked at God's gift of grace in giving us His Son, Jesus Christ. I wrote this in yesterday's post:

 

"The gift of God is this: With the appearing of God's grace in the person of Jesus Christ, salvation has been made available to all people. Grace brings salvation. It's not that everyone is saved, but that grace makes the offer of salvation available to all. God gifts salvation to all who will accept His gift through faith in His Son."

 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16-17

 

God's purpose in sending His Son into the world was salvation. This is our reason for celebration throughout the Advent and Christmas season!

 

The salvation of God was promised through the prophet Isaiah:

 

"How beautiful on the mountains

    are the feet of those who bring good news,

who proclaim peace,

    who bring good tidings,

    who proclaim salvation,

who say to Zion,

    “Your God reigns!”

Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;

    together they shout for joy.

When the Lord returns to Zion,

    they will see it with their own eyes.

Burst into songs of joy together,

    you ruins of Jerusalem,

for the Lord has comforted his people,

    he has redeemed Jerusalem." 

Isaiah 52:7-9

 

The birth of a Savior that would bring salvation was promised to Joseph and Mary:

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,

because he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:21

 

 And proclaimed by an angel of the Lord on the day of Jesus' birth:

"Today in the town of David A Savior has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord."

Luke 2:11

 

God's promise of salvation was fulfilled by the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah who brings salvation.

 

The writers of the New Testament proclaim throughout that those who accept by faith that Jesus is the Son of God, and that in Him is forgiveness of sin, will, by faith in Him, receive the gift of salvation that God offers through His Son.

 

"Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes...

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." Romans 10:1-4, 9-10

 

"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." Acts 16:31

 

"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God." John 1:12-13

 

It is also a promise to be more fully fulfilled at the Second Advent of Christ.

 

"In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:13-14

 

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:3-5

 

"So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." Hebrews 9:28


In the Advent Season we celebrate the birth of the Savior who brough us salvation, while at the same time waiting for His Second Coming for the consummation of our salvation.



Share how you express today's word on social media using #adventwords2021. You can also share in the Words Challenge Facebook Group.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Advent Words Day 2 ~ Grace

 

Day 2:Grace

"The grace of God has appeared that brings salvation to all people. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ " Titus 2:11-13

 

We saw yesterday that the appearing of the grace of God is the incarnation - the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

"Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." John 1:16-17

 

It’s not that grace was not present before the appearing of Christ, but rather that God's grace was fully realized in and through Christ. The nature of God's grace was made manifest, it became visible, in Jesus Christ.

 

Grace, in its shortest definition, means the unmerited favor of God. It is an act of His loving kindness given to those who do not deserve it and who have not earned it. Paul reminds us of this in the book of Ephesians and then later in the book of Titus:

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

 

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:4-7

 

The gift of God is this: With the appearing of God's grace in the person of Jesus Christ, salvation has been made available to all people. Grace brings salvation. It's not that everyone is saved, but that grace makes the offer of salvation available to all. God gifts salvation to all who will accept His gift through faith in His Son.

 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16-17

 

But God's gift does not end there. God's gift of salvation is not just an entry ticket into heaven, it is a gift that will transform our lives in this present age. Grace enables us and teaches us how to live a godly life.

"It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…" Titus 2:12

 

The Greek word used here for "teach" is a word used in classical Greek for childrearing in all of its forms - teaching, correcting, loving, caring, raising to full maturity. Grace, then, is like a loving father in our lives. It teaches us, it disciplines us, it lovingly forms us into those who live lives that are pleasing to God. All of it, and all of our life in Christ, is grounded in God's grace. Author Jerry Bridges, says we are "disciplined by grace". In his book titled The Discipline of Grace (a favorite of mine!) he says,

 

"The grace that brings salvation to us also disciplines [trains, teaches, corrects, shapes] us. It does not do the one without the other. That is, God never saves people and leaves them alone to continue in their immaturity and sinful lifestyle. Those whom He saves, He disciplines. Paul said this another way in Philippians 1:6: "He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus". "

 

"Until the day of Christ" is another term for His second Advent. In this present age while we wait for His return, grace is teaching us how to live for Christ, how to live in ways that please God. Grace teaches us by helping us say "No" to our former way of life. A life that was characterized by "ungodliness and worldly passion". And grace teaches us to say "Yes" to God's way of life, a life that is characterized by self-control, uprightness and godliness. Self-control is the Spirit-empowered ability to live in freedom from the control of sin in our life. Uprightness is living and acting in ways that are shaped by God's moral standards. And godliness is walking in the ways of Christ. These are all the gifts of God's grace!

 

But there is still another gift of God's grace expressed in Titus 2:11-14. That is the gift of the promised blessed hope when Christ appears in glory. We will look more at what this gift holds for us in upcoming words.





Share how you express today's word on social media using #adventwords2021. You can also share in the Words Challenge Fcebook Group.


Sunday, November 28, 2021

Advent Words Day 1 ~ Appear

 Day 1 ~ Appear

"For the grace of God has appeared…" Titus 2:11


Paul begins this passage (Titus 2:11-14) with an epiphany - literally an epiphany! The Greek word used for "has appeared" is the verb epiphaino, from which we get our English word "epiphany". In Greek the word means "to show forth, appear, manifest, reveal, shine light upon with the idea of a sudden or unexpected appearing". (Zodhiates Word Dictionary) In classical Greek it was used as a metaphor for the sun, rising in the east and shining out. Over time it became used for the manifestation of a divine being.

 

Paul says in our passage that God's grace "has appeared", meaning he is pointing to a specific event that took place at a specific time in history. Similar language in the Old Testament points us to this historic event in the New Testament.

 

In Isaiah's prophecy of the coming Messiah, he promised that,

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;

On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned!" Isaiah 9:2

 

He later spoke that God would make the Messiah,

"a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." Isaiah 49:8

 

In Zechariah's song of praise regarding the role his son, John the Baptist, would have in preparing the people for the coming of the Lord, he praises the Lord, the Messiah, as the one who will,

"...give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,

Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

To shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." Luke 1:78-79

 

Luke uses this same Greek word, epiphaino, in the above passage where he says "to shine". The Gospel writers and Paul connect the epiphany - the appearing of God's grace - with the coming of the Messiah, the incarnation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Grace came to us with the incarnation.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

"Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." John 1:16-17

 

Paul reiterates the appearing of God's grace through Jesus elsewhere in the New Testament:

"He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus…" 2 Timothy 1:8-10

 

"But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." Titus 3:4-5

 

In Christ, in His incarnation - his birth, his life, his death and resurrection - the grace of God has appeared.  


God's grace has burst forth like the dawn!

 

It brings to mind one of the verses from Silent Night:

"Silent night, holy night.

Son of God loves pure light.

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With the dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus, Lord at Thy birth."

 

But that will not be His only appearance. Our passage in Titus 2 also reveals that we wait for "the blessed hope - the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ". Paul also uses epiphanio (noun) here. In fact, this is a word Paul often uses for the second coming of Christ.

 

Jesus himself spoke of His second coming in a similar manner:

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory." Matthew 24:30

 

In the letter to the Hebrews we also see this double appearance of Christ:

"But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." Hebrews 9:26-28

 

The Advent season serves as a reminder that we live in this present age between the two Advents of Christ - from grace to glory. Charles Spurgeon once said of the two Advents, 

"Behind us is our trust. Before us is our hope". 

This is how we live in this present age: trusting in the grace of God's salvation in the life and death of Jesus Christ on our behalf and focusing on the hope of glory that will come to those who believe in and wait for His promised return. Grace to glory!



Share how you express today's word on social media using #adventwords2021. You can also share in the Words Challenge Fcebook Group.


 


Saturday, November 27, 2021

Advent Words 2021 ~ Grace to Glory

 


Advent Words 2021 ~ Grace to Glory

Tomorrow we begin our sixth Advent Words Challenge. These Advent challenges are designed to be an opportunity to slow down in the midst of a season that can feel overly busy and chaotic, and spend time with the words that express the meaning of the Advent season. We take them into our heart and mind and ponder the words of Scripture as we read them, meditate on them, and express them creativly.

This year we are spending the first half of the words challenge in one passage of Scripture: Titus 2:11-14. This passage is a passage that calls us to live with purpose in between the two Advents, or appearings, of Christ. We are called to live with the double gazing that is at the heart of Advent - to draw our purpose and our motivation from looking back and looking forward. We look back at the promised Messiah fulfilled in the birth of Christ, in His life and ministry, and in His death and resurrection, while at the same time, looking forward to His promised return when He will make all things new.

Today we will set up some context for our passage.
11 "For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."  Titus 2:11-14

Our passage begins with the word "for", which in Greek is a term of explanation (gar), meaning the word is leading us to an explanation for what has previously been stated. So, much like we do when we see a "therefore", we generally need to look at what was said before the "for" in order to understand what the passage we are reading is giving an explanation of. If we make it a practice to pause while reading and studying the Bible whenever we see terms such as for, therefore, so that, since, because, in order that, etc., then we will grow in our understanding of God's Word. Pausing enables us to slow down and engage actively in understanding God's Word, which in turn leads us to live it out more fully.

Context rules in Bible study. Too often verses are taken out of context and then used in ways that distort their original meaning and intent. To understand the context of our passage, the "for" requires us to look back at Titus 2:1-10. Here we read that Paul is instructing Titus, his disciple, how to teach various groups in the church "what is in accord with sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1). In other words, how to live and behave as those who know the teachings of Christ. Paul, in his letters, continually preaches that knowing sound or good doctrine will lead to godly or good living. Paul believed that what one believes affects how one lives.

Paul's examples of godly behavior in Titus 2:1-10 conclude with "so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive". These words were not simply meant for the servants spoken of in verse 9, but are applicable to all of God's people. That we will live our lives in ways that people see Christ in us. That our lives - how we behave and speak, how we treat others, our decisions and choices - will be a testimony to God and will impact others for His glory.

So, our passage, Titus 2:11-14, springs from 2:10, and we can ask, "Why should we live our lives in a manner that makes the teaching about God attractive?". Because "the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

Between the first Advent, the incaration of Christ, and the second Advent, Christ's return, we are called to a way of life that is characterized by godly living and good deeds for the sake of Christ. Over the next two weeks we will dig into the many Advent words contained in this passage and discover how they call us to live for Christ from grace to glory.






Below is our calendar for the Advent Words Challenge.

Click on calendar for a downloadable PDF

Join us!
  • I will post daily Bible study devotions, along with how I responded creatively, on this blog each day  November 28 through December 24. You can follow this blog by email or there will be daily links to the posts in the Words Challenge Facebook group
  • Respond with whatever creative practice you choose: art journaling, mixed media art, scrapbook, photography, digital art, poetry, creative writing, calligraphy - any way you choose! As you take in the Scripture and devotions into your heart and mind, let it sink even deeper as you practice creatively with your hands.
  • Join the Words Challenge Facebook group where you can share your art and ideas and join the conversation through the Advent season and beyond.  I typically host a number of Words Challenges throughout the year. 
  • Share on Instagram and other social media with the hashtag #adventwords2021.
  • Reflect and prepare: choose the creative form you will use for your daily practice. Make or buy a journal that fits your creative form.






Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Advent Words Challenge Calendar

 


Advent Words Challenge Calendar

Here is the calendar and word list for our Advent Words Challenge this year.

Click on calendar for a printable PDF version

Join along for this art and faith challenge that will help us slow down and spend time in God's Word through the Advent season. Here's how to participate:
  • I will post daily Bible study devotions, along with how I responded creatively, on this blog each day  November 28 through December 24. You can follow this blog by email or there will be daily links to the posts in the Words Challenge Facebook group
  • Respond with whatever creative practice you choose: art journaling, mixed media art, scrapbook, photography, digital art, poetry, creative writing, calligraphy - any way you choose! As you take in the Scripture and devotions into your heart and mind, let it sink even deeper as you practice creatively with your hands.
  • Join the Words Challenge Facebook group where you can share your art and ideas and join the conversation through the Advent season and beyond.  I typically host a number of Words Challenges throughout the year. 
  • Share on Instagram and other social media with the hashtag #adventwords2021.
  • Reflect and prepare: choose the creative form you will use for your daily practice. Make or buy a journal that fits your creative form.
Here is the list in Instagram format:

Right click on image to save or copy