Living in the Gap – Reflections on Titus 2:11-14

Uncategorized // June 28, 2020 //

It seems as though we’re always waiting on something. There’s always a gap: a gap between where we are and where we want to be, a gap between what we have and what we want, a gap between what we’re doing and what we want to do. Because of the gap, we wait.

We don’t think about it much, but there’s also, always, a gap between what we believe about God and our obedience to Him. We find most of our struggles trying to live in this gap. This is where we live. This is were we sin.

These are not separate thoughts: our constant state of waiting is tied to the gap between our knowledge and obedience to God. As Christians, we live in the gap, in between God declaring us holy at the time of our salvation and the full realization of holiness at the time of our being home in heaven with Him.

Paul speaks to the gap, these waiting rooms, in his letter to Titus (2:11-14):

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works.”

This is one of the most profound, Christological statements in all of the Bible. We see who Christ is, why He’s come, and we’re reminded of His second coming. Consider a few observations:

  • ”For the grace of God has appeared”. Salvation has appeared in the person of Jesus. Grace has a name: Jesus!
  • The coming of Christ is the grace of God. Remember Jesus at Zacchaeus’ home. He said, “I’ve come to seek and to save that which was lost”. The manifestation – the public demonstration of power and purpose – of God’s salvation is Jesus Christ.
  • He came to bring salvation, but also to bring the instruction to deny godliness and wordly lusts and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in this present age, while we wait.

This is the theme of Titus and the goal for us, as we live in the gap, to imitate Christ and live a godly life.

As we do this, Paul gives the helpful instruction: to live a godly life, we must deny godlessness.

We often struggle in waiting on God. What do you find most difficult to wait for? We’re all waiting for things to “return to normal”. Some wait for health. Some wait on the decisions of others. Perhaps, you’re waiting for the God’s guidance or direction.

As Christians, there’s always a sense in which we’re waiting to die so that we can move on to something else.  Paul challenges us to live in obedience now in anticipation of Christ’s return. Paul has previously challenged us to live godly as a matter of obedience. In the big picture, we’re supposed to live in light of what’s to come.

In this text, we see the call to godliness in anticipation of our future salvation. In the Bible, hope is not wishful thinking, it’s a view to a certain future. Salvation is present tense, it is here and now, but it is also future tense, and fully realized tomorrow. So we wait.

The manifestation of our salvation is Jesus. The goal for us, as we live in this life, in the gap, is to live in a Godly manner. In chap 1 of Titus, Paul describes the call for godly leadership. In chap 2, Paul describes the call for godly members. He’s already given us a sense of duty, now he gives us a sense of encouragement. Grace is “activated” in and through salvation. This grace changes us immediately, and gradually.

The believer doesn’t always, but can say no to sin because grace has been activated. We have no reason to ever sin. In fact, we have the ability to not ever sin, but yet we sin anyway. That’s what living in the gap is like. Grace allows us to say no to sin, and yes to godliness.

What you believe changes what you think, feel, and do. Every time you sin its because you don’t believe rightly, e.g., it‘s ok to be selfish. Sin is an issue of disbelief because we wouldn’t sin if we rightly believed we were standing before Christ. Everything that you do, every moment of decision, you do what your heart tells you to do. Decisions are rooted in what you believe. If we believe rightly, we will not sin.

These verses (13-14) ask us to wait, but we are to wait with anticipation. We are to live in light of the second coming. Too often, we focus on the first coming and the cross event and ignore the second coming: this blessed hope, this glorious return of the one who gave Himself.

Our final redemption awaits us, fully redeemed – that’s what’s coming. Just as confident as we are in the first coming, we need to live in light of the confidence of His second coming. We are to live as though you witnessed Christ’s death and resurrection yesterday and He’s coming back today.

So, how do we live in the gap? How should we respond to this text? We live as though His second coming is imminent. The gospel allows us to live in the gap because grace has been revealed to us, as we live in anticipation of the second coming. This gospel, this grace, which is Paul’s title for Jesus, enables us to live in a godly manner today. Grace is personified in Jesus.

Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, is coming back. We wait, but not idly. We wait, but not without hope. Our hope is not wishful thinking; our hope is a view to the future, looking ahead to what is certain.

About Jimmy Newkirk