Justifying Grace

“Being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (v. 7).

- Titus 3:6–7

Honesty compels us to admit that we do not always find it easy to live up to our calling as God’s people. Sin’s power over us may have been shattered, but it continues to abide within us, and it is not difficult to fall under its influence, living as we do in a world still enslaved to evil. Children of the world generally operate with a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality, refusing to do good to anyone who has not done good to them. Voices around us call us not to serve those who will not serve us, but we cannot pay heed to them. God Himself did the greatest good to the most undeserving when He redeemed His people from the powers of darkness, and we must imitate Him, however faintly, by doing good to those who are unworthy (Titus 3:1–8).

Our salvation includes God’s gracious acts of justification and sanctification. Justification deals with our position before our holy Creator. By grace we are declared righteous through faith alone in Christ (Rom. 4; 2 Cor. 5:21) — we are given a new position before the bar of judgment as redeemed people who are acquitted based on the righteousness of Jesus that is reckoned to our account when we believe. This record of righteousness guarantees our final redemption, and our own works play no part in it.

In addition to His justifying grace, God also pours upon us His sanctifying grace, which focuses on our lives as Christians (Titus 3:6–7). First, the Lord declares us righteous, then He works in us to enable us to do righteous things. Empowered by the Spirit, we are equipped to love others (Rom. 8:1–11), and we have been so changed that we can obey God’s will if we are in Christ. John Chrysostom writes, “God has not repaired us but made us anew” (ACCNT 9, p. 305). This power for service cannot run out. John Calvin says, “No one has received so small a measure that he may not be justly accounted rich; for the smallest drop of the Spirit…resembles an ever-flowing fountain, which never dries up.”

We have also been made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:6–7). Our place in a renewed creation is a guaranteed reality, and the joy of forgiveness and the blessing of the Holy Spirit is a foretaste of things to come.

Coram Deo

Matthew Henry comments on Paul’s statement in Titus 3:6 that the Holy Spirit has been poured upon His people richly: “A measure of the Spirit the church has had in all ages, but more since the coming of Christ, than before.” We live in the era for which the prophets longed, the era in which all believers abundantly enjoy the Spirit. As we seek the Spirit to equip us, we are enabled to taste the life to come and to accomplish great things for God’s kingdom.

Passages for Further Study

Isaiah 44:1–5
Zechariah 4:6
Acts 2:14–41
Romans 5:1–5

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.