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Journal, October 27: By Grace Alone

Scripture: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.  (Titus 2.11-14)

Observation: In this passage, the author (traditionally St. Paul) is reminding Titus of the effects of divine grace on and in the life of the believer.  It's said that grace "bring[s] salvation," which is widely affirmed in most Christian traditions––but also held up as some future state we're awaiting.  Salvation, however, has a much broader meaning, as the root of the word––which means "healing"––indicates.  What these verses point to, then, isn't just a concern for how Jesus-followers are ransomed from this world, but how we're being healed––how we're being made well, being transformed––so that we can live right, here and now.  They declare that we're enabled and shown how––by divine grace––to disown inclinations, words, and behaviors that displease God, do harm to others or ourselves, or damage our witness, and instead to strive toward a holiness that bears the image of Christ.

Application: In my early days of faith, I believed wholeheartedly that the sole purpose of salvation was to rescue me from this world and get me to heaven.  But as I've (hopefully) matured in my understanding, I've come to see this as only a portion of what grace does in saving someone; as important––and perhaps more important, if the Great Commission be believed––is the ways in which grace so changes us that we might be agents of change in the lives of those around us.  These verses, then, serve as a reminder of the course I trust God––by grace––has set me, and all of us, on.

Prayer: O God, your salvation is free in all and free for all.  But help us to remember that this gift of your grace isn't a ticket to flee from this world, but an invitation––as we're changed by it––to be deeply present in our world, especially in those places where signs of your goodness, mercy, and compassion are needed most.  In the name of Christ and for the sake of his work I pray.  Amen.

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