“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. “
With these words the apostle completes the thought he began to develop in the verses 11 and 12, which are joined to our text by a semicolon. We called attention to those verses in our previous meditation under the theme “The Saving Grace of God.”
Because our text is so closely connected to the preceding, it is well that we briefly review what was written concerning it. First of all, we pointed out what that saving grace of God is: it is the grace that saves. It is the grace which God richly bestows. It is the grace of God which has appeared. Secondly, we called attention to what that saving grace of God does. First of all, it teaches us to say: No! No—to ungodliness. No—to worldly lusts. In one word, it teaches us to live antithetically in this present evil world, which is fast developing under sin and darkness. Positively, that grace of God teaches us to say: Yes! Yes—to God. Yes—to all that is good and beautiful, as it is related to the saving grace of God which is realized in us as a gift of grace. And this entails that we live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age. Thirdly, we pointed out in whom this saving grace of God works. It is not in all men individually, for the grace of God is never common; but it is in all classes of men. Thus the wonderful grace of God that saves shall be richly distinguished and distributed in the church which is being formed out of every nation, tribe, and tongue, and from all classes of people.
Now, in our text, the apostle continues the thought and completes it. It must become plain that the saving grace of God not only teaches us how to live in the present world, but it also teaches us to look for the blessed hope.
With regard to the text itself, three remarks should be made, shall we clearly understand what the apostle is saying. First of all, it should be noted that when the apostle tells us that the saving grace of God which has appeared also teaches us to look for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, he does not have in Titus 2:13, 14 mind two different objects we are to look for. It must be understood that the blessed hope and the appearance are the same. Also that the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ are the same. Secondly, we call attention to the translation in the text which we believe to be faulty, namely, “the glorious appearing.” The apostle does not have in mind the glorious appearance of God and of Christ, wonderful as that may be; but he has in mind the glory of God and of Christ which He will give us when He appears. You feel immediately that these two ideas are quite different; and not the first, but the latter receives the emphasis in the text. Thirdly, it must be remarked that verse 14 of the text reveals to us the ground, not only for the grace which has already appeared, but also for the glory that must be revealed with the final appearance of Christ. So understood, we are ready to consider the main thrust of the text: namely, that the grace of God teaches us also to look for the blessed hope.
As was said, not two objects are we to look for: first, the blessed hope, and then the appearance of the glory. No, rather, it is one object that is twofold. It is the blessed hope which consists in the appearance of the glory which God in Christ will bring with Him for us. In other words, it is the appearance of the glory of God which is the object of our blessed hope.
That it is our blessed hope means not only that it is cause for happiness and joy, which it surely is. That which is blessed is certainly cause for rejoicing and fullness of joy. But the term “blessed” implies much more. It signifies that which fills up, complements, and completely satisfies what is still lacking in us.
O, indeed, by the grace that saves we have already received much, very much! Words cannot adequately express the greatness, and beauty of the grace of God we already possess: how He made us dead sinners alive, how He justified us in the atoning sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, how He wrought with His saving grace in us, sanctifying us by His Word and, Spirit and leading us in the way everlasting, causing us in hope to look to the heavens, from whence our final salvation shall appear. O, wondrous grace it is, that teaches us how to live in this present evil age which is fast developing in sin until the cup of iniquity is full, and which cries for the final display of God’s wrath in the judgment that shall dispose of all the wicked.
Even so, the half has not been said! Like the Queen of Sheba, when she saw the glory of Solomon, exclaimed, “The half has not been told me!” so it will be said when we see the final perfection of our salvation, which is the object of our hope, when we shall see the fulfillment of the work of grace in us in the glory our God has prepared for all His own.
Such is the significance of the blessedness.
And when the apostle speaks of hope, beloved readers, he is not speaking of something that is anticipatory, but uncertain. That is the way we use the term “hope,” but the Word of God never does. When, we use the term, we usually mean that we are not sure. Usually we say, “I hope so,” and invariably we shrug our shoulder as a sign of doubt. We say, “Tomorrow I hope to do this or that.” But it is very well possible that we will not do what we hoped for, because so much may happen that will make it impossible. But the Bible never speaks of hope this way. According to Scripture—and thus it is used also in the text—hope is the anticipation of that which is objectively real, of what is absolutely certain, Whatever the blessed hope is, it is that which cannot fail to materialize. We shall surely have it. And what is that blessed hope?
It is the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ!
Also here, as we already suggested, there are not two objects: the great God, and then the Savior Jesus Christ. Rather, the apostle tells us that the great God is our Savior Jesus Christ. Incidentally, we believe, here is Scriptural proof for the deity of Christ. Our Savior is identical with the great God.
The glory of which the apostle speaks is, therefore, the glory which God in Christ, the Savior, prepares and will grant unto us when He appears.
The epiphany, the appearance of the glory!
That is the object of our hope which the grace of God teaches us to look for!
The glory of God who is great! Of God Who is great and glorious in Himself. Who is full of infinite perfections, and whose self-glory is the radiation of these perfections. Great is He in love, mercy, and grace; in righteousness and truth, in wisdom and honor, in immutability and independence, in might and power. These and many more are the virtues of God which reflect His glory. But when the apostle speaks of His glory, he does not have in mind the appearance of God Himself; rather, he has in mind the glory which God has prepared and purposes to give unto His people in Christ, and on the basis of Christ’s merits. This glory, which is but a reflection of His own, He purposes to give unto us. In principle we already have it through the sanctifying grace of salvation, but it is not yet manifest what we shall be. When He shall appear then we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And when He will see us in that epiphany, He will see in us the fullness of His beauty, and be glorified.
And this glory is all bound up in our Savior Jesus Christ!
The one who gave Himself for us as a ransom!
The one who delivered us from all iniquity!
The one who cleanses to Himself a select people, zealous of good works!
O, indeed, the glory which is the object of our hope is not that which comes to us because of our worth; but it has its sole ground in the meritorious and saving work of our Savior Jesus Christ. Of Jesus, who saves His people from their sins. Of Christ, who was appointed and anointed, and qualified to save them; Who officially represents them in the matter of their redemption before the face of God. Of Christ, who in His redemptive work prepares a people which is the lot of Jehovah’s inheritance, a people that is formed for Jehovah’s praise.
Looking for the blessed hope!
Looking is hope in action. Looking is hope in anticipation. Looking implies especially three things. First, that we know that the object we hope for is real. Second, that we expect to receive that object. Third, that we are longing for it while we wait.
The blessed hope causes us to be in tension. As with magnetic power it pulls us heavenward, whence we look for the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. It has an attraction to the work of grace in our regenerated hearts. This regenerated heart knows that the life of glory we now have is but in principle; and therefore it stretches out for the perfection of glory in a life that is everlasting, to be attained in the day of Christ. This looking for the blessed hope is a constant activity, whereby we keep on longing and expecting the glory our Savior prepares for us.
And the cause of this activity is the appearance of the grace of God which teaches us. As it teaches us how to live holily in this present evil world, so it also teaches us to look for the blessed hope, for the glory which is to be brought unto us when God our Savior in Jesus Christ appears.
When He shall appear, every eye shall see Him. The wicked shall then seek to hide themselves from the face, of Him with Whom they have to do. They shall even call to the mountains in the false hope that they shall annihilate them. For our great God shall be fierce in the day of His wrath, and the wicked shall be consumed.
But the righteous, who have been taught by the grace of God that bringeth salvation, who live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; are taught by that same grace to look for the blessed hope, the glory that God in Christ shall bring, with Him in His appearing. And they long with great expectation for that glory, and therefore for that appearing.
Keep looking, then, ye children of hope!
You have not long to wait!
The grace of God which teaches us always does so through the Word and Spirit of God. And that Word informs us in no uncertain terms: “Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
Even so, come Lord Jesus!