“Intolerant” Grace: Titus 2:11-15 -- By: Bryan Chapell

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 07:3 (Summer 1998)
Article: “Intolerant” Grace: Titus 2:11-15
Author: Bryan Chapell

“Intolerant” Grace: Titus 2:11-15

Bryan Chapell

Whatever happened to revival? A few years ago, there was a spate of books on the coming revival. Christian radio and television were dominated by talk of when and how revival would come. Articles and authors explored revivals of the past and plotted parallel paths necessary for a revival to come today. And now—virtual silence. Except for a few preachers still trying to whip up enthusiasm in congregations tired of praying for what has not come, the battle drum beats ever more softly and distantly. Why? Perhaps because in all the talk about revival, we got a glimpse of what it would actually require—not of all those reprobate folk out there in a sinful society, but of us, the called people of God in the church.

My intention is to beat the revival drum again, but not without counting the costs lest renewed enthusiasm only lead to repeated discouragement. Living for others and denying the idols of sensuality are, at least, some of the means and evidences of revival among God’s people. They are also the challenges Paul urges Titus to impress upon the church at Crete in order for that society to change. They remain the radical challenges facing us if our culture is to experience true revival through us. In the early verses of Titus 2, the apostle lists specific imperatives for God’s people, and then—in words upon which I will focus—he explains why these mandates are necessary

for us to experience a deluge of grace (vv. 11–15). When El Niño’s rain deluged Southern California this past winter, the potential dangers of mudslides became a real nightmare for one family. While the family was still in their home a wave of mud tore through the house, severing it and sweeping a sleeping baby out into the night. The parents began to search through the darkness for the child. Tromping through the filth that had descended upon their neighborhood, they searched, dug, and called for their child throughout the long night—without results. Then when the morning dawned a rescuer, himself covered in mud, came to the parents with a mud-caked bundle in his arms: the baby, filthy but alive. You know what the mother then did? She clung to her child despite its filth, washed the mud away, and determined to keep the child out of the mud in the future.

The account helps me with concepts in Titus 2 that are so opposed to our common thought about the nature of God’s grace. Grace, we know, annuls our works as the means of securing or maintaining God’s affection. The natural human inclination, as a result, ...

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