Don’t Look Forward to Death
“For the grace that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” – Titus 2: 11-13 (KJV)
For a while, I lived in fear of the danger of hell. It began with a genuine dread of falling away as a Christian or not finishing strong; that palpable, fitly-tucked, innate anxiety of missing heaven. I was a serial altar call responder. I wanted to confess every lie, every lust, every lack, every looseness, anything that threatens the validity of my salvation. At the altar, and many times in my quiet room, I renewed my Christian vows to the Lord because the image of heavenly bliss was prettier than the even the faintest shadows of hellish fire. For in my sincere quest to keep my conscience tender, my efforts led to routine worry not faith, fear not trust. For I was always weeping at the tomb. It was hard to see that resurrection was always the goal, not death.
One day, the Holy Spirit led me to the book of Jude: 20 – 25. I read the sevenfold duty of true believers who are assured and comforted. That duty ended with this assurance: “…Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy….”
I felt the Lord telling me himself, “Son, I am committed to you. I will keep you from falling. I will bring you into my presence with exceeding joy.” That sounded like a double win. God won’t only help me finish strong, I won’t hide my face in shame before him. Wawu! I will be full of joy, exceeding joy! So, instead of death, he pointed me to life. Instead of fear, he showed me my heritage is joy. For indeed, in his presence, there is exceeding [fullness of] joy.
In today’s scriptures, Paul reminds Titus of the three-time zones of God’s grace:
- Past: God’s grace that brings salvation has appeared to all men
- Present: That grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and how to also live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world
- Future: Grace is also keeping us eyes-fixed for our blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
This is what the message of grace encapsulates. It has its usefulness for our past, in what it delivers us from; in our present, in what it teaches us to do; and in our future, in what it secures us for. In Him, God’s grace teaches us to look forward to our blessed hope, not our potential place in hell.
Ours is a blessed hope.