The Editor’s Desk by Shawn McMullen
Nowhere does the grace of God shine brighter than in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God has always been a God of grace, but the expression of his grace reached its pinnacle that first Easter Sunday. Every gracious act of God under the old covenant looked toward the resurrection, just as every gracious act of God in the new covenant looks back to it.
Believers today have the unique privilege of looking back on this marvelous demonstration of God’s unmerited favor and enjoying the blessings it brings. The apostle Paul understood this and wrote to Titus,
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:11-14).
Paul was in a unique position. He had lived under the law as a contemporary of Christ, and later looked back on the resurrection as a recipient of divine mercy. No wonder he saw so many benefits connected to God’s grace.
It brings salvation. Paul knew the law, and he knew no one could keep it perfectly. He understood the temporary fix of the sacrificial system. When he put his faith in Christ as the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, he found himself living in the grace that brings salvation.
It reaches everyone. Paul referred to himself as “the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:16). He was probably right. Few people in his day opposed the cause of Christ more vehemently than Saul of Tarsus. But this is one of the things that led him to his deep appreciation of grace. If it could reach him, it could reach anyone.
It teaches godliness. Paul’s understanding of God’s grace motivated him, from a heart of gratitude, to please God in every way.
It offers hope. Paul looked with hope to the return of Christ. He understood that grace made the return of Christ an event to anticipate, not fear.
It underscores redemption. Paul saw God’s grace as the means of his redemption. He knew he couldn’t save himself, and he knew it was only because of Christ’s sacrifice that his sins were forgiven.
It signifies ownership. Through his death on the cross, Jesus Christ “[purified] for himself a people that are his very own.” Paul realized that in demonstrating his grace, God also identified his people—those who accept his grace.
It encourages goodness. As a recipient of God’s grace, Paul was eager to do good—to express his gratitude to God and to display God’s grace to the lost.
For years Paul lived under the law, a zealous believer outside of God’s grace. But when “the grace of God that brings salvation” appeared to him, it transformed him from a hateful and vengeful persecutor to a faithful advocate of the cause of Christ.
That’s what’s great about grace. It changed Saul of Tarsus, and it changes lives today.