Titus 2:11–14 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
From the beginning of the church, people continue to ask questions about the importance of those professing faith in Jesus walking consistently in truth and righteousness. If someone is saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, is it biblical to expect obedience and good works? When people profess faith in Jesus, and obedience and good works are not evident, are those people in danger of losing their salvation? Is the abiding threat that someone can lose his or her salvation because of disobedience necessary to keep them walking in the path of obedience?
Let’s look at the passage above to see what the Apostle Paul says to Titus, who was an associate of Paul in the ministry of establishing churches. In context, Paul writes to instruct Titus on the best way to help build up the faith of believers on solid doctrine. To encourage this effort, Paul directs Titus what to teach various groups of people in the church, pointing out the specific tasks, attitudes, and behaviors they are to embrace. These groups include older men, older women, younger women, younger men, Titus himself, and bondservants, all of whom are putting teaching about God on display by what they say and do.
With these various groups of people as the background, Paul says God’s grace of salvation effectually appears to these different types of people. It is God’s saving grace at work within each of them that trains them how to be obedient and productive people for the cause of Christ in the world as they live with prepared expectancy for the Lord’s return. Such transformed behavior is the result of these people being prepared to the very core of their beings by sculpting gospel grace. Behind this shaping and conforming gospel grace is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, who secures the deliverance of His people from disobedience to become adherents to His ways for His glory by the transformation of their hearts so that they are passionate about God-honoring works.
Back to the original questions. If someone is saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, is it biblical to expect obedience and works? Yes, because a persistent pattern of obedience and faithfulness is part of what Jesus secures by the transformation of hearts and lives by gospel grace. When people profess faith in Jesus, and obedience and works are not evident, are those people in danger of losing their salvation? No, because consistent (not perfect) faithfulness is the fruit of the saving life of Jesus within all those He saves. Those without the fruit of obedience and works are without saving faith. All they have is a lifeless profession of faith. Is the abiding threat that someone can lose his or her salvation because of disobedience necessary to keep someone walking in the path of obedience? No, because the gift of salvation changes the hearts and desires of all the Lord’s people so that their lives and affections are noticeably redirected to find satisfaction and delight from walking in truth and righteousness.
The evidence of transformed lives assures us that gospel grace is alive and active. The absence of consistent obedience and fruitfulness is confirmation that many people professing faith are still dead in their sins. Is it examination time for you?