For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 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.
The words appeared and appearing are translations of the Greek word from which we get epiphany.
We are a people assembled by Christ’s first appearing and anticipating His second appearing. We are a people living between epiphanies. A people who bear the characteristic marks of a cross-shaped community on Christ’s mission.
- The people of the epiphanies are a community of FAITH. We continually take a believing backward glance to Jesus’ incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, “when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared [and] he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior…” (Titus 3:4-6). We know that “when the grace of God appeared,” he brought salvation to all kinds of people, and “he gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession…” (Titus 2:11). We are a community made by grace. Epiphany people count on past grace.
- The people of the epiphanies are a community of HOPE. We longingly look forward, “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:13). We have a happy hope that his final appearing will be the beginning of the revelation of new and unending life in him. We are a community motivated by grace. Epiphany people have faith in future grace.
- The people of the epiphanies are a community of LOVE. Faith is counting on what he’s done in the past, and hope is faith in his future grace, but love is what we do in the meantime. Because we came from love and are destined for love we are going to love. We know that “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure…” (1 John 3:2b-3). We are in “training for reigning” (as Dallas Willard would say). The grace of Christ, both past and future, is teaching us to say “no” to godless self-love and “yes” to loving God and others. He is purifying for himself a people who are zealous for good works. He’s making a cross-shaped community with a cross-shaped mission. We are a community that manifests grace. Epiphany people presently love God as well as their neighbors, the nations, and the next generation.
People who live between and because of the past and future epiphanies of God’s grace in Christ will become an epiphany of the grace of Christ in the present age. Epiphany people are a community on a mission to put the grace of God in Christ Jesus on full display.