2 Timothy 1:9

Sermon preached on November 9, 2014 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

There's a story about a northerner who was visiting the south for the first time and he met an old friend for breakfast at a restaurant. When it was time to order he ordered ham and eggs. When the waiter came with his food, it had something on his plate that he didn't recognize. He pointed to the unknown substance and asked,

"What's that?" "Grits", the waiter replied. "But I didn't order grits!" he said. "Sir", the waiter replied, "you don't order grits. Grits just comes."

It seems that that restaurant served grits with all their entrées. Grits is a southern food—a ground-corn food of Native American origin, that is eaten mainly at breakfast. That guy didn't know what grits was. He didn't order it. He didn't expect it. But he got grits.

In some ways grace is like grits in that restaurant. Only grace is so much better and wonderful. Paul says that God saved us because of His purpose and grace. As human beings we didn't order grace. It was given to us before the beginning of time. Before we existed grace was given to us in Christ Jesus. What a wonderful concept.

This morning we're going to be looking at a text that is all about grace. It says that God, (2 Timothy 1:9)

"has saved us and
called us to a holy life—
not because of anything we have done
but because of his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus
before the beginning of time…"

It would be tremendously helpful if all of us had a good understanding of grace. Knowing all about grace will have many very positive effects on your life. First of all, it will deal a death blow to pride in your life. It will be an antidote to any thoughts of self-righteousness. It will also be one of the best motivations to praise, thank and glorify God. Indeed, knowing about God's grace will help us to boast in Jesus Christ like nothing else will. So we should know as much about grace as we can.

The main thing our text tells us about grace is that

we have been saved because of God's purpose and grace.

The term grace has various shades of meaning in Scripture. It is used at least a couple of times in referring to Jesus. But when it's used in reference to sinners, it's used in a different way.

There are three things that our text highlights about grace. The first is the fact that

grace is unmerited favor.

In the verse before us grace is contrasted with 'anything we have done'. We have been saved and called to a holy life 'not because of anything we have done'. This obviously refers to anything good we have done.

We sinners are saved, not because of our works, but because of God's grace. With regard to sinners, grace has to do with showing them favor when they don't deserve it.

This is evident in how grace is used in the New Testament. In Romans 4:4 grace is contrasted with wages. It says,

"Now when a man works,
his wages are not credited to him
as a gift [grace],
but as an obligation."

When a man works and earns his wages, his wages are not credited to him as 'grace'. The NIV translates the word as 'gift', but it's the same word that is used in our text, the word that's usually translated as 'grace'. So Paul tells us that grace is the opposite of what you earn. If you earn something, if you deserve something, if you're worthy of it—it's not grace. Grace is unmerited favor. John Murray writes, (Collected Writings, Vol. 1, p. 120)

"If salvation at any point is contingent upon some contribution which man himself makes, then at that point it is of ourselves, and to that extent it is not of grace."

But some Christians will tell you that God chose us before the foundation of the world because He saw something good in us.

It was not that we had done anything good, because we didn't even exist yet, but because God saw that we were good or would be good—thus God chose us because we were worthy. God didn't choose because of works, but because of worth. God saw something worthy in us.

But that cannot be. Such an understanding is opposed to what the text actually says. It contradicts it. The very meaning of the word 'grace' eliminates this possibility.

1 Timothy 1:9 gives the reason for our salvation as God's purpose and grace. That's on one side of the equation. But those that think that God chose because He saw something worthy in people put worth on the same side of the equation as God's purpose and grace. So they have it saying that God didn't choose because of works, but he chose because of His purpose, grace and worth. But that cannot be because grace and worth are opposites. It cannot be grace plus worth because those terms are mutually exclusive. If it's grace it's not worth. It has to be one or the other.

So when Paul writes that we're saved because of God's purpose and grace, he's not only eliminating works, which he mentions, but also worth or anything else that has to do with merit. Just as it cannot be grace and works, so it cannot be grace and worthiness.

Paul writes about this in Romans 11:5-6. We read,

"So too, at the present time
there is a remnant chosen by grace.
And if by grace,
then it is no longer by works;
if it were,
grace would no longer be grace."

Do you see what Paul is saying? If works enter into it, it cannot be by grace. It's one or the other, it can't be both. If we're chosen by works then it's not longer by grace. It can't be.

It's the same way with worthiness. If we were saved because we're worthy—then it's not because of grace. They are mutually exclusive terms. John Murray writes, (Collected Writings, Vol. 1, p. 119)

"Grace is undeserved favor and if any constraint is placed upon God, arising from worthiness on our part, whether it be of thought or word or action, then it is no longer grace."

Grace is unmerited favor. It's not something we deserve, that we earn, that we are worthy of. All of those things are excluded when grace enters. If we are saved by grace then that means we are saved because of some things in God— like His love, His mercy, His grace—not anything in us.

But grace is more than unmerited favor.

John Murray writes, (Collected Writings, Vol. 1, p. 119)

"We cannot think of sinners as merely undeserving; they are also ill-deserving. The grace of God to sinners is, therefore, not simply unmerited favor; it is also favor shown to the ill-deserving, indeed to the hell-deserving."

This is obvious from our text. God has saved us. From what? From our sin and from the consequences of our sins. We have been saved from the wrath of God, from condemnation, from hell's fires. Our text also says that we were called to a holy life. We have been set free from the bondage of sin. Grace is unmerited favor to those who deserve to be punished.

This is clear from a number of biblical passages. For example, in Romans 3:23-24 says,

"for all have sinned and fall short of
the glory of God,
and are justified freely
by his grace through the
redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

Grace is given to those who don't deserve it.

We see the same principle in Romans 6:23. It says,

"For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift [charisma] of God
is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord."

In the New Testament usage, the word 'gift' charisma, is so intimately related to grace that it is clear that the 'gift' is the result of grace. We see this in Romans 5:15. It says,

"But the gift is not like the trespass.
For if the many died by the trespass
of the one man,
how much more did God's grace
and the gift that came by the grace
of the one man, Jesus Christ,
overflow to the many!"

But getting back to Romans 6:23, the point is that the gift of God, the gift that is from the grace of God, is eternal life and is given to those who deserve death.

So that's the first thing we see about grace—it's unmerited favor to those who deserve punishment.

The second thing our text tells us about grace is that

it was given to us before the beginning of time.

God saving us and calling us to a holy life because of his own purpose and grace was before the beginning of time. Or literally,

"before eternal times…"

This shows us that it comes from something in God. It couldn't be anything in us because we didn't even exist. It was given to us before we even existed. E. K. Simpson writes, (Pastoral Epistles, p. 125)

"the Lord's choices have their unfathomable grounds, but they are not founded on the innate eligibility of the chosen".

Grace is unmerited. If this grace was given to us before the beginning of time—it wasn't because of anything good in us. How could it be because we didn't even exist? Grace could not possibly be based on anything in us.

Patrick Fairbairn writes, (Pastoral Epistles, p. 319)

"How carefully is the doctrine of God's saving grace here guarded from dependence on anything external or creaturely!"

William Hendriksen writes, (Pastoral Epistles p. 232)

"grace precedes our works, for ideally we were already its objects before time began."

The fact that we were given grace before the beginning of time means that,

God is absolutely sovereign in dispensing grace.

Wayne Grudem writes that God's grace toward sinners, (Systematic Theology,

"is never obligated but is always freely given on God's part."

This is part of God's glory. We see this in Exodus chapters 33 and 34, where God's goodness is displayed in front of Moses. Wayne Grudem sees God's mercy, grace and patience as aspects of God's goodness. He defines grace as, (Systematic Theology)

"God's goodness toward those who deserve only punishment."

Grace has to do with God's goodness. God was displaying His goodness before Moses, one of the things He was doing was displaying His grace. God showed Moses some of His glory, that He was, (Exodus 34:6)

"the compassionate and gracious God…"

In that context God said to Moses, (Exodus 33:19) (Grudem's translation, which is a good one because the Hebrew word hanan is one of the Hebrew words translated as 'favor, mercy, grace'.)

"I will be gracious to whom
I will be gracious,
and will show mercy
on whom I will show mercy."

God is sovereign in giving grace. He doesn't have to give it. It is according to His good pleasure. The reason He doesn't have to give it is because none of us deserve it.

In God's saving us and calling us to a holy life, (Fairbairn, p. 319)

"the fountainhead of all was His own… purpose and grace, and that not waiting to be evoked by the events and circumstances of human life, but given in Christ Jesus before eternal times."

The third thing our text tells us about this grace is that

it was given to us 'in Christ Jesus' before time began.

This is incredible. R.C.H. Lenski writes,

"Already before the world began Paul and Timothy stood before the eyes of God, not only because they were included in God's blessed, saving purpose and universal grace, in the love which gave the only-begotten Son to the lost world; but as recipients of this grace 'in connection with… Christ Jesus,'"

We were in grace in Christ Jesus before the world began. We were connected to Him in grace before the foundation of the world.

This has great practical implications. In the context of 2 Timothy 1 Paul is urging Timothy to be bold in standing up for the truth of the gospel. William D. Mounce writes, (Pastoral Epistles, WBC 46; p. 483

"There is one final encouragement in these verses. The grace was given 'in Christ Jesus,' which, as v 10 clarifies, means that the grace was applied to Timothy through the earthly work of Christ… God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor 5:19), but even before that, before time began, Timothy was the recipient of God's grace and call. Timothy's current difficulties pale in comparison with this great truth… If Timothy has already received God's salvation and calling, the threat of the Ephesian opponents seems almost insignificant (cf. Ellicott, 107)."

Secondly, this means that

we Christians can be confident as we live our lives.

Grace is everything and we have it. We've had it since the beginning of the world. This grace is nothing less than the gift of salvation and a holy life. John Calvin writes,

"Not according to our works, but according to his purpose and grace. He describes the source both of our calling and of the whole of our salvation."

Herman Bavinck writes, (Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3, p. 573)

"All the benefits of the covenant that Christ acquired and the Holy Spirit applies can be summed up in the word 'grace.'"

Excerpt From: John Frame. "Systematic Theology." p. 246,

"So all the blessings of God come to us by God's sovereign grace. Without his grace we are nothing. By grace comes the forgiveness of our sins, the power to do good works, and the ability to serve the people of God."

We can stand and persevere. It doesn't matter who are what is against us. We are saved in Christ. We have grace in Christ. We can live a holy life by grace, by God's power.


how we should be praising God for His grace and appreciating it.

Grace is everything to us. We are saved by grace, we are kept by grace. Without it we are nothing and can do nothing. But with it we have everything. Every moment we live we have grace. All things are working together for good. Through the power of the Spirit every day we ought to be rejoicing in Jesus Christ, in God's grace to us in Him. What a Savior you have in Jesus.

Lastly, if you're not a Christian, our text shows you that

the one thing you need is grace.

You're a sinner. If you get what your sins deserve you will perish forever. You need grace. You need God to show you favor. That can only happen in Jesus. Believe in Him. Ask Him to save you.