Titus 2:11-15

For the Grace of God

Titus 2:11-15

The Future is now.

  • Cartoons and ads that tried to look at the technological advances of the future.
  • In Jesus’ resurrection, we have a glimpse, or first fruit, of our own future.  So it is important to live like that is a reality.
  • It gives us the why to what and how.

We now move to the end of the second chapter, and third focus of Paul’s writing to Titus that he outlined in the first three verses.

  • In 1:4, he looked at the faith of God’s elect.
  • In 1:5-2:10, he spoke on the knowledge of the truth.
  • Now, for the remainder of the letter, his focus is on the “hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (1:3).

Grace (11)

  • What is the grace of God?  What is the blessed hope?
  • It is the death and resurrection of Jesus.  It is underserved and unearned.
  • Everyone has the opportunity.
    • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life
    • 1 Timo. 2:3-4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of kGod our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and mto come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
    • 2 Pet. 3:8-10, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, uas some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Holiness (12 & 15) – Christian life in a nutshell.

  • Sober – Don’t be an animal.
  • Righteous (just) – Our life has been put right and we work to help others be put right.
  • Devout (godly) – Not in a legalistic way, but normally being in God’s presence.

Hope (13-14)

  • You say life is too hard, and to live holy is too difficult.
  • The call to follow Jesus isn’t impossible.  Why? Because it’s an invitation to live in a way that empowers us.  His death, burial, and resurrection, have unlocked the door and we are invited to live in His power.
  • The hope of Heaven can be experienced by living in Christ now.

Conclusion (15)

  • Will you join the life that is in Christ?  Will you measure your life by His Word?

Titus 2:1-10

The Sound Mind

Titus 2:1-10

Sound Teaching (1)

  • Wholesome teaching is plain and clear.
    • Expository preaching, verse by verse best achieves this.
    • Example of bad teaching: NO MORE FISH!
  • Preaching and teaching that is not practical and wholesome is not of God.
  • Teach not only with your words but your actions.

Discipleship in the Home and Church (2-10)

  • House codes, unpopular, old fashioned, or limits human freedom.
    • Men, women, and slaves. – Roman Culture
      • The Role of Slaves – Some scholars have estimated there were fifty million slaves living in the Roman Empire during the first century, comprising perhaps one third of the population.  The institution of slavery was deeply enmeshed in Roman society. It would have been impossible to change this system suddenly without the collapse of the entire culture. In dealing with slavery, Paul does not suggest an open rebellion but a revolution from within.  He calls on owners to provide their slaves with what is “right and fair” (Col. 4:1) and calls on slaves to treat their master with respect (1 Tim. 6:1). Paul goes so far as to state that believing slaves and their Christian owners are brothers (1 Tim. 6:2). In the sight of God, Paul teaches, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Ga. 3:28).  
  • Do or Do Not
    • The box illustration.
    • True freedom is never mere anarchy.  Being a rebel is fine, sometimes even necessary; but it can’t be the only thing you believe in and do, or you end up isolated, lonely and aimless.  Even revolutionaries, when they’re successful, discover that they then have to reinvent social structures in order to get on with the business of life.  Far more important, especially if you’re part of a small and struggling Christian community, is to live with integrity in the framework you’ve got, and make your witness to the gospel tell by refusing to give outsiders any chance to mock or criticize your home and family life.  
  • Older men and women are to be an example of lifestyle to younger generation.  Everyone is an ambassador to the World.
    • Three times in Titus, Paul expresses a concern over the way our behavior impacts the world around us.  He admonishes young women to live “that the word of God be not blasphemed” (2:5)., or as J.B. Philips puts it, so they will be a good advertisement for the Christian faith.”  Paul challenges Titus himself to live and teach “so that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you” (2:8). Finally, Paul urges slaves to live so “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things”  (2:10). Whatever our station in life, we are observed by others. The manner in which we live will be our first witness to the power of the Gospel.
  • The family is, according to biblical wisdom, the center of God’s covenant activity.  It could easily be argued that as the family went, so went Old Testament Israel. When the family has remained strong in Christian history, so has the faith of the community.  
    • Intentional

Everyone is to pursue the following: Sober Thinking

  • Wholesome mind
  • For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” – ‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7
    • What things trap our mind?
    • Fear, pride, past, drugs, etc.
  • Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” – Philippians‬ ‭4:8-9‬

Titus 1:10-16

False Teachers

Titus 1:10-16

False Teachers (Vs. 10-13a, 14-16)

  • Identifying False Teachers (Vs. 10-11)
    • Those who add some special spirituality to people.
    • Those who are in ministry simple for the money.
  • What kind of people were the Cretans? (Vs. 12-13a)
    • Epimenides, 600 B.C.
  • The Vanity and danger of False Teaching (14-16)
    • Destroys homes (vs. 11)
    • Turns from the truth
    • It doesn’t matter how good it is, the inside is filthy.
    • Sounds pretty but is empty.

The hope of sinners is a transformed life (vs. 13)

  • Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.
  • False Teachers and the outright sinner.
    • Rebuke is not arguing. (Shepherds call to sheep and scare wolves).
      • It is reprimand, chastisement, criticism.
      • Reproof, admonishment, or correction.
    • Why do we argue?
      • Some people argue and debate simply because they want to be seen as right all the time.
      • Some people argue and debate simply because its their contentious nature. – James
    • Paul says we rebuke, not to shame, not to be right, not because we like to argue, but because we want total transformation of the individual.
      • Sick to Healthy (sound in the faith).
  • The problem is that many people do not want to submit to the authority of Scripture.
  • But, this is the optimism of Paul and us today.  People who are false teachers and are leading people away from faith can be changed the Gospel.  Individuals who have the worst of natures like the Cretans can be changed by the Gospel.
    • John 8:31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Are you truly free?  Has you life been changed?  Is your faith sick and weak?

Titus 2:5-9

The Pastor

Titus 1:5-9

N.T. Wright and the bad plane experience – “When the pilot can’t figure out what’s going on, the whole plane is in trouble.”

Why a sermon on pastors?  -You, the church, problems, application,

What is a pastor? (vs. 5 & 7a.)

  • Paul is leaving a blueprint, the same the church has used for 2,000 years, to select pastoral leadership in the local congregations.
  • Elder – bearded one, bishop – overseer, Pastor (Jer. 17:16) – to tend a flock, shepherd.
  • Scripture does not point out how one is selected, only the character.

Blameless – Unquestioned integrity – lifestyle and reputation no reproach.

The Pastor’s Home (vs. 6)

  • Known for their home life. – Faithfulness to one wife for a lifetime and raises faithful children.

The Pastor’s Role (vs. 7)

  • Steward of God – not for self, not angry, no alcohol, not violent or greedy.

The Pastor’s Pursuits (vs. 8)

  • Hospitality, good men, clear minded, just, holy, disciplined.

The Pastor’s Work (vs. 9)

  • When you have a firm grip on the truth you can – encourage others by sound doctrine.
  • When you have a firm grip on the truth you can – refute those who oppose it.
    • When people oppose healthy teaching, as, alas, some will always do, there is a temptation to avoid confrontation, to back off and hope they will go away.  They won’t. The leader – this is a particular function of elders and bishops, and one which doesn’t normally gain them popularity – must know how to rebut false teaching.

Pray that God would raise up Godly pastors in our Conference.

Titus 1:1-4

The following series of posts are the notes I used for a sermon series on the letter to Titus last Summer. I typically use a bare bones outline that helps me recall the direction I want to go without being encumbered by several pages and several lines of writings.

God Cannot lie  

Titus 1:1-4

What do you want to be when you grow up?

What does Titus focus on?

  • Church leadership, False teachers, All age groups instructions on doing good, Holy living.

Who is Titus? (V.s 4)

  • Though Paul said he tried to be everything to everyone, even he knew it was impossible to be everywhere.  Titus seemed to be trusted co-laborer of Paul’s.
  • Titus is not mentioned in the book of Acts, the history of the Church, rather references are found in Galatians, 2 Cor. 2 Tim. and Titus.  We find in these references that he was Greek by birth, accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, twice served as Paul’s ambassador, served as church leader in Crete, may have wintered with Paul in Nicopolis, and went to Dalmatia, with Paul’s direction.
  • Timothy and Titus – inexperience and experience.

Why is this letter important?  Paul wanted the people of island of Crete to be taught:

Faith, Truth, & Hope – in Jesus Christ. (vs. 1-2)

  • Faith of God’s elect – is trust in God’s chosen way of salvation. – later explained (ch. 3).  Who is God’s elect? Everyone who believes. With Paul’s focus later in the chapter on the Jews, he is focusing on the notion that many argued only Jews could be saved.
  • Knowledge of the Truth –  Faith is not just a matter of the heart but also the mind.  You cannot ride a wave of emotion forever. Knowledge leads to godliness, or life transformation for us.
  • Hope of eternal life – Our hope is not vague, it’s rests on the trustworthiness of God.  We must know and trust it because God cannot lie and promised it before the world began. In Greek mythology, the gods lied all the time.  Not ours.

God’s Person (vs. 3)

  • God promised salvation before time, and when the time was right, revealed it through Jesus Christ, and is preached until this time.
  • Preaching: When any preacher or teacher stands before a congregation, he or she holds a trust from God.  Those who communicate God’s message must never lose their sense of wonder over this sacred responsibility.  
    • If every preacher, teacher, and leader adopted Paul’s instructions to Titus as the purpose of his or her ministry, what a difference it would make for the Church.  When we make it our goal to build stronger faith in the hearts of our people, increase their knowledge of the truth, and instill the hope of eternal life within them, the church will thrive!

Most Read Posts of 2018

We just wanted to send out a message to thank everyone for another wonderful year on our blog.  The following lists show the ten most-read posts this year.  Looking forward to another year of serving and writing!

10. Christian Baptist Camp Meeting 2018

9. Three reflections on the Old Testament Tabernacle.

8. Don’t Quit!

7. Get out of the cave!

6. A pre-history of Christian Baptists.

5. Apps for small Churches.

4. But, be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

3. Camp Meeting Time! 

2. New Research Publication

1. Reasons for going to youth camp.

Almost back to normal?

At the beginning of December, I finished the last course for my Ph.D.   One-third of the way done with the Ph.D. requirements.  The remaining two is the completion of the oral comprehensive exam in February 2019 and my dissertation.  I thank the Lord for all He has already done and anticipate greater things still to come.  While there is still plenty to be done, it feels like a significant obstacle has been crossed, and normalcy is on the horizon.  Possibly?  It at least makes me smile.  So, the question is what am I looking forward to when my Ph.D. is finished?  What is it that keeps me moving forward?  Here are some of the things I am looking forward to doing with greater consistency and focus.

  1. Read for personal enjoyment and other interests.  With so much focus on scholarly books and articles, there are so many other books I want to catch up with reading.
  2. Write more frequently.  The blog started as a way to practice writing.  However, through it, I found a greater love for writing.
  3. Develop greater proficiency in playing musical instruments.  Right now, I can make a decent sound on most instruments.  Still, I would love to be able to have a greater mastery on the piano and guitar.
  4. Travel and visit new places.  This one is in partnership with the next one.
  5. Most of all, I am already enjoying more time with my family and look forward to completing my studies and having greater flexibility of time.  Being able to provide more for my family and giving more of myself to them is a great desire.

 

 

 

 

Whatever it is that you are doing that is a challenge and sacrifice, what keeps you moving forward?

 

New Research Publication

Thank you, Lord!  One of the requirements for our Ph.D. program is the development of a portfolio that includes a display of scholarship ability.  This requirement could be satisfied in two ways.  The first was a presentation at an academic peer-reviewed conference.  I completed this option in April 2018, at the McDonough Leadership Conference.  The presentation was on “Community Collaboration and Transformation.”

The second option to complete the academic requirement was to have an article published in a scholarly peer-reviewed journal.  Usually meaning that scholars in a discipline read articles in a blind test where they do not know the author and progressively come to a consensus on what pieces to accept.  To make sure I had more chances of meeting the academic requirement.  I also submitted to a few journals.  I am thankful to say that I had an article published.  The Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership (JBPL) out of Regent University has published my article on “Steward Leadership and Paul.”  Out of 45 total submissions, only 23 articles were accepted.

You can find the journal and my article by using the following link and scrolling through the abstracts.

https://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/jbpl/vol8no1/

 

The Fellowship of the Church

Relationships between Church members possess great influence when it comes to the overall health of the church.  When a church is known for its loving fellowship, the atmosphere may be characterized as warm, welcoming, non-threatening, and hospitable.  On the other hand, if a church is known for not having a loving fellowship than it may be characterized as cold, non-welcoming, threatening, and uncomfortable.

Without a loving fellowship, a congregation will struggle in everything that it does.  Charles Arn wrote, “One of the most important contributions your church can make to members— and nonmembers— is to teach them how to love” (Arn, 2013, p. 127).  This is the foundational belief of why it is so important to focus on congregational relationships.  This is obedience to Christ’s teaching in John 13:34-35 but it also how we come to know God.  In 1 John 4:7-8 we learn that if we love we know God and if we don’t love then we don’t know God.  What we see is that Christian fellowship not only connects members to each other but also connects them to Christ.

There is an undeniable sense in scripture that believers are to have a deep spiritual connection displayed through their relationships.  Passages like John 13:35 word as though our relationships are markers for the Christian faith.  By having a common faith brings believers to a common ground but there is also the understanding that believers have the Spirit of God binding us together in the most holy faith (Ephesians 4:3).  It would be hard-pressed to say there is any scriptural ground for a Christian not to engage in deeply committed and authentic relationships with other believers.  In fact, part of the sanctification a person goes through is to turn their thoughts and feelings out of themselves and towards other believers. 

We see Jesus immediately begin to gather his disciples after his baptism and temptation in the wilderness.  Fellowship with others was of paramount to Christ.  We see when Jesus was away from the disciples in pray but we also see him keeping them at least a few yards away during His most intense night of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus spent over three years of time with the disciples sharing in everyday life.  Jesus one day would look at the disciples and says, “ I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made it known unto” (Jn 15:15).  In relationships, there has to be a mutual honesty and transparency.  Jesus called the disciples friends because He could freely share what God had been doing.  Congregational relationships mirror this “friendly” relationship with confession, exhortation, rebuke, and encouragement. 

After the Holy Spirit descended and indwelled in the disciples, after the sermon of the Peter, after the three thousand souls were added all on the same day of Pentecost, we see almost immediately a close fellowship mentality.  The people seemed to throng upon the disciples as, “they continued stedfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).  It seems the remainder of the New Testament is about the growth of the fellowship of the church and the growing pains it would have to deal with.  In the context of congregational relationships, we read “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13) and “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).  The congregations were to be “of one accord, of one mind” (Phil. 2:2), and that we are to “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb. 10:25). 

In Paul’s letter to the Philemon, the master of a runaway slave, Onesimus, he focused on the common ground that believers stand on.  According to Paul, fellow believers all share in some in the same grace from God and therefore live in a common mutuality that makes all equal.  The implications this has for churches has been profound.  Coming from this perspective, it would be perfectly acceptable and even beneficial to all, for pastors to approach others as their equals.  This goes for board members and congregational members.  It would also apply to others as they relate to the pastor.  In this view, it would be normal for pastors to have strong relationships with others in their congregations.   

Leading the fellowship.

Paul wrote in Romans 12:3-8 about a diversity of spiritual gifts in the body of Christ.  This diversity ended up causing issues at some point in several of the churches, including those at Rome and Corinth.  With the church at Rome, the tensions between people’s gifting’s were only bolstered by growing racial tensions between Jews and Gentiles.  Such differences are magnified when they are also used to solidify a person’s position and authority over another person.  But these things shouldn’t be in the Christian community.  Paul’s view on this is that the Christian community is a body in which each individual is joined to every other member of the community”.  

Therefore, it seems that both of the scripture describes an approach for all believers to approach relationships with other believers with a high level of openness.  As for pastors, they need to be aware of the dangers of pride from spiritual gifts or different positions in the church bring.  They also need to be aware of the utility of diversity of gifts and backgrounds.  This demands that pastors approach all other believers with a mutual respect, not of a position of hierarchy.  Each believer is valuable to Christ and to other believers.  This usefulness extends past the profitableness for ministry but also for the benefits that relationship brings with other people.   

The biblical foundation begins to point out the importance of fellowship in the congregation.  Loving fellowships, mutual understanding, and ministry partnership are all important components of a healthy congregation.  Without strong relationships in the congregation, the likelihood of a church accomplishing the great commission will be minimal.  To flourish a congregation must have fellowship and it is up to the leaders to promote and cultivate the leaders.  Peter Scazzero writes in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Church (2010), “As go the Leaders, so goes the Church” (p. 20).  A proverb from my dad says, “a fish always rots from the head down.”  The leadership of the church can point the direction of a church’s fellowship by what it teaches and by what it models.  Mostly by what it models how to fellowship in front of the members of the congregation and community. 

If the leaders of the church are together in one mind and one accord they will produce an atmosphere of unity in the church.  When they work together through conflicts and problems they will model to the church how they can do the same with their own personal conflicts.  When the leadership of the church partners together to do ministry it encourages and models how others in the congregation can also work together.  On the opposite side if there is division in the leadership, jealousy, and a whole number of other relational pitfalls then the potential for harm in the congregation is great and the possibility of schism looms.   Since the ramifications of unhealthy congregational relationships are serious, it is important that the leadership of the church keep their ears open to what is taking place in the relationships of the people. 

Fellowshipping better.

This means that leaders have to constantly gauge themselves and the relationships of those in the congregation.  The first part is probably a little harder to do since it might mean adjusting the way we relate to people.  Mel Silberman put it in his book, People Smart (2000), “Think of getting interpersonally fit just as you would think of getting physically fit” (p. 9).  He suggested that we have to do some work to make improvements in our areas of strength and our areas of weakness.  

While individuals can work on their relationship skills it is still the responsibility of the church to foster those relationships by creating atmospheres for relationship building.  The joke is that many churches think of fellowship as the two minutes of handshaking during the worship service or involving the green bean casserole after the service.  While those do play in a part in fellowship but only a part.  They only add to a much larger possibility of a loving fellowship atmosphere in the church.

Russell and Russel (2010) wrote that there are several ways to create this type of atmosphere through the work of the church.  The first is the use of the “large atrium” in which “You can hear the buzz of the crowd long before you arrive in the atrium” (p. 212).  It’s been said that you can see how much people enjoy each others company by how long they stay before and after service.  He offers two more suggestions for creating an atmosphere, recreational opportunities, and meaningful activities like service projects and mission trips. 

The methods are many and very personal to each church’s particular culture.  What may work best at one church may not work at another.   Ultimately, each church need to rely on the biblical foundation for having a loving fellowship and the basic need of people to belong.  Having a loving fellowship can be one of the strongest assets a church has in regards to discipleship and evangelism.  It’s too important to not understand and study.  It’s too important to not intentionally promote and protect our Christian fellowship. 

References

McIntosh, Gary L.; Arn, Charles (2013). What Every Pastor Should Know: 101 Indispensable Rules of Thumb for Leading Your Church. Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Russell, Bob; Russell, Rusty (2010). When God Builds a Church. Howard Books. Kindle Edition.

Scazzero, Peter, (2010). The Emotionally Healthy Church. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI.

Siberman, Mel; Hansburg, Freda (2000). People Smart. Berret-Keohler Publishers, Inc. San Francisco, CA.