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1. Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, 2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, [but] gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
Wow! Paul hadn’t laid enough on them. He had to give them another dose! PUT THEM IN MIND TO BE SUBJECT TO PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS.
In their own context this meant they were to be subject to leaders that were probably corrupt if not evil. Not a pleasant thought! Somewhat akin to being subject to a Democratic president backed by a democratic congress! BE SUBJECT is the admonition.
Even when the taxes go up and the services go down.
Even when the government takes more from you. You know, when you can’t trim your own trees in your own yard, because the city controls them.
Even when they make the speed limit 55.
Even when they pass a DUMB law like 24/7 20 mph school zone speed limits - one of the latest accomplishments of the Oregon Legislature.
Even when they aren’t what they are supposed to be - as in liars, cheats and crooks.
Even when you see your hard earned taxes turned over to those that are unwilling to work.
Even when you see the burglar that hit your house going free because there is no tax money left to keep them in jail.
Be subject. Yes, there are limits to this. Be subject as long as they don’t overstep the bounds of Scriptural right and wrong. If the government does decide to do wrong, then you have the right and allegation to do what is right. You must at the same time take the consequences that the government hands out.
Cases in point:
The 55-mph speed limit. It is clearly against the Bible so I can break that law - right? WRONG. I don’t know how many Christians I know, that break the speed limit and then brag about it to other believers. If you don’t believe me, go into a church parking lot and count the radar detectors in the cars.
How about abortion? Abortion is clearly wrong Biblically, yet the government says that it is okay. It is not commanded or ordered by the government so we don’t have to say no to it. We do have the problem of our taxes paying for abortions. That is a problem that seems to be growing today.
Obey magistrates or judges. You aren’t to go against what they say, unless, as we have mentioned they go against the clear teaching of Scripture. Again, be ready to take the consequences.
If we are placed in a position of disobeying a government, we will suffer the consequences, but the Lord will keep tabs on what the government has been doing and those responsible will be held accountable one day.
To be ready to every good work. Here we go again on those good works. This by the way is in the context of being subject to principalities and powers.
Let’s consider what good works might be accomplished within the realm of the government.
a. How about volunteering to help in some areas. We have volunteer trash pick up, we have volunteer help with foster homes, with problem teens, and many others, I suspect.
b. How about running for office? Local, state, federal. It is not wrong to hold public office. It won’t be easy - but not wrong.
There are many that see being in office un-Biblical, but I see nothing against it as long as you are not going against your call from the Lord to do something else. If we had more Christians in office, we would be making more headway toward good.
I have read recently that Europeans are finally becoming concerned about the Islamic take over of Europe. How dumb is that statement you say, however fact bears it out. The Muslims have been spending billions on evangelization for many years. They are moving into Europe at an increasing number. They are having large families and the Europeans are having small families. Now, it doesn’t take a math wizz to figure it out that sometime in the future the Muslims will out number the Europeans and the nations will begin to move toward Muslim thought.
It is not unlike our own Midwest. My hometown has one less Spanish church than it does Anglo churches - this is in mid-Nebraska. In some parts of California and, I would guess, Texas the Spanish are the majority.
Is this bad? Well if you consider we are paying the way for the illegal Spanish to come and live, we are in essence inviting them and paying them to take over our country. In the past the nations battled and the stronger moved their people in to take over the other country. Today we are seeing natural take overs by the lack of imposition of common sense laws in our own country and most likely the same in Europe if things don’t change.
Are these people horrible radicals looking to overthrow our country? Not in the least, they are just people that want a better life. It is our own blind inactive lawmakers that are allowing it to happen.
Why not give Mexico and the other countries supplying this influx the assistance they need to set up free economic systems that will foster better lives for them at home. I doubt many Mexican folks would leave their homeland if they could make the life for themselves there that they can make here.
Back to the government, there have been Catholic priests in congress for many years. Roman Catholics have been elected to school boards, and in years past actually controlled boards to the point where qualified nuns were hired to teach in the public classroom. Wrong? No, they are exercising their Biblical and public right. It would be considered, by the liberals, a separation of church and state if it were Christians that were controlling the board and hiring Christian teachers, but that is another discussion.
More and more believers are exercising this right and I am glad to see it. It is too bad that the fanatics are running for office. They detract from what they might be able to do by their radical statements and radical views.
We really need conservative Christian people getting involved in the system to guide it. Our system of government is great if the majority is moral and upright, but when the majority becomes immoral and unethical, the country cannot be on the right track for God.
The following are also in the context of being subject to the government:
Speak evil of no man
be no brawlers
shewing all meekness
Within our being subject and if the case should come, not being subject Biblically this should be our course of action. Speaking no evil, not being brawlers, being gentle and meek.
That does limit what we do as we disobey the government if we deem the government incorrect Biblically.
Since you asked, let’s consider our modern abortion problem. Are the anti-abortionist protesters acting in a Biblical manner?
For the most part they are, but when it comes to confrontation, they are not gentle and meek, but rather quite toward the brawler end of the spectrum.
We are seeing a radical element entering into the protests with burning, fighting and now killing which are not right in any stretch of the imagination.
Speak evil of no man is of note in that it is the word usually translated blaspheme. It normally relates to speaking ill of God Himself, yet Paul puts it here in this context. We are not to speak ill of those over us. Since, as in Romans 13:1-14 we know that the government is placed over us by God then if we blaspheme the government we in essence blaspheme the one that instituted the government - God.
Now, if you have a police officer that is yelling at you (and it seems today they only have one mode of speech - full yell), remember it is God that put him over you - if he is doing wrong it will be up to God to deal with him, not you. That is a harsh wake up call for the officer that mistreats those he has jurisdiction over. If he mistreats or abuses those God has placed over him, then he will be held accountable.
Just how do we watch the governmental goings on and still obey this phrase of Paul’s? When they are making city codes dealing with your private properties that restrict your use of your property, just how do you not speak evil of them, for at times the government is getting evil in its intrusion into our lives. Keep a good attitude and watch your tongue - hold it if you need to, but don’t speak evil of them.
This may well be hard. Years ago a friend had a man, a huge auto dealership owner that bought property next to their rural secluded home. As time went on the dealer began building a huge horse barn. Not only did the zoning and roads people not know that the barn was part of his plan, no one knew it until the construction was under way. All legal avenues were spent and the law sided with a man that was devious in many of his dealings with them.
Not only did he build this huge barn, but he built it as close to the property line as he could legally, so our friends looked out their windows at this huge barn. They planted a tall hedge row to block the view, but there was no way they could block out all the smells and traffic generated by the facility.
I must admit I am not sure I could have followed Paul’s encouragement not to speak evil. I wonder at the patience and calm resoluteness of our friends as they waded through these hard times. I probably would have become a brawler as Paul tells us not to be.
Next, Paul tells us to "be no brawlers" or not to be fighters. In relation to the above illustration, the friends did go through all the legal processes available to them and I think that this is right and correct. The Lord asks us to be in submission to our government, but says nothing of using the rights that the government gives to us. To use the legal system is quite appropriate if needed. However, due note should be given to the whole of Scripture where we are told not to go to law with a brother - that should be dealt within the church itself. (The word used here of "no brawlers" is only found elsewhere in 1 Timothy 3:3)
I personally feel that going to law in any case where you would be perceived as being vindictive or being evil should be avoided. In fact many believers can’t afford a lawyer so this is a mute point for many of us. This principle is based on the next few thoughts of Paul.
We are to be gentle - quiet, patient, equitable or fair according to the lexicon. To go to court out of retaliation does not seem right and correct for the believer. To go to stop injustice would seem to be a good use of the judicial system. To correct wrong would also be a good use, but to go for maliciousness sake, I don’t think we are on Biblical ground.
We are to show gentleness or mildness to all men. The two words "all" in this verse are that concept of all but not necessarily every. In general we are to be gentle to all men - does that allow you to blast some now and then and be okay - NO. The idea might be something along the line of be gentle to all you have dealings with. You don’t necessarily have to be gentle to the man in China that you will never in this lifetime meet - but if you do meet him show him all meekness and gentleness.
1. This may be a little heavy but I think it needs to be said. Verse fifteen speaks of exhorting - the thought in this passage is to be sure these people know what is right and how to do right.
In the Old Testament prophets (Ezekiel 33:1 ff) there is a strong warning to the watchman - be sure you warn of danger. If the people don’t listen that is their problem and not the watchman’s, however if the watchman knows there is danger and does not warn the people then their blood will be on his hands.
Pastor, teacher, church leader, just how vivid and clear are your warnings to those you see stepping off into wickedness. Isn’t it a clear application that if a man knows the Word and fails to share it with people that need it and does not, that he will bear some responsibility for the outcome?
If someone hears what is brought forth and disregards it then the responsibility will be his own.
I have said many many times that the divorce rate in the church is so high because we have not been teaching proper doctrine relating to the family and marriage. If these doctrines were implanted properly in our people’s lives, the problems that appear would not be dealt with by a divorce. Divorce is not an option yet church people opt for it all the time. Oh, the responsibility of some pastor or teacher along the line that failed to teach them properly.
This relates to all our teaching, we must be doing better in our churches so that people know what they are choosing to do is right or wrong. That is why the New Testament speaks to the greater responsibility of the teacher.
The thought of caring for the people is very clear in the following passage as well as others in the New Testament. 1 Peter 5:1 "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;"
Also, check out the following: Hebrews 13:17 "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you."
2. Let’s dwell on this thought of being subject to the principalities and powers. We normally relate this to the governments that have sway over our heads, be it federal, state or local, or even in some cases housing authorities and organizations you have placed your self under - well, yes, even unions.
We are to submit as volunteers to these entities, but the words are not really locked into the thought of government, they relate to any authority or power that is placed over us. That would include a husband, a parent, a pastor or any other authority that is automatically over you.
A far out example of this might be for you Christian teen, when you are cutting up in a store or café, and you are asked to leave, there is an authority over you and God would have you submit in a gentle and meek way, not blow them off as so much hot air.
Adult, when you are being obnoxious and are asked to move on, please do so, for you are commanded to in this passage.
Parishioners, when the pastor reprimands you Biblically, open your mind to his thoughts and act accordingly. If he has a Biblical point, you should submit to his wise counsel.
I am not sure I appreciate this passage about being gentle and meek when I have to go home in a few minutes and call a tree removal service that has been totally obnoxious in their dealings with us and try to figure out a solution. But, Paul put it in here so I figure God knows right even though. He never had to live through this situation :-) I think rationalization should be in order here. NOT! Funny how these little life lessons show up when we most don’t want them, but most do need them!
"Magistrates" also is a general word for any authority or superior. These comments relate well to the work place as well as to the governmental area of life.
3. If we take that definition of the lost in verse three and compare it to the normal person that we know - average American, many live above this description. They are totally lost, but for some reason have chosen a higher life for themselves.
America is "Christian" in that many of its people still live by a decent moral code - a moral code that was the result of many believers living proper lives throughout our history. This then, in my mind, brought others to follow what seemed to be a right lifestyle even though they were not believers. Most societies follow a pattern. Some usually set that pattern for the rest. In America the morally correct were setting the stage for what our society would be.
However, today we have moral corruption as the standard and our society is degenerating into that which they follow. Our politicians are morally corrupt, our business leaders are morally corrupt and many of the leaders in all areas of life are morally corrupt. Thus society is sliding into their example rather than taking the Word of God as their guide.
Most believers are doing the same thing; they want to be accepted so rather than take the moral high ground that God requires, they settle for going along with the crowd. When you see a school or the city government or the state government giving a Christian a hard time, it isn’t a bunch of Christians in trouble it is one Christian standing alone for what is right. Thankfully there are legal groups that are standing with these individuals and God’s ways are being shown correct, but take away these few legal groups and Christianity would be squashed under the heavy foot of immorality.
If Christians don’t get their lives straight and if they don’t start standing for God, this country will continue to decay.
You can demean the strict fundamentalists of the fifties and sixties all you want, but when they started to die off and quiet their rhetoric, the decline of Christianity and its holiness in this country also began. There are few that call for holiness of life in the church today. There are few that call for taking a stand against wrong. There are few that are preaching the Word, thus the prior two are the case.
It has been my observation that when a believer does take a stand it is the "Christian" community that tends to be the detractors rather than the lost. The lost understand when they hear that your belief and your stand are based on the Word of God, but the "believer" gets upset because they disagree with your interpretation of what the Word says and will detract greatly from anything you try to do before the lost.
Is it not the lost that we are to be confronting with the Word, rather than demeaning those that we are supposed to be like? It is hard to tell who the real Christians are these days, the lost live like Christians and Christians live like the lost - the Devil, the deceiver is alive and well. The verse states that these are deceived, but today I fear the believers are the ones deceived.
4. So, how about all this talk about good works? Specifically this seems to be the context of doing good works in relation to the principalities and powers. Some take this to mean doing well under their authority - obeying the laws, giving of your taxes freely etc. however I would suggest that it is more far reaching than that. Under their authority do good works - all sorts of good works, be they for the government, or within the government. Doing what is right in any situation. If we are doing well, the government is going to benefit.
If we do good for the poor the welfare system is less strained, if we teach moral conduct the police agencies will be less burdened, and if we teach proper marriage principles the courts will be released from some of their work. All of these are beneficial to the government, but are primarily commands of God, thus good works seems to relate specifically to the government, but generally to any good works we can find to become involved in.
We Christians are supposed to be involved with them. We believers are supposed to be full of them. Consider "Average Joe/Josephine" Christian for a moment. What good works do you see Christians doing these days - the average Christian? Not the person that is totally involved in the church, teaching, visiting, etc. but the average pew sittin, chorus singin Joe and Josephine - what good works are they doing these days?
Personal opinion, they have taken this verse quite literally and no further. They are "ready" to every good work, not that they actually get involved in good works, but they are ready to do them if the opportunity knocks. The problem is that they have been taught how to rationalize to the point that they may be good and ready, but this isn’t quite the right time to jump in and do one. They are waiting for that perfect opportunity to do a good work - why wait - well who knows what rationalizations lurk in the minds of men/women.
Good works should be a part of your character - a portion of who and what you are - an integrated portion of your being is constantly involved in good works. You are doing them as a result of who and what you are. You are doing them as if they were your calling and duty. You are doing them as a result of your love for the Savior - the one that did the ultimate good work for you.
When the neighbor wants to borrow something, you have opportunity to do a good work. When your coworker asks you for the umpteenth time to do something for them you have opportunity to do a good work. When you see someone spill things on the floor, you have opportunity to do a good work. When you are talking to someone and see an opening for the Gospel and you go forward, you have opportunity for a good work. When you see someone new moving into the neighborhood, you have opportunity for a good work - either help them carry things or at least greet them and invite them to church or better yet to your home for a meal to help them in their moving. When you see someone struggling to change a tire, you have opportunity for a good work. When you see someone struggle with a situation, you have opportunity for a good work.
Even when you have someone being nasty to you, you have opportunity for a good work. When you .... I think you get the picture - any and every time we have the chance to serve another human being we have opportunity for a good work. Good works ought not to stop at the church door when we leave, or when we enter - good works are for all people, not just believers, or just for the lost.
Good works may even be ignoring the nastiness of someone in the store, or someone on the sidewalk that takes up the whole walk. I know, I need to listen to this :-) even those nasty drivers that think they own the road - as opposed to our rights and "our owning the road" - we all, as believers, need to adjust our lives and minds to the fact that we are what we are only because of Christ’s work on the cross. We are special because of Him and to Him, but we aren’t so special as humans - just part of the mix that can make the mix better by doing good works instead of adding to the poor ingredients of life by being like a lost person.
Not to dismiss "service" in the church. Teaching, visiting, assisting and all those neat things should also be a part of our good works. We all have a gift from the Spirit that needs to be active in the church. We all should be helping in the ministry of the church in some manner.
5. In relation to the "speak" and "exhort" of verse fifteen Barnes comments: "The sense here is, he was to do it decidedly, without ambiguity, without compromise, and without keeping any thing back. He was to state these things not as being advice or counsel, but as the requirement of God."
Gill relates: "And rebuke with all authority; such as imbibe errors and heresies, or indulge to vice and wickedness, with the authority both of Christ and his church, in the name of the one, and by the order and vote of the other, that the reproof may come with the greater weight; and in a grave and solemn manner, suitable to the dignity of the ministerial office and character, and with that sharpness and severity the offence requires."
Dare I say anyone following these two great preachers thoughts would be run out of most churches today? Can you envision someone preaching on the evils of women pastors in a Methodist church with such force and courage? Can you envision someone preaching on the evils of homosexuality in many churches today with such force and courage? Can you envision someone preaching on holiness of life with such force and courage? Not something that would be accepted in many "evangelical" churches of our day.
Preaching like that is - not popular - indeed most that I know of that have done so are not in the ministry as such, they have been run off by those that don’t like waves in the church.
When I was a missionary on deputation, I used to stick a little comment on what I was seeing in the church into our newsletter. A friend in California told me that he had talked with a pastor, one that I had never met, and the pastor had told him that he thought "that Derickson guy really knew what he was talking about and that he was right on when he spoke out about the church - BUT that he shouldn’t be talking about those things - he was a missionary and it isn’t his business, that it was pastor’s business to talk that way."
I was tempted to write the pastor and tell him I had heard about his feelings and that if I was ever walking by his church and saw fire I would not tell anyone because I’m only a missionary and the pastor should watch for fire :-) If the WORD says it, any Christian should be taking a stand and being verbal about it, not just the preachers, teachers, and missionaries!
Be firm when you have the weight of Christ, God, and the Word behind you - let the people know there IS an authority, let them know that there IS responsibility, and let them know that there IS consequence.
One further aspect of this - causing hindrance to a person’s name. Today I saw a letter to the editor that described the theft form the lady’s front yard of a Kerry/Edwards sign. She went off into a tirade about the tactics that the Bush administration had taken on. She openly in public slandered a sitting president for what most likely was some teenager pulling a prank - even if it was some misguided Bush advocate it is ludicrous to lay the theft at President Bush’s feet as his own deed.
Think before you verbalize your thoughts. Many people spout before thought and this is very dangerous.
6. When commenting on speaking evil of no man Barnes quotes another: "Doddridge renders it, "Calumniate no one." The idea is that we are not to slander, revile, or defame any one. We are not to say anything to any one, or of any one, which will do him injury. We are never to utter anything which we know to be false about him, or to give such a colouring to his words or conduct as to do him wrong in any way. We should always so speak to him and of him in such a way that he will have no reason to complain that he is an injured man."
Okay, that is a slam against almost every politician I’ve ever heard and I fear it is rather a slam against many prayer meetings I’ve been in. Basically imagine the person you are going to talk about is standing beside you - how would you frame your conversation? If you can’t say it to him, why do you think you can say it about him?
7. In verse three the lost are treating one another as trash. The word "one another" here is very closely related to Ephesians 4:2 where the word is used of believers. The thought I get from the verse is that what we once were is the exact opposite of what we should be as believers. All those things in verse three are not to be a part of who we are today in Christ. There should be no place in our lives for such things and especially not toward other believers.
We are also to remember what we once were so that we can understand those we witness to. They may not be pleasant people to deal with, but they are in need of the grace that we have received.
Barnes puts it well when speaking to their deception. "Deceived. By the great enemy, by false teachers, by our own hearts, and by the flattery of others. It is a characteristic of man by nature that he sees nothing in its true light, but walks along amidst constant, though changing and very beautiful illusions."
8. In relation to "let no man despise you" the thought is to think around someone. To think about the person and disregard them might be one thought, while to think about the person and work around them might also be the thought. Don’t allow ANYONE to do this to you.
While in a ministry I was under the authority of a board that was quite opposed to what the men I worked with were doing, and against the direction we were going. God had called each and every one of the men I worked with to the ministry at hand, while the board was appointed by the self perpetuating board - the good old boy network if you will.
As time wore on the board seemed to be thinking around the men. They were trying to find ways to make the men inconsequential to what the board wanted to do. In one meeting of all involved it was quite obvious to me what was going on and I made clearly the point that the board needed to declare clearly their intentions and directions and see what those under them would do - follow or leave, though I did not verbalize the last part. I made it clear that the board needed to see if the men were on board with the board. The board was working around, while they should have been working toward some common goal. They wanted to make the men irrelevant to the board’s desire.
Ultimately due to policy changes I was forced to resign, and within months the board made the other men irrelevant to the direction of the institution. That board despised, or thought around those that opposed their changes and went forward with their own desires leaving the men to follow or leave. All of the men bowed, correctly, to the board’s authority and left their ministries.
It should be a scary thing to disregard a man that God has placed in a position of leadership. Titus was to combat this by forceful speech - he was not to allow people to think around him and make him irrelevant.
Much of what is wrong with the church today is because many men have not stood and used their vocal abilities to combat the wrong that has been introduced into the church.
9. The contrast here is clear. There is what man wants and there is what God wants. There are man’s values and there are God’s values. There is man’s city and there is God’s city as Augustine puts it - everything related to man is related to his desires, thoughts and dreams, while everything Godly is related to God’s values, desires, and direction.
We can’t serve two Gods - we either serve God or we serve the Devil. It is our clear choice and Paul in this text is quite clear where we should be on the subject. We once were, lost and corrupt, but NOW we are different - or should be.
At the same time, we are to be part of that city of man helping build and guide that progress that it makes by being subject to the leadership and doing good works. After all when the lost see the effect of our good works, they will realize that our God, or faith, and our dedication have brought about great good in their domain - God will gain the glory in the midst of man’s efforts, via our good works.
10. Keathley correctly points out that the problems of our nation are not political, they are not differences of opinion between the liberal and the conservative, the problems are spiritual, they are based on the lack of moral direction of the countries people and leaders.
The United States lacks in the preaching of the clear Gospel of Christ and it lacks in the plain good works of God’s people. The citizens of this country do not see believers as light and salt, but usually as they themselves - there is little difference between believers and lost in how they live and sadly, little difference in what they believe either. Some of the recent polls of Christians show a gross lack of knowledge of the Word and doctrine. Most believe much as the lost - they certainly can’t live moral upright lives if they don’t know what morals are, nor if they don’t know what God desires of them.
Think about this for a moment. Why have the homosexuals "come out of the closet?" Mostly because there was no moral outcry against them. A few protests, a few pastors preaching against them, but overall there was no moral outcry. We still have sodomy laws on the books, but the legal system has closed their eyes to the homosexual problem because we have allowed it to become a "different lifestyle."
Consider tobacco. We know it kills people, it has been proven in court and medical facility that it kills people, yet the same government that sued for millions of dollars allows the tobacco industry to continue to kill people. Indeed, we are allowing the industry to export death all over the world. Where is the moral outcry of Christians - we are irrelevant to the Devil’s desires and directions for this country.
Consider most any moral issue and you will find that we have allowed the world to "THINK AROUND" us to the point that we and our belief system, and our God is totally irrelevant. Why? Because the believing community has allowed them to do so by not opening their vocal cords to allow a little air to pass in refutation of the world system.
It is obvious from what I have stated that speaking evil of something or someone is not to be done.
To speak in an untrue manner - to malign or degrade someone is so very wrong. However to speak against the evil of these is quite proper and needed - this is where sound doctrine enters in.
11. Remember 1:16 "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny [him], being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." - this stands in stark contrast to the false teachers - their teaching is worthless, and their good works are worthless, but the believer, teaching sound doctrine is worthwhile as are their good works.
Good doctrine produces good works. Unsound doctrine produces questionable to worthless works. Does that ring any bells in relation to the church? If the church is not involved in good works, can there be proper teaching from the pulpit - something to consider, and on the back side if we desire to see good works from our people shouldn’t we be teaching sound doctrine?
12. The term "meekness" in verse two is not the namby pamby weakling that is usually thought of but has the idea of great strength being perfectly controlled. Barclay illustrates the word by relating a wild horse that has been trained to the bit. That wild and strong horse that was once free is now totally and perfectly controlled. The horse is full of strength, but is controlled in the use of that strength only to the good that it can produce.
Likewise the believer, must be strong, but also must be controlled to use that strength of character to do the work of the Lord in a controlled manner.
13. "Disobedient" in verse three relates to rebellion toward a set law. Of God, of parent, or in this context possibly of government. One might wonder why a person would become disobedient. Let’s consider the possible reasons.
a. Disagreement with the authority. If someone really dislikes and/or disagrees with a president, they might go against laws and protest, either peaceably or violently. This might arise from personal dislike but more likely philosophical disagreement. Basically the lost are saying that God, if He exists is not going to be telling them what to do and how to live their lives. They disagree with God rather than His way of life or commands.
b. Disagreement with the rule/law. If someone really thinks a law is stupid they might just disobey it. This is not necessarily a Christian thing to do but some do. Many Christians, for example, speed while driving. I heard one get quite aggravated when talking about seat belt laws. He always drove old cars that did not have seat belts and he said he would never put a seat belt on. The freedom is his - as well as the freedom to pay the big fine when he gets caught.
c. Disagreement with the norm that tells one to submit. Many young people reject convention and say they will not obey just to be obedient. They will reject authority just on the basis of authority - why obey - obedience being the problem rather than the authority - they just don’t want to obey no matter what they are to obey.
d. Rejection of all authority. The youth rejecting the norm often move on into the habit of rejecting all authority, no matter what that authority is. Not to mention, that they are actually submitting to the authority of their philosophy as well as to those that agree with them in that they are obeying their own conventions, just not following any others.
14. Verse three could well be translated as the following according to Keathley, "For we also at one time were without understanding ourselves, disobedient, with the result that we were deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another." This shows a progression to the "downward spiral" according to Keathley; however is there a progression in the lost person’s life? Isn’t the fact that we are born sinners relevant? It seems to me we are at the bottom when born and there is no possibility of a downward spiral.
Indeed, his translation indicates we start somewhere above depraved and go downward. We can be deceived into giving up something we have is his indication. The term translated "sometimes" is rather misleading in this context. It can also, and more correctly, be translated "formerly" or "at some time" which indicates at a point of time in the past rather than the idea of sometimes which indicates at various times.
15. The term "pleasures" is the Greek word from which we gain our word hedonism. That philosophy which tells us that anything that is pleasurable or that leads to pleasure is good and all else is bad. Thus a spanking cannot be good, but lusting after your wife’s sister leads to pleasure so that is good.
Not unlike many of our churches today - anything that brings pleasure in the worship service is good and acceptable. Not that worship should be painful, but it should be neutral and bringing honor and glory to God. We are to worship in the spirit, not in the flesh, a truth many congregations have done a total flip-flop on.
16. Speaking of flip-flops, when Paul tells Titus to not let anyone despise him, we have seen the thought that evidently his manner and presentation of the word will keep them from despising him. This was the case for decades in the modern church, but don’t try it today or you will find that you are despised - they will talk around you and you will be irrelevant.
Outspokenness is not tolerated in most of the church today. You are rocking the boat, you are making waves, you are being divisive, you are judgmental and all the other little phrases that make the naysayer feel more comfortable as they sit with their mouths closed on the subjects of the day.
17. It seems from the commentaries that there is adequate indication from history that the Cretans were a rebellious lot. They were quite active in their rebellion against Rome and indeed, quite involved in letting Rome know of their disgust over their rule.
Now, if people that were under Roman rule and a people that were outwardly rebellious against that rule were told to be subject to that rule, certainly we ought to be able to handle these exhortations from Paul in our country. We have it quite easy when compared to Rome - I am not saying that the government isn’t becoming more and more like Rome, but right now we have it quite good. We ought to do what we can within the system to steer our leaders away from the oppressive rule that they seem bent on, but at any rate - we are to submit to it because it is there due to the good pleasure of the God we have chosen to serve.
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another.
Paul seems to be putting himself in with Titus, and for that matter, in the plight of all lost men before they meet Christ. None have anything to brag about.
True, there are some believers that are raised in Christian homes that lead good moral lives until they accept Christ, but the testimonies of these people which I have heard indicate that under the surface, even they suffer from this same plight - disobedient to God/deceived by the Devil/serving lust and pleasure secretly/hating people/etc.
Paul seems to be stating that since we were that way, we should not be surprised if others are that way. We should not be surprised if they treat us that way. We should not be surprised if they act like lost people - WE SHOULD BE TOLERANT OF THEM UNTIL they are saved -- then teach them differently.
There seems to be another side to this in that these authorities may be this way, but they too need the saving knowledge of Christ. They too can become as we - thus changing their very character which will change the way they govern or show their authority over us.
I am sure that if we think back over our unsaved life that we can find real examples of how foolish we were in times before Christ made a difference in our lives. When a teenager running with a bunch of church kids, they being saved and me being the foolish lost one, I rode around with them one night getting into all sorts of mischief. At one point I had the idea of breaking a window. I told them to stop the car, I ran up to a small business building and put my fist though the window. How utterly stupid and foolish! On two counts, the danger of great loss of blood as well as the utter uselessness of the act.
Yes, the unsaved person is a foolish creature. They are off hating and serving lusts and pleasures - sounds about right from what I’ve seen in the lost people I know. The sad part is that many Christians are still living in their former life. They have never moved beyond spiritual childhood, and how could they with no meat coming from the pulpits of today.
The tern translated "serving" is the word usually used for servant - one that has placed themself under the bondage of another. This term is used of serving God in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 "For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;"
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
The kindness is just a goodness or kindness, but can have the aspect of moral goodness and integrity. Thus we may have a little more than just the kindness of God, but the total moral goodness of God, which is perfect goodness in reality.
Romans 2:4 "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
The word "goodness" is used three times in Romans 11:22 "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in [his] goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off."
One should note that His goodness is closely related to the severity of God. We will look at this later.
On the other hand "goodness" can mean just the opposite, it can mean the lack of moral goodness as seen in Romans 3:12 "They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
It seems the context determines at which end of the spectrum the definition lies.
At any rate, the passage says that after that God’s goodness was forthcoming. After what, might come to mind. The previous verse talks of our unsaved condition - that which we were before the goodness appeared. We were once depraved, but now that the goodness has come, we are the opposite - or at least we should be.
It is of note that the term "love" is not the strong word for love, but the lesser term that is used of brotherly love. It can mean as little as "kindness" and it is the love one has for mankind. I think a good study of the terms translated love in relation to God and man and salvation would be of interest. Does he love all mankind with a brotherly love, but believers with the true and deep love? Someone study that for me and send me a copy.
"But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared," After our lostness, the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared. Of note, is the fact that the term for God is the normal term, but He is listed as our Savior - this designation is usually referring to Christ, but here we see it of God in general - it was the overall plan of God to save mankind, it was Christ that carried out that mission.
The appearing should not be taken too far in the area of interpretation. It simply indicates that salvation appeared to us - it was something that came along in our lives. It isn’t that salvation suddenly appeared on the world scene, as in the cross. The cross solidified the salvation of all the ages past.
1. We saw that God’s goodness was closely related to his severity. Let us think along that line for a little bit. Romans 11:22 "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in [his] goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off."
God can function with goodness and severity without getting them mixed up. The text mentions that to some He is severe while with others He is good. Not an uncommon theme in the Word - that he is good to the believer, and severe with the lost. At the Great White Throne we will see this goodness/severity in action. He will already have been quite good to the righteous, but will be dealing out judgment upon the lost at the throne. What a contrast, He is blessing some beyond measure in the heavenlies, while sending others to a terrible eternity apart from Him.
We see in His judgment that most drastic of contrasts between total good and total lack of good - not that God is not good, but that he can shed no good upon the lost due to their total and unequivocal rejection of His Son’s work on the cross.
We see that judgment is not due to God nor his plan, but due to the lost’s rejection of Him and His. He made His grace, His mercy, and His Son’s work available to them, yet they rejected all His overtures. How much more could He do to draw them unto Himself, yet they thumb their nose at Him and all that he desires to do for them. Again, can we see this as a false offer to the lost - I don’t think so. It is as honest and as genuine as God Himself - to all of mankind, not just to the elect that accept it.
2. Being a little ungifted in the area of grammar, there are phrases that give me some trouble at times. Like the last phrase of verse seven which states "we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." The Net Bible translates it this way "we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life." while giving the King James translation as the Greek meaning in their note.
Just what is the thought of "according to the hope of eternal life? We all have that hope, that assuredness of eternal life. We all know we are heirs with Christ, but how does the heir-ship, which is ours now, have to do with a future existence? What does "according" mean in the context?
"According" can also be translated "after" so let’s substitute that. We should be made heirs after the hope of eternal life. That could relate - we are to be heirs hoping for the eternal life - hope in the idea of that it is coming and we are looking forward to it - our expectation.
"Should be made" can be translated "come to pass" or "become," thus indicating something future. So, if this is true, are we really heirs now as many of us have been taught? Are we heirs with Him now at this instant? In God’s mind, yes we are, we will be just as surely heirs just as we will have eternal life, and in declaration we are both, but in reality we are neither.
Now, if we see the verse going along this line - being justified by his grace, we should become heirs as we hope in eternal life. Both are future, both are hoped for, but both are also secured by the work of Christ on our behalf. It is a sure hope that we look for - that of eternal life as heirs with Christ.
This really is a continuation of another doctrine that we can see in Revelation 1:5 "And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," as well as Acts 26:23 "And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," See also Romans 8:11 "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."
As Christ was raised from the grave, so also shall we - we are part and parcel with Christ’s own resurrection - a sure thing. 1 Corinthians 6:14 as well. "And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power." Also 2 Corinthians 4:14 "And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power." And Ephesians 2:5-6 "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:"
It is planned and will occur as God has planned it in His own good time. We have only to wait upon Him and His pleasure. (Romans 6:5; Romans 6:9; Hebrews 2:9-11; Hebrews 9:15-17 relate as well if you want further study.) Just for your own study, take a quick look at James 5:7-8 as you consider what we have been looking at. See also 1 Corinthians 15:55.
3. Contemplate this picture for a moment. An all powerful, all knowing, all loving God creates for His own good pleasure. The creation thumbs their nose at this loving God and turns their backs on Him and refuse to acknowledge that He exists. In fact some say that the created popped out of the creation, that God is not in the mix what so ever - If, indeed, He exists, He went on vacation and left the creation to do its own thing. Now imagine that same God that has been maligned and mistreated loving His creation so much that He is willing to allow His Son to die a terrible death to bring the created back to Him. That is one grand and moving love for those that have rejected Him, yet this is what God has done for mankind.
We thumbed our nose at Him and He sent His Son to redeem us from our own polluted mess. He has a great interest in each and every one of us and He acts on that interest for our benefit. And what have you done for Him lately?
4. Barnes makes an interesting point. "It is a great and fundamental principle of the gospel that the good works of men come in for no share in the justification of the soul. They are in no sense a consideration on account of which God pardons a man, and receives him to favour. The only basis of justification is the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ; and in the matter of justification before God, all the race is on a level."
All mankind is on a level playing field. No racial profiling, no economic factor, no basis of good looks or build - nothing at all can ever affect our standing with God except Jesus Christ - He is the great leveling of all that have, do and will exist - none is preferred, none is discriminated against and none will come up short due to God’s provision - only his/her own personal decision about God.
This does not relieve us from the duty to pronounce God’s great love and provision to everyone we meet, so missions and evangelism are God’s method of spreading the Word - He has committed that work to those that He has saved.
While we are at it, the salvation is by His mercy, not our status, our importance, or our own worth, it is by His mercy. Let Barnes put it a little more eloquently. "It is not because our deeds deserve it; it is not because we have by repentance and faith wrought ourselves into such a state of mind that we can claim it; but, after all our tears, and sighs, and prayers, and good deeds, it is a mere favour. Even then God might justly withhold it if he chose, and no blame would be attached to him if he should suffer us to sink down to ruin."
5. Keathley rightly states that our present moral change mentality in America is incorrect. We are trying to reach the people with the ways of the world, rather than with the gospel of Christ. We seek to change the moral direction of our country by trying to change its morals - not possible, they are lost, they are depraved and they are morally corrupt. You can’t change something that is morally corrupt into someone that is moral, only Jesus Christ can rebirth that immoral person.
Only salvation and a changed moral core can change our country - one person at a time, one day at a time, not by some sweeping moral outrage that will convince them that they are going the wrong direction.
Just today my son sent me the link to an article in the Denver Post. It was about a church that was basically Anglo located in a 60 percent Hispanic neighborhood. The church leaders have decided to change the church to make the lost folks feel comfortable, and to bring about growth. They have hired a $150, 000 "church-planter" consultant to head up their advertising campaign and to set up billboards in the neighborhood to let the Hispanics know they were now Hispanic friendly.
Is there something wrong with that concept? I trust you see a lot wrong. God wins the lost by the believers being in the community witnessing to them. It is not the lost’s responsibility to make it into the church Sunday morning to feel comfortable and to hear the gospel; it is the comfortable Christian’s place to get out and win those people to the Lord.
$150, 000 to change the church when a couple good sermons on witnessing would probably bring about much better results.
May God forgive the pastor that makes a change from Biblical worship to seeker friendly programs and other ploys to draw the lost into his sanctuary. May God forgive the pastor and leaders that spend money on outsiders to come into their church to advertise, to use the works of the world to draw people to the services. May God forgive those pastors and teachers that may have taught these people to rely on the world system to do God’s work.
Only a man and his church that is founded squarely on the Bible with their worship and method can be truly blessed by God. Yes, there may be some number improvements in churches that use such programs and procedures, but are they really Biblical improvements or "works of righteousness" that are really wood, hay and stubble? Yes, some great things may come in the area of evangelism, but what damage might be done to the believers that have no place to properly worship their Maker? What damage are we causing to the next generation of believers that are sitting through all these seeker friendly services as children? Are we properly training our youth for their future as the leaders of our churches?
Can the church survive such actions? Oh, yes it can survive, but at what cost to the Believers of America, and of the world when they seek to imitate our actions as they often do? The question is more to the point, will Christ’s church survive? Yes, even in spite of the attempts and mal-conceived groaning of His brothers, He will be careful not to let the gates of Hell prevail against His church, it is just to bad that there may be believers pounding on the church door in an attempt to tear it down.
Strong you say, well I trust that it is for I personally believe that the church is in a very sickly condition due to its leadership and their acceptance of worldly methods to do God’s work.
6. Keathley also continues to conclude that even though some may be out there witnessing, that the lost person does not really give a good hearing to the Gospel because they see the believing world as unloving, judgmental and aloof. He continues to suggest that this impression leads to the lost person not regarding God as much different.
I agree with his estimation of many believers, and many lost peoples view of those believers, but this philosophy seems to leave out the ministry of the Holy Spirit in moving the lost person toward Christ. If the Spirit is not moving in the persons life there is nothing we can do to bring them to Christ, nor is there anything that we can do about their impression of us or our God. On the other hand if the Spirit is there working the lost person’s impressions of Christians and/or our God is rather moot - salvation will come to pass if the person is being drawn by the Spirit to their appointed salvation.
Yes, live out lives so that we might be able to speak with them, but we need not groan and strain within our own efforts to get them to understand the Gospel. If they listen to what we have to say, the Spirit will fill in the gaps in one way or another.
7. Keathley observes correctly that if man could work his way to heaven there would have been no need for Christ to come to earth, or die on the cross - we could have done it on our own. Now, that is a logical argument that might be of use when talking to someone that is working their way there.
What a tremendous observation. We can’t do if folks. We need to communicate that to others!
I’m told by the Greek experts that "but" is a conjunction that gives the idea of the strongest contrast. Not by works "but" by the mercy of God. The strongest emphasis Paul could give to this contrast must be the standard of our Gospel. It is not Christ plus a little works, it is God’s mercy and nothing else - Christ or nothing. Read Galatians if you want to see where adding a little works will get you.
8. It is of no small importance that when Paul speaks of our salvation here it is in the aorist tense - a one time act of Christ which by the way is in the past. It is a done deal, it is finished and it is on its way to full completion in our death or rapture from this life.
9. There is a beautiful picture in this passage. We see God the Father as our Savior, the planner of that salvation, we see God the Son as the medium through which we are provided that salvation and we see God the Holy Spirit as the operating force behind the salvation coming to pass in our lives. Nothing left to chance with the Trinity on our side!
There is a further aspect in which the Father is involved. He is the forgiver when we come to Him through Christ seeking our personal relationship to Him.
A SIMPLE GLOSSARY
(Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992 (One file from my systematic theology))
ADOPTION BEING MADE SONS
ATONEMENT MAKE RIGHT
BEGOTTEN BORN OF
BELIEF KNOWLEDGE ACCEPTED
BODY MATERIAL MAN
CONFESSION AGREEING WITH GOD
CONSCIENCE MAN JUDGING
DECREES GOD’S PLAN
FAITH TRUST IN THE UNSEEN
FALL FROM INNOCENCE TO SIN
FOREKNOWLEDGE KNOWING BEFORE
FORGIVENESS PUTTING AWAY
GLORIFICATION FINAL STEP TO ETERNAL JOY
GOD’S WILL HIS DESIRE
GRACE GIVING WHAT ISN’T DESERVED
HEIRS RIGHT OF BEING A SON
HOLINESS SET APART
IMPUTED SIN OURS IN ADAM
INTELLECT MAN KNOWING
JUSTIFICATION DECLARED RIGHTEOUS
LORDSHIP BELIEVERS RELATION TO CHRIST
MEDIATION GOING BETWEEN
NEW NATURE BENT TOWARD GODLINESS
OBEDIENCE MINDING THE FATHER
OLD NATURE BENT TOWARD SIN
PERFECTION FUTURE HOLINESS
PERSONAL SIN DISOBEYING GOD
PREDESTINATION SETTING THE END RESULT
PUNISHMENT JUST DESSERTS
RECONCILIATION BRINGING TOGETHER (CHANGE)
REGENERATION MAKE ALIVE
REPENTANCE CHANGE OF MIND
RENEWING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT REBIRTH
RESURRECTION NEW ETERNAL LIFE
RIGHTEOUSNESS HOLY LIFE
SACRIFICE OF CHRIST/HEAVEN ATONEMENT
SACRIFICE OF CHRIST/THE CROSS SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE
SALVATION SAVED FROM
SANCTIFICATION SET APART
SENSIBILITY MAN FEELING
SEPARATION WALKING GODLY
SIN MISSING THE MARK
SIN NATURE BENT TOWARD SIN
SOUL MIND AND INTELLECT OF MAN
SPIRIT ETERNAL PART OF MAN
STANDING HOW GOD VIEWS US
STATE OUR WALK
SUBSTITUTION IN PLACE OF
TEMPTATION DESIRE TO SIN
UNDERSTANDING GRASPING KNOWLEDGE
WILL MAN DECIDING
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
This passage is important, in that the reform camp feel that it allows them their belief that regeneration is separate from salvation itself. They see regeneration as separate from the renewing of the Spirit. The regeneration is what they call born again and that this is the quickening that allows totally depraved man, which is unable to respond to God, to after regeneration respond positively to God’s election and calling.
The word "and" is translated "and" over eight thousand times and "also" only about five hundred times. We will see what some commentators say later.
The American Standard Version puts it this way, "but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit," To me, the "saved" is the result of the regeneration and renewing. I’d guess they would admit to this, still thinking that the two occur at different times.
We need to look at the terms "regeneration" and "renewing" as they are used in Scripture. Regeneration simply means "again born." It is made up of two terms "paling" or again, and "genesia" or genesis - birth. It has the thought of being made over or born again. It relates to reformation not a simple "changed a little" to get a person going in a proper spiritual direction. It seems better to see it as that complete reformation of the corrupt soul into a completely new life.
Renew has the same thought of complete reformation. It is a complete renovation, a "complete change for the better." This seems to be consistent with regeneration - two words describing the same whole process of rebirth in salvation.
Matthew 19:28 is the only other usage of the term translated regeneration. "And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." No matter what you see regeneration as meaning, it clearly indicates a complete work of salvation in this passage - to me at least.
Renewing appears only here and in Romans 12:2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Again this seems to me that this is a complete change from what the mind once was to something completely different.
To me, it seems both words relate to the same event - salvation, not two different processes which both are needed to move one to salvation.
Matthew Henry seems to relate the renewing to the daily renewing of the person in holiness. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown seem to relate the whole thing to be signifying baptism. This is quite a stretch to me, yes there might be some application there but they seem to gloss over the real meaning of the text.
Barnes agrees with me, or vice versa, that the two terms mean basically the same thing, and that they both refer to being born again. Gill, a reformed man of yester year also seems to agree that the terms relate to the whole of salvation, "Now it is in this way God saves his people, namely, by regenerating and renewing them;" He also relates the renewing to the progression of holiness. I’d guess he would agree if I said that regeneration is that which brings new birth, and the renewing is that cleansing of the old and the replacement of the new - again seems like one act of changing one from lost to alive in Christ.
Keathley presents the same line of thought that I have presented. "Since both phrases are introduced by one preposition, are both connected by "and," and since the Holy Spirit is the agent of renewal, the great probability is that we have here two parallel subjective genitives with the second as a further explanation of the first. Thus, the passage very likely means, "the washing (spiritual cleansing) produced by regeneration, even the making new accomplished by the Holy Spirit."
He also presents the same line of thought that most others in relation to the thought of "washing" being baptism. All reject this as a figment of the Baptismal Regenerationists imagination. Water is not mentioned nor to be seen in the context, thus it must be added to the thought of the text to relate this to baptism.
Thus we have two false teachings from this one verse, that you need to beware of - that rebirth can occur prior to salvation, and that rebirth comes from water baptism. Wow, again, all this doctrine and theology!
Just to emphasize it one more time, Keathley rightly states, "While some see this as a reference to the ongoing sanctifying work of the Spirit, it seems best, as explained previously, to see regeneration and renewing as one concept."
Even if the two are slightly different, they are part and parcel of one action at one point in time - that of salvation. Indeed, one might be the act while the following the action.
Now, let us consider the rest of the verse. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us," Salvation is not of works that we might do, even though they are righteous works; it is His mercy that allows the work of salvation.
"Righteousness" has to do with one that is right before God, or one that does all that God requires. Good works - not even the most righteous of good works can assist with our movement toward salvation. Not even a mountain sized pile of good works will assist us in salvation, only the FREE mercy of God allows us to have access to such a grand gift.
Mercy is listed in the lexicon as kindness, or "good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them." Kind of describes us as Paul pictures us in verse three "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another."
God desired to assist us out of the mire and he acted on that desire extending his mercy to us through Christ. This is one reason I would question the thought of limited atonement, that teaching that says Christ died for only the elect. This word almost pictures, in my mind the desire of God to help all of mankind out of their predicament - there is nothing to show differently. To desire to help all He would have to provide for all or He would be showing partiality.
At any rate it is His mercy that makes the difference in our lives, not what we can do in this life. I don’t know how much more plainly it could be said that works are not part of salvation, yet many still teach a works Christianity. The Roman church requires certain works for grace to be extended to the person. Other religions require works for their salvation, yet Paul says, NOT BY WORKS.
Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
Again, we see that God is the overall provider of salvation, but the action came via Christ and His work on the cross.
The term "shed" means "to pour" or "gush forth." When at home our daughter was quite effective at pouring juice and milk. It always panicked her parents as she would almost attack the glass and the liquid would gush forth into the glass. Never a drop would spill, but we often wondered at the methodology. It also amused us recently to see her teenage daughter pour some milk the same way.
God gushed forth our salvation abundantly through Christ.
We have here that completion of the idea of God the trinity being our savior, while accomplishing this through Christ and his work on the cross.
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Another one of those terrible theological terms. Justified, is that act of justification. Because of His mercy we are justified by His grace - indeed we are made heirs in eternal life.
It is of interest, that the mercy or desiring to assist and doing so, is similar to grace in that grace means, "lovingkindness" or "good will" among other things. This desire to help and this help are rather abundantly clear in this passage. He REALLY wants to help the poor lost sinner out of his mess.
Justification is simply God making us what we ought to be, making us right or just. He restores us to what we would have been if we hadn’t been born in sin. We are as Adam was before he sinned. We are made like we were created to be - good.
Justification is not so much the work of changing, because this is done by regeneration, but it is more the declaration by God that all is well between the person and God.
Week 10: Titus 3:8-9 THE LIFE
8a [This is] a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.
Paul uses similar calls to heed important things in his pastoral epistles as well. 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Timothy 3:1; 1 Timothy 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11.
This passage is a good text to show that good works will not bring salvation, but that good works are important in the believers’ life. At the same time, we must not overemphasize works to the point that we make people believe that salvation, if by grace, must be worked for to maintain it. This is the falsehood of the Seventh Day Adventist.
Years ago I worked with a very nice Seventh dayer. We talked of things spiritual with much agreement. One day we were talking about Ephesians 2:8-9 ("For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.") and we agreed completely. I was shocked at his agreement. I finally went through it again to be sure he understood that I believed that salvation was truly all of grace and nothing of works, and he
again agreed with me.
Finally, I went through it a third time and as he was agreeing with me, it dawned on me what he believed so I said, "Then you believe that salvation is all of grace and none of works?" He said, "Yes." And I said, "But you have to work to keep it." He looked at me and sheepishly said, "Yes." as if he understood that he had been misleading me.
Now, having said all of this, let me tell you JOKINGLY that I wish that the Bible taught that we had to work to keep our salvation. That way the believer would feel a compulsion to keep his spiritual house in order. HOWEVER, God wants our service to him to come from our love for Him and not our fear of his condemnation. The reason I like the concept is that it would take preachers a lot less work getting his members to do good works if they had a little fear in them of loosing their salvation. That would not lead to the peace and joy of salvation that God wants us to have however.
"Affirm constantly" is also a little stronger than that. It can be "affirm strongly" or "affirm confidently" - in short this is a strong confident affirmation that Paul wants.
"Have believed" is a perfect tense, they believed sometime in the past, they now believe and they always will believe till a completion of that belief sometime in the future - a sure thing. This relates to the salvation, heirship and eternity that we spoke of in the last session. I won’t rub it in, but it rather smells of eternal security in my mind.
Actually Paul adds "in God" as if to ward off the belief in works salvation that the Judaizers were touting.
"Might be careful" has the thought of giving thought to being careful, within its meaning. You take thought before hand to be sure you do, or careful thought to continuing in your good works. This might give emphasis so that we don’t use that tried and true excuse, I didn’t think of it, or I was just to busy to realize -- if you think "carefully" before hand, you will be more open and
ready to do good works.
The verb is in a present tense and active mood, which requires that it be a continuing action and the active mood suggests that the person involved is the acting participant in the action. In short you would be in error to blame it on the Spirit for not moving you, for it is you that should be moving you. That seems to require a time for thinking about the good works that we might do, it requires time to do the good works as well. The question - how do we accomplish this in our lives?
1. When we rise in the morning, have a time with the Lord to prepare yourself for the day and ask Him to guide and direct your works for the day. You might take some time to think through whom you might meet during the day and how you might be able to minister to them. You might consider your bank account and understand whether you have some financial assistance that someone might need.
Just allow God the moment or two it would take to lay things on your heart that He might have in mind for your day.
2. As you walk through your day, attempt to concentrate on what others are going through, rather than your own situation. When someone is down and wanting to talk, that may be just the opportunity for you to flourish in the good work’s department.
3. Try to evaluate people that you meet; are their ways to minister to them? If you meet someone that is down, maybe a question or two would get them talking and you might find words of comfort.
4. When you see need, evaluate whether you can fill it. I was told by a pastor once that a missionary came to his office with a load of troubles. The man was due in another city for a meeting and his car had broken down. It had serious problems and he had no money to pay for the repairs. He had come to the pastor to ask for prayer. The pastor immediately said let’s pray. As the pastor began to pray, he realized that he had an extra car that he had planned to get rid of - he stopped praying and said, "This is not right. I have a car you can have; there is no need for us to pray for this." God has already answered your need.
5. When at church you can normally tell when someone is troubled, maybe that would be a good time for a cup of coffee after church or an invitation to your home might be appropriate.
Just take time now and then to see what God might have you do.
8b. These things are good and profitable unto men.
"These things" refers to what? The good works - those grand and glorious things that you do for God.
One of the problems with this is the lack of positive or negative feedback that you get in certain ministries. I am positive that most pastors get all the negative feedback they could ever want, but little positive. This is sad. Encourage those gentlemen any chance you get.
Others, like teachers, missionaries and evangelists often don’t see this positive/negative; they just see the blank looks on faces. While on deputation I saw many many people, but there was little feedback except on the immediate scene. Words of "good message" etc. were forth coming, but due to being there for only a short time there was little opportunity to see if there were any real
spiritual blessings in peoples lives from the ministry of the Word.
This has been one of the frustrations of my life - have I really impacted anyone else’s life for the positive - what results have there been? I have many times reminded myself that it is not up to me to see the results, only to minister. God will see to the results He desires.
As a teacher, students came and went with little indication of positive results. One wonders, but God knows and that is the key. Also, this passage makes it clear that good works result in profit - fact - your ministry profits, no matter if you know of the profit or not - God gains as do those that you minister to.
What a promise - what you do in this life for good will profit others. That is quite an encouragement to do as much good as you can so that as many as possible are blessed.
This is a backside of a philosophy that I was challenged with years ago in college. A professor read a quote from a "Success" course he had taken. The quote related to spreading your influence. It was called your sphere of influence. The wider you spread it the more successful you would become. Though this is a business concept, I recognized it as a good philosophy of life for the believer. That day in class I committed myself to widening my "sphere of influence" at every possible turn.
I did not do this to gain success in ministry, but to gain the widest influence I could for God. I accomplished this through the years by never turning down an opportunity to minister God’s word to people. There were many times when I was tired and way busier than I should have been that I took an opportunity to minister in spite of the rigor of life. God has never allowed me to come up short due to my ministering for Him.
The more good works you do the wider your "sphere of influence" will be. Your outworking of God’s will can only bless and profit those that you minister to.
"Good and profitable unto men." Whether lost or saved, the teachings of this book and this passage are profitable. If a lost person were to set himself to live in the shadow of the Word, he would find much peace of mind and happiness of life. True, the lost person cannot really understand all that the Bible teaches, nor can they know the true joy and peace of the Christian life, however, they can have a relatively peaceful and joyful life.
My Father was crippled when he was 21 years old and lived a relatively good life. He shuffled his way through this life supporting his body on two canes, shuffling his paralyzed legs along. This was before the handicapped laws; he made his way wherever he needed to go on his own. It was often embarrassing when he would fall in public and he would not let my brother and I assist in getting him up. (You can picture that one, two burly over six feet tall guys watching their old father struggling to get up off the floor.)
He had many struggles, but let little stand in his way of doing what he wanted. His life was that of a believer as far as works and lifestyle were concerned, yet when he was on his death bed his thought was - "I hope that I have lived a good enough life to get into heaven." He was a calm and peaceful man, and seemed to really enjoy all that he did. He did not seem to dwell on what he couldn’t do, but on what he liked to do. I don’t know if he ever accepted the Lord or not, but he did hear the Gospel several times, and knew what the Bible said about entrance into heaven.
Good works and good living profit everyone, but to the believer there is a double profit - they will also be rewarded for their good works one day future.
We, in our society have a little harder time with how and whom we help. We have many in our society that are too lazy to work and they live off of society. Just where do we draw the line between helping someone that is in need and enabling them to use the system? I have seen this topic on internet message boards a number of times and I have seen few really good answers. Not that the participants on the boards were lacking, they were just lacking in good answers - there are no really good answers.
The main answer is allowing the Spirit to guide and direct you. If you find that you have a bad sense of people, maybe you should call someone alongside that has a way of picking out the stinkers from the needers.
In relation to churches helping people that come by seeking assistance I have a "deacon’s fund" policy that might give you some pointers. I will include this at the end of the study, but here I would like to settle in on how we as individuals can pick and choose those we help and those we pass by.
1. Know that it is God’s will that we do good works. That is the key to all decision making. Do not allow this fact to escape what you are doing or thinking of doing.
2. Review the passages at the end of the deacon’s fund policy included below. There are other passages that deal with our fellow man and how we should treat them.
3. Look at each situation and evaluate the best you can, then act. God will take care of the culprit if he is conning you, but he will also care for you either way. We do need to be good stewards of our works and possessions, but if we do as best we can then He will care for the rest.
Be assured if you are taken, He does not allow that to go unnoticed and the person will answer for their action in the future.
Don’t second guess what you have decided. I was approached by a man that needed a buck or two to get home - he was honest looking, he looked a little concerned and I honestly thought he was on the level, but said no and continued walking. I turned a moment or two later and saw him walking off very dejectedly as if he had lost his last chance. I was in the midst of second guessing my decision when I saw him turn from his dejected path toward McDonald’s for - breakfast most likely :-)
4. Realize that God may have directed this person across your path so that you could encourage or assist them. We need to remember God’s sovereignty over all situations. Allow Him to lead your actions as best you can.
5. Don’t be afraid to take time to witness to these people, they need the Lord just like we did at some point in our lives.
6. Understand also that circumstances could put you in the same place as they, in the blink of an eye. Many of us are only a few pay checks away from being on the street. With health care costs so high and wages often low, it isn’t hard to understand how people can end up on the street. Yes, many are there by choice, but many are there because they have no choice.
7. Consider food certificates instead of cash. Consider taking them into a cafe and paying for their order. Many will refuse and then you will know their real need. Some carry groceries in their car to offer those that ask for help. Again, many will refuse, wanting cash only.
8. When you assist someone and they abuse you, do not take it personally, and do not hold a grudge, for God will deal with them in His own time.
In short, start your morning out with God on your side, and keep in tune with the Spirit rather than yourself throughout the day and He will guide you into those good works in which He would like you involved.
Verse 9. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
Some have relegated some of the great doctrines of the Word to this verse. Paul is attempting to warn the people of things that take away from the good works that were previously mentioned.
True, some do get side tracked in life by things that they love to argue about. Years ago we met a seminarian that was returning for his senior year at Dallas Seminary. He read a book that drew him into false doctrine to the point that he could not function. His professors tried to help him through his confusion, but all of the foolish questions of the false doctrine consumed him. He never went into the Lord’s work.
Some suggest that predestination is one of these foolish questions. NOT SO! Predestination is a doctrine of the Word. Paul was speaking of questions that come from man and his uncanny knack for perverting things for an argument. Examples of foolish questions: Can God create a rock that is too big for Him to lift? This could be discussed for ages. How many angels can stand on the head of a pin? Again, the discussion could go on for quite awhile.
These types of questions only spend valuable time and detract from the Lord’s work. They are good to consider for a time, but don’t make them a major part of your quiet time.
Others have suggested that the thought of separation comes under this category of foolish questions etc. They suggest that separation is a doctrine of man and that we ought to be "ONE IN THE LORD" with everyone that knows the Lord.
Separation again is a doctrine of the Scriptures and not subject to rejection because someone thinks that it is foolish.
Avoid these things - they are unprofitable and vain, or worthless.
"Avoid" is a concept that we believers tend to avoid - "avoid" is making conscious thought to steer clear of something. This actually requires some watching, some consideration, some evaluation and then a conscious decision to go around that item you have considered.
Make a conscious effort to not get involved in these things. It is a waste of your time and will only cause problems. One commentator suggested it be translated "stand aloof" or, as I would suggest, stand away from with a cautious eye.
"Foolish" is the Greek word "moros" from which the word moron descends. Something that is really foolish and it can even relate to "godless" though it is never translated that way. In Matthew 5:22 we see the word translated fool, but it specifically relates to a godless fool. "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the
judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."
The word is also used as "the foolish things of the world" that God uses to confound men.
The term is even used of God, if you can believe it. 1 Corinthians 1:25 "Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men." Of course it isn’t a trait of His, but if He could be foolish, then this is true.
Don’t get caught up in foolish, or maybe worldly, might give you the idea - avoid these questions and genealogies and contentions.
"Questions" is a good translation of the word - it is the "seeking of" - seeking of knowledge, seeking of answers etc. It is taking time to question, seek information and to ultimately make a decision.
"Strivings" is probably a little weak for this word which actually relates to combat and fighting, this is really getting into some serious dispute about things.
"The law" is a general term for law or lawyer, and it can relate to a New Testament time person that teaches the Mosaic Law.
Evidently there were some that were getting to the point of combat over their lineage and over their interpretation of the law. Paul labels this as unprofitable and vain. Those two terms will be of interest for application.
"Unprofitable and vain" - you know, when I read this passage I had a picture come to mind - a picture of one of the hundreds of sports altercations that have been televised over recent years. Such contention, such combativeness and such unprofitable and vain actions. True this context does not relate to sports, but I think that you get the point. Anything that comes to worthless battle is to be avoided - don’t just get a little bit involved - don’t get really involved - AVOID it. That is the only Biblical solution.
I am hearing more and more of near combativeness within church meetings - people disagreeing so violently that they nearly come to blows. Paul is telling Titus to train the believers not to be that way, while in America we are starting to see it happen.
Why does it happen - in my opinion it comes to that last word - "vain" it comes from the vanity of man trying to see himself as more than he is - something that can make him feel important. Indeed, isn’t most church strife based on self uplifting and a desire to be right? After all if I am right, I am more important.
I trust you don’t miss the contrast in these two verses. Good works are profitable and good, while disputing is unprofitable and vain. I think Paul’s point is clear. Stick to the good works, they are what is important in this life as well as the next, while that worldly stuff may profit you some here, it certainly won’t advance your standing in the next.
Another clear picture comes to my mind when I read this passage. Many pastors have come to churches that are functioning quite well and immediately institute contemporary services. Now, I won’t belabor this point, but how does that fit into this passage. Contemporary services are about vanity and often times uplifting of the performers, they are contentious because they pit believer
against believer, they are about what "I" have been taught and about what "I" think is best for the rest of the church, and for the most part they are unprofitable to the church as a whole.
True, there may be a numbers gain, but there is almost always also number loss. The number gain may be an overall gain, but what of all those believers that are leaving the church - normally they are the mature believers that have built the church, supported the church, and committed themselves to the church and for the loss of these we seek the gain of people that may not even be saved, people that will seldom come to church other than the feel good services, people that will take years to disciple and people that will flock to another church when their services feel better than yours.
Yes, these are generalities, but for the most part this has been the observation of this author in many churches across the country. From my perspective contemporary services have cost the church greatly in the loss of mature believers, the cost of church holiness, and the cost of loosing the Biblical concept of "worship in the Spirit." It is our spirit that should worship God, not our physical. If you take time to study the term "worship" in the Bible, you will find that it is private, and often, on the face time, with God.
Even in the traditional worship churches, when you can find one, they bring the congregation to thoughts of God via a call to worship, maybe singing the Doxology, then a hymn or two and then they really add to the worshipful atmosphere with a - "Hey, lets greet our neighbor time," and the congregation begins milling around like cattle greeting the people that they have ignored prior to this appointed time for friendliness, and the pastor has to cut it short or he will lose some of his preaching time.
I thought the church was about God and uplifting Him, I thought church was about the people and ministering to one another with good works, and I thought church was about reaching out to the lost to draw newborn believers into the church for feeding and care, instead I see the church as a place to uplift some musically talented people, a place where we don’t talk to one another except during the greeting time, and a place that is totally self centered and geared to gaining
May we concentrate on the profitable and the good in our lives, in our homes, and in our churches?
1. Verse nine mentions genealogies. I am sure someone might suggest that searching your family tree is wrong. The context is foolish questions that detract from ministry. Searching your family tree is not this sort of thing. The genealogies that are mentioned relate to trying to prove that you descend from someone important in the Jewish linage.
If you are searching for family information so that you can benefit them or yourself spiritually, then yes this is wrong. The Mormon Church baptizes the dead so that the person can have a larger family in eternity. They search and search for more and more people to be baptized for. What a false teaching, requiring a lot of time, searching your family for all the wrong reasons.
Doing your family history might be of interest to you, but don’t let it detract from what you are doing for the Lord. I have done considerable work on my family tree and it has been very interesting, and I’m sure some of my descendants will enjoy knowing a little about their ancestors, but it is a side light - something I do for enjoyment, not spiritual gain.
2. The last part of verse eight states "These things are good and profitable unto men." These things relating to the DOCTRINES just stated. Good and profitable. Barnes turns this to state that these doctrines can produce happiness in a person that knows them. Consider the import of that concept. If doctrine can cause happiness in man, why are so many preachers avoiding teaching doctrine. Many today turn up their nose at doctrine and theology - they nearly disdain it. If these things can produce good and profit for man and they will, according to Paul, and if there is a possibility of it causing happiness, why wouldn’t preachers flock to the preaching of doctrine? It is beyond me. The Bible IS DOCTRINE thus if you are preaching the Word you are teaching doctrine.
On the other side of things, if good doctrine causes good, profit and possibly even happiness, then the things in verse nine that are unprofitable and vain most likely would cause unhappiness. It is true if you find someone that is embroiled in disputing, they are seldom happy. They are usually up tight and frustrated.
Keathley is clear that the word used here for "good" has the thought of something that brings beautiful feelings to the person. It is used of Citizens speaking of their beautiful city and the feeling they have for that city, thus the thought of happiness would certainly apply here.
Stick to the DOCTRINE and leave the arguing to others.
3. Gill suggests that the good and profitable relates to the doctrine rather than the works but certainly sees works as good and profitable. "These things are good and profitable unto men: which is to be understood not of good works, though these are good in themselves, and profitable to men in their effects;"
Keathley on the other hand suggests that the good and profitable are definitely relating to the good works, however it reflects back on the doctrine.
It would seem both are very important.
4. Let’s consider the problems of verse nine a little further.
Paul had confronted this problem with Timothy and his people as well as here with Titus. 2 Timothy 2:23 "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes."
Gill relates the following about the passage: "But avoid foolish questions,....and genealogies; of their elders, Rabbins, and doctors, by whom their traditions are handed down from one to another, in fixing which they greatly laboured; see 1 Timothy 1:4 [" Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: [so do]."] and contentions and strivings about the law; the rites and ceremonies of it, and about the sense of it, and its various precepts, as litigated in the schools of Hillell and Shammai, the one giving it one way, and the other another; and what one declared to be free according to the law, the other declared forbidden; which occasioned great contentions and quarrels between the followers of the one, and of the other, as both the Misna and Talmud show: and agreeably to this sense, the Syriac version renders it, "the contentions and strifes of the scribes"; the Jewish doctors, who were some on the side of Hillell, and others on the side of Shammai; as well as went into parties and strifes among themselves, and oftentimes about mere trifles; things of no manner of importance; wherefore it follows, for they are unprofitable and vain; empty things, of no manner of use, to inform the judgment, improve the mind, or influence the life and conversation."
Humm, not unlike a couple of major disputes of our own day that consume tremendous amounts of time and money for the church. The Calvinism/Arminianism debate as well as the Covenant Theology/Dispensational theology dispute. Well you could add the Pre-trib/Post-trib/Amillennial dispute as well.
I don’t want to minimize the importance of these discussions but book upon book have been written on the topics. Multiplied days of time are spent on these subjects on internet boards discussing them. In fact, there are a couple of reformed boards where I have read that discuss these things among themselves - if you don’t agree with their view you cannot post on the boards so they are discussing their system and the systems of those they ban for hour upon hour. Nothing is going to come forth from this except perpetuation of their system and the distorted, misinformed views of the other positions. They twist and distort the other man’s view and teach it as the way the other guy believes when this is not the case. They basically set up false straw men, and then shoot them down to make themselves look important to the cause.
I am not sure just what you might want to call this practice, but it seems disingenuous and unethical at the least if not just plain perpetuation of falsehood.
I think we see this laying of importance on genealogy in Iraq. We see the different factions and different groups, and all go back to some great teaching/teacher. Even within their subdivisions they have groups that follow a certain, important leader and usually view other leaders and groups as somewhat of from true Islam.
5. This whole passage reeks with the importance of how we live our lives, how we appear to others that might be watching us. If we are to be witnesses in this world, we must live like Biblical Christians.
Sadly, many are the Christians that I have heard about from unsaved folks. The impression that many Christians leave is one of worldliness, inappropriateness and tactlessness. I have been told by lost people how they will never listen to a particular person due to the ungodly life they live, or the two-faced life they live or the nastiness of the life they live. Agreed, these comments may have been based on a time when the believer was at a low spot spiritually or at an unguarded moment, but it calls to mind the importance of being a proper example of Christ at all times.
You can be assured when you are at your worst, someone is watching and filing in their memory banks with just how you are acting, how you are responding to a situation, or how you are not practicing what you preach.
If you realize someone has caught you at your worst, it might be well to apologize and suggest that your behavior was inappropriate. This might bring them to realize you are only human and that you do make mistakes, rather than writing you off as a two-faced Christian.
6. The obvious is that verse eight speaks of what Christians are and the ninth verse speaks of what we ought not be, but in today’s Christian society it is more like the ninth verse is who we are and the eight verse is who we ought to be.
We as believers have kind of lost our identity. We are to be like Christ, but for the most part we are more like the lost. We often get wrapped up in the same things that the world wraps themselves in. We often watch the same filth on television that the world enjoys; some even go to the theater to watch the latest filth that is offered up from Hollywood.
By the way, wouldn’t you like to know what percentage of those millions of dollar box offices each week are paid by believers? Some Christians are helping finance the filth that comes out of Hollywood. Indeed, watching it a year later on television isn’t much different either in the moral or the financial grounds.
7. Another stark contrast between these two verses is that in the former the person is being careful, even planning to do good, while in the other the person is to be careful, even planning to not do something bad. Is this not the crux of the Christian life?
I suspect that those that are so down on "legalists" - those that want people to live by a certain code - is that they may see that the so-called legalists, try to avoid the don’ts and forget to do the dos.
We are to do both, we are to plan for doing good and we are to plan for avoiding bad. Some might suggest that if you concentrate on doing the good, you won’t have time to do the bad. Others would suggest that actively avoiding the bad will automatically cause you to be doing good. The point Paul makes is that we ought to give concerted effort to doing both as we walk through life.
As we draw to a balance on this duo, we should find happiness with our life no matter what is going on in our life. We should be able to know that what we are doing and what we are not doing are good and pleasing to God. These are the things that make us worthy before our God and beside our Brother Jesus Christ. These are the things that cause us to be worthy of a listening ear when we begin to speak to a lost person about their possible inclusion in the family of God.
DEACON’S FUND POLICY
Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1996
In that the Scripture is very clear that we are to be in the custom of assisting other believers in need, and in that the Scripture is very clear that we are to be in the custom of assisting widows and orphans, and in that the Scripture is clear that we are to be in the custom of assisting strangers, we hereby institute this policy to assist us in this ministry to those in need. (See footnote at end of policy for references.)
Each person seeking assistance will be interviewed by two of our deacons/elders and their concurrence will result in help. There is no need to INVESTIGATE a request for help other than to talk with the person involved to gain a sense that the need is valid. (We will trust God to guide us in our decisions and allow Him to deal with those that misuse our ministry.)
1. The fund shall be financed by an offering taken in the mission’s bowl after the Lord’s Table service each month.
2. The fund shall be dispersed under the guidance of the deacons.
3. The funds will be distributed by gift certificate as much as possible or by cash/check if the need is not available via certificates.
4. A grocery closet will be maintained at the church via the donations of the membership. It will contain sealed goods that can be stored for extended periods of time.
5. If the fund is depleted, and a seemingly valid case exists the deacon and pastor may go before the church for a special offering/general fund expenditure for the assistance.
6. A list of social service agencies will be maintained and a copy of that list shall be given to each person requesting assistance. (It is assumed by this policy that much of our tax money goes to support social services, so we should make use of those services for the assistance of those in need.)
7. A total value for each assistance shall not exceed $50. (Groceries need only be approximated.)
8. The above is not to say that every person that requests assistance is to be helped. It shall be at the discretion of those talking with the person that may or may not determine to extend help from the church family.
9. If there is a choice between church family members and those outside the church, then the church families’ need should be met first.
Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
1 Timothy 5:3 Honour widows that are widows indeed. 4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty , and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed
[thee]? or thirsty , and gave [thee] drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.
RESOURCE LIST FOR FURTHER ASSISTANCE:
(Go to your yellow pages and look for service agencies in your area. Look to your city/county for resources that you can list. Often there is one agency that can look at a person’s problems and recommend the correct place to go.)
Week 11: Titus 3:10-12 THE HERETIC
A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject;
Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
The thought of church discipline is lacking in most churches today, but here is a plain statement of its principle. If someone is a heretic, then after two admonitions, he is to be rejected. There is no room for less than this action!
False doctrine is like cancer. No one with an operable cancer would allow it to continue to grow and sap their strength and life, nor should a church tolerate false teaching.
When pastoring in Nebraska, a very dear man began to attend our church. His wife was a radical charismatic. She came to church now and then, but never was very friendly to us. I knew that she would be trouble, just because of the type of person she was. She was causing trouble in her own family spiritually and I was sure that she would cause trouble in the church. I found out one day that she had been to see every woman of the church in the same week, and there was indication that it was to stir trouble. I did not have to deal with her, because the Lord brought her to a service when I was preaching on the Devil’s counterfeits and one of those counterfeits was tongues. She left and never returned.
Many churches are troubled by false doctrine. Many churches have split because they have tolerated false doctrine. Many organizations have become liberal due to toleration of false doctrine.
DON’T TOLERATE IT!
It should be noted that the term "subverted" is a perfect tense indicating this is a constant state that will not change. The person is and always will be in error.
Verse 11 has an interesting concept in it. I don’t think that I have ever heard this concept verbalized before in any class or book that I have taken or read.
False doctrine is sin. Is the sin from the belief in the false system or doctrine, or is the sin from improper action taken due to belief in a false teaching?
Both could be and are correct. The false teaching is probably not sin if the belief is in innocence or lack of knowledge, however if you know something is false and you hold to it anyway, you are thumbing your nose at God and are living in sin.
False teaching that you teach, even if you are ignorant of its falsehood, can affect and mislead others. This misleading will result in sin, which you are responsible for.
The action based on false doctrine is certainly sin if it violates the Word of God. For a person to know that materialism is wrong, to continue to add unto himself things, is wrong - is sin.
So, false doctrine is sin in three areas for sure.
False doctrine is sin in and of itself if you know that it is false.
False doctrine is sin if you teach others and it leads them into sin.
False doctrine is sin if you act upon it yourself.
False doctrine is also sin if you don’t know that it is false. Believing in anything that is counter to God’s Word is missing the mark that God has set. It is possible that this type of sin will be cared for by 1 John 1:9 in that the verse mentions ALL unrighteousness, and many feel this is unknown sin.
Thus there are six areas where false doctrine is sin.
1. If you know it is false.
2. If you don’t know it is false.
3. If you act on it knowing it is false.
4. If you act on it not knowing it is false.
5. If you teach it and others act on it.
6. If you allow it to continue in your church.
You might even add sin against the family when you allow false doctrine to continue. The father has the responsibility to his family to see to it that only truth is taught in the home. If he or a family member teaches false doctrine then trouble can occur.
Going back to the Charismatic wife. The husband was a firm believer in truth, but allowed his wife to teach her falsehood to the children, and to cause problems in the family. I do not know the specifics of that family, but I wonder if he had attempted to settle the issue much earlier, if the wife might have submitted to truth.
The term "heretic" is "haireticos" - humm does that mean bald people can’t be hair-ethics :-) I’m safe! The term means schismatic, factious, or is used of someone that "takes or chooses a thing" - one that has taken a false teaching as his/her own. Notice I used both pronouns - women can also be heretics and should be treated with equal opportunity when they choose to go into error.
The admonition seems to ask for patience in rejecting the person as there is to be a first and second admonition. I would think this might relate to the confrontation mentioned in Matthew eighteen where you are to confront personally, then with others and if all is futile, then go before the church and have the decision to reject. This is a process that will take a little time, giving the erring one time to reconsider his views and an opportunity to change his mind/course.
Gill suggests, and he may well be correct, that since this is a public problem in the church that rather than the Matthew formula that the admonitions should both be public in nature by the church leaders so that all the church knows what is going on publicly.
This might be the better course though at the very least use the Matthew concept. A church had a problem of division and the leaders tended to the problem privately. There was never a public explanation of the problem, nor the fact that the divisive ones left the fellowship at the leader’s request. Nothing was said, only rumor was allowed to circulate. The problem festered due to this secrecy to a much larger problem. Public admonition would be the best.
"Reject" simply means to refuse or reject something. It means to remove yourself from the false doctrine. It could mean isolation from. In the fifteen hundreds there was a document called "On The Ban: Questions and Answers" by Menno Simons the founder of the Mennonite movement, which among other things spelled out in detail how church members were to refuse to interact with one rejected. It even gave instruction about how the heretic’s family was to relate to the wrong doer. It was some serious rules for rejection and removal from the false teacher.
It was somewhat harsh, but if some of its principles had been used through church history many a mess would have been averted. It is all too common for a church to just allow false teaching to continue rather than rocking the boat.
We attended what we thought was a sound church a few years back. The people weren’t overly friendly so we kind of found a Sunday school class - we went in and were treated to some very liberal views from the teacher relating to Scripture and its validity. We left class feeling this was a very liberal church. We went ahead and stayed for church to see what the pastor was like.
The message was powerful and fundamental as could be. We left totally confused. The pastor called that afternoon to thank us for visiting. I started with some questions about our confusion. He asked what class we had attended. He said, "Oh yea, that class - they are people that split from another church in our group and they decided to settle with us. They kind of do their own thing in that class. The right class you should attend is ...."
This man had rank liberals in his church, he had one of them teaching in his church and doing nothing about it. What a dangerous situation that could be. Unwitting visitors could easily be sucked into that false doctrine, and what is worse, the interaction with these folks could confuse and lead astray other believers in the church.
"Reject" is used in another way, but the idea is the same - reject. In Luke 14:18 invited guests reject the invitation. "And they all with one [consent] began to make excuse."
In 1 Timothy 4:7 the word is translated "refuse," "But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself [rather] unto godliness."
The term translated "subverted" has the thought of tearing loose from something, or even turning inside out. Not just a little bend, but a bending that does some real damage.
Recently I saw a Discovery channel show on shipping accidents on the Great Lakes. There was a paddle wheel steamer loaded with people that was caught in a storm, while a sailing ship was having problems of its own and not paying attention to what was going on ahead of them rammed the steamer. The sailing ship thought their vessel could not have hurt such a large steam ship so continued on its way fighting its shifting load and the terrible storm.
Unknown to the sailing ship the steamer sank due to the large hole that was torn in its side.
Great damage can come from seemingly insignificant doctrines. We must be on our guard for those that would tear a hole in our churches.
Let’s look at church discipline for a few moments and see what we can learn. This is a section from my systematic theology.
THE DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992
I personally have only been in a church involved in church discipline one time and that only recently. Church discipline is a topic that many let slip for many years. It is coming back into the foreground again for which we should be very thankful.
It is the means of keeping the local assembly pure, and it is a needed tool at times.
It is not hard to recall a minister that has fallen from his position due to immorality or theft. It is not hard to remember several members of local congregations that have gone off into open sin.
The hard thing to recall or remember maybe that any of these people were ever disciplined for their activity.
In the past there have been many that have taken church discipline very seriously. We have a series of Questions and Answers from history that were set forth by Menno Simons in 1550 concerning how the disciplined person should be treated. The "ban" in these questions refers to the fact that the sinner is banned from the local congregation. (I have included this complete article by Simons as appendix two.)
I would like to share some of these questions for you. So you can see how seriously some believers in the past were about discipline.
"Should husband and wife shun each other on account of the ban?"
"Should we greet one that is banned, with the common, everyday greeting, or return our respects as his greeting?"
"Are we allowed to show the banned any charity, love, and mercy?"
"Are we allowed to sell to, and buy of, the apostates....?"
"Are we allowed to be seated with an apostate in a ship or wagon, or to eat with him at the table of a tavern?"
We might assume from the questions on the ban that these people were serious about what the word says about church discipline.
I read an article some time ago that mentions a study in the south. The author had done some research on church discipline in a specific area (Mississippi). The church members did not know of any serious church discipline, except for one person that remembered a discipline of a singing star in Hollywood. The point? Church discipline is not a common thing.
Someone has, tongue in cheek suggested, that church discipline today is the pastor and elders keeping quiet about the sin in deacon Jones life so that he won’t rock the financial boat.
To say the least, discipline is not a prime topic of activity or discussion these days in the local church, yet the Bible very clearly teaches that open sin should be dealt with by the church body.
Let us define church discipline as the correction of action, or the removal of the erring believer from the local church body, for the purpose of correction and/or restoration. This is normally undertaken for immorality or deviation from approved doctrine.
At the outset we must realize that discipline is NOT to make the church sinless. It is to maintain a proper testimony before the world. Anyone thinking that discipline can make the church sinless does not understand the teaching of man and his relationship to sin.
Matthew 5:23-24 is a text that would indicate we should be right with any brother that has anything against us before we offer to God. This is under the law but in the New Testament context I would assume we could apply this to coming before God with our gifts or offerings. In short if we have anything against a brother, we should settle it before we move into a place where we are approaching the Lord.
This alone would eliminate many of the problems of the church. We need to work on these items as we attempt to build a body for the Lord.
Matthew 18:15-17 is the text which gives us the guidelines for correcting a brother. If you have a problem go to the brother alone and confront him. If this does not work take one or two with you so all can be established in front of witnesses. If this fails then tell it before the church. If this also fails then "let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a tax collector".
Some might wonder if this text is appropriate for the church age. The fact that it appears after Matthew 13:1-58 where the Jews seem to reject the Messiah, and He begins to teach of things other than the millennial kingdom indicates that it is for this age. Even if you saw it for the kingdom age the principles seem to be good, and I think some of these ideas are born out in the epistles.
Most definitely the most drastic account of church discipline is found in Acts 5:1-42. Ananias and Saphira have lied to the church and more specifically to God, and their discipline is very quick and strong. Their lives are taken upon confrontation with their sin. This is a text which relates to the apostolic leadership however the idea that the sin was confronted and cared for immediately should be usable to us today. Note should be made that it was God that took their lives and not the church. The church confronts and in our age takes action of reprimand and/or removal. This is the extent of the church’s authority. God may and I personally believe in some cases does, take further action in the lives of unrepentant believers. I believe that John 15:1-14 and 1 Corinthians 11:30 show that God may remove a sinning believer that is unwilling to turn from their sin from this life.
In Romans 14:1-23; Romans 15:1 Paul sets down some principles for handling differences of opinion. This chapter shows clearly that differences of opinion are not in view for church discipline. These items are of personal decision and Paul lays down principles to deal with these situations.
The basis for removal of an erring believer from the assembly is based on 1 Corinthians 5:4-11. I would like to consider this for a moment. First of all is this a believer or nonbeliever? It seems to most that this is a believer for we see in verse five that Paul is concerned for his soul. If this was a nonbeliever their soul would be on the way to destruction and there would be no need to turn it
over to Satan.
Some suggest that verse 11 mentions him as being a so-called brother or lost ("...any man that is called a brother...."). However, the context seems to shift in verse nine from the man in sin to another topic.
This man was involved with his father’s wife. Paul is quite plain there is a problem and that it should be dealt with. Verse seven uses the terminology that indicates the removal of the person from the church assembly. "Purge out." The term purge would indicate there is to be a cleansing action in the whole process. If you have removed a man that is in open sin, you certainly are cleaning up the church.
In verse five they are to deliver him to the Devil for the destruction of his flesh. The purpose of discipline is seen in seven and eight. Sin is like leaven and you must get it out of the lump before it leavens the whole lump. (Leaven is the same as yeast.) Leaven is usually seen as a type of sin in the Bible.
I have wondered if Paul’s choice of words wasn’t deliberate. "Puffed up," would picture a lump with leaven throughout - fully raised. His comments then in seven and eight would call on them to clean out that pride - which is sin - they can be a new lump. Indeed verse six indicates this.
It seems somewhat hard to envision a church that is proud of the sin that is within. The idea may be they were proud of how tolerant they were of the sinners. Tolerance is not something that is to be desired in the church, be it tolerance of sin, tolerance of false doctrine, or tolerance of improper activities.
We attended a Sunday school class in the South while on vacation and the teacher was involved in this idea of being pleased about how tolerant the people in her church were of one another. She mentioned they even had fundamentalists and liberals in the church and they all got along fine.
That is not getting along, that is being tolerant of false doctrine in your church assembly!
We need to look briefly at 2 Corinthians 2:6-11 before we move on. Most agree that this is speaking of the man in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 that was to be put out of the church. Paul tells them to commend their love to him and to forgive him and comfort him. Restore your fellowship with him would be the idea of the text.
Another text which relates to the topic is Galatians 6:1-2. If anyone be taken in a fault restore him in meekness. The warning also is given to consider yourself so that you aren’t tempted in the same manner.
The question is, "Does this relate to church discipline?" Specifically I would doubt it. It seems more of a generic type sin rather than immorality etc. The principles set forth may well apply however. Restore in meekness - and seeing to it that you don’t become tempted. Along with this we must not forget that Christ was very forceful when he ran the money changers out of the temple (John 2:12-17), and most consider him meek.
There seems to be evidence that unruliness or disobedience is also a basis for taking steps of discipline. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, encourage the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient toward all men." 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, mentions that we should withdraw from those that are disorderly and those that walk not after "the tradition which he received of us." Verse 14 tells us to "have no company" with anyone that disobeys the words
of the epistle.
The elders or church leaders are not exempt from the possibility of discipline. 1 Timothy 5:19-20, "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear." Trouble with elders should be heard only if two or three witnesses are available. Then confront him before the assembly.
In our "don’t scare people" atmosphere today we don’t dwell on the aspect of hell because we don’t want to scare anyone into heaven. This text tells us that disciplined people will cause fear in the assembly. Fear is not the best motivation to obedience however, the Word states that it is a possible motivation.
Titus 3:10-11 sets a basis for discipline for divisiveness. "A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject, Knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself." This verse tells us to reject after the second admonition the heretic. The term heretic seems to have the idea of one that is divisive.
Another text which we need to look at is 2 John 1:7-11. First of all we need to see that verse seven shows these to be lost people! This seems quite clear that we are to have no part with "RELIGIOUS" people that have a wrong view of Christ. This would be in the realm of having them in our homes for hospitality and encouragement. I’m not sure it prohibits having them in to witness to them yet I’m not sure that is a good idea either. You might run into difficulties. We can
certainly witness to them - that is not a thought in the text!
From what we have seen there is plenty of evidence to show that we should and must discipline believers that are in sin. If we do not then we are allowing the leaven that Christ spoke of to contaminate the entire assembly. If we do not discipline, then we invite trouble and strife into our churches.
Discipline is not popular in our churches today. I have talked with pastors that have taken a needed stand and found themselves questioned for their activities.
The next question. What offences do we discipline for? I would submit a list of topics and references for your consideration.
a. Immorality. 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
b. Unresolved disputes between brethren. Matthew 18:15-17
c. Elders that sin. 1 Timothy 5:19-20
d. Repeated troublemaking. Titus 3:10
e. Outward sin, such as divorce or immorality.
A related question. Are there others that we should separate from?
a. Those teaching false doctrine. 2 John 1:7-11.
b. Professing people involved in fornication, covetousness, idolatry, railing, drinking or cheating. 1 Corinthians 6:11.
We have shown that discipline is Biblical and that it is being ignored in our day. So, why do churches today fail to discipline? May some possibilities be set forth for your consideration and future avoidance?
a. Afraid to rock the boat. Financial problems will come if we make trouble. We might hurt someone’s feelings. How would it look to the community?
b. Indifference. We don’t care.
c. There is always the usual outcry that "We can’t judge." This argument is illogical. God states that we are to discipline. Thus we must assume that discipline is not "judging," or else God is telling us to do something that He has told us not to do. Now, just how logical is that?
All of these allow the leaven to leaven the whole lump.
Now that we see discipline to be correct, we need to consider who it is that should do the disciplining? Yes, the individual should confront, yes there should be witnesses on the second trip. These witnesses should be the elders so they are involved from the beginning. Several references indicate that the elders are the ones to become involved. Acts 20:28 show the elders over the church. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 mentions some are over the church for the purpose of admonishment. Hebrews 13:7; Hebrews 13:17 mentions those that rule over the church and that the church is to submit them.
If you have been reading newspapers or listening to the network news over recent years you know that churches have been sued for disciplining a member. There is a lot of worry about lawsuits.
First of all we need to remember that the law of man is not the law of God. God tells us to discipline. If the law of the land punishes us for doing so, then so be it. We must do that which God has said.
The lawsuits that I have heard about seem to have been caused by improper application of the discipline. One lawsuit in particular was brought because the church broadcast the sin of the person far and wide. There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that we should take out a personal want ad to advertise a persons’ sin. We should be as discrete about discipline as possible without
We need to consider a few easy steps of prevention that might save your church from a lawsuit.
I might suggest an article from Christianity Today, "Church Discipline Without a Lawsuit" by Carl Laney, Nov. 9, 1984 which deals with this problem. I have adapted some of Mr. Laney’s points into the following list for you in case the magazine is not available to you.
1. Get insurance for the problem. Some church insurance companies have it available. We have insurance to avoid lawsuits for accidents etc. so there should be no real moral question in taking this step. Yes, it is sad that our Christian society has degenerated to the place where we have to insure ourselves against such activities, but this is the society that God has asked us to operate in.
2. Don’t slander while the discipline is going on nor after. There is no need to cause pain and suffering. Present the facts to the church family, act and keep your mouth shut.
3. Don’t spread the information outside the church family. This is a family problem and there is no need to take it outside the family, no matter how badly you want to talk about it.
4. Include in your constitution a clause that allows for church discipline. Have each member sign the constitution as they join the church. This may or may not take care of the possible situations.
5. Possibly a visit to your lawyer in your state would be of good advantage.
Include just what you believe church discipline is, why it is to be used, and the procedure which is to be followed. Indeed if there is no clause in your constitution, put one in and ask all to sign it, be they new members or old.
Dr. Laney suggests the inclusion of a paragraph which forbids the member to sue the church leadership or the church if they bring church discipline action against the member.
I would work into this statement, something that covers you and the church in case they withdraw membership during the procedure. This would give them a moral obligation not to sue. You could also include information on the fact that Scripturally the believer is not to go to law with a brother etc.
5. If someone tells you something in confidence then you are bound to keep that confidence. If there is a real problem it will probably come to the surface in time.
I might take a side track for a moment and state there is a real lack of keeping confidences in the church today. Many of the illustrations I hear come right out of counseling sessions. That is not confidence!
6. In all of the activities attempt not to embarrass those that are involved. This can only hurt and bring about hard feelings. The desired result of discipline is restoration and hard feelings will not aid in this process.
7. During the process be sure to reveal only the information that is necessary for a proper procedure. Disclosing all of the little details is not necessary.
If at all possible, keep all discipline activities within the local assembly. If the person tries to transfer membership to another church, you should be bound to let the new church know they are under discipline. The details may not need to be given unless it affects the new church’s decision.
If it is a pastor that is disciplined then there should be contact with the men of his ordination council, so that proper steps can be taken if any are needed.
Now, the following is my OPINION! DOCTRINE OF DERICKSON.
If you have someone come to your church for membership from a church close by, take time to find out why they left the other church. It may save you a multitude of trouble. Usually when people leave it is because of problems. You don’t need those problems. If this is the case it would be good to talk to them and ask them to return to their previous church to solve their problem, and then they can be considered for membership.
8. If a lawsuit comes into your future, find a good lawyer so that you know you are doing things correctly and seek an out of court settlement. This will allow you to not go to court with your brother. If this is not possible, then you are bound by the law of the land to answer the charges and you must do the best you can to bring about a peaceful end to the matter.
9. Be very careful to inform the congregation. A church in Oregon discovered a teacher and woman were involved. They were guilty and would not cease their activity. The elders wanted to keep it quiet because both parties were very prominent members. The couple left the church voluntarily, but the elders did not inform the congregation. Rumors began flying and the elders still kept quiet. Before the situation was over others left because they mistakenly thought that the elders had kicked the erring couple out of the church with no reason.
Let’s draw some conclusions to our study.
1. Church discipline is not a four-letter word. It is taught in Scripture and we should be practicing it!
2. We need to know our own attitudes. Discipline is to be done in love and concern for the other person. Forgiveness is the required when confession and repentance are forthcoming. (1 Corinthians 5:2; Galatians 6:1; 2 Corinthians 2:7)
3. There should be a restraining influence from discipline upon the rest of the membership. 1 Timothy 5:20
4. For the church that is contemplating not bringing discipline I would recommend they read Revelation 2:12-17.
5. 1 Peter 1:15 calls us to holiness. 2 Timothy 3:2 mentions that the elder is to be "above reproach". 1 Thessalonians 5:22 calls us to avoid any appearance of evil. Let these be your guide.
In light of such verses, we as local churches must maintain the purist assembly that we can. This comes from personal purity. This comes from prodding our friends to purity. This comes from purging impurity, if need be.
Years ago we attended a church in Denver, CO that had a missions conference. Two missionaries from Africa came to the conference and were talking about how great the church was doing in Africa. It was growing, it was evangelizing, and it was an alive church.
I asked the two missionaries why the church in Africa was such an alive, growing church. The younger missionary quipped out some quick answers that I accepted. (I wasn’t convinced that he had answered my question.) The next day the older missionary came to me and said, "Stan, I think I can answer your question from last night with one word. "Purity." He went on to explain that the church was pure on a personal basis and they were pure on an ecclesiastical basis as well.
That was an answer that made much sense.
6. In the end result, I believe our emphasis should be squarely upon the Word of God. If lawsuits come they come. If bankruptcy comes it comes. God’s Word must stand and we for it!
Mr. Laney ended his article with I Tim. 3 12, "Indeed, all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.."
I suspect that the following is the best policy. PROBABLY THE BEST CURE FOR CHURCH DISCIPLINE IS CHURCH DISCIPLIN’. If we teach them right there will be less chance for error.
Some other references which might add to your personal study: Exodus 12:15-19; Exodus 13:7; Leviticus 2:11; Deuteronomy 16:4; Matthew 16:6; Matthew 16:12; Mark 8:15; Lu. 12:1; Galatians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 6:11.
Enough of that let us move on in the passage.
1. Paul determines to winter in a specific place. Does that mean this is a proof text that "Snowbirds" are doing God’s will? Snowbirds are those folks that go to the sunny states for the winter then return home for the summer.
No, this has nothing to do with Snowbirds, though it may relate to the thought of hiding out for the winter. There would be a lot of difficulty in traveling during the winter. It is my feeling that the shipping might have been quite hampered by winter storms in that day and area.
It also would give the apostle time to care for his writing and teaching responsibilities.
2. So, just how important are you to your pastor? Are you a valuable servant of God which your pastor can use to assist him in his ministry? What a responsibility the congregation has to minister in the church - to assist in the overall ministry that the church has to its own body and to the lost outside.
What a responsibility, also, for the pastor to assist ALL members of the congregation in finding ways to use their spiritual gift for the edification of the body of Christ. He is not totally responsible to see to it that all have a place to minister, but if someone is not ministering it is his responsibility to encourage that one to find a place to work.
Most churches operate with about fifteen to twenty percent of the body doing all the work while the other percentage sits and lets them. This is not the way that God wants it. He wants all people ministering with the gifts that the Spirit has given.
3. The term "heretic" deserves a little closer look by way of application. Barnes quoting Webster mentions the word "occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The corresponding noun ... occurs in the following places: Acts 5:17; Acts 15:5; Acts 24:5 Acts 26:5; Acts 28:22, where it is rendered sect; and Acts 24:14 1 Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20; 2 Peter 2:1, where it is rendered heresy, and heresies."
Barnes goes on to say, "The true notion of the word is that of one who is a promoter of a sect or party. The man who makes divisions in a church, instead of aiming to promote unity, is the one who is intended. Such a man may form sects and parties on some points of doctrine on which he differs from others, or on some custom, religious rite, or peculiar practice; he may make some unimportant matter a ground of distinction from his brethren, and may refuse to have fellowship with them, and endeavour to get up a new organization. Such a man, according to the Scripture usage, is a heretic, and not merely one who holds a different doctrine from that which is regarded as orthodoxy."
We often think of the word "sects" as being some large movement such as the Pharisees of the New Testament, but it more probably relates to a small group with in a larger group that holds to different doctrine. Thus a reformed man gathering adherents in an Armenian church could be considered a sect or heretic.
The word relates not only to doctrine or religious belief, but can relate to philosophy. Now, that tends to get a little touchy, in that many groups find themselves differing in philosophy with a Biblical basis. This would make them a sect as well in my thinking.
The sad thing is that many a pastor has caused the older, founding people, of churches to become outcasts in their own churches by installing and forcing contemporary music upon them. The older folks differ and rightly so - the problem is that they become the heretics and are shunned rather than the interloper that subverted the congregation.
The person that forms a sect is actually causing division. Now isn’t it the pastor, with his contemporary music, that is splitting churches then the older folks that are forced to leave. I think many pastors owe a grand apology to many congregations for causing division within a body that formerly was quite united.
Pastor, beware what you do in a church. You are there to feed not divide. The same goes to a reformed pastor that takes on a church he knows would reject him if they knew he was reformed. I have been told of a large number of churches that have been taken into reformed groups by unscrupulous pastors that came in unawares on the part of the congregation. Yes, the congregations should have been more careful in their selection, but if the pastors had been ethical and open in the first place none of the problems would have developed.
4. I would suggest you consider this possible application. If you believe, say the Charismatic movement, is divisive and incorrect theologically should you invite one that believes in such things into your church to minister to your people? It seems rather a fundamental violation of the term reject used here yet many pastors do just that.
Many pastors do not even ask of the doctrinal background of missionaries and speakers that they are asking into their pulpits. It is their responsibility to assure the congregation of like minded speakers, not just someone to fill the slot left when the pastor wants to take a break or a vacation.
In my mind this is tantamount to the shepherd inviting a wolf in among his congregation for a shot at feeding himself on one of the sheep.
It is no different when a music group is asked to minister. If the pastor does not know the type of music and the content of the lyrics before the invitation, he is asking for trouble and most likely will soon find it in his church.
Many reject the teaching of separation, but this is what separation is all about. Separating your sheep from the wolves that would come in and make converts to their line of thought.
5. Keathley uses an Old Testament account to show that this admonition is not just a telling of someone that they are doing wrong, it is much more. In 1 Samuel 2:24 ff Eli tells his sons of their error, yet in 3:13ff Eli is rebuked by God for not taking care of his sons’ problem.
What might be included in this admonition?
a. Identification of the problem. Firstly, just what is being taught? Secondly, just what is wrong with what is being taught? Thirdly, what is the remedy for what is being taught?
b. Confrontation of the person accused. Are these things found above, true and accurate? If so then the person should be correctly accused of being divisive and given opportunity to question his accusers so that all are plain and clear about the wrong of the person.
c. Elaboration of the consequences and any further action that is expected of the accused and any action that will be forthcoming from the accusers, such as the second admonition.
d. The second admonition should go along the same lines.
e. Closure of the situation should be next. Either rejection of the false teaching by the accused, or rejection of the heretic from the assembly by the leadership.
It must be clear for all parties lest there be confusion or misunderstanding.
Note however in our society of rationalization, lack of ethics and general moral malaise don’t assume the above is a slam dunk. It will be difficult to get the congregation to realize the black and white of the issue that most likely will be viewed as a gray area as most sin and incorrect doctrine appears to so many.
Be clear, concise and courageous and God will bless your effort.
2 Thessalonians 3:14 also relates to this process. This passage probably relates a little closer to the Matthew concept, however to both. "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count [him] not as an enemy, but admonish [him] as a brother."
Note, the reconciliation aspect of the process. Even in the admonition process the reconciliation is the aim, not the rejection. The rejection comes when the reconciliation attempts have failed. Even after rejection, reconciliation is the goal of the whole process. (See Romans 16:17 also)
6. The idea of the person being "condemned of himself" relates to the fact that he has been confronted twice, and has been rejected. It is his fault that it has gone this far, it is his problem to assure reclamation by the church by repentance, and it is his failure before God. Most people in this situation will rationalize all of the problems away I’m sure, but in reality it is they that condemn themselves.
When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.
We now shift to some personal matters and plans of the apostle Paul.
Artemas: This man’s name means "gift of Artemis." This reference is the only allusion to this man in the Bible.
Tychicus: Tychicus means "fateful."
We know little of these two men, but they must have been quite valuable for Paul to send one of them to Crete, probably to carry on the oversight of the churches of Crete after Titus had gone.
Tychicus is mentioned also in Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21; Ephesians 6:24; Colossians 4:7; Colossians 4:18; 2 Timothy 4:12 and here in Titus 3:12.
He is more than an acquaintance it seems from Acts 20:4 "...Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord...." From the Ephesians passage it is learned that he wrote the book to the Ephesians believers for Paul, or at his direction/quotation. Again in Colossians we see the closeness between this man and Paul, "...Tychicus declare unto you, [who is] a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:"
Like Ephesians, Colossians was penned, at least partially, by Tychicus ( Colossians 4:18). A very important man to Paul it would seem, yet Paul was willing to give up this man to gain benefit from Titus. You can only imagine how valuable Titus must have been to Paul. It may also be that Paul needed Titus’s spiritual gift rather than that of Tychicus for the next portion of his ministry.
Nicopolis: Nicopolis means "city of victory" and there were a number of cities by that name around the travels of Paul. Many of the conquerors would rename a city Nicopolis to commemorate their victory. (Gill suggests that this is the Nicopolis of Thrace but gives no real basis for that statement. Life Application Bible states that it was on the western coast of Greece.)
Now, little can be gained from this verse but note that Paul wants Titus to leave Crete and come to him, thus he EXPECTS Titus to finish his work in a matter of weeks or at most months! Think back through all the things he is to teach the people and wonder at how he could accomplish so much. It must have been done by some serious time spending on the part of the people with Titus to learn all this stuff. More than three hours a week I’d guess!
There is another truth here of interest. Some quote James 4:13 "Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." as teaching that we ought not make plans for the future. This passage in Titus counters that thought. The James passage and the Titus passage must be understood within their own contexts as well as the Bible the context in which they reside.
Paul made plans. This is evident elsewhere in the Word, however the Spirit stopped him from accomplishing some of those plans. We should plan the best we can knowing our situation, then allow God to make modifications to our plans as the need fits His Will.
James is simply telling his reader not to make and count on plans, for their life is tenuous. He is not saying make no plans whatsoever.
Week 12: Titus 3:13-15 THE WORKS
Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.
I won’t tell any stories about lawyers, because I’m sure they have a multitude of theologian jokes that they would love to send my way, but suffice it to say, that Paul saw benefit to lawyers. I guess the surprise is that Zenas must have been an itinerant lawyer of some sore to be able to just pick up and go at the apostle’s request.
Not sure, given the growing antichristian climate in the world that this might not be a possible ministry for our own present age; someone that could go place to place giving assistance to people that are in need.
Zenas means Jupiter, while Apollos means "given by Apollo." Zenas was a lawyer, which may be a lawyer or one that knows the law, but it can also denote a man that works with and teaches the Old Testament law. (The Net Bible note feels that he was a civil lawyer.) Tradition suggests that he was "one of the seventy disciples of Christ, and afterwards bishop of Diospolis."
We know a little more about Apollos. He is introduced in Acts 18:24 ff as a Jew from Alexandrea (North Africa). He is noted for his eloquence and after he became a believer, was quite convincing to the Jewish people. He was evidently a disciple of John the Baptist or one of the Baptist’s followers, for it is noted in Acts that he was preaching in the synagogue with only the understanding of the Baptists teaching. It is also noted in this passage that Aquila and Priscilla nurtured him in the things of Christ.
He was an itinerant preacher and recommended by the brethren. He is mentioned as one of the leaders in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:12) that the people were becoming divisive over. Some were claiming him as their leader while others held to the leadership of Paul. Paul goes on to deal with this problem in the following context.
To have been thus viewed, he must have been an exceptional communicator as was Paul. Both must have been striking men to know and sit under while they preached.
In 1 Corinthians 16:12 Apollos is shown to be in compliance with Paul’s wishes for his travels. A good preacher, eloquent, a good minister of the Word and a good cooperating servant with Paul.
One brief side note about Apollos might be that he was teaching wrong doctrine as a disciple of the Baptist, yet we have no indication that he was condemned by anyone. We are told that others took him under their wing to properly teach him.
As we go through life, if you run into someone that is teaching false doctrine, speak to them and attempt to teach them correctly. If they will not admit to their error, then there might be basis for discipline, as we have seen, but if they are accepting of correction and proper teaching, then do so and be sure it is not in a condemning manner.
It is suggested that Titus is to bring these men with him. Either they were with Titus on Crete or they were going to be passing through on their way to Paul, however the later makes little sense, in that Crete is an island and is not on the way to anywhere unless the two men were arriving by boat from ports unknown. Gill holds to the idea of them being at Crete at the time and preparing for a journey.
Some suggest, on the other hand, that these two were traveling from the north and heading via Crete and continuing on by ship to some other destination. They further suggest that the verse is a request for Titus to care for their needs as they travel. The Net Bible follows this line of thought. "Make every effort to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; make sure they have what they need." They further translate the next verse as follows, thus backing those holding this position. "Here is another way that our people can learn to engage in good works to meet pressing needs and so not be unfruitful."
Gill says that the Syriac Bible has a postscript to Colossians that mentions it was being sent by Zenas and Apollos thus indicating they were with Paul and it might be possible that they also were carrying this letter to Titus on their way to a final destination.
Keathley holds to the thought that the two were carrying the letter to Titus as part of their journey on past Crete to a final destination.
"Diligent" not only has the idea of "be sure you do it" but also the idea of quickness about the task as well as earnestness in the task.
There is one element that is quite clear in this passage. Diligence. When you are involved in the Lord’s work, be diligent. Don’t allow all things to come before your service to God, but allow all things to become subservient to your service to God.
Servanthood is an option to the believer, in that God does not force servanthood. Servanthood is the command, and it is up to us as individuals to place ourselves in that position. Christ bought us and we are His property, whether we act like it or not.
One that is not "serving" God should consider the ramifications of deciding not to do what they are told in the Word. If SERVING is commanded, and you do not, then you are walking in sin. If walking in sin, you cannot have the full blessing of God. If walking in sin, you cannot have an adequate and proper relationship to the Spirit. If you do not relate properly to the Spirit, you cannot have proper leading and guidance from Him. Just how proper can your life be? I trust you will amend your decision quickly so that you can be right with God. There are a lot of other ramifications if you want to consider them.
There is a priority in life that must be maintained. God first, family second, employer or occupation third. There are many marriages - Christian marriages, where one partner places occupation above the other two and splits the couple. This is wrong and should be corrected.
God must come first in everyone’s life in the family, and then the family and occupation will come into proper perspective.
Be diligent in your visitation; don’t allow a minor headache to keep you home to watch TV.
Be diligent in your teaching; don’t allow a busy schedule to rob your students of proper preparation.
Be diligent in your cleaning of the church; don’t decide that someone else will clean it up.
Gill goes to some lengths with the thought of good works. He runs with the fact that this can be translated "honest trades" and comments to the thought of a father’s need to teach a son a trade, as was the custom of the day. He does then go on to give emphasis to the idea of "good works" as they are normally understood.
1. Paul uses the term "salute" in relation to greetings between believers. Salute can mean embrace, though that isn’t the thought here. I would like to consider greetings between believers for a while.
I have been known to ask a class if they believe in literal interpretation of the Scripture. Of course all agreed. I would then ask if they REEEALLLLYYY believed in the literal interpretation of the Word. Again, all agreed. Then I would read one of the following verses.
Romans 16:16 "Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you."
1 Corinthians 16:20 "All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss."
2 Corinthians 13:12 "Greet one another with an holy kiss."
1 Thessalonians 5:26 "Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss."
Paul reiterated this four times in his writings. There must have been something in it that he wanted believers to get. Do you suppose that he wanted them to greet one another with a holy kiss? Yes, in our society it might not be a wise greeting, though I am not so sure that we should allow an amoral, homosexual accepting society to dictate our greetings.
At the least, we ought to greet one another with as much love, concern and honesty as with an holy kiss. This would be something a little different from the usual, "How’s it goin?" or the "How ya doin?" that we usually get out when we see another believer.
I have used the illustration before that I used to walk the halls of our church - one Sunday I would greet everyone that I met, and all would respond with a greeting. The next Sunday I would greet no one and no one would greet me. Having done this many times I know that it wasn’t just a fluke, but a natural and normal problem. Now, that isn’t saluting another believer, and it is certainly not showing the love and concern that a holy kiss would communicate.
Years ago we were picking our son up at a Bible camp where he had been ministering. The camp was being used by a very conservative group that greeted one another with a "holy kiss" on the cheek. I could see on their faces the joy of seeing one another when they came up to greet one another.
What a different face we might put on the church if we were to somehow grow to like, enjoy and look forward to spending time with other believers, and then communicate this by our greetings. By greetings, I think you know I am not talking about how we greet one another during the "GREETING TIME" either. (Don’t suppose those two are related do you :-)
How might we foster this closeness of believers?
a. By fostering times of togetherness. Having pot lucks is good. Having smaller get together groups should help. Have a "surprise guest" time each week. (Everyone signs up, and someone else pairs up the couples.)
Work days can foster "togetherness" as well.
b. Having special day get togethers. Valentine’s Day, Labor Day etc. Make these inexpensive or free so all can participate.
c. Start hobby type fellowships. Electric train people, airplane people, exercisers, bikers etc. Be sure to mix them up now and then.
d. Do you suppose preaching from the word on how to relate to one another might work? A series on "One Another People" might get things rolling. Maybe a study or two or three on great friendships in the Bible. Maybe a series on the "holy kiss" would be a good start.
e. Foster unity of purpose in the church so that all are going the same direction.
f. The leadership should "Lead" maybe - this would be a tremendous asset - for the people to see some genuine concern from the leaders.
g. Encouraging believers to gather around people that are in trouble or that has lost a loved one. Death and trouble tend to open a person to feelings they usually lock up. When they are open to feelings and they see someone responding it can be a powerful message. It also will open up feelings in the other person as well.
Actually, just being "One Another People" will do the trick. Just do a search for the references containing "one another" and take a slow read through the contexts and see how we are supposed to be treating one another.
We have not been taught these things in most churches.
2. The idea of Christians being hospitable has been covered in some of my studies, so if you have heard it before, skip to the next point of application.
Hospitality is one of the great lackings of the church today. It is also one of the great privileges a believer has, and it is also one of the great sources of blessing to the believer.
I will dwell again on the lack of hospitality shown to missionaries that are on the road in this country. I will specify that I have knowledge of only the western part of our country, but I suspect it is true country wide. Missionaries are often on their own for housing and meals between meetings.
It is rather normal to give them a meal before or after the meeting, but other than that, duty is fulfilled. I was on the road for nearly five years and most of the time I was on my own for meals and housing between meetings.
Indeed, I had very few that offered either food or housing. I seldom knew from one meeting to the next whether I would have a meal before moving on and only once was I expected to stay overnight. In that case there had been no mention of staying, so I had planned a visit some distance away for early the next morning.
There are some churches however that take the truth of this verse to heart. I arrived at a missions conference in California and noticed a bad cut in one of my tires. I had just mentioned the tire in passing to the pastor when I told him I needed to run an errand. When I returned from getting the new tire, I was handed a, more than ample, check to cover the cost of the tire. The pastor was sensitive to the missionary’s needs on the road. What a blessing to know that the church was thinking of my needs when I am sure they had many other places to spend that money.
Hospitality relates to how we treat people visiting our churches, it relates to how we treat people that come into our homes, and it relates to how we treat people in general. We need to be very careful to be as hospitable as we can to all people.
We live in a multi-racial neighborhood and when we first moved in, there were some that started borrowing tools, asking for help with bike repairs, etc. I can’t say that my attitude was always as gracious as it should have been, but I always helped as I could.
The results of this interaction were quite evident one day. Our garage had been decorated with graffiti and I had been out cleaning it off which was a time-consuming job. One of the prime borrowers and his brothers knocked on our door and apologized for the tagging. They said "It was some of our friends and when they said they tagged your garage we told them they shouldn’t have done that cuz you are a good guy!"
Our hospitality can make a difference in how we are perceived. I have lost a couple of hand tools to the borrowing, but it was a good investment.
Hospitality is not only a good work, but it is a work that the church dearly needs to involve itself with, for the believer’s sake as well as the sake of the lost.
3. Keathley sees two characteristics of Paul in these closing comments. He sees the fact that Paul was a team player. Even though he was an apostle, even though he had direct revelation from the Lord and even though he had the ultimate authority on earth at the time, he chose to surround himself with able men to assist him in his ministry. He did not go it alone as so many preachers of today. He chose good men and used their gifts to the utmost, rather than to stifle those around him.
Further he sees that Paul used every day occurrences to stimulate believers to doing what they should spiritually. Here he uses two travelers as a reminder to hospitality and caring for other believers.
4. These final letters of Paul’s should be a large challenge to church leaders. He thought the things contained within them to be important enough to commit a lot of time to their creation rather than take time for other things.
Leaders, I trust that you will take a lot of time to understand the implications of these pastoral letters for your life as well as the life of your church.
Imagine if you will, just following these Pastoral Epistles in pursuit of Godliness. What a shift in the church we would see if church leaders started applying these principles to their churches. What a shift in the congregations we would see if lay people started to live by these same principles.
5. Just an observation - here we have a lawyer and a preacher traveling together. No, I am not going to find a joke in that situation. These two are probably at least comfortable with one another as believers. How do professionals today view preachers? Do preachers have the respect that they deserve? Do preachers respect the professional as they ought? Is there a mutual goal between the preachers and professionals?
The spiritual leader in a congregation must be the spiritual leader of all in the congregation, not just the non-professionals. This is not a condemnation of preachers or professionals, just asking questions - are these relationships correct in your church? On the other hand, are professionals involved enough in the church for the preacher to build a relationship with? Are there wrong feelings between the two groups?
It isn’t impossible that the preacher could wonder at the high salary/living of the professional. It is not impossible that the professional might look down on the "poor" preacher.
In fact these final verses tend to point out the good relationship, the closeness and the respect between an apostle, the man with the most authority in the church at the time, and the lowest of Christians. We will see in the next lesson the apostle even had a good, close and helpful relationship with a servant.
A church leader should never be standoffish to the people he serves. The pastor should always be on common ground with the lowest and the highest of his congregation and all those between. We are all common people before God. We all were lost sinners before He graciously touched our lives for Himself.
So often I have seen a pastor and his board make decisions that the congregation would never have desired and implement the ramifications of those decisions without any input, concern or respect for the congregation.
6. In verse fourteen Paul adds a little phrase that deserves some thought. "And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses"
First of all we are to learn to maintain works. It is a learned process, not something that is natural. How will people learn if they are not taught - pastors/teachers think on those things awhile - many are the pastor that is disgusted with a non-working congregation - have they been taught?
Secondly, they are to maintain - continue on in good works. It isn’t a, "this month is good works month" thought that would be better than nothing, but it is continuing from this point forward to do good works.
Thirdly, we are to do the good works.
And fourthly, this is the phrase I wanted to think about - "for necessary uses." What in the world did Paul add that for? What was in the back of his mind when he added those words? What situation of life was prompting him to clarify the "let ours also learn to maintain good works" - was it a specific situation in Crete, was it something from his past, or was it something he had observed recently?
The preposition "for" may give us a clue. It is rather like the phrase the lexicon uses to illustrate this usage. On a poster it says, "Jesse James wanted for robbery." This can be taken two ways. Either James is wanted so that he can commit a robbery for us, or the better usage, James is wanted because he has robbed.
In the phrase "for necessary uses" there are two ways to view it. Maintain good works for, or to get, salvation is one way, but this is against all of Scripture and especially this context, so the other meaning, maintain good works for necessary uses, is the preferred and correct.
Paul may have been making this distinction to be sure no one thought he wanted to see works tied to salvation. He may also have had another thought in mind.
Are there good works that are not necessary? I suspect so. I personally feel many things today classified as "Christian" works are unnecessary. Today I received an email ad for a "Christian" debt counseling service. Now, this business seems to be questionable at best, to me, but some might think it a valid "Christian" work. The thing that caught my eye was the subject line, "Jesus saves and so can you."
Personal opinion here - that is sacrilegious, improper, and obnoxious to me. How can one relate the free salvation that Christ died on the cross for to saving money, which in itself may be unbiblical in view of a number of New Testament passages concerning laying up stores etc.?
That would class as a good work that is not necessary in my book. We might mention "Christian" dating services, though I can see the desire of a believer to find other believers to date, but can’t this be accomplished for free by going to church?
We are becoming the world folks. We want it all - every smidgen of the world, we want to "Christianize" so we can have it to. No matter it is right, wrong, or logical, we want what the world has and we are going to do it by just tacking on the term "Christian."
I suspect there are many good works that are done that really aren’t necessary - and probably by this definition not "good works" so we ought to consider how we do things and what works we involve ourselves in.
Some principles to consider:
a. Is this work going to make me feel good, or bring about good for someone else?
b. Is this work going to benefit God in any way?
c. Is this work necessary or is it something that I want to do?
d. Is this work for God’s glory or my own?
e. Is this work going to be beneficial to the other person?
f. Is this work a necessity that really needs to be done?
g. Is this work to fulfill a guilt need?
I think the point has been made.
7. The next phrase in that verse is "that they be not unfruitful." Note must be made that this phrase breaks Christianity into two categories of believer. Fruitful and unfruitful. To be fruitful you must do good works, if you do no good works you are unfruitful.
I made the point that soul winning is not the criteria by which fruit is measured, but I did not make the point that good works are fruit and lack of good works is being unfruitful.
Can Paul make it any more plain and clear than that? Christian, if you sit in the pew week after week not doing anything in the church, if you sit in front of the television set all week and do nothing, you are an unfruitful servant.
Now, at this point - BE AFRAID - the Scriptures are rather clear on this. In John we have a teaching that is seldom given to congregations. I am going to quote a lot more than the needed text just because it is a fantastic passage ending in one of the neatest thoughts of Scripture aside from salvation itself.
John 15:1-27 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
I trust that you get the picture. We abide in Christ if we are believers. If we abide not in Christ, we aren’t his and will be cast out and burned according to verses five and six. Now, back up to verse two we see that if a branch bears no fruit it is taken away. If it bears fruit it is pruned so that it will bear more fruit. Now, think. What is the result of a branch being taken away - this is a Christian that bears no fruit - taken away. Not burned, not thrown away just "taken away."
Now, to me the only logical expression of this passage is that there are three classes of people in view. There are unfruitful Christians, there are fruitful Christians and there are non-Christians. The non-Christians are taken away and burned, the fruitful Christians are purged/pruned, and the unfruitful Christians are taken away. Seems clear to me that physical death is the result for a believer that is not involved in good works. I have considered this passage for years and there seems no clearer teaching to me to come out of this passage.
If you are not involved in good works, you are unfruitful, and you may well be taken home lest you be an embarrassment to your Savior.
I think good works are good. And while we are doing them, we should be sure they are necessary. Humm, I wonder if we have found a third possible explanation of Paul’s added phrase "good works for necessary uses."
And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.
Again, those good works! The good works are linked with unfruitfulness. We need to understand that we are believers on this earth to be fruitful. Now, some relegate this fruitfulness to soul winning, and that if you aren’t a soul winner, then you are unfruitful. No, soul winning is not the only fruit that you can bear. Here good works are tied to fruitfulness.
Paul elsewhere mentions that he wants to have fruit among a group and it has the idea of teaching or preaching. Philip. 4:17 shows giving to be a fruit. "Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account." Romans 1:13 is written to believers and Paul desires to have fruit among them clearly showing that fruit is not "only" soulwinning. "Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles."
Fruit is the requirement. The type of fruit is up to the individual, their gifts and God’s leading. If God leads you to witness to someone, and you refuse, then you have been unfruitful.
Bear fruit for your Lord!
"Let ours also learn" is of interest. It would seem that linked with verse thirteen, that Paul is encouraging Titus to see to it that Zenas, Apollos, and others, keep up their good works. Not only this, but since Paul used the term "learn" it would seem that some had not learned to maintain good works.
This might have application to multiple staff churches where they encourage one another into good works. Not to miss, the fact that all believers should be encouraging each other to good works.
All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace [be] with you all. Amen.
"All" would indicate a real union of character, of thought, of purpose. The type of thing that a local assembly should have.
"Salute thee" pictures it is not wrong to bring attention to the work that individuals are doing. Bringing pride and glory is wrong; however giving attention to the work of another Christian is not wrong. It may even detract from your own work for a time, but it is something that you should do.
I have seen many pastors that are very unwilling to open their pulpit and congregations to missionaries. They feel that the pulpit is THEIR’S to use! Feeble is the flock that does not have diversity of messengers. Christians need to be challenged with the work of the world.
The church is the place that we need to be hearing what is going on around the world, it is a place where we should be finding challenge, and it is a place where we should be trained for the work. One man can do it in the pulpit, but a multitude of men can make for a much better vision for the people.
I once heard a radio program and the preacher was relating that people pay big money to go to football games. He related that they paid that money to see the action, to see the excitement, to see the victory, not to see the huddle.
The huddle is needed, but the huddle is not the spectacle. If you huddle quickly or neatly or circumspectly it is not of interest to the paid viewer. The action is the spectacle!
The preacher then related this to the church. We are huddles all over the world. The huddle of the church where we pump each other up with things we’ve heard many times before - it is not where the action is, the action is during the week. The victory of the church is not in the huddle, but in the world where we fight the opposing team - the forces of the devil.
You could take this analogy further. The huddle is where strategy is planned, where action is planned, and planned well. What strategy or planning do we have in the churches today? What planning do we have to get the players out on the field Monday morning?
Most pastors are more interested in feeding the flock, fleecing the flock, and funing the flock. WE ARE TO BE PLANNING THE ATTACK ON THE DEVIL’S FORCES IN OUR COMMUNITY, NOT ENTERTAINING THE TROOPS - IF GOD WANTED BOB HOPE BRINGING A TROUPE TO ENCOURAGE THE TROOPS, HE WOULD HAVE COMMANDED IT!
The final words of the letter are indication of the general recipients of the churches at Crete, not to just Titus alone. "Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace [be] with you all."
Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Titus 3". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent