BCP Evensong 22/1/06 Titus 2
Titus 2 1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. 9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.
Two week ago we saw from Romans 12: 1-5 we are to be living sacrifices, transformed by minds renewed by God the Holy Spirit living inside us. This is to be how we are to worship God.
Last week we looked at Romans 12:6-16a and the need to be loving. These are two of the marks of the early church. The others which I mentioned in my January letter in the Parish news are Evangelizing and Learning. A WELL church. Worshipping; Evangelizing; Learning; and Loving.
In today's epistle to Titus the emphasis is very much on learning. Three types are mentioned:
Speaks of learning by word, verse 1; example, verse 7; through God's grace, verse 12.
Learning by word verse 1.
1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine
Titus was a leader of the early church. Paul introduced Christianity in Crete when he and Titus visited the island, after which he left Titus there to organize the converts. Crete is the fourth largest island of the Mediterranean. In NT times life there had sunk to a deplorable moral level. The dishonesty, gluttony and laziness of its inhabitants were proverbial (1:12). The church was full of immature Christians needing basic lessons in morality, and Paul spelled them out for Titus. Using a very straightforward style, he told him what he would prescribe in such circumstances. Especially significant are the repeated emphases on "doing what is good" (1:16; 2:7,14; 3:1,8,14)
Teaching then has to be relevant to how we live and has to be in accord with sound doctrine.
How do we ensure doctrine is sound?
1] We ask if it consistent with the teaching we find in the Bible. Some things are obviously contrary to God's revealed will such as murder, adultery, stealing, and speaking falsely.
In other things we may take principles that we apply to our lives. For example we can take Jesus summary of the law to ask if a particular course of action shows love for God and love for other people. This might lead us to ask if an action will benefit or harm people and if it will help our relationship with God.
2] We can also test doctrine to see if it is in agreement with traditional church teaching. After all, if a doctrine has been held in sincerity by believers for over 1900 years we would need compelling evidence to reject it.
3] We can also test doctrine by seeing if it makes sense. There are times when God does call us to step out in faith but often sound doctrine makes perfectly good sense to those who recognize the ways of God and the good results that come from following his will.
Teaching sound doctrine is linked to 7 In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned,
Integrity is sincerity, the refusal to be corrupted by the world and tempted by personal gain. Seriousness reflects the eternal importance of Christian doctrine for individuals and society. Soundness of speech means the teaching has to be in accordance with the preaching of the apostles and rooted in the Bible. Even though some may not adhere to the teaching the way in which it is presented should result in respect.
Oswald Chambers (1874–1917); "If a teacher fascinates with his doctrine, his teaching never came from God. The teacher sent from God is the one who clears the way to Jesus and keeps it clear; souls forget altogether about him because the vision of Jesus is the only abiding result. When people are attracted to Jesus Christ through you, see always that you stay on God all the time, and their hearts and affections will never stop at you."
[ Learning by word verse 1; ] Learning by example verse 7.
7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good.
Dwight Moody (1837–1899), who was a great preacher and brought thousands to faith in Jesus said, "More depends on my walk than my talk.
Walking and talking have to be consistent. It is no use teaching something if you don't live it in your life. It is also no use living your life with Jesus if you can't teach others something about him.
70% of people described themselves as "Christian" in the last census. Many of them would define being a Christian as living their life according to a moral code. Yet most of these people would have little or no idea of the majority of Jesus' teachings. Many would have an inadequate understanding of what happened at Christmas and Easter, never mind what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus.
Living a good life, then, does not make someone a Christian. But living a good life shows that we have learned what it means to be united with Jesus. This is what the third "learning" is about.
[ Learning by word verse 1; Learning by example verse 7; ]
Learning through God's grace verse 12.
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
Grace is God's undeserved favour. It comes through the work of God's Holy Spirit. God's Spirit first of all leads us to salvation. The Holy Sprit convicts us of our sin, our failure to totally love God and other people. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus as the one who is perfect and died to receive our punishment. The Holy Spirit enables us to say "Yes" to Jesus. To make him our friend and Lord. This is the salvation part, verse 11.
The sanctification part, us becoming more like Jesus, is in verse 12. "Yes" to Jesus means "No" to ungodliness. Anything else is a contradiction. We cannot claim to follow Jesus and the ways o the world. They are opposite routes, and they lead to different destinations, see verse 13.
This learning through God's grace by His Spirit is a continuing, life long cycle of repentance and trust in Jesus.
Louis Cassels (1922–1974); "However we may set out on the path of pilgrimage, we spend a lifetime walking it. There are no rest stops, no plateaux at which we can flop down and say that we've gone far enough. At the beginning, God accepts us in all of our sinfulness and selfishness. But this does not mean that he is content to have us remain in that state. We are all, in the New Testament's terrifying phrase, "called to be saints." Our Father knows our weaknesses even better than we do, and he does not expect us to become saints overnight. But he does demand that we keep moving in that direction, or as the good old Methodist phrase puts it, that we continue "groaning toward perfection."
At each step of the journey, the question that really matters is not whether we are a little farther along than some of our friends and neighbors, but how far we have progressed since yesterday."
Our whole lives are to be devoted to learning about God and His ways. Learning through words and the word. Learning through the example of others, and setting an example by our own lives. Learning by God's Spirit, transforming us from within.
This will be difficult at times but God's Holy Spirit will always be there to guide us and help us.
It will be difficult but we can be inspired by the certain and glorious hope. That Jesus will return and takes those who are united to Him by His Spirit to be with God forever.
C. S. Lewis (1898–1963); "A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next."