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2 - The Commitments and Calling and Conduct of Slaves

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The Commitment, Calling, and Conduct of God’s Slaves - Titus 1:1-3

Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold Country Baptist Church on April 27, 2008

 

I want to begin by sharing with you a little story that I hope can stimulate our thinking. It’s called “New in Town” and it’s written in verse:

The first time I worshipped at their church about two months ago
I signed the registration card so all of them would know

That I had just moved into town and needed a little part
Of the loving concern for each other that a Christian has in his heart.

I checked the proper boxes to indicate my age
My marital condition, My sex, my spiritual stage.

No one smiled or shook my hand when the services were through
And Satan whispered in my ear “See, no one noticed you.”

But I stayed home each night that week in hopes someone would call
It didn’t have to be the Preacher, just any one at all

Who cared enough to take the time in our dear Saviour’s Name
To bid a stranger welcome ... But no one ever came.

And then a thought came to my mind that I’d like to share with you
Why should I sit and wait for others to do what I could do?

So, I joined that church and here I am ... Tonight is “visitation.”
We’re glad you came, We hope you’ll stay and join our congregation.

-         I think that’s a good perspective for those who have the mentality of asking what the church can do for you, rather than asking what you can do for the church

-         We as a church do not exist primarily for you, for your preferences and desires and felt needs as a consumer of goods - we exist for the glory of God, including the worship of Him in all His worthiness and greatness; the preaching of His Word which is displaying the supremacy of Him by the exposition of His all-sufficient and all-satisfying Word

-         We do want to glorify Him by meeting the true needs of His people, and we need your help to do that

-         Where we fall short (as all churches fail in various areas) we pray you will help our shortcomings by stepping up as a congregation of contributors rather than mere critics and complainers of a non-constructive nature from a distance

-         Our culture is used to being spectators in sports, music, entertainment, and for many people 20-30 hours a week sitting back watching TV as a couch potato and consumer

-         That culture unfortunately spills over into the church  where we see ourselves as consumers or customers to be pleased, customers who are always right, and too many churchgoers become critical, comfortable, complacent, and calloused to Christ’s church which they see as optional

-         The excuses many give for their lack of commitment to Christ and His church are all too often self-centered and self-revealing

-         This seems to me to be a more recent phenomenon in church history. Christians used to sing more heartily hymn lyrics like “I love thy church O Lord” and our example in loving the church is as Ephesians 5 says “Christ loved the church”, not because it was blameless or beautiful, but in order to make it so, in spite of its sins and shortcomings                  

-         Is Jesus impressed when we say we love Him but we don’t love His bride, when we look down on His bride, talk down on His bride, bring down His wife with our gossip, etc.?

-         It’s not just our bad attitudes and actions that can hurt the church, it can also be our lack of action, our lackadaisical attitude, our lacking fellowship, our laziness, our lethargy

-         If you’re truly saved this morning, I can say for certain that God did not save you just to sit around, to settle in your sin, or to sink too comfortably in your spectator chair, or even just to soak in truth as mere knowledge - you’re not saved to stagnate or to solidify in self-focus

-         God saved you to serve, not to be served, but to serve and give your life for others. I say that on the authority of our Savior Himself who said in Mark 10:45 “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many

-         And right before Jesus said that in Mark 10, He said “whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant [diakonos], and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all [doulos](Mark 10:43-44)

-         If you are saved, you are saved to serve as a slave of the Lord. Not just a diakonos (servant) but a doulos (slave). We are saved to serve as slaves of our loving Lord. That is not only what we are to do, that is fundamentally who we are

That all brings us back to the intro of Titus 1: Paul, a slave of God

This morning I want to apply and pick up where we left off last time by looking in Titus 1:1-3 at Commitments of a Slave of God.

#1 – Committed to God’s Mastery

Those first five words of Paul when understood in their fullness - if we truly seek to think of ourselves the way Paul did – this first truth alone can almost single-handedly remedy so many of the problems in our church mentalities and thinking and personal lives.

The original language Paul uses here is the word of someone who is a slave committed to the mastery of His Lord.  That’s how Paul saw himself, and that’s how we all must see ourselves first and foremost. Not as autonomous individuals who need to be pleased, but in the words of Luke 17 as merely unworthy slaves simply doing our duty which is to please our Master, not our self.

If your Bible reads “servant” in verse 1, that’s not accurate or as literal or helpful. This is not any of the six Greek words that can be translated “servant.” The word is “slave” according to all the ancient Greek authorities and sources as I sought to show you extensively a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately the lack of this slave concept being clearly conveyed in many of the older English Bibles (as well as many of the new ones) has unwittingly contributed to some of the problems in the church that I have been mentioning. If we miss this truth, we’ll miss much of what our Lord requires and much of what it means when we call Him Lord.

I’m using the word “Master” for this first point, which is what the word “Lord” means, which to the original readers would immediately bring up the clear concept that He owns us as slaves.

Titus 2:9-10 (NASB95) 9 Urge bondslaves [same word as in Titus 1:1] to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

There is no question that Paul is addressing literal “slaves” here in the Roman economy of slavery, and most of the modern translations accurately translate it here as slave. Notice what Paul says is the duty of slaves to their master in light of how Paul refers to himself in verse 1 under his Master, his loving Lord.  

If you weren’t here 2 weeks ago, you need to get the copy of that CD and listen to it, because that may be one of the most important messages and truths that will ever come from this pulpit for our generation.   

Just to summarize and remind you – this word in Titus 1:1 is:

-         NOT a servant who is a volunteer or an employee or someone who works as a matter of option or choice

-         NOT someone who is paid, but someone paid for, owned by a Master whom he calls “Lord”

-         As a result, the NT says we are not our own, we have been bought with a price, we were ransomed from the slave market of sin, not so that we are free from authority to do our own thing, but so that we can be free to live for Christ as God intended, living as a bond-slave of the loving Lord who purchased us with His own precious blood

-         As a result of this price being paid and our new owner, our body is not ours, we are not free to do whatever we want, we must do what our Master wants

-         We are exclusively owned, no rights of our own

-         No independent living apart from the Master’s direction

-         Constantly available to the Master’s will, not our own

-         We are to be singularly devoted in obedience

-         completely dependent upon their Master for everything (provision, protection, etc.)

-         knowing that discipline and reward come from Him

-         and your only goal in life is to please your Master

-         PTL we have a wonderful Master, but He’s still our Master

That’s all review but look back at Titus 1:1 as Paul continues: “Paul a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ”

 

A commitment to God’s mastery involves whatever God calls us to do, and in Paul’s case that was to be an apostle, which literally means “a sent one.” If “slave” indicates Paul’s humility, we might say that “apostle” emphasizes his responsibility and the calling given to him by authority of the Master.

As both slave and apostle, Paul identifies himself with a lowly servile term but also with a high calling and responsibility as a representative or ambassador or messenger for his King.

The word “apostle” referred to the authorized representatives or spokesmen of Christ for His church. This was not a term used of every Christian like “slave” was, this was one of the gifts or offices God gave along with NT prophets to be the foundation of the early church (Eph. 2:20)[1]

There is an authority that comes when an apostle speaks for His King, but the authority is not in the representative, it comes from whom he represents. The authority comes from the sender, not the sent one who is simply a lowly slave obeying His master.

St. Paul would never want churches named after him, or schools, or hospitals, or a city in Minnesota, or cathedrals, basilicas in Rome.

He called himself “the least of all the saints” (Eph. 3:8)

Listen to what he says in 1 Corinthians 15:9 “For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit [ESV ‘unworthy’] to be called an apostle”

1 Corinthians 3:4-7 (NASB95)
4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

1 Corinthians 3:23-4:1 (NASB95)
23 and you belong to Christ [that’s slave language]; and Christ belongs to God. 1 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ

That word translated “servant” there in some of your Bibles or “ministers” in the KJV is not the word normally translated “minister” or “servant” but was actually a more specific word for a type of slave, as my former pastor helped me see:

 

‘Servants (hupēretēs) means literally, “under rowers,” originally indicating the lowest galley slaves, the ones rowing on the bottom tier of a ship. They were the most menial, unenvied, and despised of slaves. From that meaning the term came to refer to subordinates of any sort, to those under the authority of another.

Christian ministers are first and above all else servants of Christ. In everything they are subordinate and subject to Him. They are called to serve men in Christ’s name; but they cannot serve men rightly unless they serve their Lord rightly. And they cannot serve Him rightly unless they see themselves rightly: as His under-slaves, His menial servants … [Paul used the verb form of doulos when he says we like slaves are to be “serving” - douleo] “the Lord with all humility” (Acts 20:19). Then, and only then, can he best serve people.

Paul, though an apostle, considered himself to be a hupēretēs, a galley slave, of his Lord, and he wanted everyone else to consider him, and all of God’s ministers, as that. Galley slaves were not exalted one above the other. They had a common rank, the lowest. They had the hardest labor, the cruelest punishment, the least appreciation, and in general the most hopeless existence of all slaves.[2]

And Paul says “let a man regard us in that manner” – using this word for the lowest level galley slave under-rower at the very bottom of the slave ship.

If that doesn’t do much for your self-esteem – good, because it’s not supposed to. We are to see ourselves as the lowest of the low, yet servants of the Most High God.

There’s a dignity in Christ, but it’s not anything inherent in us – the nobility and honor is only for the One we serve, who is not like the abusive or harsh human slave-owners. Our Lord is a loving Lord, and a merciful Master who graciously keeps our pride down with this image for our good and His glory. We’re lowly unworthy third-level galley slaves just pulling our oar in service of the Lord of Lords in wherever He calls us to serve, whether it’s a high public calling like Paul or not.

Whatever our merciful Master calls us to do, the only question is whether or not we will be good and faithful slaves, but we are His slaves, beloved. It is in God’s love that He gives us reminders of who He is and who we are in relation to Him to keep us humble, which is the most loving thing He can do, because lowliness is the place of blessedness. Brokenness is next to godliness.

Commitment #2 – God’s Slave is Committed to God’s Ministry

 

Titus 1:1-3 (HCSB)
1 Paul, a slave of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, 3 and has in His own time revealed His message in the proclamation that I was entrusted with by the command of God our Savior:

The rest of verse 1 tells us what Paul’s Master commissioned Paul for, beginning with the faith of God’s elect.

Some of the older translations have “according to the faith” which is possible, but of 20-30 sources I read, most scholars argue that “for the faith” is the best translation, and one rendering has “to further the faith.” In other words, Paul’s ministry was for the furthering or promoting or strengthening of the faith of God’s elect, and “the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.”

The same preposition is at the end of the verse, which can mean “truth after” or “truth according to” godliness, but is perhaps best translated as “truth for” or “truth that leads to godliness”[3]

This purpose statement of Paul’s ministry is a similar construction and thought to Romans 1:5:

“apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations” NKJV  or “apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith” NASB

There are 3 components of the ministry here, if you’re a note taker, these are 3 sub-points under Commitment #2 to Ministry:

-         v. 1 “Faith of God’s elect”

-         end of v. 1: Knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness

-         v. 2 “in the hope of eternal life”

The 3 components or goals of this ministry Paul was committed to can be summarized under those 3 key words straight out of the text: Faith – Knowledge – Hope

Or we could summarize them in these words to help us remember:

            Salvation – “for the faith of God’s elect”

Sanctification – “and knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness”

Security – “in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began”

SALVATION - verse 1 says “for the faith of God’s elect”

This verse presents salvation from both the human vantage point and also from the divine vantage point. First, the human side.

The biblical word “faith” of course can refer to both saving faith at conversion, as well as the ongoing faith of those who possess salvation. It is a present continual belief, saving faith is not a momentary or temporary decision in the past, it is an active trust in Jesus Christ that marks our life.

The way you know you are God’s elect (which just means His chosen ones or those He chose to save) is not based on something you did in the past. If a genuine salvation has taken place, it’s because of something GOD did in the past, and He continues to impact your life to the present. If you’re truly saved then right NOW you truly trust Jesus is your Lord and your faith is in Him alone and His work on the cross, and in Him completely for your eternal life. And the result of that, as the end of verse 1 says, is godliness in your life.

If there’s no godliness, if God’s nature is not manifest in your life, what reason do you have to assume you are His child?

From the human side, salvation is evidenced by a living faith that produces fruit to show that God is really at work in the heart. We are saved by God’s grace through faith, but as Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9, even that is not of ourselves, all of it (including faith) is a gift of God, not the result of anything we do, so that none of us can boast.

Again God in His love is keeping us humble not only by the word “slave” but by the word “elect” or its frequent synonyms and words all over the N.T. emphasizing:

-         God’s initiative in calling, choosing, or electing to save particular sinners, the word “elect” literally means to choose out from

-         God the Master comes down to the slave market and chooses and purchases slaves and takes them into His house and family, but the difference is a human Master might choose a slave based on how strong or capable he might be. That is not God’s basis in election in scripture  

-         It’s not because of anything seen or foreseen in us

-         Why did God choose to save me? That’s one theological question I don’t have an answer to, but I do know the wrong answer: the wrong answer would be God chose to save me because of something within me in my fallen humanity or because of anything I have done or ever would have done apart from God’s amazing grace

-         not because of any innate goodness in the sinner or any inherent ability to make better choices than the others

-         it’s not because our hearts have somehow escaped the corruption and depravity of sin and that there is an island of goodness in our heart, a spark of spiritual life that we had in a world of others that more sinful and spiritually dead

-         the explanation for our salvation is not found in our heart or in our will, but can only be found in God’s will and heart

-         even the faith of God’s saving faith we cannot take credit for, salvation is all of God’s electing , from start to finish, so that none can boast and all can remain humble.

-         there are mysteries and difficulties like other doctrines (Trinity, eternity), but God’s elect by faith can accept these truths, recognizing our minds have limitations, and I believe God actually intends that for our humility, too.

Phil Newton writes:

‘The "chosen" or elect "of God" identifies those set apart by God as His people throughout the ages. Not all are "those chosen of God" or else Paul's wording would be senseless. He intended to highlight the sovereign working of God in salvation to Titus who labored among an untrustworthy people. Home to a civilization that stretched back at least three millennia, Crete had gone through times of prosperity under legendary King Minos, destruction by earthquake, volcano, and tsunami, and conquering by Greeks and Romans. One of their own characterized them, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons" (1:12). Dishonest, immoral, debauched, lazy, and self-indulgent people populated the island. [Sounds to me like sinful Cretans and sinful Californians are not that different!]. Into that setting Titus carried out his missionary work. Would his confidence be boosted by Paul convincing him that he had learned superb persuasive skills that could motivate the Cretans to change themselves? Not at all; but what great encouragement he found in knowing that even among the wicked Cretans, there were "those chosen of God."

That is the same truth that motivated William Carey to begin missionary work among the idolatrous, superstitious, and evil people of India in the late 18th century. [A missionary in our century serving in Asia has shared that] the doctrine of the electing grace of God keeps him laboring for the gospel's sake among Muslims. That alone gives assurance that he will have success in his gospel proclamation among them.’[4]

In Acts 13, Paul saw this truth firsthand with his companion:

47 “For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’ ” 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.

Acts 18:9-11 (NASB95)
9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” 11 And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

The truth that God has His elect out there is a great motivation to missionaries and evangelists who are called to be faithful and not to rely on their human abilities or human willpower but to the trust in the power of a truly Almighty God who wills to save. God works through the Word, not apart from it, yet salvation ultimately is not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of God.  Our job is to proclaim the Word, God’s job is to save.

So Paul says in Titus 1:1 he’s an apostle for the faith of God’s elect, but notice as he continues, his commitment to God’s ministry was not just for salvation but included sanctification.

SANCTIFICATION

 

Titus 1:1b “for the faith of those chosen of God and knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness

Paul used a number of those same words (faith, chosen, God, truth, etc.) in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 where he writes:

God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 It was for this He called you through our gospel

God’s Word says the elect were chosen for salvation (not just chosen for a task or for service as some teach), but that’s not the end, that’s the beginning. Sanctification is the ongoing work which is also done by God, God the Spirit in that verse, in conjunction with faith in the truth.

That’s what Paul emphasizes at the end of Titus 1:1, our godliness in sanctification, our spiritual growth, has a direct relationship with our knowledge of the truth. If you don’t know the truth, how can it transform you? And how can you know the truth that God can transform you with if you are not exposing yourself to God’s truth every chance you get?

Let me say by way of application, if you’re not hearing God’s truth enough, that will stunt your spiritual growth and godliness. Titus 1:1 directly connects our godliness, our growth in Christ, in direct relationship with the truth of God’s Word taught and known deeply. If you are struggling in your spiritual life in some way, my first question is: “Are you hearing God’s truth every chance you get? Sunday School, Sunday evening, reading your Bible, meditating, MP3s?”

Plants can’t grow without light, creatures can’t grow without food, and Christians can’t grow without truth taught and read. That doesn’t automatically fix all your problems, but if you’re not doing it, it can automatically lead to a lot of problems in your life.

I don’t say this in a spirit of legalism but in a spirit of love – many of you need to be hearing and heeding God’s truth more in some of those ways I’ve mentioned. The lack of that priority in your life is I think a big reason for the problems and spiritual weakness in your life. This is something I see Paul very concerned about, and something I’m concerned about for my life and for yours.

A. W. Tozer wrote: “The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God. Paul was anything but an advocate of the once-done, automatic school of Christianity. He devoted his whole life to the art of knowing Christ (Phil 3:8, 10, 14). Progression in the Christian life is exactly equal to the growing knowledge we gain of the triune God in personal experience. And such experience requires a whole life devoted to it and plenty of time spent at the holy task of cultivating God. God can be known satisfactorily only as we devote time to Him … Without meaning to do it we have written our serious fault into our book titles and gospel songs. ‘A little talk with Jesus,’ we sing, and we call our books ‘God’s Minute,’ or something else as revealing. The Christian who is satisfied to give God His ‘minute’ and to have ‘a little talk with Jesus’ is the same one who shows up at the evangelistic service weeping over his [stagnant] spiritual growth and begging the evangelist to show him the way out of his difficulty. We may as well accept it: there is no shortcut to sanctity.”[5]

Paul was not satisfied with evangelization in verse 1 - his ministry was also about education in the knowledge of the truth. The word for knowledge here has a prefix that intensifies it, as some translate it “full knowledge,” a deep knowledge.

Some translations have “acknowledging the truth” (KJV) but this word means far more than mental acknowledgment.

In 2 Timothy 3 we see this same phrase “knowledge of the truth” which makes clear it is not a type of superficial learning that leads to a superficial “godliness”:

2 Timothy 3:5-7 (NASB95)
5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

*Note that there is a false form of godliness, that denies God and His power. There is a type of person who is always learning, but never able to come to the real knowledge of the truth.

Are you one of those people this morning?

Some of you in this room maybe do expose yourself regularly to God’s truth, and your problem is that you are hardened to it. Paul makes clear in 2 Timothy 2 this “knowledge of the truth” is not mere or mental intellectual assent or just having more facts in your cranium. There must be repentance preceding and permeating the truth, and for this we must rely on the Lord again.

2 Timothy 2:24-25 (NASB95)
24 The Lord’s bond-servant [lit. “slave”] must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth

I stand here as a slave this morning seeking to apply this truth by gently admonishing and correcting you in love – if Jesus is not your Lord, if you have never given your life over to Him as your Master and turned from your sins and trusted Christ alone, I plead with you by God’s grace and kindness to repent.

And at the same time, I plead with God that He might do as this verse says, that “He may grant [you] repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.”

 

If you do that, Titus 1:2 has a great security and hope for you.

 

There’s a 3rd aspect of Paul’s Commitment to God’s Ministry …

 

SECURITY – (v. 2) “in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began

Those who repent of their sins and come to the knowledge of the truth, who trust in Christ alone and not in themselves, who have a real saving faith that indicates they are God’s elect and they are slaves He has chosen and adopted into His family, there is a great security and a great comfort in God’s sovereignty and His saving.

The word “hope” is not like our English word that expresses doubt or dubiousness, or wishful thinking. A hope in scripture is not that our circumstances will change – it’s a confident expectation and trust based on God’s character and promises. Hebrews 6:18 says “it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor for the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast

That’s a great picture of true biblical hope – something that gives us “strong encouragement” that we can “take hold of” as a “sure and steadfast … anchor for the soul” in any storms or waves of life

The assurance we have in Hebrews 6 is associated with the fact that “it is impossible for God to lie” and that’s very similar to what we have in Titus 1:2 “God, who cannot lie”

When I was a kid growing up, we used to sing with hand motions “My God is so BIG, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do” – but according to this verse, there is something God cannot do and that is to lie. God cannot deny Himself, God cannot sin. From a theological viewpoint, we might say God can do anything within His nature and character.

This was good news that God cannot lie in the ancient world, the various deities they worshipped were not predictable or consistent, and they were deceitful. Paul reminds the Greek churches in Crete by his intro that the true God is not like that. He cannot lie.

‘the application to God of this particular term apseudes [“cannot lie”], which is not made in Jewish or Christian writings but did describe prophetic figures in Greek antiquity, would remind the Cretan recipients of a unique aspect of their pagan heritage. This is surely intentional on Paul’s part … ancient evidence that “Cretans regarded lying as culturally acceptable” and this cultural tendency lies behind the coining of the term kretizo (from the name of the island, Krete [=”Crete”]), meaning “to play the Cretan,” or “to lie.” But a more specific pagan theology may be at the root. Paul’s reference to “the God who does not lie” could well lampoon the character of the Zeus of Cretan tales, who in fact did lie to have sexual relations with a human woman … the Cretans themselves … claimed arrogantly that Zeus’s tomb was on Crete. This claim, according to Callimachus {ancient Greek writer}, was a lie, and it could be introduced as evidence (along with the particular view of the gods that went with it) of the accuracy of the widespread assertion that “Cretans are always liars” {Titus 1:12}. Paul’s language calls up this background by echoing the retort of Callimachus, who said, “it is speaking without lying [apseudes legon]” to say that the Cretan tomb is empty.’[6]

Verse 12 says that even Cretans themselves recognized they were all liars, and it’s on this backdrop that Paul emphasizes divine truth

-         v. 1 “knowledge of the truth”

-         v. 2 “God who cannot lie”

-         v. 4 “Titus my true child in a common faith”

-         v. 13 “this testimony is true”

-         v. 14b “… who turn away from the truth”

-         and much emphasis in chap. 1 on false teaching and false living that elders must be able to deal with by God’s truth

“God is not a man that He should lie” the OT says (Num 23:19)

Men often lie, men often break their promises, but God never does. That is a great security to know as Paul says elsewhere, even when we are faithless God remains faithful.

As Solomon reminded God’s people, "not one word has failed of all His good promise" (1Ki8:56) which should cause all God's children to seek to live as more than conquerors in this present evil age as we fix our hope completely on the faithfulness of "the non lying God."

Heaven and earth would pass away before one of God’s words would pass away. And Jesus said, not one jot or tittle (the smallest letter or stroke) will pass away without all being fulfilled.

God swears by Himself, by His own character, and He will keep His promises. That should be a great comfort to a true believer.

Psalm 89:35-37 (NASB95)
35 “Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. 36 “His descendants shall endure forever And his throne as the sun before Me. 37 “It shall be established forever like the moon, And the witness in the sky is faithful.”

Jeremiah 31:35-37 (NASB95)
35 Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The Lord of hosts is His name: 36 “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the Lord, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.” 37 Thus says the Lord, “If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the Lord.

The existence of the offspring of Israel even in our day even in their unbelief is not insignificant or mere coincidence as I’ve heard some argue, but it is in fact a great testimony of the faithfulness of the promises of the God who cannot lie. Like the witness in the sky, and the witness in the sun and the moon and the stars and the seasons and the fixed orders in their place, as the song says: summer and winter and springtime and harvest, sun, moon, and stars in their courses above, join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love. Great is thy faithfulness (4x) Lord unto me!

Commitment #3 – Committed to God’s Message

(v. 3) “and [God] has in His own time revealed His message in the proclamation that I was entrusted with by the command of God our Savior”

The end of verse 2 speaks of God’s promise being made, literally “before time began” and then in verse 3 there is a contrast to how God has now revealed His message, His word, through the proclamation of His servants and spokesmen like Paul, it says “in His own time.” In other words, this eternal plan of redemption, this covenant of redemption as some call it within the Trinity alone, this promise of eternal life before time began, now revealed in time

As one translation renders it, “in His own private, strategic sessions” (Wuest’s NT), this was made known or manifested or revealed “in God’s own time” (HCSB), or other translations have “at the proper time” (NASB, ESV) or “seasons” (ASV) or “in due time” (NKJV) or “at his appointed season” or “at the right time” or “at the appointed time” (Weymout NT) or “season” (NIV).

This was ordained and orchestrated by God and the fullness of this unveiling of His eternal plan of salvation is completed by the proclamation of the New Testament apostles and scriptures.

Christianity came into the world at a proper time, really a perfect time when it was uniquely possible for its message to spread rapidly.

·       There was a common language (Greek), which was the language of trade, business, and literature.

·       There were virtually no frontiers because of the vast nature of the Roman Empire.

·       Travel was comparatively easy. It was slow, but relatively safe because of the security that the Roman Empire brought to roads and sea routes.

·       The world was largely at peace under the pax Romana.

·       The world was uniquely conscious of its need for a messiah and savior. “There was never a time when the hearts of men were more open to receive the message of salvation which the Christian missionaries brought.”[7]

Clearly God’s Providence is ultimately responsible for the gospel going forth as it did, but preaching is the means God uses. God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are both here in this passage, and God is pleased to accomplish His eternal purposes through the foolishness of preaching. God has chosen to communicate His message through us imperfect messengers. Our job by the grace of God is to be faithful to His message, not to come up with our own message or a new way to help God out, as so many trendy people seem to be trying in our day. We aren’t to come up with a new story or message, but we’re to love to tell the old, old story.

Paul was committed to God’s message, God’s Word, which here particularly includes the gospel message. And the primary vehicle mentioned here that God has ordained for His message and word to go forth is “proclamation” – public telling forth of the message.

The word for “proclamation” or “preaching” in verse 3 was the word used for a herald who would deliver a message on behalf of the council he represented or the ruler whom he served.

A king or prince would give this herald the task of representing him before their subjects, speaking with the king’s authority.

Phil Newton has summarized it as the ‘responsibility to accurately relay their commands, wishes, and dictates. The heralds had no room to ad lib or offer their own opinions or water down the message. In an exacting way, they were to relay the message of their lord to his people. Gospel proclamation does not differ. The heralds or preachers of the gospel have the same responsibility to relay the message of their Lord to His people and to those He would call to Himself through the gospel. And that is a continuing mystery of divine providence!’[8]

This word has been defined as ‘a technical term expressing both the content and the method of conveying the message of redemption through faith in Jesus Christ … The term “entrusted” [in v. 3] also serves to reiterate that Paul’s authority was derived solely from God. Paul received this responsibility and authority “by the command of God our Savior,” which is an apparent reference to God’s specific commission to him at the time of his conversion (cf. Acts 9:15–16; 22:10, 14–15; 26:16–21; Gal 2:7).’[9]

“COMMAND” in v. 3 is a strong word, with the connotation of “by order of” or “by royal command”

‘It is a strong word for a command by a superior person; it can be used for a decree by a ruler … or for divine instructions [both citations in LXX and apocrypha] and in the NT it refers either to God’s the apostle’s or his delegate’s command and authority … The thought of divine command and consequent authority is somewhat stronger [here in Titus 1:3]’[10]

Paul stresses the authoritativeness of the command. Paul's ministry of the gospel was not a matter of his own choice, but was divinely committed to him. No one has a right to regard what is termed “the ministry” as a sort of profession which a person has to choose as an alternative to another profession or occupation. Proclamation of the gospel was a trust divinely committed to him and which he was compelled to complete[11]

Paul showed this divine compulsion in 1 Cor 9:16 when he said “I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

Jeremiah said it this way:

Jeremiah 20:9 (NASB95)
9 But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.

The early Christians when arrested for the sake of Christ said it this way:

Acts 4:20 (NASB95)
20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

May God gives us the same sense of compulsion and earnestness and divine urgency and inescapable responsibility as we seek to be committed as:

#1 to God’s Mastery

#2 to God’s Ministry

#3 to God’s Message


----

[1] An “apostle of Jesus Christ” in the NT referred to the 11 apostles as well as Paul and a there were a few closely associated with the original apostles who seem to be in be another sense apostles of the church. The title “apostle of Jesus Christ,” though, refers to a special and very limited group of God’s servants who were:

-          personally commissioned by the Lord Himself as an official delegate with His authority

-          eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ

-          involved with signs, wonders, and miracles

-          associated with new revelation and writing of Scripture

With very few exceptions even within the Charismatic movement, most Christians through the centuries recognized the uniqueness of biblical apostles, and one obvious reason is that Scripture says the new Jerusalem with have the names of the 12 apostles written on its 12 corners and they will sit on 12 thrones in the kingdom.

John MacArthur elaborates: ‘In its primary and most technical sense apostle is used in the New Testament only of the twelve, including Matthias, who replaced Judas (Acts 1:26), and of Paul, who was uniquely set apart as apostle to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:15–17; cf. 1 Cor. 15:7–9; 2 Cor. 11:5). The qualifications for that apostleship were having been chosen directly by Christ and having witnessed the resurrected Christ (Mark 3:13; Acts 1:22–24). Paul was the last to meet those qualifications (Rom. 1:1;etc.). It is not possible therefore, as some claim, for there to be apostles in the church today. Some have observed that the apostles were like delegates to a constitutional convention. When the convention is over, the position ceases. When the New Testament was completed, the office of apostle ceased.

The term apostle is used in a more general sense of other men in the early church, such as Barnabas (Acts 14:4), Silas and Timothy (1 Thess. 2:6), and a few other outstanding leaders (Rom. 16:7; 2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25). The false apostles spoken of in 2 Cor. 11:13 no doubt counterfeited this class of apostleship, since the others were limited to thirteen and were well known. The true apostles in the second group were called “messengers (apostoloi) of the churches” (2 Cor. 8:23), whereas the thirteen were apostles of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:1; etc.). Apostles in both groups were authenticated “by signs and wonders and miracles” (2 Cor. 12:12), but neither group was self–perpetuating. In neither sense is the term apostle used in the book of Acts after 16:4. Nor is there any New Testament record of an apostle in either group being replaced when he died. -- First Corinthians, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1984], pp. 322–24. It might be added that 1 Cor. 5:7-9 suggests Paul saw himself as last (and least) of the apostles.

[2]Ibid., p. 96.

[3] Cf. HCSB, NIV, ISV, and numerous commentators.

[4] http://www.southwoodsbc.org/sermons/titus_01.01-02,04.html

[5] A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous (Harrisburg: Christian Publications, 1955), 11–12.

[6] Philip Towner, The Letters of Timothy and Titus, NICNT, p. 671.

[7] The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, ed. William Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975), p. 230.

[8] http://www.southwoodsbc.org/sermons/titus_01.03.html

[9] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, vol. 34, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1992), 271.

[10] I. Howard Marshall, International Critical Commentary, T&T Clark, p. 130

[11] www.preceptaustin.org (source unknown)

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