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Titus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  23:24
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Today is Epiphany, technically yesterday was Epiphany, but the Church can celebrate it today. Epiphany celebrates the wise men from the East coming to pay homage to the Lord Jesus sometime after his birth. Matthew records this event at the beginning of his Gospel. This event is at the start of the recording of the events of Jesus’s life. So, If we were reading this Gospel for the first time, we might be wondering to ourselves, who is this Jesus? Who is this baby going to be? This baby must be someone special, this person must have some kind of authority, if even wise men from the east are coming to pay him homage. Matthew throughout his Gospel convincing the world of who Jesus is. He lays out building blocks that make up Jesus’s identity in order to show us Jesus.
An Epiphany is that moment when the lights come on. A sudden realization of things. An oh I get it moment. I had one those moments about my identity, quite a while ago. As many of you know I spent quite a bit of time as a Land Surveyor. The common joke among surveyors is that no one really sets out to be a Land Surveyor, it isn’t necessarily pleasant. You either in swamps or woods with mosquitos or you are freezing and trudging through snow. t is one of those positions you just sort of fall into. Perhaps you picked it up in the military, or I’ve met people whose Father’s were land Surveyors, so they had to do that as a summer job, and ended up leaving, or perhaps you picked it up on the way to Civil Engineering as I did. As a result many Surveyors have an attitude of one foot in the door, and one foot out. People are just doing it until something better comes along.
So there I was a young Surveyor, I didn’t have my own tools, I always had to borrow some, I didn’t really have a good attitude, after all I was just there until something better came along, kinda miserable and really no help to the crew. Finally after this going on for quite some time, the older wiser crew chief decided to have a talk with me. He asked me what I was doing here, how did get into surveying, and I told him I was just here temporarily, and I was hoping for something better etc. And said to me son, you are no help to the crew until you change things, he said nobody wants to be a Surveyor, but like it or not you are a Surveyor, no start acting like one.
I went home and thought about that I was a Surveyor. I started actually acting like that. I called myself a Surveyor, I am a Surveyor, it started to change things, I became a part of the crew, our crew worked together and I strived to do a good job, because now it was part of my identity. When new people started the job, I could show them some things, not all things mind you I still knew my place, and I still knew that I didn’t know it all yet, I was still learning, but I was a Surveyor.
That mind set of one foot in the door, and one out, unfortunately, you see a bit of that attitude in some Churches today. Perhaps not so much here at St. Luke’s, but in some places in American Christianity, you can find that there are people that are just at that church until something better comes along. There are only there for a period of time until they find another place that fulfills a need, they have never identified with the Church family that God has called them to, or even worse perhaps they have not even built their identity.
Today we are starting a new series on the book of Titus. The book of Titus is a letter. It is a letter written to Titus from Paul. It is a letter from one Church leader to another. It is written for 3 primary purposes, To encourage Titus to complete the organization of Churches through the appointment of Elders, to deal with false teachers in the church, and to address proper conduct for the Cretan Christians.
Sometimes when you hear that Titus is written from one Church leader to another, and since it primarily deals with Church leadership you may be tempted to, tune out. Ugh, I’m not a leader, why do I need to know that. It is like High School Trigonometry right? Why do I need this? I will never need this. Well you never know you just might find yourself a Surveyor,.......but seriously why study leadership if we just want to go to church? What if we don’t want to lead? There is a lot to learn for everyone. As we look at what Paul says to Titus about leadership issues and false teachers, we get a great picture of what it means to be a christian. When we look in on a letter from one leader to another, we get an opportunity to learn what genuine authentic Christian Character is. Authentic, if you remember back before Christmas is what we hope to be as a people, a church family of authentic people.
This idea of authenticity in our Christian Character begins with the idea of identity. Who do you think you are?
That will be the first brick in our foundation.
Paul tells us right in the very in the beginning of Titus who he is. He makes it absolutely clear.
Titus 1:1 NIV
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—
Paul a servant of God. The Greek word is dulos some translation say bond-servant. Elsewhere, and quite frequently it is translated as slave. In fact outside of the New Testament in secular Greek literature it always means slave. I don’t want to get in a big thing here, but if you are interested, in the translation of this take a look at the book by John MacArthur called “Slave”. He has a whole book on this.
So Paul is using this term of humility. Paul a bond-servant of God. Paul bought out of the slavery of sin by the blood of the Lamb. Paul once a slave to sin is now a slave to righteousness. Paul is a humble servant of God, yet he is also an apostle.
And an apostle of Jesus Christ. Not so humble a term anymore. An apostle is someone who was sent. There were only 12 other apostles. An apostle is someone who was with Jesus, was a witness to his resurrection, and was specifically sent by Jesus Christ. Paul, this humble slave, is telling us that he has authority. Authority given to him by the risen Lord Jesus Christ himself. Paul the author writes this letter out of a very sure and solid identity.
Paul’s is laying out who he is. He is someone who has authority, someone is sent from Jesus Christ, and yet he is a humble slave to God Almighty. Paul is sure and solid about his identity, he isn’t just standing there with one foot in the door. When the Risen Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, he gave him this brand new identity. And that is how Paul starts this letter by declaring his new identity, and he builds this letter on that foundation.
Who are you? Who do you think you are? We are certainly not apostles here, none of has been with the risen Lord Jesus, but when we place our faith in Jesus Christ we are servants of God, We are no longer who we used to be we are now slaves to righteousness.
Paul met the risen Lord Jesus, when he was still Saul, a sinner, a persecutor of Christians. He met Jesus on the road to damascus, and he believed the Gospel. The Gospel came to Paul with power. Power to see who Christ, power is to see the truth revealed, and power to give Saul a new identity. power to make him Paul a servant of God.
That is what the gospel does for us. It makes us a new person a slave of righteousness.
Romans 6:17–18 NIV
But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
So that is what we are. We are slaves to God. We need to embrace that identity that we are given. When you have truly repented of your sins and placed your faith in the Crucified and risen Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of those sins, you have a new identity, you are now a slave to God. You don’t have one foot in the door, it isn’t optional, you aren’t waiting for something else to come along, you are all in. You’re identity, is now slave of God.
Did you ever notice when you first meet someone often the first question they ask, is what you do. And you say, I am a Carpenter, or I am a teacher, or I am a truck driver, or I am a stay at home parent, and that is wonderful and we have many talented people and I do not want to diminish what we do, but first and foremost we are slaves to Christ, we are His possession His people called by him by the gospel and part of his family.
This place we come to isn’t just a place we go to on a Sunday, until we find a better a place to go to. We don’t go to our regular job or career, or life, and then say oh yeah, I have to go to church. We are SLAVES TO GOD. This is our primary purpose. We are Slaves to God who happen to be contractors, or teachers or stay at home moms in our our spare time. We are all the way in this world, we only have one foot in the other world.
So here again is the first brick of our foundation.
Why? Why is Paul an apostle, why, and a slave to God? For what purpose?
Let’s return to verse to verse 1 again.
Titus 1:1 NIV
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—
To further the faith of the elect, and their knowledge of the the truth that leads to godliness.
The Churches on Crete were struggling with false teachers. When Church is going bad, your faith falters. Paul’s mission here is to strengthen their faith, by infusing in them a Knowledge of the truth. This is in direct counter to the things the false teachers are doing, which is weakening their faith and teaching false things. The ungodly lives of the false teachers is evidence that the faith they have is not authentic.
When you have faith in Christ things are different. When you have that new identity, you are a slave to Jesus. You spend time with your master. You listen to what the master says. You read what he wrote. As you learn more about him, you increase your knowledge of the truth. Your knowledge of what God wants, your knowledge of how God wants you to live increases, and that leads to godliness.
This is how following Christ is supposed to work. You come to God with a sorry heart, and then he cleans you up through your increase of knowledge, as you walk with him. Unfortunately, this was not being taught on the Greek Island of Crete. Crete was a very immoral, and corrupt Island. Sexual immorality, drinking, and lying were everywhere. The false teachers were living their morally corrupt lives, yet having one foot in the church.
And Paul is saying no. If you are authentically increasing in faith and learning more about God, you will become more like him, not farther away from him.
It works like this. Reading through the Bible in One year can be quite a challenge. It can difficult to be dedicated to it for a whole year. One way is to do it with a partner or two. Then you can encourage one another in your reading. Many years ago I met with two other men as we read through the Bible in a year. We would read on our own, then come together for an hour once a week, and discuss what we read and read passages. It was a great way for us to stay on track. Anyway one of the men in our group was a newer convert to Christianity. He went to Church off and on almost his whole life, but it wasn’t until the lifestyle of the world came crashing down on him that he decided to give his life to Christ. Anyway, it was in that process that motivated him to read through the Bible. He came to Christ, but automatically God’s truth was not imparted to Him. He came to Christ but he didn’t know how the Bible calls us to holiness, or what that meant, but because he was forgiven he wanted to learn all about this great God who would die in his place, so he picked up the Bible.
As we met one evening, this fella mentioned that in the reading he came across a passage from Matthew, in chapter 5 verse 28 , where Jesus talked about adultery. He started asking questions about adultery, and we looked up other verses on adultery by turning to the back of the bible and finding adultery, Have you noticed that in the back? Some bibles have a concordance and they list the places you can find certain words. Anyway, as we read, the Holy Spirit now convicted this fella, and he he knew God was calling him to do the right thing.
He had learned from the world that living with a woman was ok, as long as you were committed to her. He was taught by modern culture that what was marriage anyway but a piece of paper. Becoming a believer did not automatically impart all of God’s truth into his head, he had to gain that knowledge through meeting with other Christins and reading God’s word. And when he acquired that knowledge, it led to godliness.
He went home that night, and discussed with his girlfriend that they needed to make changes in their physical relationship, because it was not right in God’s eyes. She also was a Christian and not only agreed but she too was being guided by the Holy Spirit. The couple decided to change sleeping arrangements, until they were able to marry, and are happily married to this day
That is exactly what Paul was getting at in Titus 1.1
Titus 1:1 NIV
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—
When faith and knowledge of truth is furthered it leads to godliness.
That is our second Brick in the foundation
A Slave of God, built on faith and knowledge that leads to godliness.
Now we will look at verse 2, for the next brick.
Titus 1:2 NIV
in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,
This is built on something. Something very valuable solid, concrete, and everlasting, the footing if you will.
A hope of eternal life, promised by God Almighty. Not just a better life from doing certain things taught by a certain man or leader. But a sure and certain hope that extends beyond this life to eternal life. A Hope that doesn’t fade or change or lie because this hope is based on God, who cannot lie and from the beginning of time!
This Christmas I saw a video from a mega church. it was not a church around here that produced it the vide, I believe it was from the Southern United States. I don’t know if you know this or not but Mega Churches employ professional video teams and media producers. The videos they produce are good quality, very well done and they really get their point across. This particular video showed a family in a very nice HGTV suburban home waking up on Christmas day. You know a typical family in America in a really nice perfect home. As they woke up things in the house were wrapped in Christmas paper. The husband, mom, boy and girl woke up wrapped in wrapping paper. They tore the paper off, and when they went to the bathroom the water faucet was wrapped and they tore off the paper and exclaimed clean water we have clean water! The light switch was wrapped, and they tore the paper off and said we have lights! There cars were wrapped and they tore off the paper and said yeah we have transportation. You get the idea. The idea was that this Christmas we should be thankful for what we do have, rather than looking to what we don’t have.
That is a good message right? We don’t need more stuff, be thankful and all that. I got a good feeling as I watched the video, and said yeah I need to be more thankful, then I scrolled down and read some comments. One comment went something like this, What a great video! What a great message! We all need to hear that! I am not a christian, I do not believe in Jesus but I do believe in Christmas, and your message really captured it. I think all people no matter what you believe need to hear that message. If more churches had messages like that, I would probably go.
Your morality must be based on something besides yourself, and the good stuff you have. What happens if you are not the perfect family in the video? What if you don’t have children a boy and a girl, what if you don’t have a 1/2 million dollar home, and a job and a SUV? The thing that distinguishes us from the world is that we are God’s elect. We are God’s people, we have the Lord Jesus Christ to give us HOPE IN ETERNAL LIFE. That is the message that the video missed entirely.
Our Hope is different because it is based on an unshakeable promise. It is not based on the promise of a man, who can lie or tell you whatever you want to hear. It is a promise from A God completely outside of ourselves, a promise based even before time began. God, the God who not only does not lie, but it is impossible for him to lie, he stands by the promise he made even before time.
Look at Ephesians chapter 1 verse 4.
Ephesians 1:4 NIV
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
That is the final brick in our foundation
Brothers and Sister, as Slaves to God you are called to grow in faith and a knowledge of the truth, that leads to godliness, and this is not based on my words or on the sayings of anyone, but this comes from the God who cannot lie, who has promised you eternal life from the beginning time.
In Jesus name.
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