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Titus 3.1-15 – Gospel Spreaders

September 7th, 2009

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You People are Different [1-2]

Having handled the impact of the gospel on internal relationships amongst God’s people, Paul now specifically calls Titus to set the churches straight in terms of their relationships to outsiders.

In reality this has been Paul’s burden throughout the whole letter [e.g. 2.10]. He wants healthy churches in Crete for the sake of the people in Crete who don’t yet know Jesus. None of this happens in a religious vacuum. We are always God’s sent people, being made holy for the sake of His mission to the multitudes still in darkness [John 17.15-19]. Our lives will either help draw people to Jesus or block people from Him.

The more we get our lives and relationships in line with the gospel, empowered by the gospel, the greater the sway the gospel will have in the city.

Most of us will have stories (perhaps even our own) of those who came to Christ barely needing any persuasion since they saw enough in the revolutionary kinds of relationships on display in the church community. They knew God must be real because they saw how the believers treated each other.

That is what Paul is on about.

This will be an incentive for bringing friends to church. They should see something different – even compelling – amongst us.

Specifically Paul wants Titus to look for submissiveness to those in authority – and courtesy to all people. These things need emphasising as it is easy for Christians to fall into a very ugly superiority complex and self-righteousness in dealing with ‘sinners’ without God.

Perhaps this was especially worth nailing in Crete – with its reputation for squabbling people. The gospel sets us free from the kind of grasping attitude that makes us embittered towards those in authority. Trouble is believers can swap one antagonism for another showing their new zeal for the Kingdom for God by becoming pretty obnoxious.

Remember the Old You? [3]

The root of this nastiness is pride. So Paul typically goes back to the gospel to get us down to earth. He rubs our faces in the hideous human condition without grace (and this leads to one of the most densely packed gospel descriptions in the Bible).

Isn’t it striking how God sees humankind (and God sees things as they are)? It’s an ugly list of evils. It’s also striking that it is not limited either to things we perpetrate (foolish, disobedient, malicious, envious, hating one another) or to things we suffer (led astray, slaves to passions, hated by others). None of us can hide behind our grievances – as though God couldn’t understand. God sees both the wrongs we have done and those done to us – and looks with compassion.

All of us must bear the responsibility of sin. And this is why we need to be saved.

Look What He Did [4-7]

The concept of salvation is odd enough in our culture to make many Christians – even preachers – awkward about using it. Many would rather reduce the gospel to self-help, or moralising, or having a social conscience. All this talk of needing to be saved seems over the top – from a less sophisticated age and culture. But our blindness to our need is just another symptom of the need.

And this blindness leads to religion – where we put together a spiritual construction (God, gods, a force, whatever…) to suit our preferences. But such a thing can have no power to change and rule over us. No more than any kitchen appliance.

The answer for mankind comes not from somewhere within. Our only hope is from someone outside. And this is just what has happened.

Look at how he has saved us. There are a couple of ideas locked up together in verse 5 which come together especially in the phrase ‘washing of regeneration’.

These words allude to promises made back in Ezekiel 36.25-27. God knew that the state of the human heart would always prevent his people from living for him. Something more radical than mere law – even law with great threats – was going to be necessary.

Firstly they would need to be made all over again. That is what this word regeneration is getting at. Paul is saying that, through Jesus, God’s grace has appeared in a new way – a way that was promised centuries before.

And in fact, this grace is not destined for the mere personal fulfilment of some nice religious types. God is bringing his new creation (gk: paligenesis) to the cosmos. Yes, people get to be born again – but that is because the universe will be born again – and God is just starting with people.

So be careful asking Jesus into your life – you are playing with a fire hose.

Secondly they would need to be cleansed, washed – forgiven. Ezekiel gets at this and Paul picks it up here. You word washing may well allude to baptism – but only as an outward demonstration of something which happens through the work of Jesus. Water itself will not deal with our sins. This is why the saviour gave his blood.

The result: we are declared righteous because of the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus and given a new nature as part of God’s renewal of the whole creation.

Can this actually be true? Are there really people of whom this is true? In Brighton? They would really stand out, right?

So Love The Lost As You Have Been Loved

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Titus 2 – Gospel Workers

July 28th, 2009

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  • The bible and slavery
  • Work that shows off Jesus
  • How does it show off Jesus?
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Titus 2:1; 3-5; 11-15 Gospel Women

July 20th, 2009

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What is your story?
In this letter Paul is not interested in well behaved women but gospel women. Now that the grace of God has appeared we no longer need to nurture our own story. We are now part of a different story, the greatest story and now, all of us, have a hope to live for. What is your hope?

And What Accords For Older Women?
Older women are to be reverent, living in and carrying the presence of God.They aren’t to be slanderers, it destroys the church. Men can also slander but women more susceptible to that particular temptation.  Being ‘in the know’ really does not matter and is usually inconsequential. Our hope is now in Christ. Slander and gossip less attractive when you’ve seen Jesus.

Teach what is good – its a command. It’s great privilege, a noble gift, to teach women and children. Teach them to know God, train them and bring them to their senses

And What Accords For Young Women?
Submission in our culture only has negative connotations but not in the biblical sense. We worship a Godhead, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all in relationship. A submissive and gentle spirit is so counter cultural in some contexts (including Brighton) that it can adorn the gospel strikingly and silence objections.

Learn how to be a Gospel Women by following Jesus.

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Titus 2.1-2; 6-8; 11-15 Gospel Men

June 29th, 2009

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Paul doesn’t ASSUME believers will automatically live a life in line with the doctrine they have believed. This is a temptation preachers can give in to. There is, and always will be, a specific place – a vital need – for exhortation. Don’t just teach the sound doctrine – teach what ACCORDS with it. Lifestyle, choices, etc.

This is why Titus needs to be tough (good thing he was. He has a tough name too. Paul might have been more worried if he was writing to someone called Rupert). People like debating doctrine all day – but when you suggest their life changes it gets awkward.

But here’s the thing – it must accord with sound doctrine: the grace, which teaches us to say no to ungodliness. How does it do that? It replaces ungodly passions with godly zeal…

With this in place we can be exhorted/instructed as to how we should live… if this is not in place – the exhortation is either water off a duck’s back, a provocation, a miserable burden or a reason for smug moralistic pride…

So the work of Christ comes first. He purifies us and makes this life possible. So how does sound doctrine express itself thru men? N.B. All of Paul’s exhortations have a missional focus. The gospel must have a good rep in the city. Titus needs to ensure this. Guys being stupid are harming the progress of the gospel by distorting it.

The older guys are called to sobriety, dignity, self-control and soundness in faith, love and steadfastness… Paul is using his faith, hope and love trio – but the hope is being expressed in terms of steadfastness. For older guys this would appear the way it shows. Maybe hope is an easier thing for young guys – so older men are called to be sound in steadfastness.

Young men need to be self controlled – and Titus needs to exemplify this. So that men will never shame the gospel.

Titus 1:10-16 Part 2 – Gospel Deniers

June 23rd, 2009

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In part two of the Titus series Joel tells us about how Paul turned his attention to the kind of people Titus must close down, and why he should do so…

Perhaps to our surprise it is not people who are hardened secularists or idolaters and ‘sinners’ who Paul has in mind, but rather the religious.

There is a difference between the gospel and religion. Titus himself had been through a battle with Gospel deniers. Some of the Jerusalem believers had wanted Titus circumcised. In the end Paul took him there as a test case. (Titus must have been nervous).

The proof is in the fruit of this kind of religion… it is divisive, unsubmissive, argumentative and utterly without evidence of love, ultimately dishonouring to Jesus. People are looking for an argument more than they are looking for Jesus.

Paul talks about why it is necessary to silence them for the health of the church (not very comfortable, and not very English! People don’t like a fight. Except online… or in a letters page…). But it is necessary – whole households are being harmed… Paul is a shepherd, helping us see the difference between the gospel and religion.

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Titus 1:1-9 Part 1 – Gospel Leaders

June 8th, 2009

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Paul had left Titus in Crete after some work they had shared there near the end of Paul’s life. Several churches had successfully been birthed across the island, an island that seemed an unlikely place for the gospel to take effect. He wrote the letter we are studying as an encouragement to the key task of putting things in order (Titus 1:5) in Paul’s absence.

As we proceed in our calling to build church and advance the gospel across our city and beyond we’ll find the book full of pointers for biblical mission.

At the outset, Paul draws attention to the nature of the mission itself – God’s rescue plan for the world, which was held back throughout all ages, but was now revealed in the coming of His Son Jesus – and through the preaching of men like Paul.

You can’t escape the profound sense of wonder in Paul’s words. In fact the claims he makes would come across as the ravings of a deluded maniac – if they were not true. But people find this a struggle in our culture. We are happy to see Paul as a wise teacher of religion and his message as a very worthwhile idea – but nothing more. Paul himself won’t leave that option open. He, like Jesus, was either a dangerous madman to be avoided to this day – or his message was completely true – and the most important thing ever proclaimed.

Paul knew the expansion and impact of his message depended on the establishing of healthy growing churches – and this, in turn, depended on the right elders being appointed. So he sets to this theme immediately.

We need new elders as a church as a matter of some urgency. This is for two main reasons: firstly, we are growing and reaching new people all the time and the more sheep there are, the more shepherds are needed. Secondly, we are in a process of saying goodbye to a whole tier of senior elders who are gradually stepping down (plus Pete Lyndon who is moving north).

The next two elders we are appointing (this October) are Steve Boon and Matt Davis. Over the next few years there will be several others.

[And quite apart from the specific issue of eldership we are in need of leaders of all kinds. This is relevant to us all – called to eldership or not… In some way each of us has leadership potential to fulfill. The fact is we cannot succeed in our mission if each of you doesn’t intentionally seek to progress in your walk with God and look to take a role somehow leading others forward.

This year alone we have seen well over 140 respond to the gospel amongst us. This is phenomenal – but very, very challenging indeed! There is a terrible danger that we will have two churches under one roof. One which is made up of new people who drift in (and sadly very often out); and the other is made up of those who are mature believers who have been faithful for many years but barely rub shoulders with new people – failing to see the massive difference they will make by simply befriending new Christians – taking a lead in their lives.]

With this in mind it makes sense for us to have a good look at what the right elders will look like. Paul lists some characteristics:

Things which must be present: integrity – men without reproach; marital purity; good spiritual leadership in the home (or how can the guy be trusted with God’s household – the church?

Things which must be absent: arrogance; shortness of temper; drunkenness; violence and greed.

Further things which must be present: love of goodness; self control and discipline; hospitality and uprightness.

Something which must be firmly held to and fought for: the word of God. This must never be taken for granted – especially at a time of generational transition. We need men who love and stand up for the gospel in all its comprehensive truth.

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