Invincible Truth and a Faithful Minister in a Tough Place

Titus 1

I Paulís Greeting establishes the foundational issue of ministry

    1. establishes the authority of his apostleship 1-4 This will be an aid to Titus. Titus probably needs no instruction or even reminder of Paulís credentials or of the effectual operations of the gospel to secure a people for Godís own possession, even in a place like Crete. What he does need is a letter that arms him with apostolic blessing in the eyes of the church and gives evidence that he has indeed been instructed to set this church in order. The detail of the apostolic responsibility gives a startlingly clear picture of divine purpose in the task of Titus.
      1. He is an servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ - The first is the more general category and the second clearly establishes the manner in which his servanthood is carried out.
      2. This appointment is defined by the task of bringing Godís elect to faith - We must never underestimate the motivation that the doctrine of election served in the apostlesís ministries. In 2 Timothy 2 Paul had stated his willingness to endure all things for the "sake of the elect that they too may obtain salvation." Not only does election serve as motivation, but it serves to define Godís purpose for establishing apostles. They specifically are one of the means by which God will call his elect. Christ came to save those that the Father had given him and the apostles are sent that those very ones might be gathered in by the preaching of the Gospel. In addition, the "faith of Godís elect" means that truth that has been believed by Godís elect from the foundation of the world to the present. We are not free to alter, enlarge, or diminish the revelation of the gospel but are to be faithful stewards. Paul could tell the Ephesians that he had not failed to declare to them full "counsel, or purpose, of God.
      3. Further, the elect will have their lives defined by truth. This reinforces the prior concept of faith, that not only is it an attitude of trust, but it is trust engendered by cordial embracing of a particular message about God. He will have us know that we cannot save ourselves from condemnation, but must flee to Christ, because of his substitutionary death and righteous life, for this. We must know that we have no heart for righteousness but indulge ourselves in unholiness and will not believe without a new birth. When we are saved we will know that it is of God.
      4. This truth is given for the purpose of godliness Ė If one has believed according to the "faith of Godís elect" godliness will not be foreign to his affections. He will not be repelled by it but drawn to it. His desire will be to know and glorify God. This distinctive element of faith supports Paulís instructions further in the epistle [1:15, 16; 2:11-14; 3:8ff]
      5. Godliness sustains the hope of eternal life - Eternal life consists of living before the face of God in a state of endless joy the fountain of which is the sustained and continually augmenting display of the beauty of Godís personal holiness. This is the hope of eternal life. "He that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he himself is pure" 1 John 3:3 None but the godly embrace such a hope and find it pleasing.
      6. God Himself, who never lies, has promised eternal life Ė All the preceding come in accordance with a promise made by God. If God had not determined that this purpose for his elect would certainly come to pass, he could not have promised with the certainty of truth sustaining the promise. God does not lie because (1) he cannot lie and (2) his decrees control all events and his words always comply with his decrees. Literally the "unlying God." It means more than just that he does not but that his nature is such that he can just as easily be called unlying as he can be called omnipotent. He is called Ďunlyingí with the same confidence that he is called "love" or "holy."
      7. He promised it before chronological time began [to whom did he promise it?] This promise occurred within himself as a part of the eternal communications of love between the persons of the Trinity. The promise given to Abraham had already been made to the seed of Abraham, that is Christ Galatians 3:14 and comes to the elect in accordance with this principle of omnipotent grace [Galatians 4:21-31].
      8. The entire scheme is manifest through preaching Ė Bypassing the incarnation and atonement, Paul moves directly to the issue of how this eternal purpose and immutably truthful promise comes before sinners that live in time and space. His answer is that it comes through the preaching of the apostles, peculiarly through the message with which Paul had been entrusted. He was convinced that God would himself undertake the protection of this entrustment [2 Tim 1:12]
      9. Paul was entrusted with this preaching by command Ė Paul has not taken this as matter of personal prerogative but has been commanded by God, or commandeered by God, as a vessel through whom the message would be given. "Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel, for I have a stewardshipentrusted to me." 1 Cor. 9:16
    2. Addresses Titus with encouraging frankness
      1. Reminds Titus that his faith is the same as Paulís - Both have been begotten by the same faith and though Paul was clearly instrumental in Titusís conversion, they are both begotten by the truth that comes from God. "For you have been born again, not of seed that is perishable, but imperishable, [that is by the immediate operations of the Holy Spirit] through [with the preparatory work of] the living and enduring word of God." [1 Peter 1:23]
      2. Reminds him that their support is from grace Ė "Grace and Peach from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior."

II Titusís Task in Establishing Gospel Order 5-9

    1. Paul Had purpose in placing Titus there in Crete "For this cause"
      1. Paul had deep affection for Titus cf. 2 Cor 2:12, 13; 7:5, 6 Clearly, if he left a field of usefulness in Troas because Titus was not there, he had a tremendous affection for him born from his conviction that Titus would be one of those who would give continuity to the message. The open door was not as compelling in his discernment of Godís will as the necessity of establishing contact with Titus.
      2. Paul had confidence in the sincerity and discernment of Titus - 2 Cor 7:7, 13-15; 8:16-18; 12:17, 18 He saw how Titus had been encouraged by the Corinthian response to Paulís injunctions. He was convinced that Titus genuinely loved godly obedience and had seen the power of truthful and loving rebuke in the restoration of Godís people to repentance..
      3. Paul considered Titus as his fellow in the work among the Gentiles 2 Cor 8:23; Gal. 2:1-3 Ė Titus himself was a Greek, and uncircumcised but personally inundated with the truth of the gospel of Jesus the Messiah.
      4. The churches recognized Titus as gifted, capable, and earnest 2 Cor. 8:19 He held a place of honor among the chruches and was selected by those that had contributed to the offering for Jerusalem to take it to them
      5. Now Paul clothes Titus with his own authority, as described above, that the church in Crete might know that Titus acts according to apostolic instruction Ė " as I directed you"
    1. Several Issues of Church order needed finishing Ė set in order what remains 5
      1. Probably issues of order in worship and ordinances as at Corinth with which Titus was vitally familiar; Also daily living according to orderliness and godliness chapters 2, 3 God does not leave the matters of his worship to the whims of men, but prescribes how we are to come to him. Most prominently we come to God only by Christ. Beyond that we are conformed to his image by personal and corporate worship in accordance with his requirements. These requirements are not burdensome, but simple and lovingly designed to rid us of destructive inventions of our own and keep us focused on the truth as it is in Jesus. We must not be so presumptuous as to think that Christian doctrine does not include particular instructions in Christian worship. As Paul had given detailed instructions to the Corithian church on how to proceed in an orderly manner so that the word of understandable revelation would be foremost both in proclamation, prayer, and singing, so that focus on the word must be put in place at Crete.
      2. Appoint elders - Paul probably means lead in the appointing of elders; initiate the process and see that it is done according to requirements. The qualifications are given not so much for the sake of Titus, who probably knew this well, but for the sake of the church so they would understand their own obligation and consent to Titusís discipline of the process Cf. Paul and Batrnabas in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch Acts 14:21-23
    1. Most urgent needóqualified elders, interchangeable with bishop [the word used in 1 Tim 3 is bishop or overseer, referring to the same office], seeing that it is used immediately in verse 7; bishop refers to a function while elder refers to the respect and solemnity due the position
      1. Marital fidelity -"One woman man" If one cannot bear up under the covenant that undergirds marriage, how can he care adequately for the bride of Christ?
      2. Issues concerning children -Since the church in the household of God, the manner in which a person takes the responsibility for his children says much about how he would function as a shepherd of the church of God. The discipline that he is willing to administer in order to restrain sinfulness and the instruction that he gives that their lives might conform to truth must be observable if one is to be selected as an elder.
        1. Faithful Ė some say believers, but that would impose on divine sovereignty Ė probably means instructed in the faith, "nurtured in the sound teaching of godliness" [Calvin, although Calvin says "that the children should be believers"] and attendant to the things of the faith while in the home
        2. Not self-indulgent or given to sensuality; not open to the charge of profligacy When sinful indulgence is not checked at home, it becomes a burden to the church and society. Selfishness and rudeness, disorderliness in Godís house should not be tolerated in any children of believers and most certainly not in the one who is to instruct the entire church in matters of self-mortification, reverence, and self-effacement.
        3. Not given to public disorder, resistant to lawful authority Ė Children may at time engage in quiet and secrete rebellions; when discovered these must be corrected quickly; public unruliness and unlawfulness is by no means tolerable in those still under the authority of parents in the home.
      1. Free from sins of indiscretion as would censurable even by the public "above reproach" He is an overseer of the househod of God, a steward and must not be reproachful before the eyes of the world 7
        1. He must possess self-control in matters of interpersonal relationships so that a personal offense make him angry. More is at stake in his actions than personal defense.
        2. Nor must he be self-indulgent in the matter of money or food and drink.
      2. Must possess a healthy, dynamic, and manifest Christian spirituality 8
        1. His willingness to entertain and provide for fellowship or shelter for the brethren. Compare the instruction in 3 John 5-8 with the reprimand of Diotrephes 9, 10.
        2. His love of the good, the intrinsically wholesome, must be obvious.
        3. His personal advancement in true godliness must be evident as a support for his task of instruction and exhortation. How can he rebuke if he needs rebuke?
      3. He must be knowledgeable and skilled in truth to gather sheep and drive away wolves 9
        1. Personally he must maintain the word as instructed through apostolic channels
        2. He must not only hold it personally, but so embrace it and have it so vitally implanted that he instructs others in the same truth
        3. In addition, he must be able to discern the nature of the error of others and correct their misrepresentations and misperceptions

III The Uncongenial Context for his Task 10-16

    1. Characteristics of those who need reproof by the truth 10-12
      1. They use teaching as a means of satisfying their appetites - They feign a knowledge of heavenly things for the sake of purely worldly ends.
      2. Empty talkers, not full of true doctrine but trifling speculations
      3. They lead astray not only certain individuals but entire families
      4. They must be silenced, not allowed to teach; if they refuse to hush dismiss them 1:10, 11 3:10, 11 Churches must be careful of selecting pastors that are submissive to biblical truth and also teachers in other spheres. Those who pursue their own pet ideas unsupported by biblical authority must not be allowed to teach God's people.
    1. Unyielding teaching needed 13, 14
      1. A sharp rebuke will reclaim them for the truth if they are believers
      2. As elsewhere in the first-century a Judaizing tendency was present here and ceremonial law as well as pharasaic traditions were set forth as foundational to Christianity. Titus well knew this not to be in accord with truth for he had been party to vigorous discussion of this issue earlier, and perhaps one against whom judaizers had objected. But the apostles were pleased both with the gospel that Paul had preached among the Gentiles as well as with his practice of not requiring circumcision for them. Titus was a case in point and stood as a personal rebuke to the Judaizing party. [Galatians 2:1-5]
      3. "To the pure all things are pure;" -- Even though some may be deceived by these teachers, instruction in truth will reclaim them, for their minds and hearts have been washed in Spirit-empowered truth for this very purpose. See Colossians 3:9, 10 Progress in teaching truth may at times be slow, but it will progress and will yield greater and greater evidence for the reality of conversion. The restoration of Godís image will proceed from glory to glory [2 Corinthians 3:18] and will consist of righteousness and holiness inculcated by truth [Ephesians 4:21-24]
    2. Some may yet prove unteachable 15, 16
      1. "But to the defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure" The holy teachings of the Gospel are treated by them as swine would treat pearls. They have no capacity to see its glory.
      2. The reason for their swift dismissal of the truth is that the minds and consciences are defiled. "If our gospel is veiled," Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "It is veiled to those who are perishing, in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." The Judaizers in particular, but all unbelievers in general, fail to see that in Christ are hid all the riches of wisdom and power, and righteousness, and in him and his work alone is the glory of God fully manifest.
      3. While they profess to have a knowledge of God and a zeal for God, just as Paul wrote in Romans 10:1-3, their teaching and actions deny him. They do not know God through Christ nor is their conduct aligned with the principle of glorifying God through sharing in the sufferings of Christ and living consistently with the logic of the incarnation.