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EXCELLENT AND PROFITABLE DEEDS [9/5/20]

Paul is not advocating that good works are required for salvation <Titus 3:1-11>, instead he is teaching that good works are the result of our salvation <see Jas.2:14-18; Eph.2:10>. All believers are citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom, but we must submit ourselves to our earthly governments so as to assist in the welfare of our communities <see Rom.13:1-7; 1 Peter.2:13-17>. So, he instructs Titus to “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities” <Titus 3:1-2 (NIV)>, and to be ready to carry out whatever suitable action that is deemed necessary. Titus is to remind the believers of what is not considered to be “good works”, “slander no one”; so often we are tempted to speak critically about others especially when we do not have all the facts, and this action must be sternly avoided in the Church. Believers should be “peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility” towards all members of the Church and to all others in the community <cf Jn.8:7; Gal.6:1; 1 Cor,15:9-10>.

Paul reminds us that “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” <Titus 3:3 (NIV)>, and this should be the thought that influences our behaviour and actions, considering the fact that God has forgiven us of our past sins so we now must be considerate in our response to those that are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to those that are not yet believers in Christ <see Matt.6:12>. He continues by referring to the “kindness and love of God” <Titus 3:4 (NIV); 2:11>, through which God saved us instead of condemning us to eternal punishment, and it is important to understand that our salvation is not the result of our righteous deeds; “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” <Titus 3:5 (NIV); 1 Pet.1:3>; and we must also understand that our salvation is secured “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”; indicating a reference to the “new birth” as seen in the teaching of Christ <see Jn.3:3, 5>, whereby we are not saved by baptism, only by rebirth through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Our salvation is therefore completely based upon the grace of God, “poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” <Titus 3:6-7 (NIV); 1:2; 2:13; Jn.10:10b>; and Paul says that this is a “trustworthy saying”, a reference to his doctrinal statement in verses 4-7.

Titus is to put emphasis on these teachings “so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” <Titus 3:8 (NIV)>; directing us back to the opening statement “to be ready to do whatever is good” <Titus 3:1>; and such should be characteristic of all true believers in Christ. But Paul warns us to “avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.” <Titus 3:9 (NIV)>, these behaviours should not characterize believers in Christ since they contribute nothing to the good works that are expected of us. Paul then concludes with a stern warning: “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time.” <Titus 3:10 (NIV)>; how often do we encounter such an individual in the Church today? Doctrinal differences, worship music and songs, decisions made by our church leaders, and such, often cause divisiveness, and when this occurs within the Church it must be dealt with immediately, otherwise it will ferment like yeast. Paul further says that if the individual will not listen and cooperate then have nothing to do”with that person because such a stubborn refusal to listen to correction reveals an inner perversion (NIV Study Bible).

Paul further determines that “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.” <Titus 3:14 (NIV)>. The primary characteristic of each and every believer is to be faithful in doing what is good, and Paul has addressed this previously; he has cautioned us as to what should be avoided <see Titus 3:9-11> as opposed to what we should be doing <Titus 3:1-2>. This behaviour will then lead to the secondary factor in that we will take care of the daily essentials, physical and spiritual, not only for ourselves but also for other members of the community of believers, and outsiders, as is deemed necessary. We should not be consumed with the idea of Christ’s imminent return to the extent that we sit back and do little or nothing as we wait for this event <see Titus 1:12; cf 2 Thess.3:6-13; cf Rom.15:1; Gal.6:2>. He also speaks to an attitude in the lives of some believers when he comments on “unproductive lives”; where often we attempt to sit back at various periods of our Christian life and think that there is nothing left to do, but we must always remember that we are to continually work for our Master until He returns, even if it involves only our praise and adoration for Him <see Psa.92:12-15>. So, let us live our lives always doing good so that others will benefit as we contribute to their physical and spiritual needs.

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ACCEPTABLE TEACHING [8/29/20]

Flawless doctrine must be taught by all leaders of the Church <Titus 2:1-10>, and Paul emphasizes that sound doctrine and a holy character should be the distinctive of all God’s people regardless of age or social standing, instructing Titus; “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.” <Titus 2:1 (NIV)>; and wherever this is the practice the Church will show evidence of godliness to the community of unbelievers. Unblemished doctrine, doctrine that is not diluted or “watered down” to please the false teachers is absolutely necessary, for it stipulates the right conduct of all believers; and this teaching is required for all ages, from the children to the older members of the Church; older men and women, younger men and women. The older members should demonstrate self-control and teach the younger members “what is good” <Titus 2:3>, and this characteristic should also be displayed by the younger men and women; and all, including Titus, should live by example <Titus 2:7>. Paul also instructs Titus that his teaching should show inflexible regard for truth, understanding the seriousness of the issues he is addressing, his speech should be sincere and understandable, so that his critics may be silenced; “In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 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.” <Titus 2:7b-8 (NIV)>

Paul also addresses Slaves. It may be difficult to appreciate what slavery means today, but we should remember that slavery was a basic element in Roman society and many Christian masters had slaves who were converted to Christianity, these slaves had no legal rights and their destiny was entirely in the hands of their masters. The same “sound doctrine” is also applicable to them for they are to show respect to their masters and be pleasing in all their work and not to steal. How then is this applicable today? We are all members of the workforce in some way or form, and we too as followers of Christ are expected to demonstrate our Christianity in all of our actions in our workplace; not only in words but also in our behaviours! “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 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.” <Titus 2:9-10 (NIV)>. It should be observed that when “sound doctrine” is taught in the church the results will be, “no one will malign the word of God.” <Titus 2:5 (NIV)>; “those who oppose you may be ashamed” <Titus 2:8 (NIV)>; “they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” <Titus 2:10 (NIV)>. No one will be able to slander God’s Word; our opponents will be silenced and ashamed, and God’s teachings will be attractive to a world that is lost in sin. It is unfortunate that this has not been fully achieved in our society today! <cf 1 Pet.2:11, 15; Phil.1:27a>.

Paul now concludes by showing that after our salvation take place, there are two sides to the change that comes into a person’s life. First there must be rejection of all that is evil; “say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions” <Titus 2:12 (NIV)>; secondly, we are to live holy lives guided by the “sound doctrine” that we have been taught; “live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” <Titus 2:12 (NIV)>. He stresses that our sincere objective should be to do what is good; “a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” <Titus 2:14 (NIV); cf Prov.16:7; 2 Cor.8:21; 1 Pet.2:12, 15>. He states that our salvation is based entirely upon the grace of God that is available to all mankind; “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” <Titus 2:11 (NIV); cf Rom.1:20; 5:8>; and that through God’s grace and His Word we are taught to live godly and self-controlled lives while we await Christ’s return to take us away from this present sinful world to live with Him for all eternity, for that was the reason He offered Himself as our atoning sacrifice; “It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 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.” <Titus 2:12-14 (NIV); cf Heb.9:24-28; 1 Jn.3:2-3>. Sound doctrine will encourage us to anticipate the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ <Rev.22:17, 20>.

Good sound doctrine based entirely on scripture is what needs to be taught from all our church pulpits!