We wrap up the second chapter of Titus with us focusing the theme of chapter 2 in our teaching of one another. Surely, we know that there are those whom God has qualified to teach and shepherd great and small portions of His flock. But to us all who believe and trust in His name, we are given careful instruction to teach and encourage one another. Why? We are in Christ and Christ taught us all. Therefore, since we are in Christ and “being conformed to the image of Christ” (Romans 8:29), we are to teach one another in some capacity or form. Peer to peer, older to younger, youth to the elder, husband to wife–we are charged to teach these commands of God. For
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (CSB) “Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.
From the very beginning of the formation of God’s people, God gave us his law–“Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” And then look at what God then said to do with that love: Put these words into your heart. And repeat them to your children. You can be young parents to babies or older adults to your adult children and all parents in between. Repeat these words to your children: “Love the Lord your God with everything you have.”
But as Christians, we don’t stop there. We are saved by God to God and to one another. We repeat these words, however you want to express them, faithfully, prayerfully, truthfully encouraging, repeat these words to one another.
Now what. Why repeat these words? Because Christ has commissioned us to go and preach the gospel to every creature? (Mark 16:15) Certainly, we are to obey Christ. But why are we able to do this? Because as we are in Christ, we have a new reality. We live in a new reality because we are a new creation:
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (CSB) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Look at the each of the new realities of the Christian within the salvation of Christ:
- brand new, old has passed, new is here
- reconciled and given a ministry
- not counting our sins against him
- we are ambassadors
- He makes his appeal through us
- we get to plead and preach and proclaim on the behalf of Christ “Be reconciled to God!” In other words, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17)
Listen and dwell on those new realities in Christ!
Or let us hear how Paul puts it in another way.
Titus 2:9–15 (CSB)
9 Slaves are to submit to their masters in everything, and to be well-pleasing, not talking back
10 or stealing, but demonstrating utter faithfulness, so that they may adorn the teaching of God our Savior in everything.
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age,
13 while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
14 He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works.
15 Proclaim these things; encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
9 Slaves are to submit to their masters in everything, and to be well-pleasing, not talking back 10 or stealing, but demonstrating utter faithfulness, so that they may adorn the teaching of God our Savior in everything.
One with Christ: we are bonded to Christ forever
Ooh, super tense wording and visual. Why didn’t Paul forsee the wickedness of Europeans and Americans building their little dirt empires on the back of slaves. So uncomfortable, right? Modern, mostly Western world version of slavery is explicitly forbidden by God as wicked sin against Him and the specific consequence is for the kidnapper to be put to death.
Exodus 21:16 (CSB) Whoever kidnaps a person must be put to death, whether he sells him or the person is found in his possession.
Deuteronomy 24:7 (CSB) “If a man is discovered kidnapping one of his Israelite brothers, whether he treats him as a slave or sells him, the kidnapper must die. You must purge the evil from you.
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
If you want to try to argue and defend American Slavery as the will of God, I will need you to give me proof that American Slavery was built on humans willingly giving themselves over to unnecessarily brutal hardship and toil for all of their lives.
Sometimes, slavery in the Bible was the payment of a debt that the debtee could not pay. Sounds familiar? God saw his people, by the consequences of sin, subjected to forced labor, and He will rescue them from the slavery to sin. That is the Exodus is about. That is what the Bible is all about.
God sent his Son to ransom us from sin and death. For:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (CSB) Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.
If you are in Christ, you and I belong to Him alone. The same way a slave in the broken, sin-filled, depraved world is forever bonded to their master, we in this new kingdom of God is forever bonded to our master, Jesus Christ.
Listen, our master is sweetest name you will ever know. He doesn’t put more pressure on you and more laws on your and more work on you. No! God gives us His Spirit so that we are adopted as His children, get to enjoy the freedom of the glory of God. (Romans 8:14-21) God gave us His Son to take away your back breaking sin and despair to lovingly, graciously, mercifully exchange it for His own righteousness so You will be with him forever and ever. For, Christ command us to…
Matthew 11:28-30 (CSB) “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Christ says, “Come to me. Let me take that thing that is crushing you so can possess the freedom of God. Give it to me and I will give you all that I have.” (Hebrews 1:1-2; Romans 8:16-17)
We can take these Titus verses and make them about our employers or our bosses. But that illustration doesn’t always work because some of us don’t have bosses. Why are we to teach our children and preach the gospel to every creature and instruct younger men and women and encourage older saints because we are bonded to Christ forever. He is our Savior, yes. He is our merciful God. Also, yes. He is also our wonderful Lord and Master forever. The Father has given you and me his only begotten Son. That is too say, we have everything. We are now one with Christ. Now and forever. Now we get to (v9-10) “submit to their masters in everything, and to be well-pleasing, not talking back or stealing, but demonstrating utter faithfulness, so that they may adorn the teaching of God our Savior in everything.”
How does this ownership happen? How does this purchase happened? How do this oneness and bonding happen? Did we contribute anything to making it happen? Absolutely not. For we:
Ephesians 2:1-2 (CSB) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient.
We were once dead in our sins.
But what does the Bible say? If you have read the Bible and the Holy Spirit has given you wisdom and understanding to know his word, we know the refrain, “But God!”
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
One with Christ: the grace of God appeared!
I have spent much of my time thinking and trying my best to properly define what is prophecy according to the word of God. And for the longest time, I have hitched my background to this statement: “The prophecy in the Old Testament pointed forward to the arrival of Jesus Christ, whereas, all prophesying–that is, the preaching–is about Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
Pastor Steven Lawson said it even more clearly, and I will paraphrase, “The gift of prophesying of the revelation of God outside the word of God given to individuals to be the mouthpiece for God does not exist today. However, the gift of prophesying that proclaims what has already been revealed by God in the appearing of His blessed Son, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is alive and well today.”
Now why do I mention that? Because that is the driven force and the power behind the commission of Christ on all believers: “Go and preach the gospel.” Why? Because Christ has appeared! Not only the first time when he appeared as a little bitty baby and grew in stature and wisdom of God. But Christ lived and he died and like no one like him before and like him no one since, appeared in glorious resurrection from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father.
John 1:14-18 (CSB) The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him and exclaimed, “This was the one of whom I said, ‘The one coming after me ranks ahead of me, because he existed before me.’ ”) Indeed, we have all received grace upon grace from his fullness, for the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side —he has revealed him.
Christ appeared. And he didn’t come empty handed. He came to save His people from their sins.
12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
One with Christ: we now get to obey Christ
Try as they might, the Israelites in the Old Testament could not successfully obey the law of God on their best day. They were so far from God that they could not make up the infinite gap between themselves and their God who kept rescuing them out of their treason and disobedience.
But God knew that. I will never forget the sweetness of Psalm 103:
Psalm 103:9–14 (CSB)
9 He will not always accuse us
or be angry forever.
10 He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve
or repaid us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his faithful love
toward those who fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed
our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
14 For he knows what we are made of,
remembering that we are dust.
God knows we come from dust. He was there when he made Adam. He knows we are mortals. He sympathizes with our faults and takes pity on us. That is why he sent the Second Adam to do what our original father and mother could not do and fail to do: be blameless and walked in righteousness.
God knew that about the Israelites. He knew that they would fail and rebel and sin and turn away. But he also knew that about us. He knew we would fail and rebel and harden our hearts and quenched His Spirit and reject his love. And he remembers we are made from dust. He remembers he made us in his likeness. He desires that all might turn back from from their own way and come to trust and obey His Son–that none shall perish.
So now the people of God have the son of God. Which means we have the Spirit of God and it means we have the heart of God. Which means, we get to obey God. We get to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
Ezekiel 36:25-27 (CSB) I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.
God has not left you and me to die in this world. God has saved us so that we would live unto Him in this age and the age to come to the glory of His Son.
As Christ said, you and me are in the end times. This is the end game. Christ will come again, in the glorious power. For Christ said this that…
Matthew 24:30-31 (CSB) … the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
That is where our hope lies–in the returning of His Son, that His kingdom would be complete and firmly perfectly established. Where:
Revelation 21:3-4 (CSB) Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.
One with Christ: proclaim what He has done for us
14 He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works. 15 Proclaim these things; encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Because God’s word is true and declares and defines our identity in Christ, go and tell the world.
1 John 3:18 (CSB) Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth.
No weightless talk. No empty speeches. No social media posts that makes us sound godly and smart. But real love. Loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. How does that look like? It starts by proclaiming these words to your kids, your family, your parents, your neighbors and figuring out how to love them well by giving over your time, effort, energy, money and resources. Do this until Christ comes back. We do this because we have Christ and we have everything.
Open our eyes and open our mouths to preach your great news to those who everyone all the time. But open our hearts to love them just as you love them. Amen.