For the week commencing 30 June 2019
Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on Titus 2 – Dear Titus… teach what is good
Our holiday series takes us through Paul’s letter to Titus. Here is the outline:
30 June… love what is good Titus 1
07 July … teach what is good Titus 2
14 July … be ready to do good Titus 3
DAY 1: Read Titus 2:1-10
Christian community – Titus 2 reminds us that the context of the Christian life is in community. In the same way that children learn best in the context of a secure family environment, Christians learn and grow in the context of faithful, Biblical fellowship. It is often through informal connections (as opposed to Sunday church or Connect Group) that we really learn how an older, more mature Christian does life, how they stay faithful, how they pray, how they cope with suffering. When we feel isolated as Christians, in our extended families, in school communities, and in our workplaces, it can be such a joy and comfort to have the support and encouragement of another Christian, older or younger. Titus 2 is encouraging us to do cross-generational discipleship to teach and model what is good. This is not just Christians getting together for coffee to catchup, not that we don’t love coffee. Teaching ‘what is good’ across generations is based on sound doctrine (2:1). These conversations will be curious but non-judgmental, they will encourage accountability and honesty, they will prioritise discipline, respect and integrity over self-focus, self-promotion or self-righteousness. What is good does not always feel good.
Question: Are you in a one-to one Christian relationship? If not, what might you do to mentor or be mentored? If so, what does Titus 2:1-10 have to say? How have you benefitted from the relationship??
DAY 2: Read Titus 1:8, 2:2, 2:5, 2:6, 2:12
Self-control – Self-control is mentioned in Titus 2 four times in relation to older men, younger women, young men and the church generally. The Greek word sophron which is translated as self-control is the same word Paul uses in 2 Timothy 1:7 where it captures the idea of ‘sound-mindedness’. Self-control was counter-cultural in Ancient Crete and it no less so today. Christians ought to feel as if we are swimming against the cultural tide. We may be mocked or teased for our discomfort with swearing or heavy drinking or for embracing the Biblical definition of submission in marriage. Self-expression and self-fulfilment are promoted in the media, in the parts of our education system, in the arts, in sport and in politics and in those everyday moments when we just don’t get our own way. We see the worst consequences of poor self-control in the prevalence of domestic violence, fraud, marital breakdown, and addictions. Self-control is an expression of godly character and lifestyle which will make the message of the gospel attractive. Self-control is not a denial of strong emotions. This is not about maintaining a ‘stiff upper lip’ but rather managing one’s emotions thoughtfully rather than being controlled by them. We learn from Titus 2 that self-control is not inherent but has its source in the grace of God (2:11-12). When we understand the grace of God, we ought to be teachable, willing to learn to ‘say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age’. Self-control comes from God and helps the people of God to do good in order to serve God. Self-control is not popular, but it is undeniably attractive when we live it.
Question: Think of your day so far. Are there areas in which you could be more self-controlled? If you are able to become more self-controlled what difference would it make?
DAY 3: Read Titus 1:3, 1:4, 2:10, 2:13, 3:4, 3:6
God is our Saviour (not Zeus) – The phrase God our Saviour or Christ Jesus our Saviour appears six times in Titus (1:3, 1:4, 2:10, 2:13, 3:4, 3:6). It also appears in 1 Tim 1:1 and 2 Tim 1:10. Paul’s emphasis here is both for Titus and for the church. The word ‘saviour’ was used in relation to Greek deities. For example, an inscription at the sanctuary of Asclepius reads ‘Diodorus dedicated to you, Saviour, two dreams in return for twofold eyes, light being restored” (2nd C AD). Another Greek inscription found in Knossos attributed to Plotius, addresses Zeus as saviour. The use of the word ‘saviour’ needed clarification. One of the problems in the Cretan churches was that they had integrated their ideas about Jesus, with their ideas about the Greek gods that they grew up with, specifically Zeus, their chief god. Cretan people claimed that Zeus was actually born on their island and they loved to tell stories and mythologies about Zeus’ underhanded character. He would seduce women and lie to get his way. Paul seems to deliberately use the phrase ‘God our Saviour’ or ‘Jesus our Saviour’ throughout Titus to distinguish Jesus from Zeus.
DAY 4: Titus 2:11-14
Grace and glory – These verses would have been one sentence in Greek and may be clearer as follows:
‘For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people (teaching) 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 appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify a people to himself that are his very own, eager to do what is good.’
We are living in the ‘now but not yet’, between the first coming of Jesus which is a past, historical event and the second coming in the future. The grace of God has appeared (v11) as we wait for the ‘blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ’ (v 13). The grace of God has appeared in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ will appear and is our blessed hope. The glory of the Father is Jesus Christ and this glory will appear at the second coming. ‘The two great events of history (the first and second comings of Jesus) are revelations of the grace of God and the glory of God’ (Tim Chester, p. 76). Grace is followed by glory. For believers glory is long awaited, but for non-believer it is a threat. We all ‘fall short of the glory of god, and are all justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus’ (Romans 3:23).
Pray: For those who do not yet know Jesus’ grace that they will have the hope of his glorious return rather than be condemned by it.
Resources: 1-2 Timothy & Titus, Philip Towner
1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Gordon D. Fee
Titus for You, Tim Chester