Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #269 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Titus 3 today and our focus is on What is the Best Summary of the Gospel in the Bible? + How Christians Should Behave and NOT Behave! We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
I sometimes hear about it from my friend Lamar when I make bold claims in the title of this podcast, and don’t back them up, so I hope that we can at least make a case today that Titus 3 contains what might just be the best summary of the good news of Jesus in the Bible. BUT FIRST, how should Christians behave and not behave?! If you haven’t noticed yet,Titus, though only 3 chapters long, has a lot to say about Christian behavior, and almost all of it is very, very practical. I find Titus to be an imminently important text for Christians in our modern era to read, especially given some of the bad behavior we have all witnessed on social media by those purporting to be Christians over the past few years. How does the Bible tell us how to behave? Let’s dive right in! Paul tells pastor Titus to teach and command and remind new Christians of the following:
Remind them to submit to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. Titus 3:1-2
This is pretty simple, and not a lot of wiggle room here. ALL Christians – men and women – are called to submit to the rulers and authorities and to obey them. As we have discussed before, I believe the only exception to this command is when the rulers and authorities command something that directly violates a command of God – and command of God’s Word. OBEY and SUBMIT are big words, and they mean something. Christians are supposed to be people who obey the laws and the commands of the government, of bosses, and of leaders AS LONG AS THOSE commands don’t violate God’s commands. When they do – we say what Peter and John said: We must obey God rather than men. Jesus said preach the gospel – the government told them no – and they followed Jesus, and not the government. Other situations – ones we may be uncomfortable with,etc- the counsel of the Word is submit and obey. But that’s not all, folks – because we are also supposed to SLANDER NO ONE. Including that politician that you believe really, really deserves it.We are to avoid fighting. What kind of fighting, Paul – like fisticuffs? And yeah, that word appears to rule out fisticuffs – beating people up with our hands and feat. Does that preclude Christians from sports like boxing and wrestling? I don’t think so. At least I hope not, as I used to be quite the boxer – they called me the Alabama Kid. Okay, I actually made that up. I’m sorry.
We keep going with the practical commands: Be kind- repeated often in Scripture, and then we get to a doozy: show gentleness to ALL PEOPLE. My dear friends – all means all. This means gentleness to everybody by your words and actions and tweets and texts and posts on social media. ALL PEOPLE.
Two verses – absolutely loaded with practical and difficult commands. Commands our flesh will absolutely rebel against, and yet there they are in black and white.
One more set of commands to discuss in this passage:
9 But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, because they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning. 11 For you know that such a person has gone astray and is sinning; he is self-condemned.
No foolish debates – no fussing about genealogies, which apparently was a thing back in the day – no quarrels – no disputes about the law. Does that mean disputes about the government law or about the Old Testament law? And the answer is probably both, especially when you consider the commands all together – it seems like Paul is saying it as clear as possible: no arguing and fighting and debating. In fact, he expresses it this way in Timothy 2:24, “24 The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, ” These commands no doubt spring from Jesus’ teaching about making peace: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9 Christians are to be people who bring peace, and are to be people who avoid dissension, arguments and quarrels like the plague. You might think that sounds a little idealistic, but these are crystal clear and oft-repeated commands in Scripture.We advance the truth and serve the Lord by means other than arguments and dissension.
A stand alone verse that is worth mentioning is vs. 8: 8 This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone.
Critics sometimes try to pit James and Paul against each other, with Paul speaking in favor of faith and James in favor of good works. I don’t see it. Paul unquestionably commands Christians to be devoted to good works, because they are GOOD and helpful to EVERYONE.
Finally – the best, or certainly close to the best, summary of the Gospel in the Bible:
4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, 5 he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7
Four verses, two sentences. Salvation begins with the KINDNESS of God our savior, who saves us not by our merit or good works, but by His mercy. He saves us by washing us through the renewing work of the Holy Spirit (this passage is not referring to water Baptism, but the washing of the Spirit). We are declared righteous/justified and made fit for Heaven by grace – undeserved favor. Not only does God save us in His mercy, but He pours out His Spirit on us with great abundance through Jesus Christ our savior, who enables us to become heirs -inheritors of eternal life in Heaven. There are other summaries of the gospel that are powerful in Scripture, and it might be silly of me to say this is the best. Okay, it is silly to say it is the best, but at least allow that this is one of the shortest, yet deepest summaries of what God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit does for us in salvation, and it is almost certainly the most trinitarian summary of the Gospel I know of. What a beautiful truth to meditate on! Let’s read our passage.
Bible Memory verses for the month of September: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17
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