Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 7 years ago

Strife and Division at Church

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

If you're able, please remain standing and let's give our attention to titus chapter three. I'm going to read verse one through Verse Eleven, but focusing on versus nine through eleven. This titus chapter three remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For or we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, let as stray slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God, our Savior, appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on US richly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, so that, being justified by His grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things. So that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people, but avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have...

...nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful, he is self condemned. This is God's word. You may be seated. Last time we considered titus chapter three, we considered this point, that the Apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was calling titus and all faithful ministers of the Gospel to a certain and particular task, to remind people of the lives that they are called to live on things that are described in the first few verses of chapter three, being submissive to rulers and authorities, be obedient, ready for good, every good work, and so on. But not only to remind them of these things, but to insist on the Gospel, to insist on the fact that the truth, the historical reality, that the goodness and loving kindness of God, our Savior, has appeared in the world, that Jesus Christ has come, this promised Messiah has come into the world, has been made manifest in such a way that he was seen, touched, heard and even crucified, and that this crucifixion brought about a renewal in the lives of those people who have put their faith in him. The Holy Spirit I'm being sent from father and the son, washes US and regenerates us, renews us, that we are those who have been justified by His grace and have become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. These are the truths that are about us. This is the good news that God announces in the World, the Gospel the God announces in the...

World, and this Gospel and all the various parts of it is what titus is to insist on as he ministers to these various churches on the island of Crete. He's to insist on these things, particularly for this purpose, that the people who have believed in these things, who have believed in God Budd would be careful to devote themselves to good works. So we see that titus is to insist on the Gospel as he seeks the Godliness that the Gospel produces. But what good is having a treasure if you don't protect it? Because things that are valuable can also be lost or stolen from you. And so, for that reason, titus must not only insist on the Gospel, but he must also protect it, protect it from two things in particular. He must protect it from distraction and from division. The church can be distracted away from the Gospel. Titus can be distracted away from the Gospel, and divisions in the Church can divide people, and I'd from a Gospel Unity. They had to something, something else. These are is what all instructs titus in in versus a nine through eleven. So, after talking about these various Gospel truths and saying these things are excellent and profitable for people, these truths have profit, have value. You Bank on these and you will get dividends, they will pay forward, but a void other things. Don't be distracted by foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions and corals about the law, for they are unprofitable, they are worthless, he says, he net. He lists four...

...things that distract us from the Gospel, four things that can distract tied us from the Gospel. Foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, corals about the law, these are things that a tied us in particular faced we could perhaps list others, but they're things that, of course, apply to today as well. Foolish controversies, we might describe this one as questions about things that just don't matter, questions about things that paraded themselves as wisdom but are not really that at all, and it takes wisdom to know what those things are. We're helped, however, by giving these having these lists and scripture. Paul's just spent several verses giving us many commas with things in between, things to insist on, things of great worth of value and importance. But often times people are distracted. They're distracted by things that that don't matter, controversies about things which cannot be known. It's a good thing, and that for us at a to be thankful and thankful to God for revealing his word to us, but we are right to remember that his word has limits. He only says so much. There's a temptation sometimes, though, to be distracted by the things that he doesn't say, to inquire after things which simply aren't there. To speculate about all kinds, all kinds of things. We have to be careful about going only as far as scripture does and would and waiting things where scripture waits it and Paul in another place in Second Timothy, I'm tells Timothy there to watch out for this thing as well and tells tells Timothy to...

...correct people who go about questioning these kinds of things, so that God may grant them repentance and lead them to a knowledge of the truth. Rather than being distracted by things that don't matter, questions that can't be answered, he wants them to pursue knowledge that actually does matter, knowledge that leads to the truth. We have to be careful about this as well. We rightly want to mind the scriptures for all their worth indeed, as if we do that in the right way, we will keep going and going and going. There's value that can be a continually mind in God's word. We also have to remember that sometimes there's questions that simply aren't worth asking, things that we can spend vast amounts of time on that simply aren't worth it, that aren't profitable, that don't lead to the knowledge of the truth. They simply re lead into a endless labyrinth or maze. We need to learn how to distinguish these things. Perhaps one specific example of this are the genealogies that Paul mentions in the next of his list, the second of these four things. This is appropriate since we considered a genealogy even this morning, looking at Genesis Chapter Eleven. It's, of course, right for us to consider the genealogies that are given to us in scripture, to study them and to learn from them, but they have their limits, as well. Every portion of God's word does, and in the history of the church, among the Jews and among the Christians, there have been various times in which people have sought to speculate about all kinds of origins and dates and ancestries and things that simply aren't knowable. They're not they're not given. The genealogies were not given for these reasons or for these points under the Gospel. This kind of speculation offers no religious benefit.

Pressing texts beyond what can be known is not a helpful thing. I'll just mentioned that biblical commentaries are sometimes the worst offenders, spending page after page after page dealing with things that simply don't matter, things that can't be known. I'm simply offering up one speculative hypothesis after another. We need to be careful about these things. One of the reasons we need to be careful is because they distract us from what's true and what's important. If you're distracted, if you're spending your time on things that aren't valuable, well then you're wasting your time and you end up do perhaps even diluting of the things that do matter. Worse yet, they can lead a to problems like number three, dissensions and strife. Often Times, when we spend our time on things that don't matter, on stupid or foolish controversies, we end up taking stands that don't matter. We end up dividing and quarreling about things that don't matter. Ambition is often at the root of this. We struggle and we strive to prove our position on again, a meaningless point or something that can't even be really decided, or something that scripture is very vague about. Another example of this is given in the fourth of this these things things that distract us from the Gospel, and that's corals about the law. When Paul says this, no doubt he has the mosaic law particularly in mind. The MASAIC laws good it what didn't just happen, but it's given to us, recorded in scripture, for us to study and to learn from. It's for that reason that we spend a lot of time here at Covenant Thinking about the Mosaic Law,...

...reading the Old Testament, considering it. However, though it deserves our full attention as it teaches us and leads us to the Gospel, we have to remember, as scripture so clearly points out in so many places, that we are no longer under it. And yet there are people who endlessly want to debate this point over and over again, asserting what the scriptures are so clearly teach, that we have, that the law has passed and we are under a new covenant, a Better Covenant, and so we need to be careful as we consider the law of God, the Mosaic Lawn particular, that we understand its truths and we understand them in the clear context of scripture. Well. When these things come about, titus is to avoid them. It's perhaps particularly easy for ministers to get caught up in these kinds of things. They have before them. All kinds of books articles continually being produced, often, or at least sometimes, that are in these categories. There's all kinds of ways to spend one's time, to get distracted on these kinds of things, not to mention if you have people in the church that are spending their time on these things, worrying about these things and asking you questions and and putting to you these kinds of things, it's easy to focus on them. But Paul warrants titus says, avoid these things, just just avoid them. Perhaps there's certain emails that should just go unanswered, phone calls that are just left on voice mail. Perhaps there's time things that should just be left alone, but sometimes it should be dealt with even more strongly than that. There are times when it's not enough to avoid, but the minister must protect the Gospel...

...by directly speaking to those, I'm who are leading the charge in these kinds of things. Paul goes on to say not only to avoid these things, but for the person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful. He is self condemned the goal in speaking to this person. The very first goal that we see is growth. Paul doesn't say the first time somebody does this, cut them off. They say the person who is characterized by this, go to him, warn him, admonish him, not just once but but even twice. But there comes a point when warning and teaching must not go on forever. In fact, the pastor is not only advised to not waste his time by continuing going on and on, warning and warning and warning, admonishing, admonishing and monishing, but he's told by the spirit of God to stop. Admonish him, warn him once, warn him twice and after that have nothing more to do with him, leave him alone now, after now. This passage doesn't expressly prove something like excommunication from the church, but it certainly fits with it and other examples that we see in scripture, like in Matthew Eighteen, where the Lord says if someone sins, that you bring it to them privately and then sort of semi publicly and then to the church and if they won't listen, and that they should be separated from God's people. Now, when, when the pastor the elders approach someone like this, this pert these people will, of course, be surprised offended charge you with being unloving uncaring. But the man of God must...

...be firm if he is to administer the keys of the kingdom that he is be given. Why? Because he is called to protect and insist on the Gospel. Because that's ultimately where our unity is. It's not in all the various opinions on minor things that we might hold, but it's on the Gospel and the truths that support and uphold that. This is the work of the Minister of the Gospel. He must not only protect or not not. Must Not only preach the Gospel, but he must also protect it. A kind of Gospel based discipline must be used now. This, of course, applies not only to ministers and elders who are called to rule and oversee, but also to each of you in the congregation. You also must learn the truths of the Gospel, learn to hold fast, learn the what is important and what is not. We all must learn to repent of our speculations, of our additions, of our attempts to gain spiritual points by Lording certain things over other people. Must Learn to heed correction when it is given by those who rule over you. Why should we do this things? Why do we heed these things? The reason is is that selfjustification leads to death, and that's ultimately what these things, these quarreling, these divisions, these stupid, foolish controversies, that's what those things are about, aren't they? When we speculate beyond what the word of God says, when we inquire about things that can't be known, things that are mysterious, what are we ultimately trying to do? We're trying to establish ourselves on something God has not said. We're trying...

...to establish ourselves on ourselves, and often we use these kinds of things to establish ourselves, in our strength over and against other people. We divide up away from the Gospel so that we might have a power in and of ourselves, a unity that centers around something that's important to us. You know, this is something that's true even of things that are of God's Word and are of the Gospel. The Good News of the Gospel is that God has saved us despite our works. And yet we twist this, don't we? We twist this into saying well, because I believe in these things, because I can sort of check mark my way down a certain theological list, I know I'm saved. We put our pride, in other words in our understanding and in our knowledge, rather than trusting in these things, believing and hoping on them. But a sad irony it is to take the doctrine of justification and think that we are somehow justified by believing it or checking that box. These kinds of things lead to death. Whenever we stand on ourselves, on our own ideas, our own smartness and inquisitiveness and power in the church, we will fall, we will even die if we hold onto these things for our salvation. The Gospel, however, is the good news that God has come into the world and is manifested in this salvation in the world. Apart from our righteousness, apart from our self worship, our pride, our speculations, our false spirituality, the gospel comes to us and says you don't have to prove yourself in this kind of way, you don't have to prove yourself by being unnecessarily inquisitive about things that don't matter or speculating about things that God hasn't...

...said. Instead, you can simply receive the gift that God has given you. This clear manifestation of his salvation and you will be saved. And it's through this Gospel that God also unites us and creates a kingdom that we need not establish our own little micro kingdoms here and there and all over the place. What we read in other words and verses, in the first verses of Chapter Three, is that the Gospel has the power to save, to unite, to draw us close to the God and to one another. In the truth of Jesus Ky Christ coming and dying on a cross so that we might be saved, we have something on which we can insist, on which we can stake our lives, and that's why we also protect the Gospel, because it is life, and apart from it, we will die, the Church of God will die. If we divide up into endless factions that don't matter and are based on Selfjustification, we won't last, we won't survive. But if instead we place all of our unity and our hope and the things that we believe in, the things that are important, on Jesus Christ coming in the flesh, we will live, because this is what God has promised to us. So let us put our faith in those promises, let's trust in the Gospel that God has given us. Rather than trusting in ourselves or the vain imaginations of men, let us put our faith in God's word as it comes to us, because it's sufficient to do all that God sets out for it to do. Let us pray for these things.

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