Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 645 · 2 weeks ago

Titus #3

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Titus 1:1-4

Mercy that you have shown us in the light of the Gospel that has come into our lives, that we might know you and love you and shine with your grace. There is no God other than you, no God who brings us true joy and true peace, true happiness, and true Godliness except for you and you alone. We thank you for coming into this world at the proper time and revealing this word of salvation to us, that we might be changed and then we might believe. We thank you also, Lord, that you now use us as individuals and together as your church, along with many others, to shine brightly with this good news, that the world, even to its remotest end, might hear you and fear you and love you as you have made us and are making us to do. We asked that you would help us to hear your word, be with the preaching of your word as we as we come again to your word in Titus through your apostle Paul, we pray this in Jesus name. Amen. Let's turn to Titus chapter one, Versus one through four, and here God's word I read this morning Titus one versus one through four. So last week, when we looked at this passage, we considered Paul, Paul's self understanding, how he understands his own mission as he writes this letter to tite us to give him instructions about how he ought to understand his mission, his assignment, and ultimately that comes...

...to all of us right. What is Christ as the head of the church a desire for us? Last week we focused on the source of um, the source of that strength, the source of that message, which is God and the Word of Christ, the revelation of the Gospel. Today we focus on the ends God has desired, ends for his work goals, and we're gonna. Look, We're gonna. I'd like you to pay attention to that this morning as we read now tied Us one one through four. What's God's goal in sending out his word Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth which accords with Godliness in the hope of eternal life, which God who never lies, promised be for the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior to Titus, my true child in a common faith. Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. May God bless his word to us, Please be seated. Mm hmmm m m. Having a good goal is pretty essential for almost anything in life, whether you're waking up in the morning and trying to figure out what to get dressed, or um, you're thinking about your job, or thinking about...

...something as big as what the church is supposed to be, like what am I supposed to be doing as a Christian? These are important questions. It makes me think of those cartoons where um, somebody uh has the map upside down right and you're everyone's going the wrong direction, and then you know, then that sort of comical moment, you can turn it right side up. In that case, the problem maybe not isn't the goal, but it's the route to get there, the direction, the means to that end also also important. In this passage, Paul addresses all of these things. He starts with the source of our mission, the source of his mission, the source of the work of Christian ministry, and even the work of God in the Word of Cry. That's of course, God himself. And Jesus Christ, our savior, the eternal son of God. But he also addresses the means right, the means towards an end that he is it is his desire to achieve. Well, what is what's his end? Well, he says, Paul goes out for a reason. His work is suffering all of that for a reason. And he says, it's for the sake of the faith of God's elect God's children, God's chosen, God's beloved ones. It's for their the sake of their faith. And then he gives some details their knowledge of their the knowledge of the truth. And he describes that knowledge as saying, as that which accords with Godliness and is in hope of eternal life. So this faith he sort of unfolds in this way, knowledge, godliness, and...

...hope. I think these three things correspond with the classic um faith, hope, and love, those virtues or what we do, how we feel, and what we think. We might say that one of God's ends, and when we have summarizing this is to save us, and to save all of us, every part of us, our minds our hearts, our actions. When God comes into the world and he reveals himself in Jesus Christ. He comes to save you and all of you. He wants us to have a knowledge of the truth, to no longer believe, not believe lies. When we put our faith in Him, we put our faith in real things, in a real salvation, not a false one, not a lying one. And it's a truth that actually does good things. It produces uh and in his and as an accord with Godliness, and it exists in the hope of eternal life. Lies don't do that. Lies don't produce Godliness, Lies about God, lies about ourselves, lies about our world, they don't produce. They don't accord with Godliness, and they certainly don't give us hope. I want to talk with about talk about that with you a little bit more in a moment. The point here is just to notice that Paul goes intentionally. He goes out intentionally, and he does so at the command of God, which means that God goes intentionally. When Paul says, when God sends out Paul, he sends out his servant, he sends out his apostle. We read in verse three, Paul goes as one who is entrusted with something. Paul doesn't He's not just doing whatever he wants to do. He's doing what God has intended. And so, as I emphasized last time, we see...

...not only Paul's heart or a command for us and our mission as a church, but we also see God's heart and his desire for us. And that's the thing that we want to keep chief in our minds. This is all very important for a lot of reasons. One of them is that the world that we live in is a very very dark place. It's a dark place. Now, that's not something we want to hear all the time. It's something we try to distract ourselves from sometimes. Uh, some of you perhaps come here this morning and you know it. Maybe you feel better than anybody else. No one is going to have to convince you this morning that the world is a dark place. Maybe you are suffering in your relationships. Maybe you're feeling like you don't know how it's gonna work out this week or even this afternoon with your friend or your spouse or someone at work. Maybe you're seeing addiction pop up over and over again in your life or in life of someone you love, and you're overwhelmed by it and you're frustrated by it. Maybe it's money, problems. Maybe it's all kinds of trials. Trials not in the sense of suffering, but trials in the sense of you keep trying, and whatever it is, it keeps not working. The world often likes to encourage us via optimism and tell us that if you try harder and you pluck up and you do a little better, or distract yourself with some entertainment or something like that, that maybe things aren't so bad. And it's true,...

...there is a lot of good. There is a lot of good. We have so much to be thankful for, clothes, shelter, food, good food, friends, family. If we decide we want to start listing things to be thankful for, which we often do this time of year, we can come up with very long lists. But if we think about things as it aligns with this world and his life is under the sun, we only come to one conclusion. Even when you account for all of the good, all the very real good, we come to the conclusion that the author of Ecclesiastes comes to about life under the sun vanity of vanities. All is vanity. Good things pop up, but they go away, And the book of Ecclesiastes gives all kinds of examples for this right, flourishing and strength in your youth and then suffering as you get older. You amass a great fortune, and then your bum son gambles it all the way, and his inheritance like the prodigal son right in the story Jesus Um. Then the on parable Jesus tells all kinds of examples throughout that book of people gaining all kinds of great knowledge, learning, studying, perfecting, really, establishing, good systems of thought, good systems of action, and then nothing failure. Ah, The world's a dark place. The world is a very vain place, taken on its own terms, in an accordance with its own way in life and the sun. And that's, of course because of sin. When Sam came into the world, God cursed the world hostily. He brought into the world...

...all kinds of measures of frustration that man would see the consequences of his sin, would be warned from it in part, and would learn not to exalt himself but exalt God and God alone. When we look around and we see the darkness of our world, where do we turn? Where do we go? Well, you can go to a bookstore in town and find huge sections of literature that will tell you how to do all kinds of things, things that will help you, ways you can help yourself. We call this self help. Right. What do you want to learn? Right? Astronomy, computer coding, how to write a better resume? Um? Do you want to learn how to communicate better with people? How to be a better listener, how to be a better has been, a better spouse? Um? Do you want to how to know how to organize your community or be more effective in the things that you do? Um? Set better goals, create better strategies. It's all there. Go by the books. They're there and they will help, but only to a degree. They only get so far. If that weren't the case, we have utopia by now. Right. Humans have been working on perfecting their their towers, and their languages, and their relationships and their families and our wealth and everything else for thousands and thousands of years. And we keep doing the same thing over and over and over again, keep repeating the same mistakes, keep hurting each other in the same ways, over and over and over again. Vanity of vanities. It's all vanity. So you can go to the library, you can go to the bookstory, you can find a measure of help, but it will not get...

...you the thing that you really need, the thing that the world really needs, which is God and the life. Not in ourselves, which is ultimately damning, but life in Him, life in Him. Notice what the apostle Paul, when he goes out for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth. What is the hope that comes with that knowledge? A knowledge about Jesus, and knowledge about the Cross, and knowledge about what God is doing in this world. A knowledge that isn't human generated but comes straight out of Heaven itself. A knowledge that cannot be found by going on beautiful walks in the mountains or reading the best poetry or listening to the best music. A knowledge that cannot be found by studying the greatest of our science. A knowledge that comes special, special delivery from Heaven itself. A knowledge that is revealed to us that could not be discovered by us, but is revealed to us by God's grace. What does that knowledge do well? That knowledge comes in hope? Hope of what? Eternal life? Not vanity, not darkness, not a little bit better and two steps forward in one step back, not penultimate change, ultimate change, eternal life, rock solid hope, and he gives some He gives some explanation and exposition of that when he says, which God who never lies, promised before the ages began...

...and at the proper time manifested in his word. Right, when we put ourselves, are hoping ourselves our towers of Babel, right, they come to nothing. But when God who never lies decides to save us, you can have one hundred percent assurance that that will not fail. It's rock solid. And he gives reasons here. One, God never lies. That's totally different than everything else we experience in this world. Number two, he says, he promised it. This promise that he made, he promised it before the ages began, which is to say, it doesn't depend on anything that we do, because the promise was made before we did anything. Talks about this in Romans, addressing Jacob and Esa. He says, before they were even born, I chose Jacob, before one or the other had done anything good or evil. He had made a promise. He had made a decision, and he would and is doing it. Not only did God, God right, God who never lies, God are amazing, perfect, wonderful, God make this promise before the ages began. But he says, at the proper time he manifested it in his word. It wasn't fate, It wasn't an accident. It wasn't us finally kind of working things out so that at the perfect moment we then generated or discovered or you know, climbed that last route, last rung up into heaven. No, at the proper time God manifested...

...his word first in Jesus Christ, who comes into this world, dies on a cross, and then resurrects from the dead, and then through the preaching of that word in his apostles and in the church following from them, Paul says, to the Glaciers Church, Glacian Church, you've seen Christ and him crucified. Who was crucified before you? He says to them, in how do they see him? How do they see Christ? In Paul's preaching, He proclaimed it to them. He told them so that they might see with the eyes of faith what was true and what's true when we look at the cross and we understand what Jesus does on the cross, what's true about that is that he had to die for us in order to save us. Not only is man not capable of saving himself. In order to be saved, God had to become man and had to die in order to save us. He didn't. God didn't come into this world and say, forget the bookstore, forget the library, let me really tell you how to live. He already did that. That's what almost the whole Testament is about, telling us what we're supposed to do. He gave the Israelites ten very clear laws what they're supposed to do. He filled that out with a whole system and a land and a priesthood and all kinds of things, giving them support of support, structure and life and everything. He cleared the way right. He sent...

...out their enemies, he placed him in the land, you know, just turn the key and run with it. And they still failed. What Paul says about this ultimately is that the law is incapable of producing the godliness that we need. The law is incapable as good it is, as it is, of reconciling us to Christ. And that's what the Cross shows us. The Cross shows us when the Lord says, I will be the substitute for these people, what does he have to do in order to be our substitute. He has to die, beloved, He dies for us. He doesn't just give us some teaching. He doesn't just tell us how we can do things a little bit better. He dies for us. That's where are our works get us. They get us to death. And we can either have that in Christ, who dies for us. Or you can do it yourself, and we call that damnation and hell. You can take on the eternal wrath of God all on your own, and instead of eternal life, have the eternal death. Or you can look at Christ and see that all he has done. You can hear the word of the gospel that has preached. You can know that not only did he die, but he rose again from the dead to forgive us our sins, to cleanse us and make us as white as the snow. We can put our faith in him. We can put our faith in that truth, in that promise from a God who never lies, and be saved, and be saved. The world is a dark...

...place, and we desperately need help. Our neighbors need our help, our family, our friends. They need our help. They are suffering, they are dying, and they are not going to be saved by helping themselves. You know what the problem is in your own particular life. I only know it in a general way. I know that according to UM, I forget whether it's Barna or Pew. Before the coronavirus, Tucson was listed as the sixteenth most post Christian city in the United States, twelve most unchurched. On any given Sunday, more than half half the people here are not hearing the gospel. It's a lot of people. And those are pre coronavirus statistics. From the estimates that I've heard or read studies that have been done, and just anecdotally from pastors and talking to people in town. Well, thankfully it is not true here. In most other churches, attendance is down thirty to fifty post um. You know, lockdowns and coronavirus and all that kind of stuff. So whatever the statistics were pre COVID, it's safe to assume that it's even worse. There's five thousand, eight hundred and sixty households within a half mile of this building. That's according to the Postal Service. You can do lookups on there. That's a lot of people. And othern Arizona rural...

...southern Arizona, there's something like two thousand people, and most of them have no church. That are is even close much less assured, And that when there are churches, a lot of them preach not the Gospel. They preach the law, they preach moralism, they preach all kinds of not the Gospel things. I'm just saying that our world needs help, and not just the world in some sort of abstract way, but like the people living right around us, they need the Gospel, even as you and I need the Gospel. We need to hear it, we need to believe it. And the good news for us is that God has promised this to us, and He has come into the world at the proper time. And for those of you who have put your faith in Him, those of you who have experienced exactly what Paul is talking about here, you know how amazing this is, especially those of you who didn't grow up with these truths but came to know them later in life through the preaching of the Gospel. Those of you who know what it's like to live live lives where you are constantly and only walking in lies. Even those of you who generally were nice people and helpful and loving, you knew and know that godless, that that immorality is not just doing bad things, but it's godlessness. It's even doing good things without Him, doing good things in our own strength, doing good things for ourselves and our own glory. God Lessness is what immer reality really is in every form,...

...whether it outwardly looks good or bad, or whether it benefits our neighbors in a penultimate way or not. But God doesn't promise just doing nice things. He promises godliness, which is not just morality, but it is a morality that is centered in Him, sourced from Him, enabled by Him. We as Christians have God in us, living in us, breathing in us, shining in us. And this is why we can be a good witness. It's why we will be a good witness because God is working in us. And God is working in us in such a way that he is not going to fail. He won't, he can't. God comes into the world to achieve these ends, and He has achieved them many of your lives. He has given you a knowledge of the truth. He has helped you to see the Cross of Christ. He has given you a hope that you didn't have when you didn't have Christ. He has given you a godliness that is grounded in him. And so if we want to be saved from the darkness ourselves, and if we want to be a blessing to our families and our friends, our neighbors and even our enemies, if we want out of the darkness, and if we want our world to be out of the darkness, there is only one thing to do, which is to put our faith in him who shines in the darkness, as John says about Jesus, and the darkness has not overcome him. He he entered into a dark world. He died...

...on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins, and he rose from the dead, and he ascended into heaven. Glorious, powerful, almighty King. God doesn't just promise, He fulfills and he applies his gospel in our lives. That's what happens when we put our faith in Him, and when our faith is in Him, it is from that place that we can then be a real hope for others, instead of neglecting them or giving them false hope. We shine with Jesus. We shine, and we tell them about him. We tell them what He's done for us, We tell them what He's doing, and we simply watch God at work. So my encouragement to you, as Paul's encouragement is too tight us and to me, as God ultimately is commanding all of us, we must trust Him above all. And as we trust Him above all, we proclaim Him above all. And that is a true hope for a dark world. Let's pray, Lord Jesus, we know that when you come into the world, you are not like a candle shining in the middle of the day, simply a nice thing to have, a pretty thing to look at, if if we don't, if we want, But you are like a light in the darkest depths of the earth, a light that shines and beats back, overcomes, destroys, annihilates the darkness. This includes o Lord, our sin and the consequences of sin. We...

...praise you, and we thank you for being our savior and our King. Thank you for coming into this world at the proper time. Thank you for giving to us the preaching of your word through your Apostle. Thank you for continuing that word word out into the world through both the ordained ministers of the Church and through every member of the Body of Christ, through whom you are working, through whom you are proclaiming the word of Christ, the word of the Cross, to a dead and dying world. It's hard sometimes, o Lord, to be left in this world, to suffer in it, to endure trials of various kind. I'm too to be persecuted even for these things that we hold true. But Lord, we know that we can count all suffering as joy when we do it in your name. We know that uncomfortableness and conflict and difficulties of various kinds, you are only working these to strengthen us and to purify us, and to make us more and more like you. Lord, is our faith is less and less in ourselves, and more and more in you. We see the goodness that you are doing, the fruit that you are producing, the knowledge that you give, the godliness that you bring forth, and the hope, O Lord, that we can just relax into a hope that we can rest in and know that the world, that even though the world is spinning and noisy and distracting and and sinful even around us, that we are going to be okay. Help us to bring...

...this message to others, that they two might join us in the praise of your name and the proclamation of your word. Help us to be faithful in these things, and we look forward to the return of our Savior. We pray these things in his name. Amen.

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