Thursday, August 17, 2023

2023.08.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Titus 1:1–5

Read Titus 1:1–5

Questions from the Scripture text: Who wrote this letter (Titus 1:1)? What is his relation to God? To Jesus Christ? For whose faith? And for them to acknowledge what? What does this truth correspond to? In what hope does he speak, and do they believe (Titus 1:2)? Who promised it? What can’t He do? When did He promise it? But when was it manifested (Titus 1:3)? Through what? To whom was some of this preaching committed? Who decreed this? To whom is the letter written (Titus 1:4)? What does Paul call him? In what way is he a true son? What three things does Paul wish him? From which two persons? Where did Paul leave Titus (Titus 1:5)? For what reason? What was he to set in order? What, especially, were lacking? In what places is Titus to appoint them?

Why is ordering the church God’s way so important? Titus 1:1–5 looks forward to the second serial reading of in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that we must order the church God’s way, because she depends entirely upon God’s eternal election, God’s eternal promise, and God’s ordering to bring about what He purposed from eternity. 

God’s slave. Paul is not writing on his own accord. He is bound as a slave to whatever God commands (“bondservant of God,” Titus 1:1), and he is sent as a representative of Jesus Christ (“an apostle of Jesus Christ”). Therefore, it is not Paul’s purpose for which he writes, but God’s purpose. And what is that purpose? That God would bring His elect to faith (“according to the faith of God’s elect”). That God would bring His elect to know the truth (“the acknowledgment of the truth”). That God would bring His elect into godliness (“which accords with godliness”). Paul’s life, Paul’s ministry, is devoted to these things: the elect growing in faith, growing in knowing truth, and growing in godliness.

God’s promise. Even faith, knowledge of truth, and godliness are not ultimate ends for God’s people. These are “in hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2).  There is an eternal promise, an eternal determination of God, that is behind the mission of His slave. The un-lying God promised this eternal life before time began. To whom, then, did He promise it? He promised it to Himself. He promised it within Himself. This verse by itself proves that the one God exists in multiple persons. Eternal life is not just a blessing for the elect, it is the fulfillment in time of the love and the joy and the devotion that exists within the Godhead from all eternity.

God’s ordering. This promise, though hidden at first in God, has now been revealed in its own time through preaching (Titus 1:3a). God has ordered, by His authority, how He will bring salvation (“the commandment of God our Savior”). And He has decided to do this through preaching. And He has decided to whom He will entrust this preaching. He has entrusted some of it to Paul (verse 3). 

But there is work for Titus, and there is work for other elders. Titus’s task is to “put into order” (Titus 1:5a) the things that are lacking, to bring the churches in Crete into conformity with God’s ordering in the church. God’s ordering in the church is that there would be a plurality of elders in every congregation. God’s slave, Christ’s apostle, has commanded this (“as I commanded you,” verse 5b). 

God’s supply. Titus is a true son to Paul, not only because his work resembles Paul’s work, but especially because His faith resembles Paul’s faith (Titus 1:4a). God’s servants depend upon God Himself, even as they do the work that depends upon God Himself (it’s ordered by God). 

Titus needs grace from God: God’s blessedness in place of the curse that he deserves and God’s strength in the place of his weakness. Titus needs mercy from God: the compassionate ordering of things in a gentleness and kindness that are the opposite of what he deserves. Titus needs peace from God: the sure knowledge that God has so reconciled Titus to Himself that all of Who God is has come to be devoted to all that Titus needs. 

In all of this, Titus needs to know God as “the Father.” And God has given this supply in Jesus Christ, our Savior. The grace, mercy, and peace come from both Him and the Father—yet another proof that Jesus is God! And the text affirms this by calling Him “the Lord.”

God our Savior in Christ, God our supply in Christ, has given us His order for how He brings us into salvation and grows us. Elders are His plan and His way. Whether elders or eldered, we will want to pay careful attention to the upcoming verses so that we may rest in the Lord doing things His way to save us!

When was salvation determined? How was it accomplished? How is it announced? How is it applied? Whom must we trust about the ordering of the church? In Whom must we trust as we follow that order?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for determining within Yourself to save us from before time began. Thank You for Christ’s accomplishing that salvation, and applying it to us by announcing it to us. Forgive us for when, even though we know that our salvation depends entirely upon You, we are reluctant to submit to Your ordering of the church. Forgive us, and give us the grace, mercy, and peace by which we may rightly follow You, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

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