Last week, we began our study of the book of Titus. We were reminded about Paul's history - who he was before becoming a Christian, and how he became one. We also learned what he meant when he called himself a bond-servant of God, and saw that he was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ.
Today, we finish the first verse, as Paul explains why he is an apostle...
Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ for two reasons listed here: for the faith of a specific group of people, and the knowledge of a specific truth.
Paul knew very well that it is essential for people to come to faith in Jesus Christ. But he also knew that not everyone had the supernatural encounter with Jesus that he did. Instead, Jesus had established that His message would be distributed by the mouths of His followers.
When writing to the Romans about his desire to see people saved, Paul said,
Rom. 10:13-17 ..."WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? ... So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Paul was sent by Jesus as an apostle to preach the gospel, so that people would hear, believe, call on the Lord, and be saved.
But Paul also says that his apostleship was specifically for the faith of "those chosen of God." You see, he knew that not everyone would respond to this message with faith. He knew that some were not going to be saved.
When presented with a choice like, "Choose this day whom you will serve," some would choose not to serve the Lord. We think, well, that's a shame, but it's their choice."
But Paul is not saying, "for the faith of those who choose God," but for the faith of those "chosen of God." Those whom God chose. The elect, the called, the predestined. Of course, this opens up quite the can of worms in Christian discussions.
Some people can't get past the fact that God gets to choose people for salvation. It's un-American, it's not democratic. It's dictatorial.
But God is not a vindictive dictator for choosing some in advance. As a matter of fact, His motivation is quite the opposite.
Eph. 1:4-5 ...He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will
It was God's kindness and love that caused Him to choose me before He even made the world. I don't resent that at all - I'm thrilled that God loves me that much!
Besides, I believe that those who have a problem with predestination just don't understand the criteria God uses to predestine us. You see, because God knows the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10), He knew in the past whether we would respond to the gospel or not in the future. So,
Rom. 8:29-30 ...those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called...
I believe He chose us because He knew our choice in advance.
The second reason Paul gives for him having been made an apostle of Jesus Christ was to impart the knowledge of the truth.
The pure truth is so important for Christians to understand. To have a proper understanding of God's ways, His will, His methods, and His character. But some people say, "Hey, if a guy has faith in Jesus, what does it matter what his doctrine is? Some Christians believe this way, and others believe that way, what's the difference?" The difference is that God wants us to know the whole truth. He...
1Tim. 2:4 ...desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
His desire isn't just that we be saved, but that we also come to a knowledge of the truth. There are those that become Christians, yet are subjected to bondage of lies, false doctrines, heresies, and misunderstandings.
Believing is certainly the beginning, but remember,
John 8:31-32 ...Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
Those who believed in Him had not yet been completely free by knowing the truth.
With so many opinions about what God's truth is, how can someone know what it is? Jesus said, "If you continue in my Word, you will know the truth." As soon as we deviate from the Bible, we are straying from the truth.
Paul gives us another hint as to how to recognize the truth: it is according to godliness. Some people out there are preaching a Christianity which says, "Your sins are all forgiven when you become a Christian, so you can do what you want now, with no repercussions. All things are lawful, so sin abundantly, it's all paid for!"
But this is not the truth according to godliness. Paul told Timothy,
2Tim. 2:25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth
Knowledge of the truth is preceded by repentance. The truth is always based on living godly, not on a sinful free-for-all.
The Greek word for godliness is "yoo-SEB-i-ah," which means "to show reverence and respect towards God in your behavior." The opposite word, "a-SEB-i-ah," is ungodliness. The difference is clear: ungodliness is to treat God's grace with contempt. Jude said that,
Jude 1:4 ...ungodly persons... turn the grace of our God into licentiousness...
But the godly person disciplines himself (1Tim. 4:7), lives sensibly, righteously (Titus 2:12), quietly, and with dignity (1Tim. 2:2).
Paul was an apostle for both evangelism and discipleship. I believe he would say to us today, "If you're one of God's chosen people, you have heard the gospel and believed it. And if you know the whole truth, your life is being lived in a godly way."
Thus, in the words of Peter,
2Pet. 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble