Glory, Part 7

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We’ve reached the end of our series of “glory.”  Used some 500 times in Scripture, it’s been interesting to note how the writers of the New Testament used it.  In Titus, we read this:

we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…. (Titus 2:13 | TNIV)

What did Paul mean when he wrote to his friend about “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ?”  Of course, he’s referring to the Second Coming, but the context of the statement makes it very relevant to Christians today.

Titus chapter 2 is a true gem among all the chapters of the New Testament.  It not only serves as a worthy summary of the Pastoral Epistles (the letters written by Paul to pastors), but also as a guide for living through all the ages of your life.  Some Bible readers think the Bible is all like the first half of Paul’s letter to the Romans:  Pages and pages of heady doctrine, theology, and philosophy; difficult concepts for the average person to grasp.  That view isn’t entirely wrong, but the Bible is its best interpreter.  The Bible will tell you about what you’ve read if you just give it a chance.  Titus is a great example of this.  The doctrine of the Second Coming is a doctrine that some Christians have a problem wrapping their minds around.  Looking at it in the context of life today was a stroke of genius on the part of Paul.  So, let’s do just that.

Tomorrow is all about today

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.   (Titus 2:1 | TNIV)

In the first chapter, Paul laid down the standards by which church leaders are supposed to live by.  Principles like these:

An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.  (Titus 1:6 – 9 | TNIV)

That’s what you want in an elder – a leader in the church of Jesus Christ.  None of this Is difficult to understand, is it?  Like all Bible doctrines or teachings, this teaching about elders just makes common sense.  You want people of sterling character to lead your congregation.  And you want leaders who are able to lead and teach – offer Christ – to others.  An elder needs to know the Word of God inside and out; he needs to be able to teach it to those who don’t know it and an elder needs to be a defender of the Word of God.  It’s not a job for just anybody who might be available.  

As we have seen, the world isn’t always a good place for Christians – as Paul put it another letter, “these days are evil,” and the man of God needs to be able to ably communicate Biblical teachings to a lost generation.  And he does that through righteous living and through preaching and teaching the Word.  

Mature men

But before you think it’s all on the elders of a church, chapter two comes along:

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.  (Titus 2:2 | TNIV)

This is what Titus was to teach to men of maturity.  The Gospel has the power change a person’s whole way of thinking.  But that new way of thinking, or maybe it’s a new perspective on things, must lead to a new way of living; it must lead to an obviously transformed life.  And  it was this genuine transformation of lives which made the Early Church virtually invincible. How else can you explain the supernatural growth of the church and its triumph over the entrenched paganisms of the Roman Empire? 

T. R. Glover, fellow at Cambridge, tells us that:

The Christian ‘out-lived’ the pagan, ‘out-died’ him, and ‘out-thought’ him.

By every measure you can think of, the Christian exceeded by far the highest standards the pagan world knew. Just look at the first three character traits Paul mentions: be temperate or sober, be worthy of the respect of others, exercise self control. The idea of “temperance” is to be understood in the sense of being “sober”— in the use of wine, to be sure, but also an attitude of moderation in all of the areas of life. The term rendered “grave” in the KJV and “worthy of respect” in more modern translations, suggests a seriousness of purpose, not a gloomy outlook, but rather an attitude of seriousness in the important issues of life.  The third term, “self disciplined,” is like “temperate,” meaning at a certain age, a man becomes the “master of himself,” that is, “the master of his emotions.” In other words, he doesn’t let other people or his circumstances determine how he thinks or how feels about things.  

Mature women

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  (Titus 2:3 – 5 | TNIV)

You’ll notice that mature women were to develop virtues similar to those in mature men.  Paul was wanting women to be genuinely holy in the way lived.  Here is pictured the mature woman who is dedicated to godliness and godly living. A good example of the kind woman Paul had in mind is “the mother of Israel” in Judges 5:7 – 

Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.  (Judges 5:7 | TNIV)

This kind of mature, strong, holy woman has all but vanished from the Modern Church. This is a very politically incorrect thing to say, but the strong, godly women of a bygone era are in desperately short supply today. Women who know Christ, who love Him, who are dedicated to knowing Him, and who consider serving Him to be life’s highest calling; women like Mary and Martha—such women are desperately needed in the Church today.  

Keep in mind that Paul wrote this in the first century, to a people of particular culture.  Women back then had no choice but to marry and have children; they didn’t work or have careers.  In our era, times are different and our culture is different.  God’s Word, though, contains principles that most certainly apply to our day and culture.  Mature women should be leading the way, in terms of behavior and attitude and holiness of life and conduct should be the rule at home or at work.  The key is that no matter where you may be, you should be conducting yourself in such a way as as to glorify God and not cause others to, as Paul put it, “malign the Word.”

Young men, Titus, and slaves

Young women are to learn from mature women within the church, and as far as young men is concerned, Paul put the onus on young pastor Titus to set an example for them:

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.  In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.  (Titus 2:6 – 8 | TNIV)

That was how Titus was to act.  Live right, speak clearly and righteously, and never give anybody the opportunity to criticize the church.  That’s a heavy responsibility for a young pastor to bear, but if it’s what you’re called to do, then you’ll do it.  For pastors and church leaders, though, there is a frightening word in Paul’s admonition:  Everything.  Pastors are to set an example “in everything” they do.  And that’s more than just sermon preparation!  

Paul has dealt with older men and women and younger women and men and pastors, but now he turns to, essentially, others within the church:

Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.  (Titus 2:9, 10 | TNIV)

Once again we read the word, “everything.”  Slaves were already subject to their masters, but Paul adds “in everything.”  In other words, the slave – or we might use the word “employee” today – must go above and beyond what is expected of them.  Recall the words of T.R.. Glover:  

The Christian ‘out-lived’ the pagan, ‘out-died’ him, and ‘out-thought’ him.

That includes the area of working for other people.  The Christian shouldn’t be a good employee, he should be the best employee.  The reason, though, is kind of surprising:  To make the Gospel of Jesus Christ look good. Do you you see the responsibility the average Christian has?  You thought the pastor had a tough roe to hoe!  When you go to work every day, whether it’s in a factory, in an office, or out in the field, you must be better than your co-workers in every way.  In being the absolute best, you are making Jesus Christ look good and that’s what you are called to do.

The way we live demonstrates God’s grace

Paul’s summary of his teaching begins with God’s grace:

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  (Titus 2:11 | TNIV)

Christians are to live right because God’s grace has appeared and offered salvation to all people.  That’s a curious statement, and it seems to forever settle the boring discussion about “limited or unlimited grace.”  God has offered salvation “to all people.”  Here is a universal solution for our universal need. Though some may reject this grace and refuse to have any part in Christ, the provision has been made for their salvation and they may claim it if they will.

But how does that relate to how Christians are to live their lives?  It’s simple, actually.  God is offering His grace to all sinners, and Christians, if they live right and make Jesus Christ look good, the sinner may be more apt to consider accepting God’s gracious offering!

And God’s grace is truly remarkable.  It not only enables the sinner to accept God’s gift of salvation, but it works in the redeemed life, transforming it!

It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…. (Titus 2:12 | TNIV)

It’s amazing, isn’t it?  After all the verses Paul devoted to teaching different groups of people how to best live out their Christian lives in a sinful world, he informs his readers that they won’t be doing it alone; that God’s grace actually does the teaching which leads to a transformed life.  Or, another way to look at it is this:  Evidence that a sinner has accepted God’s grace is a changed life.

It’s important to live righteous lives even while we wait for Christ to return.  And His return should also be a motivating factor in living the good life.

while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.  (Titus 2:13, 14 | TNIV)

A changed life is why Christ came in the first place.  He died to rescue us from the monotony and mediocrity of our sinful lives.  God wants you to experience a tiny bit of glory on earth by living right before He comes in full glory!

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