Saved To... Holiness (Q & A)
In yesterday's blog post I offered roughly 20 questions to ask while looking at Titus 2:11 through 3:8. Today I'd like to answer those questions. I will also provide scriptural references where applicable. In the coming days I will spend more time on particular issues that cause concern in some. Lets get started:
Q. Do you believe that Christians can say no to sin? Do you believe that Christians can walk in holiness and righteousness? A. Quite simply, yes! Not only do I believe we can, I believe were commanded to. (1 John 2:29, 3:7, 3:10, Titus 2:12) I also believe holiness was the purpose for which we were saved (Titus 2:12-14, Ephesians 2:10) and I believe that is the reason the Spirit of God indwells a believer so as to empower him or her in a divine way of living. (Titus 3:6-7, 2 Peter 1:3) Q. What are the 2 purposes of the grace of God according to chapter 2 verse 11 and 12? A. The grace of God has appeared to bring us 1. salvation and 2. to instruct us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age. When's the last time you thought of grace as more than just unmerited favor? Better yet whens the last time you saw the commands of God to live sensibly, as His favor? According to Paul's instruction to Titus they are both grace. Q. When are we to live Godly, self controlled, upright lives according to verse 12? A. God tells us to live these lives in the present age. That is in our daily lives not in waiting for some great by-and-by. This demands effort. Q. According to chapter 2 verse 14 what two things did Jesus give his life for in order to accomplish in us? A. Redemption and purification. Most people think of salvation only through the lens of redemption but Jesus gave his life to purify us. And as we saw in the previous question he in tends to purify us now. Q. According to verse 14 what is the purified and redeemed Christian supposed to be zealous for? Does this say that God will be zealous for good works through us or that we will be zealous for good works? A. We are to be zealous for good deeds. This is not merely helping somebody cross the street or taking out the trash for your spouse (although it can include those). We are to be zealous for the deeds of the one who is good, that is God. Q. What do you do with your own possession? A. This is an added question from the other day but I want you to see that verse 14 says that we are a people of God's possession. What do you do with your possessions? 1. You do whatever you please. 2. You usually enjoy/benefit from them. If this is true of God then God does with us whatever He pleases and He is pleased to call us to holiness. When we do so it brings joy to Him. According to verse 8 of Titus chapter 3 it makes us "good and profitable." Q. Titus is told by Paul to exhort and rebuke with all authority "these things". What are "these things"? A. Everything from chapter 1 verse 1 to the point of the instruction. And it just so happens that Paul communicates the effort of living a godly life. The responsibility of a pastor, a teacher, and a disciple (you) who is making disciples is to exhort and rebuke with all authority the words and commands of Jesus Christ. Not only are we to live godly lives we are to instruct others to do the same. Q. In verse 15 what does "let no one disregard you" imply? A. It implies that somewhere at some point someone is going to disregard this kind of teaching. This is the problem we live in in the church to day. People say things like "there's no way that people can live lives of godliness and holiness." They mis characterize scripture to communicate that Jesus is somehow living everything out for you but that there is no effort on your part. They manipulate the meaning of passages of scripture like Paul in Romans when he says "the things I want to do I cannot do and the things I don't want to do I keep doing." The modern Church would have you believe that Paul was telling us that it's impossible to live a godly life. But can you see the problem? The same apostle Paul who wrote Romans (in its proper context for its proper meaning) also wrote this letter to Titus, in which he clearly commands holiness. We will face opposition for calling people to holiness. The sad part is we shouldn't have to face it from the church herself. Q. If Titus was to face opposition for teaching holiness and righteousness why would we expect it any different? And why would we allow people to disregard us for teaching what Paul clearly says? A. We shouldn't expect any difference. And the reason why we would allow people to disregard us is for the very same reason that the apostle's Peter in Antioch began to hold himself "aloof" and not preach the gospel clearly; He was afraid of persecution. Q. In chapter 3 verses 1 and 2 What does Paul instruct Titus to do? And then what is Titus to instruct the people to do? A. Titus is reminding the people. The people are to do what Titus reminds them to do. What's so interesting about this is that it communicates that the people that Titus was over already knew God expected holiness from them but like it is today we often forget. Reminder is often what pastors try to do on Sunday mornings with their congregations. The funny thing is, that when one has a guilty conscience because they're not doing what God says, even a reminder is offensive. Q. In chapter 3 verse 3 what does Paul imply by "we ourselves were…"? A. It's here in the letter to Titus that Paul sets the contrast of the old self to what the new self is supposed to be. What "we ourselves were"; sinners living against the plan of God. What we are to be; Saints living in godliness and holiness because Jesus bought us at a price. Q. Because of "who we once were" why did God save us according to chapter 3 verse 4 and 5? A. The kindness of God, his love for his creation and all of this in accordance with his mercy. If we'll study the way the words are used in the verses we will see how their intended to be undeestood. God's kindness (grace) and His love for His creation (you and me) all in accordance with the character of God (mercy) chose to save us. This was not based on works that we had done to earn His love, but simply because He made us and already loved us! Q. Being saved by grace or "His own mercy" as Paul says, what was God's action according to verse 5? A. In order to save us He 1. washed us through regeneration and 2. renewed us by the Holy Spirit and verse 6 says he 3. poured out His Spirit on us through Jesus Christ our savior. Q. If, according to Paul, the Spirit of God is the one used by Christ to wash us for regeneration and renewal, and is said to be "poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ", then when does a believer become in dwelt by the Spirit? A. A believer is in dwelt by the Spirit of God the moment he or she believes. This does not downplay the deeper things of God Spirit that we clearly see shown throughout scripture. We are all to "eagerly desire" greater gifts. But I would remind you that the baptism that replaced John's baptism is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. It was never a baptism merely by water so that people could do the same thing they did with John just now with Jesus. Spend some time searching the scripture to find the "baptism that was to come" or the baptism that Jesus was to bring, you will find that it looks only to salvation which is the Holy Spirit and fire and not water baptism which was merely a public display of one's already inward condition. Q. Does Paul separate justification, the filling of the Holy Spirit and salvation in verses 5, 6 and 7? If not, why do we? A. No. He communicates that they were one in the same in order that we might live the godly life that he has commanded Titus to teach. A. We separate these things because of 1. a poor interpretation of Acts and the events of pentecost as they unfolded and 2. because of man made doctrines that continue to force puzzle pieces into places they do not belong. Q. In light of salvation, justification and the indwelling Spirit what does Paul insist Titus expect from believers? A. We would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. To be an heir means that you must be a son or a daughter, in order to be a son or a daughter you must received the Spirit of adoption. Thus in order to be saved you must have the Spirit so that you can be counted in heir according to the hope of eternal life. Q. Who is responsible for the action of the believer in verse 8? A. Those who believed. That means you and I. The effort put forth is our effort. There is no doubt that God receives the glory for it is by His grace we have been given the Spirit which is all we need pertaining to life and godliness. But it is very clear according to Paul's instruction that we, those who believe, are to be careful to engage in good deeds. God doesn't have to be careful to engage in good deeds, He is always good. We however have to be careful to walk by the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Remember effort is not opposed to grace, just earning! Q. Why are the people to devote themselves to good works? A. Because it is both good and profitable for us. The reason we obey the commands, statutes, and laws of God has never been and will never be to make God love us. It will never be to justify us before His eyes. It will always and only be because 1. He loves us and 2. we now love Him and 3. because it is good and profitable for us. To do what God says, to live godly lives affords the most amazing good and profit any of us could ask for. It is not only possible for us to say no to sin it is commanded that we do so and it is for our greatest benefit.