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Titus 1:1-16 Titus 2:1-15 Titus 3:1-15
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Titus 3:1-15

 

“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost: which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and striving about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter. Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.”

 

“Being a dreamer, I’d dream about it, back in San Diego, think of God doing the work, and I used to, once in a while I’d day-dream about standing on a bridge, and I’d be on a bridge and overlooking a New England community, and there would be a downtown area, we could see the hills around it, trees and things, early Sunday morning before the hustle and bustle of the day you could hear a church, their praise and worship, if you’d listen real quietly, you could hear it off in the distance. One of the buildings in the downtown, just worship coming out, and I just thought it was a neat experience. And I thought, ‘Yea Lord, do it, great.’ Well we’re working on the air conditioner, and [laughter], it’s working better, but for some reason it’s not working this morning. It had some repairs done to it this week, there’s a few things to fix, we had the compressor rebuilt, and I guess there’s a fan that needed to be replaced, and evidently when they took it at the end of the week, we didn’t realize it left us without the ability to turn on the air conditioner, so I think by next week we should be all set, finally. But thankfully it’s not as hot out today, but we’ll do what we need to do to keep the temperature down. Let’s say a prayer, and we’ll begin our study. ‘And Lord, as we come to you this morning, we are grateful Lord for this work you’ve done in our hearts, you’ve made us different people, Lord, and we even have this yearning in our heart to come together and to praise you Lord, and to sing songs to you, and at the same time, you bless us Lord, with just those heavenly blessings and your presence. And we thank you for that Father. But as we are here and ready to look together corporately at your Word, we’d just ask you to open our hearts and minds to hear you now Lord, and ask Holy Spirit that you just would move our thoughts and just the desires in our hearts that we would just hear you Lord, and we’d hear your voice, and that we would know that you’d spoken to us, and when we leave this morning we’d then go and do what you said to us Lord. But thank you for your Word and your instruction to us. And again the Holy Spirit, I do ask that you’d lead me and speak through me now, and be upon all of us, I ask in Jesus name, amen.’

 

There’s an article that appeared many years ago in a publication that was titled “The Congregationalist”. And this article stated some things about General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. And here’s what it wrote. “A few years ago it was announced that General Booth of the Salvation Army was loosing his sight, and that his days of usefulness were over. After many weeks of seclusion this Christian hero of fourscore years [80] appeared having one eye removed, possessing only imperfect vision with the other. But to an audience of over four thousand in London he spoke for an hour and a half. ‘I want to do more for humanity,’ he said, ‘and I want to do a great deal more for Jesus. There are thousands of poor, wretched and suffering and sinning people crying out for help, and I want to do something for them.’” There’s a man without one of his eyes, and he’s in the latter years and barely seeing in the other eye, basically blind, and folks have written him off, he’s no longer useful for the Gospel. But he stands and he teaches a Bible study for an hour and a half, and in that he just gives his heart, and that is, that he wanted to be a useful instrument to the Lord, still touching the many needy around him, still serving the Lord and reaching out to the lost. Last week we were on the second part of a three part message. But this week we’re going to conclude this message, and it’s entitled “The Instruments For Good Works.” We’ve looked at the first part, that is there person, their character. Last week we looked at their pattern, their example, and this week we’re going look at their practice. So the person, the pattern and this week the practice. But if you remember from last week’s study, Paul concluded with a tremendous text in chapter 2, verses 11 to 15. He noted the reasons why Jesus died on the cross for us. He said this, he said that he died on the cross that he would redeem us, right there in verse 12, 13 and 14, that he “would redeem us from every lawless deed”, from every sin and everything we do wrong. But that also he would “purify for Himself His own special people,” and then Paul wrote, a people who were “zealous for good works.” (verse 14 NKJV) That’s why he came, that’s why he gave himself, his life for us, that he would redeem us, that he would purify us, and make us his special people, zealous for good works, hungry and eager to do good works. [Now the question begs to be answered, what are those good works, and the practice of them?] Zealous about helping humanity about us, and reaching out to them, desirous to do a great deal more for Christ, just like William Booth, burdened and moved in the heart to help the thousands of poor and needy and wretched and sinners that are crying out for help. [And I beg to say, a lot of that is physical help, not preaching at them with our words, but through our works, good works.] He says this is why God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, why he gave his life for us, so that he would have a group of people that he’s redeemed and purified, like that sword that’s been prepared and taken through the fire and it’s been worked, it’s now just gleaming and shining, it’s ready to do the work that it’s been prepared to do, that we’d be zealous, eager in heart to do good works. That’s why we’re Christians, that’s why he’s done the work that he’s done, that we’d be instruments of good works. Well we’ve looked at the person, the character of an instrument of good works, we’ve looked at the pattern, their example, and this week the practice. What is the practice of an instrument of good works? What should be your practice and my practice as Christians? We’re going to look at seven areas today. That is to be always ready, to be always remindful, to be always responsive, to be always refraining, and to be always reaching. Those are five of those seven areas we’re going to look at today in Titus chapter 3 as we conclude this study.

 

What Is The Practice Of An Instrument Of Good Works?

 

1.             Be Subject To Rulers And Authorities, And Be Ready For Every Good Work

 

Let’s look at verse 1, “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” (verses 1-2, NKJV) Paul writes to Titus, he says, ‘Remind the Christians, remind the church to do this,’ and the first area we see there, the first area of practice, the practice of an instrument of good works, is that of being ready, and you see it right there in those verses, ready for good works. Paul says initially, he says, ‘Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to governing officials, remind the Christians, remind the church, remind them also to be obedient to them.’ To be subject to them, and to be obedient to them. We should be paying our taxes, is what he says, we should give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, we should honor the king, we should obey the law entirely, except at those times where maybe the law would cause us, if we obeyed it, to disobey God. But that’s not very often. Generally we’re to obey all of the law, that’s what he is saying, to be subject and to obey the governing officials. And this is consistent with Paul’s exhortation to the church in Rome, he said this, ‘Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God. And those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. Render therefore to all that are due, render to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, and honor to whom honor.’ Paul makes it pretty clear to the church in Rome what we’re to do as Christians. We’re not do devote our energies so much in fighting the government, but we’re to devote our energies in being an example of Christ, and instrument of good works, and example in the way we live and the things we do, and in our witness, including our attitudes, that of a submissive and obedient heart. He says, ‘Remind them to be like that before the government, not to fight the government, but to live as an example, as a Christian witness.’ That says to you and I, as we’ve seen before, that we’re to be cautious as Christians, if we get into the political arena, we’re to be cautious about politics. [Comment: Paul said elsewhere that we are ambassadors of Christ. Technically, an ambassador from another country is not really a citizen of the country he resides in, but is a guest, representing his own country. The country we represent is God’s Kingdom, and as such, we should not really be getting involved in the political arena, just as an ambassador from Great Britain or Russia would not be getting directly involved in our politics, or in voting, they can’t vote in our elections. But we sort of hold dual citizenship, we’re Americans, Britons, Germans, Russians, and yet if we’re believers in Jesus Christ, indwelt with the Holy Spirit, we are also citizens of that heavenly Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God, which will some day come down to earth. So, as this pastor and Paul both said, there’s a balance we’re to have here. The head of the Roman Empire during Paul’s lifetime was Caesar Nero.] Because where so many believers are around us, it appears that they’ve gotten involved in politics and different things where the government’s become their enemy, the President is their enemy, and the governing officials are their enemy. And that’s not the heart of what Paul says here. He says they’re not to be our enemy in any way, because that hinders our witness to those around us. John McArthur writes this, he says “The cause of Christ cannot be protected or expanded by social intimidation any more than by government decree or military conquest. When Christians become political, sinners become the enemy instead of the mission field.” So we need to be cautious, because you see the heart of what Paul says here, he says to remind them to be obedient, be subject, and to honor the king, in heart, to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. So don’t fight the government, the government isn’t the enemy, love the President, love the Vice President, love the Governor, love the Mayor, love them by your example and by your witness. Paul’s remindful exhortation here is clearly a guard against getting the wrong attitude toward the government. This includes even with a bad government. He says instead of fighting, in verse 1 he says ‘be ready for every good work.’ In perspective with the government, and in perspective with all men, be ready for every good work, be prepared to be useful to the Lord in that capacity. Paul said again to the Romans, he said this, he said, ‘For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be afraid of authority? Do what is good and you will have the praise from the same.’ He says if you do bad, you fight them, you’re going to be afraid of them. But instead he says do good, do good works, honor them, be a good example before them, and instead you’ll get their praise, you’ll get their heart, you’ll get their ear, you’ll get really the ability to share with them, and to love them and to point them to Christ. These truths are truths that the Church [Body of Christ] needs to be reminded of today, that’s for sure. You know Paul’s exhortations are pretty strong, he says if you fight the government, basically you’re fighting God, is what he says in Romans. Because God has instituted government, he’s put the President there, and to fight the President, to consider him your enemy is really to oppose God. Those are heavy exhortations and heavy words to us. So Paul says ‘be ready, be ready,’ that includes with a bad government, be ready for good works, be an example before them. Jesus said in Luke chapter 6 the heart of this, he says ‘But I say to you here, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.’ That’s the heart of the Christian. That includes our attitude toward the government. If you remember just a couple weeks ago we saw Paul exhorting Timothy, he said, ‘Therefore I exhort first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and reverence.’ And then he said this, ‘For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.’ So our motive is never, really, political, but it’s a spiritual motive that we have as Christians. Our enemy isn’t a physical enemy, our enemy is a spiritual enemy, the Bible teaches us. Therefore as Christians we battle, but we battle in prayer, we fight the good fight of faith, and that is to be an example and a godly witness, and to proclaim the Gospel in a heart of love towards all men. And we need to see everyone as part of the mission field, that includes every official and everybody that is in the civil offices around us, we’re to see them as a potential mission field, somebody to witness to and love and be an example of Christ before. And what would be the greatest impact on our nation? What would be the greatest impact? If the Church [Body of Christ] got so organized politically that we could pass every law that we wanted to, or if one night President Clinton got on TV and said ‘You know, I had an experience the other day, [chuckles], I had this encounter with God, and I can’t believe what happened. I see things a little differently today. I’m a sinner, I need a Saviour, I’ve put my trust in Christ, and I now want to lead that example in our nation, I want to be an example of purity and love and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.’ What would have the greatest impact? I think the second one would have a greater impact on our nation. And that’s why we’re to live as an example. Not to put the boxing gloves on, not to get so political, but to love, and to live a Christian witness, and that’s an obedient heart to the those in authority, and a submissive heart, that is a powerful witness Paul says, and that’s what we’re to do, to be ready for every good work. That includes that, of being an example before our government. We have been saved, as we’ve seen before, we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works. That’s why Christ came, that we would be zealous for good works, that we would be instruments of good works, and that includes this in our attitude before the government. But he says ‘to be ready for every good work,’ be prepared, be instant, in season, out of season, be ready at every moment to be useful to the Lord. In season, out of season, be ready at every moment to be useful to the Lord. And the question is, are you always ready? Or do you find it an inconvenience at times? Or do you at times think ‘Well, there’s the opportunity, but I’m really going to make a fool out of myself, because I’m not ready.’ He says be ready for good works. I think to do this effectively, to be useful and ready as an instrument in the hands of the Lord, there’s a great picture for us in Exodus chapter 12, verse 11. The men were studying this past Friday morning, we’ve been studying men of faith in Hebrews chapter 11, and women of faith, just the Hall of Faith, and going back to the Old Testament to read some of the lives of these people that the Holy Spirit lists there, and we were looking at the Passover, and it says ‘By faith the people of Israel, the Israelites, held and obeyed the Passover, they performed the Passover, in faith, knowing that what God said was going to take place.’ So we were studying it, and there’s a great picture, you know, we noted and it was pressed on my heart as I was sharing, the world is so dark. [For a good historic study on that very first Passover, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/lamb/exodus1.html] It’s getting darker and darker every moment. But I’m not to get cynical about the government and cynical about the world around me, cynical towards other believers or other non-believers, but instead I’m to be different and have my heart and mind set on Christ, and to be ready to be useful to the Lord. And there’s a great verse in Exodus chapter 12, verse 11 as the Israelites are ready for the Passover, and this angel of death to go by. God says to them that they are to eat the Passover meal with a belt on their waist, sandals on their feet, and staff in their hand, eating in haste, ready for the moment, prepared for the hour. So we talked about that, to live a life of faith is to be prepared and ready, for whatever the hour is. The hour is short. I’ve mentioned it before, but when I was interning in San Diego, the staff at San Diego was always trying to teach the intern pastors how to be ready in season and out of season. So you could be called on in a moment’s notice to give a Bible study. You could just be walking down a hallway and somebody would go ‘Hey, Bible study starts in five minutes, can you give it?’ And we saw it happen, and it was a way just to prepare you to be ready, always to give and to be useful to the Lord and to give a Bible study, to be an instrument of good works. And I tell you, if you’re not ready, it can be very humbling. Especially to stand up and give a Bible study and you’re not ready. It’s very humbling. It reveals a little bit about yourself. Well, Paul says be ready for every good work. When 20th Century Fox advertised in New York City, the New York City papers, to fill a vacancy in its sales force, one applicant replied “I’m at present selling furniture at the address below. You may judge my ability as a salesman if you’ll stop in to see me at any time, pretending that you’re interested in buying furniture.” So he says, “You know, I’d like the job, and you can come check me out and see what I’m all about, just come by, you’ll notice I’ve got the red hair, here’s my work, don’t tell me who you are, just look for me, and act like you’re going to buy something. When you come in you can identify me by my red hair, and I will have no way of identifying you. Such salesmanship as I exhibit during your visit will be no more than my usual workaday approach, not a special effort to impress the prospective employer.” So from among the more than 1,500 applicants the red-head got the job. He says, “Come by and check me out. Don’t even tell me your coming, because I’ll be ready, because I’m going to be doing what I always do, and that’s a good work, in trying to help my customers and sell the furniture.”

 

2. Start Your Day Communing With Jesus Christ

 

One of the greatest ways, and how do you get ready, how do you prepare yourself to ready for every good work? One of the greatest ways that we can prepare ourselves to be ready for every good work is to start the day in communing with Jesus Christ. And most of us believers realize that. But that is the way you really get ready to be useful to the Lord at any moment, is to prepare your heart, prepare your mind, to prepare your eyes, to prepare your perspective as soon as you roll out of the bed for whatever might take place that day. I can’t recall, from studying different saints of the past, I can’t think of one saint that has been a great saint we’d read about that didn’t start their day in communion with the Lord, I can’t think of one. All the people that have been used in mighty ways have been people that start early in the morning, in prayer and in the Word, in communion with the Lord. And in my life, you know, when I don’t get that opportunity, I feel like I’m naked when I leave the door, I just feel unprepared and unready, I feel nervous. When I’ve had a neat time of prayer and time of communing with the Lord, I just feel like I’m ready, I got the right perspective. I now have the eyes and the heart of Christ when I leave, and I’m ready to do the things he wants me to do. I’m ready to do the things he wants me to do, ready for anything to take place. We need to have the same attitude as David, this is to be ready for every good work, he said “Give ear to my words O LORD, consider my meditation, give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I will pray, my voice you shall hear in the morning LORD. In the morning I will direct it to you, and I will look up.” That’s why we know a lot about David, too. He was a friend of the Lord, just had a real love for the Lord. But he started his day with the Lord. David ends that Psalm with these words, he says, “For you O LORD, will bless the righteous, with favour you will surround him as with a shield.” He starts out, ‘you’re going to hear my voice in the morning,’ and then he has this confidence in the Psalm saying ‘Lord, bless your people,’ and you surround him with favour as with a shield. You know as we’ve been reading through the Bible as a church, and we were in 2nd Samuel a little while back, I read a verse, it just caught my eye this time, it was interesting as I was thinking about David. But 2nd Samuel chapter 11, verse 2, it says in those verses that “David arose from his bed, and walked on the roof of the king’s house, and from there he saw a woman bathing.” And obviously it was Bathsheba, and we know what happened from there. But I was thinking about that, because it said, what caught my eye as we were reading through it, it says “he arose from his bed.” And evidently it was in the middle of the night, it wasn’t morning because it said it was evening, but he was in bed, and he got up, and then went on the roof, and it was then that he was susceptible and Satan tempted him, and he fell really hard. [Now this wasn’t someone David didn’t know. A careful study in this part of the Word shows this was David’s trusted advisor Ahitophel’s grand-daughter, so David had watched this young woman grow up before his very eyes, and obviously an attraction formed for her in David’s mind. These things start slow and develop over time, and as James says, eventually conceive into full-blown sin (cf. James 1).] But I was reading that and just seeing that picture, and saying ‘I wonder if he spent some time in prayer when he got out of bed before he went up there? If he’d spent some time with the Law, would he have been ready?’ It’s just a picture for me as I read that, I said ‘Yea, he got out of bed and just went about his duty, and he fell hard on his face.’ And he’s a guy who didn’t fall very often, he’s a guy who started his mornings in prayer, but here’s a time he just got up and went up on the roof, and he fell hard. And I said, ‘Yea Lord, that’s it, isn’t it.’ I want to be ready and prepared, ready for every good work. And that is to be prepared against the enemy. Foster Walker accidently strolled into this scene of a hold-up at a store in Memphis Tennessee, and he heard the gunman order him to surrender his money or I’ll shoot. “You just go ahead and shoot” Walker said, “I just got through reading my Bible, and I’ve already said my prayers,” [chuckles] The robber was dumbfounded and Walker, a man in his 60’s walked away. ‘You can take me, man, I’m ready for anything today. I’ve been with my Jesus, I know what he’s about, I know what I’m about, I’m ready for anything.’ Again we read a Psalm of David, David fell at one time, but most of the time, man, he was ready. He says, “O God, you are my God, early will I seek you. My soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for you in a sanctuary to see your power and your glory.” What if you and I started the day that way, in God’s sanctuary, looking upon his glory, looking upon his power, I mean, how does that effect your day? Do you find there’s a lot of days where you’re discontent and unsatisfied and you have just that perspective? And therefore really you’re not very useful to the Lord. Well maybe you should try what David did, he says ‘I long, I thirst, so I start my day in your sanctuary, beholding your glory and beholding your power.’ And then you go and you’re content, and have a whole different outlook on the day, ready to be useful to the Lord, ready for any good work, ready for whatever the day will bring.

 

3. To Be An Effective Instrument Of Good Works You Must Guard Your Tongue, Be Gentle And Humble

 

“to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” (verse 2) So Paul says in verse 2, of chapter 3, he says be ready for every good work, and this is part of that, Paul says in that heart, he says, in regards to everyone now, we talked about the civil leaders, now in regards to everyone he says to be guarded in speech, watch your words. “to speak evil of no one,” he says absolutely no one, speak evil of not a soul. That’s not the king, that’s not your neighbour, that’s not your sister, that’s not your brother, that’s not your mom, that’s not your son or daughter, speak evil of no one. That’s what he says. Guard your mouth, if you’re going to be useful to the Lord. Obviously to be an instrument of good works, that includes our tongue. Because our tongue can be so destructive, he says, ‘don’t slander, don’t curse, don’t treat anybody with contempt. Watch your mouth,’ he says. He says to be peaceable, that is to be friendly. Christians, we should be friendly, just friendly people, that people enjoy being around. Friendly people have a lot of friends, too, not condemning or belligerent towards other people. And when you aren’t ready for doing good works, as we go on, and you’re not prepared, you can really get cynical towards other people. ‘You know, my neighbour, I can’t believe he does that. I can’t believe he’s involved in those things, ah that guy, wish he’d just move to another neighbourhood, I’d like to pack his bags for him,’ you know, you get these attitudes. ‘I can’t believe that guy on TV, ah, I hate him.’ But that’s not what Scripture says. It’s not the way we’re supposed to be, we’re to be peaceable, we’re to be friendly, that’s to every man and every woman, the Scripture says. That’s to be an instrument of good works. He says ‘be gentle,’ that’s a sweet reasonableness, just that air about you, you’re just very reasonable and very sweet. Not in a fake way, you know when people are fake about it, you know they kind of turn you off. But just in your character and your heart there’s a real sweetness and reasonableness to your attitude. You’re somebody that’s fair, somebody that’s moderate and forbearing with other people, just patient with other people. And then he says ‘you need to be humble,’ and this really opens the doorway for what he says from this point on. But he says you need to be humble in heart, not self-centered, not occupied with yourself, ‘but showing every man consideration, thinking of others, humble and broken and useful to the Lord.’ That’s to be ready for every good work. John McArthur writes, he says, “Really, changing society starts when a Christian’s moral and spiritual concern is for his own virtue and godliness. It is our righteous attitude and conduct that makes us not only more pleasing to the Lord, but more pleasing to the unsaved. It is the righteous living that makes the saving message of the Gospel believable to the lost. If you claim to be saved from sin but still live sinful lives, our preaching and teaching, no matter how orthodox, is likely to fall on deaf ears.” If you want to change society, this is what Paul says right here, this is what John McArthur says, ‘live a godly life.’ You want to impact the neighbourhood, the community? Live a godly life, be an instrument of good works. Don’t fight the government, don’t fight your neighbour, your co-worker, your boss, but live an example of love and truth, of peace and gentleness, live it, and watch God work through you. Peter says the same thing in a great passage in his first letter, in chapter 2, verse 9 he says this, ‘But you Christians are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, who were once not a people, but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy, but have now obtained mercy. Beloved,’ and Peter writes this, this is his heart, he says, ‘Beloved, I beg you, as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honourable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers they may by your good works which they observe glorify God in the day of visitation. Therefore submit yourself to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme or to the governor, or to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. As free and yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God, honour all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honour the king,’ he says, ‘I beg you, get this attitude, I beg you.’ He just pours out his heart as he writes this letter. This is it, live a godly life, be ready to be useful to the Lord for good works, be an instrument of good works in your practice. And that will effect the many around you, even those that are against you will be silenced and moved in heart. [What were some of the good works the early Church in 155AD and 250AD, the time of Polycarp and Policrates? see http://www.unityinchrist.com/LegacyOfLove.htm]

 

4. Next Thing Is To Be Remindful---Remember Where You Came From, And Remember What Caused The Change In Your Life

 

Well, Paul concludes verse 2, he says you need to have a humble heart. And then he says if you don’t, this is why you should, he really goes to the point in verse 3, but the first thing is to be ready, now we are to be remindful. He says, “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (verses 3-7) First thing, the first practice of an instrument of a good works is to be ready. The second is to be remindful, because that helps you to be ready. That keeps you in check. He says ‘Remember,’ he says ‘you need to treat people this way, you can’t get cynical, you can’t condemn them, you’ve got to love them, because remember where you used to be. And remember where you now are and how you got here. Put it all in perspective, you’re not better than anybody else.’ You’re not better than the President and the things he’s done, you’re no better than your neighbour, you are the same. [i.e. cut from the same filthy, dirty cloth.] But it’s by the grace of God you are what you are [now, now that you’ve been saved], ‘remember where you used to be.’ Not necessarily to go back and pull out all the drudgery and all the details of it all, but remember how low you used to be, and remember what God has done in your life. He says be remindful, if you want to be useful to the Lord, be remindful all the time of who you are in reality before Lord. Being a forgetful Christian is to become a Christian whose heart gets harder and harder, because you start to think you had something to do with what you are today, ‘that I’ve become what I am, I just kind of attained it,’ and you start to look at other people differently. But if you remember where you came from, man, it puts a real humble perspective to things. But to be forgetful is to become ineffective. Bad memory can get you in trouble as a Christian, get you in a lot of trouble. That’s one of the reasons that Israel had it’s downfall. We read in Psalm 106, ‘Our fathers in Egypt did not understand your wonders, they did not remember the multitude of your mercies, but rebelled by the Sea, the Red Sea.’ They forgot, they forgot where they came from. God warned them about that in the same Psalm, it says ‘they soon forgot his works, they did not wait for his counsel,’ and then they fell. So Paul says, live this way, but remember where you came from. It will help you, it will guard you, it will insure that you are useful to the Lord if you remember where you came from. Then he says, remember your past condition, ‘remember you were once foolish,’ everybody in this room was once foolish. I don’t like to be called a fool. Without Christ you and I were foolish, we were disobedient, we were deceived, we were lustful he says, wanting the pleasures of the various things around us, we were spiteful, we lived in malice, just had a bad attitude about others. We were envious, we were hateful and hating one another. You know, you think of that, ‘Well, my neighbour is like that, I saw him at the game the other day, man, he just got all bent out of shape at the umpire, I saw him driving, he got all bent out of shape at the other driver, I mean, he’s just a hateful guy.’ But Paul says ‘this is the way we all were, just like it, same thing.’ He says remember your past condition. Ah, you may be a holy-roller today, but you haven’t always been one. Remember where you’ve come from, and remember what caused the change in your life. He says remember your salvation, he says “But when the kindness of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,” it’s a God-thing, that word “appeared” is “epiphany” again, when the kindness and love of God, meaning Jesus Christ, when he came to the earth and he died on the cross, was buried and raised to life, remember that. Look at the cross. That’s why you are what you are. It’s a work of God and it’s all about his love and his kindness. If you’re here today without Jesus Christ in your life, maybe somebody’s invited you and you’re thinking, ‘You know, I don’t know about God and if there is a God, he doesn’t love me anyway.’ Consider what Paul says here, Paul says here that we’re to be reminded of the kindness and the love of God our Saviour, that God loves us, and he’s kind towards us and he’s proven it. That while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, he demonstrated his love for us, the Bible says, at that very moment. That is something important to remember, we need to remember the source of our salvation, how we got where we are. And then we need to remember the means of how we got here. The source was God. And what was the means? Well the means was the cross, isn’t it? Verse 5, he says, “not by works of righteousness which we have done,” if you’re doing ok today in Christ, but that’s not how you got here. Good works [of obedience in this instance] are the evidence of salvation, they’re produced from our salvation, we’re to be ready for good works, as we go on, we’re to maintain good works, they’re the evidence, but they’re not the means of it, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,” he just looked and said, ‘Man, that poor George, poor Mary, they are just a mess, destined for hell, but I’m merciful.’ Maybe when you were younger, driving, you saw an injured animal next to the road, and you got out and you took him home, bird, whatever, and tried to restore the health of the bird, that’s kind of the heart of God, he looked and said, ‘Wow, what a mess,’ but in his mercy he came, and in his grace he forgave me. And in his mercy and his grace he just repaired me and got me going, made me right. Remember the means of it all. Isaiah declares the righteousness of man is filthy rags in his sight. So he says “not by good works of righteousness” that you get where you are, you had nothing to do with it, it was all because of the Lord. It’s according to his mercy, according to his grace. If you’re here today without Christ, there’s a great prayer for you, there’s a great prayer for you in Psalm 106, “Help me O LORD my God, O save me according to your mercy.” And everybody whose a Christian here has prayed that in heart at least once in their life, O God, help me. O God save me, that’s how we got where we are, as Christians. If you’re here today, that’s how you get there, in Christ, how you get new life.

 

Remember You Were Changed From What You Were By Regeneration Of The Holy Spirit

 

And to get things going right before God is just to cry out to him according to his mercy. He says, “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,” meaning he just cleanses us of our sin, that there is a picture of our baptism, but our baptism didn’t clean us. Peter said that very clearly in his letter, we weren’t washed clean by our baptism, it’s a picture of what took place, we were cleansed by the shedding of the blood of Christ. That’s how we were cleansed of our sin, we were washed clean, we were purified, as Paul said in the last chapter, he gave himself that we would be purified and cleansed from our sin. And then says “washing of regeneration” meaning not only are we cleansed, we’re given new life, regenerated. You know, those science experiments you did in high school, you’d cut the little fluke worm in half, and it would be half a body, and you’d come back a week later, and it would grow back the other part, you like, ‘wow, wild.’ But we were washed, but then regenerated, given new life, in Christ, through the “renewing of the Holy Spirit,” just renewed us, all by the Spirit, sanctified us, it’s continuing to sanctify us. And then it says “whom he poured out abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour,” You know there’s always an abundance with God, he’s able to do exceedingly abundant above more than we can even imagine or even think. He says he poured out abundantly the Holy Spirit, and we need the abundance of the Holy Spirit for sure in our lives. I was recently with my landlord. I think I shared a month or two ago that I was talking to my landlord. He’s a Muslim, I was talking to him on the phone, and I think the door opened for me to share the Gospel. I think the door had opened for me to share the Gospel, but I didn’t use it. And I got off the phone, and my wife even knew I didn’t use it. She could tell, that the conversation was going one way, and I just chickened and I didn’t bother. And I got off the phone, and I said ‘Why didn’t I say more?’ So we’ve been praying for our landlord, and we knew he was coming over this past Monday, and ‘Lord, I want to be ready this time.’ So I had that perspective, I’m looking for that right opportunity to share with him about Christ. And God is preparing this man’s heart, so he was preparing me to be ready, so he came over, we’re doing a little work on the house, and we’re out in the front yard and began to talk, we’ve talked a little bit before, he always says he’s a religious person, he’s Muslim, he likes to do good things, and respects Christians and ministers because they do good things. So we were talking about that, but as we began to talk, I’m like ‘You know, I can tell he thinks he’s doing ok, because he’s doing good things, but Lord give me the wisdom to share with him that he’s really not doing good things apart from Christ, and that he has a great need.’ So we began to talk, and as we talked, we talked about the world around us, how dark it is, and I said “You know the world is dark, but it’s true, agree with me, that man has a flaw. That it’s dark because we have a problem in our person, you have to admit, you’ve done wrong too, and you strive to do the right thing, but a lot of times you don’t.” He says, “Yea, I got to agree with you, we’ve got a problem.” I said, “The Bible says that’s sin, we have this flaw in our nature.” And as we began to talk, he says “Well I try to do good, and I want to do more good,” I said to him, “Well, what are you trusting in to get to heaven?” He says, “Man, I want to go to heaven.” He says, “This is what I am trusting in, as a Muslim I pray five times a day,” I said, “Towards Mecca?” He says, “Yea, five times a day,” and he says it’s easy, it’s two or three minutes, you pray five times a day as a Muslim. He says “I give alms to the poor,” which he does, he likes to give. He says, “Then I fast 30 days,” and I think the Muslims, they fast for 30 days, but I think it’s a sunrise to sunset thing, they eat at night, for a period of time during the year they all fast, they don’t eat during the day. He says fasting’s great, when you fast, he says you get hungry, it helps you think of the poor, you can identify with them, the hungry, so you want to help them, he says “that’s what I’m doing” he says “I want God to work in me so I do more and more good.” But as we talked about it, it was very clear that he wasn’t 100 percent sure that he was going to go to heaven [into the Kingdom of heaven, which will end up on earth in the end (cf. Revelation 20-21)]. And I said, “You know, we have a flaw, and let me just explain the Gospel to you. The Gospel says that you and I will never get there, we’ll never do enough good that we can stand before God and he’ll say, ‘Yup, you made it, you just got there, but you made it. You know, you made it by a centimeter, but you made it.’ and we’ll go, ‘Wheh! It was a close one.’ [laughter], you’ll never get there. You’ll never do enough good.” I said, as we began to share, I felt the Lord just impressed on my heart, I said “This is what the Bible says, ‘Not by power, not by might, but by my the Spirit, that’s the only way.’ And you only get the Holy Spirit one way, through Jesus Christ. He gives it abundantly, as you put your trust and faith in him. That’s how we do the good. And that’s also how we know God.” If you’re here today trusting in your works, you’ll never ever, ever get there. You’ll never get right with God. Because you are a sinner, and your sin separates you from God. But the Bible teaches very clearly that the love and kindness of God has appeared, Christ has come for you, that you can know God, because God wants you to know him. He wants to forgive you of your sin, he wants to wash you and regenerate you and renew you through the Holy Spirit, and it all comes as a gift, in faith in Jesus Christ, receiving him into our hearts as Lord and Saviour. So Paul says remember all of that, Christians. It’ll help you go out with a humble attitude, be ready for every good work, remembering where you’ve come from and the work that God has done. “that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (verse 7) But also he says the source, the means of our salvation, and finally the goal of our salvation, verse 7, the goal was that we would be justified, Jesus came and died that I’d be justified, I’d be made right, I’d be given a right standing with God. That’s the only way I can be given a right standing is through the blood of Jesus Christ, he was the perfect sacrifice, he was the bridge for me to cross to get to God. And then that was according to the grace of God. But also, the goal of that was we would “become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” We’d be given eternal life, salvation, and we’d have that hope. That was the goal of it.

 

5. To Be An Instrument Of Good Works We Must Be ‘Responsive’

 

Well Paul then goes on in verse 8 to the evidence. We’ve been told we need to be ready, we need to be remindful, and now we need to be responsive, verse 8, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” He says this word, this phrase “good works” a lot, that you and I should be about good works. And here the heart of it, he says, this is where you were, this is what you’ve become, and here’s your response. Here’s your response, as you consider all that, be careful, be diligent, be devoted in maintaining good works, a godly lifestyle, a good example to those around you. Be painstakingly careful about it, so devoted that in all your life, you know, you’ve prepared yourself, you’re ready, and then as you go on and God begins to use you, you’re still diligent to maintain those good works, to be useful. [One caution] Because what happens as God begins to use us and bless and work through us, is then we begin to get prideful, then begin to get comfortable, we begin to coast and have to be careful all the time to maintain those good works as God begins to work in and through us, really keeping that perspective, that man, we’re not deserving, I try to tell the Lord that a lot, ‘God, I don’t deserve anything you’re doing,’ just to remind myself to keep myself from thinking that I deserve it for some reason, because I don’t. And it keeps you thankful if you continually say that, ‘I don’t deserve anything, therefore, hey, there’s an orange in the refrigerator, I don’t deserve that, praise the Lord.’ So you’re thankful, you know. Rather than the other attitude to take, ‘I deserve something,’ and then you’re of no use to the Lord. We don’t deserve anything. God is kind and he is good. And that’s why we are what we are. And you’re just walking that. It makes you so useful to the Lord, so prepared and ready. He says ‘These things, I want you to say these things over and over, I want you to remind yourself of this every day, that those who believe in God should be careful to maintain good works.’ Because it’s so powerful, it’s how the Church impacts the society, it’s a Church out there doing good works by the power of the Holy Spirit, not by our own might, but God just working through us. Doing good, as we’re in prayer now for the homeless around us, and about the drug addicts we see right in the neighbourhood, we’re like ‘God, just prepare us.’ It’s exciting to see people that are burdened to do that, people praying that we’d be somehow useful to the Lord to reach out to them. But God just mold us and make us and shape us, so that we could be useful to you in reaching these men for Christ. “be careful to maintain good works.” It says “These things are good and profitable to men” to all men. [Comment: This term “good works” has been used in Titus almost more than any other, and it also gets a lot of mention in Timothy. The pastor illuminates the various ways on how we must be prepared to do good works. What Paul and this pastor have given us is a list of ways to be prepared to do good works. But as we become prepared to do good works for others, now we need to consider what some of these good works might be, of being a silent light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by our actions of service to the needy, to those in need, all done in the name of Jesus Christ. Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, who also runs Samaritan’s Purse wrote a piece in his book “Rebel With A Cause” about a free clinic/hospital in Tenwek, Kenya which I put into an article that says it all when coming to our quietly shedding the light of the Gospel of Christ to the world through our good works. I also included two articles I wrote on the subject here as well, for our Sabbath-keeping brethren. So click on and be sure to read the articles at these three links, which all so richly emphasize the message of Paul to Titus and Timothy about doing good works. See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/samaritan_purse.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Questions.htm]

 

6. An Instrument Of Good Works Must Be Refraining From Some Things

 

So we’re ready, we’re remindful, we’re responsive, and then he talks about refraining. He says, “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law, for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man [King James: an heretick] after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.” (verses 9-11) He says, ‘be ready, be remindful, be responsive, but then refrain from things that just waste your time.’ So the people that are debating, and they want to get into all these speculative things about the Word of God and about the Law, they want to put you into this bondage or that bondage, just refrain from it, don’t even be part of that, don’t even go there. You’ll probably never convince them the other way anyway, they’ve just got a certain bent to them, just leave it alone and refrain, avoid that type of stuff. Don’t be part of it, it’ll just waste your time. You don’t have any time as a believer to waste, just look around the world, there’s not time for us to waste, we’re to redeem the times, so we’re to refrain. To be an instrument of good works is to refrain from things that are just useless and waste our time. And that includes, rejecting divisive men. [The King James has “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;” Heretics tend to be divisive, but the meaning in heretic and heresy is a bit stronger than the NKJV “divisive”, even though all heretics are divisive by their very nature.] Somebody that’s divisive, the word there is our word for “heretic”, but has a more general meaning, it does include those who are potentially heretics, they’re divisive by their words, they’re just trying to get to people around them by their teaching, you know they have a bent in their teaching, and they just want to get their own people, so they’re divisive in the Body of Christ. So it says reject them. [Comment: Amid the Messianic Jewish revival, which is a very real revival the Lord is doing amongst the Jews, a divisive, heretical element has arisen to trouble those wonderful Jewish people he’s calling, and that is certain elements of the Jewish Roots movement, that creep into some wonderful Messianic Jewish congregations and trouble them, as well as troubling Gentile Christians as well. Amongst the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God which use the same Jewish calendar (the Hillel calendar) that the Jews use for calculating Holy Days, certain heretical groups have sprung up trying to convince those Sabbath-keepers that they ought to be using the US Naval Observatory to calculate the Holy Days, along with teaching heretical Arian doctrines, such as Jesus is the brother of Lucifer, which would make Jesus a created being (see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/What%20is%20Arianism.htm). Every single part of the greater Body of Christ is plagued by some heretical group, trying to get them off track from what the Word of God actually teaches, to some perverted interpretation of Scripture.] Give them [these divisive ones] a little grace, initially go to them and say ‘Get it right, you’re teaching something wrong, and don’t do it,’ and if they don’t change, go to them a second time, but then if they continue, say ‘Outa here man! We’re just not going to have that in this church, and I’m not going to be part of that.’ But “a divisive one” has a more general sense there too in application, just somebody whose divisive. And once in a while you’ll meet people that are just divisive, dividing and they have that debative attitude all the time. He says, warn them, it’s the right thing to go to them and warn them and say “Hey, you’re being divisive, stop it.” Warn them a second time. And if they’re humble and come back, great, but if they start doing it a third time, say “You know, I’m sorry but we’ve gotta reject that, because there’s something wrong here.” Because it says this is why, if they continue in the habit, it says they’re warped. There’s something wrong in their heart. There’s a perversion there, they’re sinning, and in that they’re self-condemned. Warren Wiersby says this, about this type of person, he says, “I have learned that professed Christians who like to argue about the Bible are usually covering up some sin in their lives, are very insecure and usually unhappy at work and at home.” He says, I watch, the people that really like to debate the Bible all the time, there’s usually something wrong in their life. They’re not happy, they’re not content with their job or their work, so they’re debative, and there’s something in their heart they’re trying to hide in their life. So they come out here with this debative…he says if they don’t change, give them some grace, go to them, give them some grace, but eventually, refrain from it and reject it. Refrain from it and reject it. It will keep the church useful, it will keep you useful.

 

7. We’re To Be Reaching Out In Good Works

 

And the last thing, verse 12, the fifth area, this practice to be an instrument of good works, is to be reaching, reaching and reaching for greater heights. He said, “When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with haste, that they may lack nothing. And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.” (verses 12-14) He says it again, it’s really the heart of what he’s writing here, he’s going to send some folks to help Titus, and he says when they come, they’re going to relieve you, be diligent then to come and spend some time with me. But he sends Artemas to them and Tychicus. And then he says ‘I’m planning on going to Nicopolis, so I hope you can meet me there,’ but then he mentions this guy Zenas the lawyer, we don’t know if he’s a Roman lawyer or a lawyer of the Law, somebody like that, he’s got the title, and of course we know of Apollos, just a great man of God in the Book of Acts and 1st Corinthians. He says send them along, and help them get along so they won’t lack anything. But then he says in verse 14, he says, ‘And remind the people, let the people to learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.’ I was thinking about that, to learn to maintain good works. That means I’m to be ready, I’m to be prepared, I’m to be careful to maintain it, but I’m always to be reaching to greater heights, seeking to learn more, disciplined in my time, to be more like a Hudson Taylor or more like a George Mueller or more like a Mike MacIntosh, seeking to learn more of the things that they’ve learned, ultimately to learn more of what Christ is, who he is, and what he is, and what he was. And to learn more and more to maintain good works. And that is “to meet urgent needs”, needs of the church, needs of the community, as a church we should be out there just meeting the needs. It’s a blessing to give and we should be known as a church that gives, and I believe we are, but that we would not be unfruitful. And he says, “All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.” (verse 15) He told us earlier to be strong in the grace of God, and he ends it “Grace be with you all.” But he says learn. You know, 2nd Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound towards you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you’ll need, you will abound in every good work.” And that’s the heart of what Paul says here. You know, Solomon wrote, he says in Ecclesiastes chapter 2 as he looks at the world and the state of the world, he says this, ‘I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice’ this is you and I, ‘and to do good in their lives.’ That’s a blessing to do good. It’s a great life to live, to do good, to be an instrument of good works. We’ve seen the character, the person, instrument of good works, we’ve seen the pattern, the example, and the practice this week, and that is to be ready, be ready all the time. In the Word early in the morning, seeking the Lord, getting that mindset where we’re to be remindful of where we’ve come from, and just remembering the grace of God in our lives, and then we’re to be responsive, to be refraining, and then to be reaching. [Ready, remindful, remembering, responsive, refraining, reaching, six R’s.] You guys got some of it, I was just testing you. Let’s close in prayer…[transcript of a connective expository sermon on Titus 3:1-15, given somewhere in New England]

 

related links:

 

For four excellent articles about doing good works, see

http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/samaritan_purse.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/Short-TermMissions.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Questions.htm

 

To read about George Mueller, a giant of faith and good works, see

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prayer/mueller.htm

 

What were some of the astounding “good works” of the early churches of God during the time of Polycarp and Policrates in Asia Minor (155 & 250AD)? See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/LegacyOfLove.htm

 

One form of heresy that plagues our Sabbath-keeping brethren. See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/What%20is%20Arianism.htm

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