Thursday, January 02, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Paul's Introduction (Titus 1:1-3 NKJV)

Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; (Titus 1:1-3 NKJV)

There is so much in these three verses!  Quick observations:

1. Paul calls himself a bondservant of God.  Basically this means a slave.  Elsewhere Paul talks about being a slave to righteousness.  What does it mean to be a slave to anything?  It means being controlled by another.  Am I controlled by God through the Holy Spirit or am I a rogue  slave?

2. Paul also calls himself an apostle of Jesus Christ.  What were the requirements for a person to be called an apostle of Jesus?

We find the names of the 12 apostles in Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:14-19, and Luke 6:13-16:
And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, andBartholomew, and Matthew, andThomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, andJudas Iscariot, who became a traitor.(ESV)
Some think that Paul was God's replacement for Judas Iscariot.

When you look at this list, each one of these men were witnesses of Christ of the risen Christ. Paul's encounter with the risen Lord was a little different than the others, but nonetheless he had a physical encounter with the risen Lord.

Those who call themselves apostles today do not have the qualifications to do so.  They have not physically had an encounter with Christ.

3. Paul says he was called according to the faith of God's elect.  What is the faith of God's elect?  Who are God's elect?  

The faith of God's elect is 
a. A gift~Ephesians 2:8-9
b. A justifying faith Romans 5:1
c. Comes by hearing Romans 10:17
d. Faith in the power of God 1 Cor. 2:5
e. Faith in Jesus Christ Gal. 2:16

I'm sure there is more but time stops me from searching more.

Who are God's elect?
a. Those who have not worked for their salvation  Romans 9:11
b. Those who are chosen/given by God to Christ. Romans 9; John 10:29
c. Holy and beloved Colossians 3:12
d. Chosen before the foundations of the world.  Ephesians 1:4

4. Paul's calling also was with the acknowledgement of the truth which accords with godliness.  What is godliness?  Do other religions promote true godliness?

Godliness means God-likeness.  This doesn't mean that we are going to be gods some day.  Far from the truth.  It just means that when God saves us, He works in our hearts to help us be more like him by developing the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.  See Galatians 5:22-23

This is not something we do to gain merit with God.  It's something God does in us after He has saved us.

How do other religions measure up to this?  My observation is that other religions work to develope these qualities in their lives to be good enough so that God will accept them.

Some religions don't even do that much. Some religions flat out breed violence and are ugly and they believe this is going to gain them entrance into heaven. We see the carnage they inflict every day in the news.  Far from the Gospel that Paul preached.

5. Paul talks about a truth that is a sure hope of eternal life because God promised it before time began and He can not lie. How should  this give me comfort today?   

It gives me comfort in that I can know that if I died today I would go to be with God in heaven.  Other religions do not have this hope.  They never know if they have done enough to earn that favor with God. There's is an "I hope so" religion, not an "I know so" relationship with God.

6.  How has God manifested His Word to us?  Through the preaching of it.  Has that ever changed?  No.  Why are so many church going off on rabbit trails, doing weird things?  Because they have forsaken the preaching of God's Word.  

The congregation gets a twenty minute devotional if they are lucky, and that is often just fluff and stuff with no real meat to it.  The shepherds are starving the flocks and the result is they will go after anything that is fed to them and much of it is unBiblical.  

Because the preaching is shallow, many goats end up joining the congregation and further leading the sheep astray.  Thankfully, the Bible says one day God will separate the goats from the sheep.  I believe that will come through persecution which we are already seeing in many countries around the world.  It's only a matter of time before it reaches us.

Another problem that Christian churches deal with is the wolves in sheeps clothing who creep into the church under the pretense of being upstanding Christians. They do their dirty work behind the scenes, pitting the sheep against the shepard, the sheep against each other and splitting churches.  This happens in good churches where the Word of God is faithfully taught.  Imagine the hayday they have in churches where the people do not know the Word of God due to shallow teaching.  

Bottom line, the preaching of the Word of God needs to be first and foremost in our churches.  It can't just be an afterthought after 20 to 30 minutes of singing, and performances on stage.  The sheep are starving and need the real food of the Word of God, not a diet of desserts.

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