By Responding to Authority with Grace

Dr. Steve Viars October 7, 2018 Titus 3:1-3
Outline

2 Peter 1:10-15 - 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; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.

7 responsibilities to the authorities God has placed over us

I. Be Submissive to Rulers and Authorities

v. 3:1a – “Remind them to be subject to rulers…”

A. Meaning of “be subject”

huppotasso – a military term – “line up in rank under”

B. Imagine what this must have been like in that culture

II. Be Obedient

v. 3:1b – (remind them)…to be obedient…

A. Not if it involves disobeying Scripture

Acts 5:29 - But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

B. This is evidence of our submission and obedience to God

Romans 13:1 - Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

Colossians 3:18–24 - Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

C. This is driven by the power of the gospel

III. Be Ready for Every Good Deed

v. 3:1c – (remind them)…to be ready for every good deed…

A. A repetitive theme in this book

B. A core aspect of our church’s philosophy of ministry

Colossians 1:28 - We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17–21 - Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

IV. Malign No One

v. 3:2a – (remind them)…to malign no one)

A. Meaning

blasphemeo – “to slander, curse, and treat with contempt”

B. A very helpful resource

V.  Be Peaceable

v. 3:2b – (remind them)…to be peaceable…

amoxas – moxa – fight, quarrel [a negates]

Matthew 5:9 - Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

VI. Be Gentle

v. 3c – (remind them)…to be gentle

epieikes – that which is moderate, fair, and forbearing – “sweet reasonableness”

VII. Show Every Consideration for All Men

v. 3d – (remind them)…showing every consideration for all men

“…an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of Spirit in which we accept his dealing with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting…It is only the humble heart which is also the meek, and which, as such, does not fight against God and more or less struggle and contend with Him. This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect.” Richard Trench - Synonyms of the New Testament

Philippians 2:14-15 - Do all things without grumbling or disputing;  so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…

- How many here this am would say that you are good at remembering things?

- does that come naturally for you?

- I had a series of three fairly epic memory fails within a 24 hour period recently…

- it started when I forgot a haircut appointment…even though my professional assistant Heather Smith had recently and repeatedly reminded me…

- so I had to go down later to where the person who cuts my hair works and pay her anyway…because I don’t think my irresponsibility should cost someone else money…

- so the next morning I was out running with my running partner Mike Sandry…and about mile 6 I casually asked him – hey, who is Purdue playing today?...because I was fairly sure I had read earlier that week that we were playing Southern Missouri although I wasn’t actually sure that was a real school…after running 6 miles my brain is a bit oxygen deprived…

- so he tapped his watch – and said – hey Siri – who is Purdue playing today?...

- and Siri came back and said that Purdue was playing Boston College…

- so I scoffed at his reliance on technology…I knew I would have remembered reading that, so I took practically the next mile pontificating on how there was no way Boston College was going to be playing Purdue that day…

- so he tapped his watch again and asked Siri the same question thinking maybe something got mixed up in the satellite reception or whatever…sure enough, Purdue is playing Boston College…

- by now I am in my “mock all technology mode”…so I even put my finger in the air – which is a bit difficult to do when you’re running anyway – and said something like – I will stake all my credibility on the belief that there is no way I would have forgotten reading that it was Boston College coming…so he said, OK…

- well, if you follow college sports – you know Purdue actually had a very convincing win that afternoon…against…Boston College…

- so I missed my haircut, and forgot who Purdue was playing…

- then at the end of the run, I was calculating how much further we had to run that day because we were 2 weeks out from the Purdue half-marathon…

- the only problem with that was – the event was actually three weeks away – which meant I was having us run 1 mile longer than we needed to that day…

- all three rather epic memory fails within a 24 hour period of time…

- am I the only one who does things like that?...

- now, in my sweet defense – before someone starts attaching a label or two to my condition…

- a few nights earlier…we were in the last night of Intro to Faith…and it was a pretty large class…

- and if you’ve taken that – you know that one of our activities is working on learning everyone’s names…

- so we have a name quiz each night and then the last night – we bring the pastors up and we try to name everyone…

- well, on that particular night – I started to call the pastors up and one of the new ladies in class called out – we think you ought to do it by yourself…

- [so we’ve now reached the place in my tenure here at Faith where it’s not just long-time members who stand up and call me out about something – but now people who haven’t even joined yet…nice…

- so that kind-of put me on the spot…and being the competitive person that I am – and because I had one guy whisper his name to me as we were going around the first time – I was able to name every person in the Intro Class…

- so you may be able to point to some recent “memory successes” as well…

- but here’s my guess for at least most of us…

- if we’re good at remembering things to any degree – it’s because of a combination of writing it down (either literally or on an electronic device) and reviewing it over and over and over…

- that’s exactly what I do when I’m preparing for those intro class name quizzes…

- did you know that same skill is required in order to please the Lord…writing key principles down and then reviewing them over and over?…the apostle Peter said it like this…

- 2 Peter 1:10–15 - 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; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.

- the reason I raise this issue this morning is because this is exactly the way Paul begins the next section of his letter to Tutus…by listing a series of ideas about which God’s people needed to be reminded…

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to Titus 3:1…page 167 [check page #] of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- this fall we’ve been doing a verse by verse exposition of the book of Titus entitled Building From a Foundation of Grace

- Paul had Titus on the Isle of Crete to set things in order in the churches there…

- and because when you compare the conditions of that culture to one in which God has placed us to live and work and minister…

- we find the principles contained here to be breathtakingly relevant…

- this morning’s verses teach us that we can have an impact in the culture in which we live By Responding to Authority with Grace

- let’s back up to verses 2:11 – but our primary focus will be the first 3 verses of chapter 3…

- Read Titus 2:11 – 3:3…

- so we’re talking about impacting our culture well By Responding to Authority with Grace….and with the time we have remaining, lets look for 7 responsibilities to the authorities God has placed over us.

I.  Be submissive to rulers and authorities.

- v. 3:1a – “Remind them to be subject to rulers…”

A. Meaning of “be subject”

- this is the same word we often see in the Bible for submission –

- huppotasso – a military term – “line up in rank under”

- this came up earlier in the book regarding a wife’s submission to her husband...

- and I realize that in this day and age – even mentioning such a concept makes some people want to set their hair on fire…which is exactly why we need to be reminded of these principles over and over and over…

- and when you look at the deterioration of families in our culture and all of the societal cost connected to those trends…people who choose to make the Word of God our sole source of authority in faith and practice affirm that we believe God’s way is best…

- and ultimately brings joy to those who choose to look to Him for the power to follow what He has said…

- so, in this context, Christians are to be known for their submission to government officials, to their bosses, to the police and firefighters...

- now, before we talk about how hard that is…

B. Imagine what this must have been like in that culture.

- we’re not talking about Titus “setting things in order” in churches located in a country that had over 200 years of some level of influence and appreciation for the Christian faith…

- and whatever you would say about how challenging it is to live for God in this day and age…that wouldn’t hold a candle to what these men and women were facing…

- not just externally – the pressure to submit to a pagan, adversarial government…

- but also internally, because these were young believers who had no background of living in this particular way…

- it has been helpful for me to travel to former communist countries and talk to Christians trying to live out these biblical principles…and it was all so absolutely foreign to them…yet in the power of Christ, they were seeking to live this way…

- well, where does that leave people like you and me?...hopefully in a position of saying – yes, I need to be reminded of this…and we need to be reminded of this…and we are going to look to our submissive Savior for the strength and ability to relate to our God-given authorities in this way…

- we’ve had the opportunity to do this in many ways because we’ve had so much construction going on this year…

- it is pretty amazing how many governmental authorities are involved in a building project…we had six different building permits at the NCC project alone which involved state authorities, local officials, building inspectors, the fire department, the health department, local city engineers, and on and on…

- I appreciate our general contractors attitude toward all of that…we’re not going to cut corners, we’re not going to get defensive…if what they are saying is truly part of the building code – then that’s what we’re going to do…

- and I will tell you – I struggle with that in my heart…especially when something we’re being asked to do doesn’t make sense to me – because after all, I’m usually the smartest person I know…

- but please go back to the meaning of the word huppotassw…a military term – can you imagine an army where you could only move forward when every soldier agreed with the action that was being commanded?...

- somebody has to be in charge…and Scripture is clear in places like Romans 13 that our government officials are ordained of God…and we need to constantly remind ourselves to be joyfully submissive to them…

- sure this statement has to be balanced, but our mayors know…and our county commissioners know…and our judges know…police chiefs and sheriffs, our public school superintendents and on and on…that when it comes to our community based ministries – in many ways we see ourselves working for them…

- we want to be their faith based non-profit partner…

- so when a need comes up – we’re glad when they say – we could ask Faith to do that…and they can be trusted to take direction from us…

- and you can look at where that approach over decades and decades has gotten us – and conclude…God’s way works…

- I don’t know too many churches that received 1.5M from their city councils this year and another 44M in New Market Tax Credit proceeds…

- and of course that’s not why we do it…but reminding ourselves of this and then acting on it in the power of Christ has allowed us to expand our ability to accomplish our mission in some rather dramatic ways…

- we also have the responsibility to…

II. Be obedient.

- v. 3:1b – (remind them)…to be obedient…

- a slightly different way of saying the same thing...or perhaps the logical corollary…

- people who choose to be submissive are also going to be obedient…

- now, perhaps we need to say somewhere along the line…

A. Not if it involves disobeying Scripture

- a passage that always governs conversations like this is…

- Acts 5:29 - But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

- and so you could find yourself in a situation where you had to make some sort of an appeal to your God-given authority…but let’s face it – that’s rare and practically non-existent…

- we may not like that we had to put a second security exit gate out of our children’s playground in case the first one was blocked during a fire…but it’s a pretty long stretch to suggest that violates our biblical convictions…

- something else we have to bring into this is…

B. This is evidence of our submission and obedience to God.

- before any of us would say – well, let me give you all the reasons why in my particular situation – I can’t be submissive to government, and I can’t be obedient to my boss…

- we also need to remind ourselves to be sure we’re looking high enough up the totem pole…

- ultimately this is not about an elected official or a boss…but about our sovereign God who placed that person over us…

- we mentioned a moment ago – Romans 13…here’s the way that passage begins…

- Romans 13:1 - Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

- it might be helpful to put whatever political figure, or boss you especially struggle with and then re-read this passage – [repeat]…

- that is why – our submission and our obedience is a reflection of our relationship to the Lord…

- here’s an ideal passage that teaches this…Colossians 3:18–24 - Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

- and perhaps it would be helpful for all of us this am to ask – is it?...is it the Lord Christ whom we serve?...and does your submission and obedience to your God-given authorities demonstrate that you believe that?...

- you know, we say that we gather together each Lord’s today – to come and worship the King…right?...many of our hymns even use that precise biblical terminology…

- well, the way we think about concepts like this is an indicator of the degree to which that is functionally true…

- we also need to add…

C. This is driven by the power of the gospel

- there is a very important interplay taking place in this book…where we have these marvelous and profound expressions of the gospel like in chapter 2:11-15, and again in chapter 3:4-7…

- and we are devoting separate messages to those texts because they are so important…

- and then sandwiched in between that sound theology are these discussions of ethical behavior…

- and the principle is clear – which is the point of the title we selected for this series…Building from a Foundation of Grace – that it’s because of God’s grace that we choose to live this way….and it’s because of God’s grace that we want to live this way…and it’s because of God’s grace that we have any hope of being able to live this way…

- now, what comes next?...

III. Be ready for every good deed.

- v. 3:1c – (remind them)…to be ready for every good deed…

- now, as we have pointed out a few times already…this is…

A. A repetitive theme in this book.

- [walk through the various uses…]

- so if we’re talking about how to be effective in the culture in which we live…being ready for every good deed has to be something we remind ourselves of all the time…

- looking for opportunities to meet needs…looking for opportunities to show love…looking for opportunities to show love…

- and that too has to be tied back to the gospel…which is why observing this interplay between the gospel indicatives (who we are as a result of the work of God’s grace) and gospel imperatives (what we choose to do for God and others) in response to His grace is so important…

- why?...

- because otherwise, doing good works becomes a means to salvation – someone doing good works to earn righteousness before God which would be one of the worst perversions of the gospel imaginable…

- and it will often lead to service that is minimalistic – what is the least amount of good works I can do in order to barely get by…

- or it will result in pride – focusing on what you did instead of the grace of God that enables and energizes anything you or I ever do that is good…

- now, Pastor Aucoin is going to give an entire message on this subject as we wrap up this book because this single statement in verse 1 in developed much more fully in verses 8 – 15…but on a Sunday where I have the privilege to speak to everyone at once…let me be sure I’ve said that this is…

B. A core aspect of our church’s philosophy of ministry

- in your bulletin today you’ll find a document that has been a guiding handout for us for nearly 20 years…

- on the side that says – a church that positively impacts its community for Christ…you’ll see four different levels of ministry…

- let me explain some of this historically…

- 1. Level One is about progressive sanctification…everything a church is doing to help our members become more and more like Jesus Christ…

- there are all sorts of passages that direct churches to do this…but one of our favorites is…Colossians 1:28 - We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

- that is what Level One is all about…

- 2. Level Two is about outreach…on the basis of a changed and changing life…proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ – the gospel – and encouraging others to choose to repent and follow Him…

- this is the heart of the great commission…

- 2 Corinthians 5:17–21 - Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

- 3. Level Three is doing good works – that’s what we’re talking about in this passage, and in this book…and the list you see there was what our church family was thinking about at the time…

- 4. Level Four is Taking a Stand for Righteousness in the public square…those rare occasions where, because we live in a participatory democracy…we have to speak up for what we believe is right…

- our analysis at the time – and to some degree even today – is that too many churches put very little emphasis on level 1 – ways people inside the church need to change…is because they either don’t want to upset their members…or because they are so busy talking about how bad everyone in the world is…

- level 3 is practically non-existent – either because the church is so in-bred and self-absorbed…or because the view is that those kinds of activities are what the liberals do….

- and please look carefully at the entire sheet and then connect those dots…if level 1 and level 3 are not being emphasized…where does that leave the rest of a church’s efforts?...

- level 2 is going to be very ineffective…why?...

- because if there isn’t a foundation of godly living and the change the gospel can bring…(through the emphasis of level 1)…the credibility of a changed and changing life doesn’t exist…

- and because there isn’t the foundation of a loving relationship that level 3 would give…so evangelistic efforts are either going to be ignored by others or very clumsy because the relationship doesn’t exist…

- and what about that kind of church’s attempts to do level 4? – to take some kind of stand for righteousness in the public square…it’s either ignored or relegated to the category of more background noise from an angry political action committee…

- this is where our counseling ministry fits in – so we can be as strong as possible on level 1…and where our community outreach ministries fit in…so we can be as strong as possible on level 3…

- because we believe – and it’s very consistent with the emphases of this book – that the more a group of people focus on level 1 and level 3 (progressive sanctification and community based outreach ministry], the more effective you’ll be at outreach [level 2] and the more you’ve earned the right to be heard on those rare occasions when you have to step into the public square and do level 4 type work…

- and also this – when you do have to do level 4 work – there will be a gracious tone evidenced even toward those with whom you disagree…

- another take-away of this chart is to look at the shaded and unshaded boxes (explain)…this speaks volumes about the importance of ministry dreaming on the part of every person in this room…see, how do we take  concept like “every good deed” in Titus 3:1 and translate it into a specific, actionable ministry initiatives right here in our town?...

- and the question I would ask everyone here – how would you rate yourself on each of these four levels?...and maybe this would be a good conversation to have with one of your service pastors, or your deacon…to evaluate where you are and chart a positive path forward…

- now, what do we see next in the text?…

IV. Malign no one.

- v. 3:2a – (remind them)…to malign no one)

A. Meaning

- blasphemeo – “to slander, curse, and treat with contempt.”

- some people say they are followers of Christ but they have no trouble running down their boss...God’s people need to be reminded not to do that...

- and for the person who would say...but my boss is really bad...what do you think the bosses in this day and age would have been like?

- it also affects the way we speak about, and to elected officials...to malign no one...that’s why you’ve never heard one of your pastors malign some politician with whom we disagree...

B. A very helpful resource

- Carter’s book is one of those that many of could benefit from reading or reviewing once a year…

- and I’ll be the first one to say that I struggle with this in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of settings…which may be why Paul told Titus we should remind each other, even in a disagreement, to malign no one…

V.  Be peaceable.

- v. 3:2b – (remind them)…to be peaceable…

- amoxas – moxa – fight, quarrel [a negates]

- a peaceable person is uncontentious...

- many people in our world are looking for a way to fight...followers of Christ look for ways to make peace...

- Matthew 5:9 - Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

VI.  Be gentle.

- v. 3c – (remind them)…to be gentle

- epieikes – that which is moderate, fair, and forbearing – “sweet reasonableness”

- [develop the recent situation where one of our collaborative partners, the Hanna Center, asked to use our NCC community kitchen and large gym for their Community Thanksgiving Dinner – on the same date we already had scheduled our Annual Stewardship Celebration and the next day, our Ladies Christmas Event…also at the time we would have our NCC Church service

- we had 4 choices – 1) it’s already scheduled, 2) move our date, 3) move our location, 4) find a way to serve everyone…Develop our solution]

- a passage of Scripture like this can be a wonderful grid through which to make important and challenging ministry decisions…

VII. Show every consideration for all men.

- v. 3d – (remind them)…showing every consideration for all men

- this word is often translated meekness or humility

Richard Trench - “an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God.  It is that temper of Spirit in which we accept his dealing with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting…It is only the humble heart which is also the meek, and which, as such, does not fight against God and more or less struggle and contend with Him.  This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect”  Synonyms of the New Testament.

- well please look down over those two verses…and now please allow me to ask you...how’s your memory?...

1.  Do you remember, especially when you are in a situation where you believe your authority is being unreasonable, or unpleasant...that you need to focus on your responsibility in the matter?...it’s not about what they need to do, its about what you need to do...

2.  Are you known as a person who is submissive, and obedient, and ready for every good deed, and peaceable, and gentle, and considerate...

- now you might say...well, PV, you described a chump...

- no, I just described Jesus...the One the heavenly Father wants to make you like...

3.  Can I ask you this...do you value these characteristics?...do you really even want to be like Titus 3:1-2?...

4.  With which of these characteristics do you struggle the most?

5.  What would have to change to be more in line with these verses?

6.  How would doing a better job of remembering this impact your relationship with Christ?

a. some might say, what relationship? [develop the gospel]

b. for others, the answer is, it would draw me closer to Him?...why?...because you know deep down that it is only through Him that you could possibly develop these characteristics...[maybe that is why God gave you such unreasonable authorities...to draw you to Himself in the midst of the pain...]

7.  How would doing a better job of remembering this impact your ability to impact our culture?...you know as well as I do that people like this are rare...

- Philippians 2:14-15 - Do all things without grumbling or disputing;  so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,

8.  What are the implications of this to our church?

- we want the authorities in our town to know that we desire to be in submission to them...

 

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video