By Understanding Our Identity

Steve Viars August 19, 2018 Titus1:1-4
Outline

Titus 1:5 - For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you…

Titus 1:10-13 - For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true…

1 Corinthians 3:10 - According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.

3 principles to clarify the believer’s identity

I. A Servant of a Faithful Master

A. It is significant that Paul refers to himself as a “bond-servant”

1. Think of the other options

bond-servant – “one who gives himself up wholly to another’s will” (Thayer – A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).

2. Think about the implication of this description to living in a challenging culture

Acts 20:24 - But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

B. God is a Master who relates to us in unique ways

1. In truth

verse 2 - …God, who cannot lie.

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. With full disclosure

verse 2 - ...promised long ages ago.

3. Keeps His promises

verse 3 - …at the proper time manifested...

C. You have to choose if you are going to think of yourself in this way

Romans 6:22 - But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

2 Corinthians 5:15 - …and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

II. A Messenger of a Purposeful Savior

verse 3 - …God our Savior…

verse 4 - …Christ Jesus our Savior…

A. Invites people to believe in Him

verse 1 - …for the faith of those chosen of God.

Colossians 1:13-14 - For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

verse 3 - …the proclamation with which I was entrusted…

B. Wants us to learn His truth

verse 1 - …the faith of those chosen of God, and the knowledge of the truth...

1 Peter 2:1-3 - Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

C. Gives us direction for practical change

verse 1 - …the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness...

“Paul knew that the saving truth of the gospel message falls on deaf ears when those proclaiming it live ungodly lives that show no evidence of redemption.  When Christians live in open sin, they can hardly expect unbelievers to heed a message that purports to save men from sin.  One of the most compelling testimonies a Christian can give is that of a righteous, holy, God.”

D. Offers us hope for eternity

III. Children of Good Fathers

A. Our spiritual fathers on earth

verse 4 - To Titus, my true child in the faith…

B. Our ultimate Father in heaven

Titus 1:4 - To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

- This is Michelle Brown...When this picture was taken she was a 29 year US citizen working out of the country in international banking...

- Michele had always been very careful with her money, establishing credit at age 17 and working very hard to maintain a strong credit profile...

- one day a bank representative called asking about her first payment on the new truck she had purchased...

- the problem was...she hadn’t purchased a new truck...

- she immediately placed fraud alerts on her credit reports, canceled her credit cards, and placed a fraud alert on her driver’s license...but she was about to learn firsthand what it is like to be the victim of identity theft...

- apparently months before the perpetrator began by stealing a copy of Michelle’s rental application from her landlord’s property management office...

- from there, she set up cellular phone service...residential telephone and other utility services...

- then she obtained a duplicate driver’s license with Michelle’s name and number...

- she rented a property and signed a one year lease...

- she had $5000 worth of liposuction performed using Michelle’s name...

- she attempted to take out numerous department store credit cards, she bought the $32,000 truck, she even tried to get financing for a timeshare...

- this woman was caught trafficking marijuana...but that was no problem...she just showed the police Michelle’s driver’s license...

- this woman remained a fugitive for 6 months still using Michelle’s name, and was finally turned in by an acquaintance...

- but that didn’t stop the problem...Michelle testified at this government hearing that “I was forced to make literally thousands of phone calls, fill out various forms, submit all sorts of documents, and have many documents notarized.  Without a doubt, I was entirely consumed with the whole painstaking process.  I gained nothing from putting over 500 hours into the chore of restoration; all in all, it was an exhausting waste of a good person’s time and a massive drain on my life and energy.”

- even after all of that, the authorities still had trouble determining who was the real Michelle...

- Months later she was detained at Los Angeles International Airport after returning from a well-deserved vacation in Mexico, even after the fake Michelle was in prison...

- she tried to explain that she wasn’t the other Michelle Brown with a criminal record...but she said...”I was blatantly treated with strong suspicion.  I was, as is typical for an identity fraud victim, guilty until proven innocent.”

- can you imagine what it would be like to have somebody attempt to steal or change or impact your very identity?...

- I’d like to suggest to you that a very similar process can very easily happen spiritually...

- there is a true, accurate way to view yourself based on biblical realities...

- but there are all sorts of forces in our culture that attempt, purposely or not, to change the way you think about who you are...

- and your ability to live for God and serve Him effectively is based in part By Understanding Our Identity...

- with that in mind, please open your Bible this am to Titus chapter 1…page 167 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- we’re beginning a brand new series this am entitled Building from a Foundation of Grace…this is a verse by verse exposition of this marvelous book of the Bible…

- one of the reasons this is so helpful and instructive is because the culture in Titus’ day was very similar to our own…

- Titus was a pastor – an elder who had been left by the apostle Paul on the Isle of Crete to, as Paul explained in verse 5…Titus 1:5 - For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,

- what’s fascinating is that Paul doesn’t mince any words about how challenging a ministry assignment that was…he says in verse…Titus 1:10–13 - For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true…

 - that’ called a theological mic drop…and you might say – I feel that way sometimes too…the culture in which we live is filled with ideas that are so contrary to what we believe and hold dear…

- and you might even wonder…is it even possible to make an impact for God in this day and age?...

- and if you do think about that from time to time – that’s good…it gets right at the heart of our annual theme – Being Careful How We Build…

- and yes, as is often the case with our themes, it has a double or triple meaning…

- we could talk about the way we’re building our personal lives…and our ministries for Christ at home, school, and work each and every day…

- we could talk about building all sorts of various ministry endeavors…whether we’re thinking about mission trips and efforts by our church family all summer long…or our local summer community ministries – right on down to what’s happening in the nursery and children’s ministries this am…

- we could talk about all these 2x4’s flying around out at our Restoration Men’s Ministry or with our upcoming school expansion or the expansion of athletic fields at FE or of course the upcoming Grand Opening of the NCC…

- but for every one of those levels…we believe God wants us to be careful…1 Corinthians 3:10 - According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.

- that’s essentially what Paul is telling Titus…but he fleshes it out with enough specific detail that we can view these chapters as practical guidelines for how we build carefully in a culture that in many ways has been torn down and destroyed…

- it starts By Understanding Our Identity…

 - don’t be like Michelle Brown - a victim of identity theft...

- read Titus 1:1-4...

- in these verses, we can find Three principles to clarify the believer’s identity.

- in other words, there are three ways that Paul either describes himself, or describes Titus, that would also be true of every Christ...every follower of Christ.

I. A Servant of a Faithful Master.

- on one level this was personal correspondence between the apostle Paul and the younger man he had left on the isle of Crete to organize and lead the young churches there...

- but there was no question that letters like this were also read publicly in the churches...in this case that would have been especially important for those who might question Titus’ authority in the apostle Paul’s absence...

- so Paul knew that the way he described himself would not simply be read by Titus privately, but would also be heard by many other followers of Christ publicly...so...

A. It is significant that Paul refers to himself as a “bond-servant”.

- in other words, that was an essential part of his identity...that’s the way he chose to think about himself...

1. Think of the other options.

- he could have made this introduction in all sorts of ways...

- he could have emphasized his education...by any standard he was a brilliant scholar...but there’s nothing about that...

- he could have spoken about his Roman citizenship...which I realize doesn’t mean much to us, but in that day was an incredible benefit to possess...but again, nothing about that...

- he could have discussed his accomplishments...the number of people and churches his life had touched was unprecedented...

- but before Paul thought of himself as anything else, he was satisfied to be known as a doulos...a bond-servant...”one who gives himself up wholly to another’s will” (Thayer – A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).

- now, we’re only a couple of words into the book, but already we can...

2. Think about the implication of this description to living in a challenging culture.

- Paul’s understanding of his identity is part of what helped him be so productive for God...

- you may remember that he told the Ephesian elders in Acts chapter 20, that he was on his way to Jerusalem and he wasn’t sure what was going to happen to him there...but he went on say...Acts 20:24 - “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

- there’s a combination of confidence and trust coupled with fearlessness and borderline recklessness that only comes from a person who has clearly decided what his position in all of this really is...I’m just a bond-servant of God...

- do you mind if I ask you, how frequently do you think about yourself through that grid?...is that an essential and practical part of your identity?

- now, you might say...why should I want to submit myself to God in this way?....there are some important hints for us in this passage...

B. God is a Master who relates to us in unique ways.

- in other words, this isn’t any old master we’re talking about here...

1. In truth.

- verse 2 - God, who cannot lie.

- I’d like to suggest to you this morning that there are a lot of potential masters out there who will lie to you...who will deceive you...who will offer freedom but will bind you in ways you will wish you or your loved ones never experienced...

- because here’s the bottom line...you will live for something...you will submit yourself to something...you’re organize your life around something...everybody does...

- for example, many in our culture worship material things...they love buying more stuff...they love having more stuff...they spend a lot of their time thinking about stuff, and dreaming about stuff, and getting more stuff...

- but materialism can be a very deceptive master...and the day will come if it hasn’t already when you would love to have freedom from all of those payments, and all that maintenance, and all those worries...your God lied...

- others worship booze or drugs...they can’t wait until the weekend so they can get high again...so they can party again...so they can feel really good again...

- and that god might serve them well for a while...but eventually the deception will become apparent...

- that god will rob you of relationships, it will rob you of joy, it will rob you of wisdom...if I could be rather blunt...most of are dumb enough without putting something in our mouths that complicates the problem...

- when you are a bond-servant of God...you can be sure that you’ve chosen a Master who will relate to you in truth...

- and that’s a big part of what it means for us to be careful how we build…our identity is wrapped up in seeking to live by the truth of the Word of God…

- it’s not a matter first and foremost of what do I think about this….or what do my friends think or whoever…

- it’s a question of what does the Word of God say?...we’re bond-servants of God who seek to live according to His truth…

- and we want to encourage others to do the same…this fall and every other time of the year…

- 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.

- Paul describes God’s truth in a couple of other ways in this passage…He gave it…

2. With full disclosure.

- verse 2 – “...promised long ages ago”.

- perhaps you’ve had a boss or an authority figure in your life who always kept you guessing...you never really knew what the deal was or things kept changing....not with the God of the Bible...it’s all here...beginning to end...He’s not afraid to make commitments to His people...

3. Keeps His promises.

- verse 3 – at the proper time manifested...

- He has power the power and integrity to do what He says...

- the bottom line is...you’re going to have a master...you’re going to live for something or someone...wise is the person who chooses his master well...

- and here’s the bottom line of this particular part of the discussion...

C. You have to choose if you are going to think of yourself in this way.

- and I’m not suggesting that you going around introducing yourself as, “Hi, I’m Joe so and so, a bond servant of God living by His truth...”

- but I am suggesting that you ought to be constantly thinking about yourself through the lens of that identity...

- and it’s not just true for Paul, or for Titus...it is true for every person who calls himself a follower of Christ...

- Romans 6:22 - But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

- another great verse is...

- 2 Corinthians 5:15 - and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

- see, are you choosing to think of yourself in part through the lens of being a bond-servant of God?...

- were there times this week when something didn’t go your way in your family, but you said, that’s OK, that gives me an opportunity to serve my Master anyway...

- or something wasn’t to your liking at work...but instead of grousing and griping...you said...I’m not the king of the universe....this gives me an opportunity to serve...

- or maybe there was an occasion to minister but it was going to cost you some time, or some resources, or maybe you would have to risk your reputation or some embarrassment...but you embraced it because you said...This is what my Master would want me to do...so it’s not my time, my money, my reputation...what is this, kindergarten...I know who I am and I’m not going to let anybody rob me of that...

- [cf. seeing a young mother coming into church with her child so her husband could be freed up to serve in one of the ministries here...some daddies do the same things for their wives...it reminded me, I wouldn’t know a thing about ever getting my kids ready for church on a Sunday morning...my wife has done that for 30 years without ever even mentioning it...servants of God do what they have to do to get the job done...]

- what else do we see in this text?

II. A Messenger of a Purposeful Savior.

- all throughout these verses, and all throughout this book is the emphasis on God wanting to redeem men and women who were alienated from Him, and also wanting to prepare Titus and these baby congregations to reach people around them for Christ.

- in fact, did you notice the way the word “savior” was used strategically in this text?

- at the end of verse 3 – God our Savior

- at the end of verse 4, we read - Christ Jesus our Savior.

- and you say, which one is it?...the answer is, both....you can’t think long about any member of the godhead without thinking about His purpose to redeem human beings and give them new life in Him...

- that’s one of the things I love about being a follower of Christ...

- I don’t know about you, but I would have great trouble serving a master that didn’t have a plan...some of you might work in job environments where it isn’t even clear where the company is going...there’s not a clearly defined strategy...and you have no idea how you fit in or what you’re really even supposed to do...

- that would drive me crazy...

- but there is no question about the Savior’s purpose...and Paul says in verse 1...I’m an apostle of that...literally...I’m a messenger of that...someone who has been sent with a message that is critical for others to hear and to embrace...

- now, I’d like to ask you to look very carefully at these verses...what do they teach us about this message...what does God want His messengers to communicate and why?

A.  Invites people to believe in Him.

- verse 1 – for the faith of those chosen of God.

- this is a very definite thing, and a very personal thing...

- and I should probably just pause and say that the only way that you can really think about your identity in this way if is it truly is your identity...

- I realize that some people believe...we’re all just God’s children...and we’re all His servants...

- that’s not what the Word of God teaches...it fact it suggests the exact opposite...

- we’re born dead in trespasses and sins...we’re alienated from God without life and without hope...that’s what the wages of sin are...spiritual death and separation...

- the gospel you’re called upon to believe, and the gospel you’re called upon to proclaim, isn’t that human beings are already God’s children...or that we can somehow earn God’s favor on our own by being good...

- the gospel is the good news that God in His love and mercy sent His Son in spite of who were, and because of who we were...so that He could be the perfect sacrifice for our sin by dying the perfect death on the cross...

- and your identity is changed the moment you admit your true condition and cry out to God in repentance and faith, trusting Christ and His finished work on the cross as your Savior and Lord...

- that’s why Paul told the Colossians...Colossians 1:13-14 - For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

- and I would just ask you...has there ever been a definite time in your life when you definitely made that decision to believe?...and if you’re not sure, why not make sure today?...

- now, if you have, then God has called upon you to be an ambassador, a proclaimer of that great message...

- but if you say...well, are modern people really going to believe that?

- don’t forget the essential phrase in this text...the faith of those chosen of God...

- we’re not talking about service for the Master in our own strength, or by our own ingenuity...

- God is working and through men and women to draw them to Himself...that’s why we read in - verse 3 – the proclamation with which I was entrusted

- but the reason we can fulfill our role confidently is because we know God will fulfill His…

- which leads to two questions for each of us this am are:

1. Do you believe that God intends to draw men and women to Himself all around our community this fall?...

2. Are you in the habit of thinking about your identity in whom a proclamation was entrusted?...

- so for example – we’ll have all sorts of students who either have started school or will be doing do soon…at area public schools, and home schools, and Christian schools, and at places like Ivy Tech, and Purdue, and elsewhere…

- and they’ll be effective in part in the coming weeks and months because they are clear about their identity…

- so they’ll speak up for Christ in the marketplace of ideas…

- because their identity isn’t wrapped up in the approval of man…or in furthering their own agenda…

- they view themselves as bondservants of God and messengers of a redeeming Savior…

- and sure they’d like to get a degree when the dust settles on all of this…and maybe a job…

- but they also want to have made a positive spiritual impact on those around them…

- I hope you would count yourself in that number…

- He’s also a Savior who…

B.  Wants us to learn His truth.

Verse 1 - the faith of those chosen of God, and the knowledge of the truth...

- believing in Christ is the first step of a journey of growing in Him and becoming what He wants us to be, and an essential foundation to growth and change is learning biblical truth...

- in fact, that is one of the clear evidences that a person really knows Christ...there’s an appetite for God’s truth...

- the apostle Peter said it this way... 1 Peter 2:1-3 - Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

- do you mind if I ask you...would that be true of you?...and would your lifestyle support your answer?

- and could I also challenge you to make commitments this fall that will help you grow in your knowledge of the truth...

1.  Faithfulness to the services – this study of the book of Titus over the next 10 weeks is crucial to what we are trying to accomplish as a church....it’s also a compact book---anybody can get their arms around this...I would encourage you to read it weekly, and ask God to help you internalize this message...[for those new to studying the Bible---66 books, you can have one done...just 65v more to go...]

2.  Jumping into an ABF, a small group, a point man group or woman’s Bible study

3.  Taking an FCI class…

- now, what is the implication of this to your identity?...you are a messenger of the gospel, and a messenger of biblical truth...how well equipped are you to do that, and are you making yourself available to do that?...[next step might be teaching, counseling, mentoring...]

- there is no question in my mind that God has assembled this church body in part to be a strong voice for biblical truth in our community...not our word, His Word...

- we’re seeing that played out in some fascinating ways right now…[develop a local foundation that has a policy to not fund faith-based efforts now thinking about “going outside their granting guidelines” and sending groups like ours “RFP’s”]

C. Gives us direction for practical change.

- Verse 1 – the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness...

- the last thing our community needs or any community needs is learning without change...or pie in the sky religious concepts that don’t impact everyday living...

- of course that begins by a commitment to personal holiness on the part of the messenger...

- “Paul knew that the saving truth of the gospel message falls on deaf ears when those proclaiming it live ungodly lives that show no evidence of redemption.  When Christians live in open sin, they can hardly expect unbelievers to heed a message that purports to save men from sin.  One of the most compelling testimonies a Christian can give is that of a righteous, holy, God.”

- this again impacts the way we view ourselves...

- if we really believe we are bond-servants of God, and messengers of a Savior who truly has a purpose...we are going to want our lives to possess the kind of growing holiness that would attract others to Christ...and certainly never detract from the message...

- this is the beginning of the school year...many here are either students or involved in schools in some other way...

- what about it...what grid are you going to view yourself through this year? [develop – the shame of too many young people who grow up in supposed Christian churches in this town and then who go over to Purdue and live no different than the pagans...]

D. Offers us hope for eternity.

- the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness in the hope of eternal life.

- we love serving God now because we understand that there are eternal issues at stake...there is a heaven to be gained and a hell to be shunned...

- then lastly…

III. Children of Good Fathers.

- you say, what do you mean by that?

- did you notice the parent/child theme actually comes up on two levels in verse 4?

A. Our spiritual fathers on earth.

- verse 4 - To Titus, my true child in the faith.

- when we think about our call to serve Christ in a challenging culture…one of the blessings we enjoy is the men and women who have gone before us in this church family…and some who are older who certainly have lived and served faithfully for decades…

- we’re following in their wise footsteps…that’s part of our identity…

B. Our ultimate Father in heaven.

- Titus 1:4 - To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

- connect to the Grand Opening of the NCC

1. If we take some criticism – no problem, our identity is not wrapped up in our perfection of the approval of people…

2. But as we gather to celebrate – we not celebrating our accomplishments, but the joy of watching our Father at work in and through us

Steve Viars

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