With a Strong Commitment to Truth

Steve Viars September 2, 2018 Titus1:9-16
Outline

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.

set in order – epidiorthoo

epi – upon, dia – through – orthoo – to make straight...

1 Peter 4:17 - For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Philippians 2:12–16 - So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 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, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

3 ways believers should view the Scriptures

I. God’s Word Must be Our Treasure

v. 9 - …holding fast the faithful word which is accordance with the teaching…

holding fast – antecho – “To strongly cling or adhere to something.”

A. Hold fast to it

Luke 16:13 - No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to [antecho] one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

B. Consider it to be faithful

C. Remember its consistency

v. 9 - …holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching…

Acts 2:42 - They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

D. This is why we should treasure it

2 Timothy 1:13-14 - Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

E. This is why you should desire to learn it and live it

Proverbs 23:23 - Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding.

II. God’s Word Must be Ministered in a Variety of Ways

A. There are three very distinct groups of people in this passage

1. Godly Christians who simply need additional exhortation – v. 9c

2. Rebellious people who claim to be Christians who need to be rebuked – v. 9d – 16

3. Those who don’t claim to know the Lord who need to see our good deeds – v. 16d

B. This principle is taught in other places in Scripture

1 Thessalonians 5:14 - We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

C. Godly Christians who simply need additional exhortation

Titus 1:9 - …holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine…

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.

D. Rebellious people who claim to be Christians who need to be rebuked

1. Their characteristics

·  those who contradict (sound doctrine) – v. 9

·  rebellious men – v. 10

·  empty talkers and deceivers – v. 10

·  upsetting whole families – v. 11

·  teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain – v. 11

·  profess to know God but by their deeds they deny Him – v. 16

·  worthless for any good deed – v. 16

2. The church’s responsibility

·  refute those who contradict – v. 9

·  must be silenced – v. 10

E. Those who don’t claim to know the Lord who need to see our good deeds – v. 16d

v. 16d - …worthless for any good deed…

III. What’s at Stake is Our Willingness and Ability to Do Good Works for Those Who Don’t Yet Know the Lord

Matthew 5:16 - Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

- A number of years ago David Wells wrote a book entitled No Place for Truth... - Wells is a professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary outside of Boston and you suspected he might have been in a bad mood when he subtitled his book Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?

- James Davison Hunter, a sociologist from the University of Virginia who wrote the book Culture Wars, said of No Place for Truth--- “This may be the most provocative book evangelical pastors and laypeople ever read.”

- theologian Carl F. Henry called this “A penetrating appraisal of the state of religion in America, a discerning plea for its recovery of intellectual priorities, and an outline of new directions if evangelicals are to escape cultural captivity.”

- Well’s basic point was that followers of Christ have abandoned the study and proclamation of God’s Word as their defined center of existence and outreach...

- He spoke of a typical church of the 1800’s that was often on the town square, and was in many ways the center of the community’s social and public life...

- but while the church was the center of the town, theology and biblical truth was the center of the church...

- their understanding and adherence to doctrine fueled and directed their impact on their communities...

- and Wells says, the problem today isn’t that the church isn’t big, or flashy, or powerful, or well-heeled...because in many ways evangelicals have made significant inroads into culture...

- but the problem Wells was addressing was that the church has too often achieved growth or gained influence through the adaptation of worldly methodology, or slick promotion, or watered down beliefs...

- he called it “capitulation to modernity” [which is the way you might expect a professor to say it]...but his point was...too often the church tries to impact the world by becoming like the world...where biblical truth and theological understanding is no longer the defined center of the church’s existence -- let’s listen in…...

This transition has entailed banishing theology from its place in the center of evangelical life and relegating it to the periphery.  Behind this banishment is a greatly diminished sense of truth.  Where truth is central in the religious disposition, theology is always close at hand.  As theology has become dislodged, contemporary evangelicals have become progressively more remote from their forebears in the faith whose courage and fortitude produced the rich heritage of historic Protestant orthodoxy.  They are, in fact, now beginning to retread the path that the Protestant Liberals once trod, and they are doing so, oddly enough, at the very time when many of the descendants of the Liberals have abandoned this path because of its spiritual bankruptcy.

For this reason, it might be argued that in the absence of some notable repentance that would reverse the present direction, evangelicals are now in their declining years.  Of course, appearances suggest quite the contrary: evangelicals seem to be at the zenith of their influence.  Influence, however, is not simply a matter of numbers.  It is necessarily bound up with an appropriate relationship with truth and character, both of which are eroded in every accommodation that is made to modernity.  It is the inextinguishable knowledge of being owned by the transcendent God that forms character, and his ownership challenges that of every other contender, including that of the modern world – David Wells, No Place for Truth, p. 36.

- If you are new to studying God’s Word, I am not in any way suggesting that this should be one of the first Christian books you pick up and read...

- but if you’ve been at this for a while and would like to read something that will really challenge your thinking...No Place for Truth is one of those kinds of books…

- Now, this is an ideal day to raise this question for a couple of reasons…this is the last Sunday that I will have to speak to our entire church family prior to the Grand Opening of the Northend Community Center scheduled for 2 weeks from today…

- Lord willing I’ll be speaking at FE next Sunday live and at FW the following Sunday which is the same day as the Grand Opening…but as far as speaking to everyone together at the same time…this is it…

- and there are several issues we need to clarify before we launch that new ministry that might best be encapsulated by one of our dear members who approached me recently and was slightly wound up when she said – now, we’re still going to be to pray and share God’s Word at the new community center, right?...

- and frankly – I’m glad people around here get a little wound up about that from time to time…

- and if our emphasis on community based ministry or the launch of this new community center that provides space for several secular non-profits and involves the government and entities like the United Way is a capitulation to modernity…we better back up the truck in a hurry…

- so, being on the cusp of our Grand Opening allows us to discuss this topic…

- and so does the fact that it is the very next topic addressed in the verse by verse study we’re doing this fall…

- please open your Bible to the book of Titus, chapter 1, verse 9…page 167 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- our theme this year is Being Careful How We Build…taken from that marvelous passage in 1 Cor. 3…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.

- I’m happy to tell you that this week we signed a contract to begin work on the new children’s ministry/education addition at FE…

- and we have a lot of utilities to move in that area and the utility companies are very busy….so we’ll see how far we get this fall before the bad weather sets in…but we’re on our way on that project…

- the construction continues on our new duplex for our Men’s Restoration ministry out at Bethany Farms…

- and the 90 acre ballfield planning committee was just approved to move forward on phase 1 of their work…and while that will be modest and we’ll only be able to move forward this fall if the pricing and contractor availability work out – it’s great to see that initiative move forward…

- and on our primary project right now – Family Promise and Car Works have received their CO’s…Bauer was given permission to move in to the main building and they started school on Monday…

- we hope to receive the other CO’s this week with the plan of Faith moving our offices on Thursday and then the rest of our partners moving in Friday…

- so a lot of physical building has been done…and we’re trying to be very, very careful in each project at every step of the way…

- but ultimately Being Careful How We Build is speaking about our own spiritual growth…progressive sanctification at both a personal and institutional level…

- that’s why we’re doing this verse by verse study this fall on the book of Titus entitled Building from a Foundation of Grace

- and we’re already finding the logical progression of the book to be both instructive and challenging…even in the order in which topics are developed…

- we know Titus was a pastor…and he was ministering on the Isle of Crete which had a reputation for wickedness…we’ll see that clearly called out in our verses this am…

- but this book isn’t some kind of a condemnation of the world…or a call to be separated or aloof from the world…

- instead Titus was told to set things in order in the church…

- set in order – epidiorthoo

- it’s actually a combination of two prepositions and a verb...

- epi – upon, dia – through – orthoo – to make straight...

- so the focus needs to be on the spiritual growth and maturity of those who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ…

- not so much – “hate the sin and love the sinner” in terms of the way we relate to those who don’t yet know the Lord – but instead – “I/we don’t have time to focus on, or be angry about or judgmental of your sin because we have too much of my own to address and try to change…”

- 1 Peter 4:17 - For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

- so how has this emphasis played out thus far?...how do we build from a foundation of grace?...

1:1-4 – By Understanding Our Identity – who we are and where we fit into God’s plan and program…then amazingly…

1:5-9 – By Taking Leadership Qualifications Seriously – there has to be an emphasis on personal holiness among the church family and especially its leaders…that’s what Paul meant when he told the Philippians - Philippians 2:12–16 - So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 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, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

- Pastor Leffew used to like to say – if you want to make a difference, you have to be different…allowing God to change us...is what enables us to be bright lights of the gospel in the world in which we live…

- now, the next verses go a long way to answering the question this dear woman from our church posed to me a few weeks ago…we’re not giving up our freedom to pray and proclaim biblical truth in that building, are we…and if you would join her in that concern, great…

- but let’s broaden the net before we read the passage to other situations you may face as you live out your Christianity in the world in which you’ve been placed…

- suppose you’re working at a small start-up type company of 7-8 employees…so the roles aren’t that established yet…there’s certainly no human resource department for problem solving…

- and everyone is sort of on equal footing…

- but one of the guys in the company has a habit of using profanity, especially when he’s angry, and especially when he’s dealing with women in the office…

- so you’re trying to decide if you should talk to him or not, and if so, how, when, where, to what end?...

- here’s my question – would it make a difference if that person was also a member of this church?...does that have any influence on the question I just raised?...

- what if the person isn’t a member of Faith…but has made it clear that he believes in God and attends some other church in town?...

- or thirdly, what if the person has made it very clear he doesn’t not believe in God in any way, shape, or form?...

-does the spiritual condition of the person…and their stated theological allegiances in any way play into the way you decide if should you have a conversation or not…and all the ancillary questions that go along with the decision?...and how does that play all the way back into how we intend to function down in the north end, and all over town in any way we’re living individually or as a church…

- these are big and important questions – and they deserve carefully nuanced answers…

- read Titus 1:9-16…

- so we’re talking about building on a foundation of grace…this morning…With a Strong Commitment to Truth

- and with the time we have remaining…let’s think about Three ways believers should view the Scriptures.

I. God’s Word Must be Our Treasure.

- Paul speaks about leaders in Christ’s church as individuals who are verse 9 - “holding fast the faithful word which is accordance with the teaching.”

- let’s break that down a bit...

- the phrase holding fast – antecho – “To strongly cling or adhere to something.”

- sometimes during a hurricane we see these horrific pictures of people clinging on to trees for dear life...literally...this is the same kind of word...

A.  Hold fast to it.

- and please remember this...you can’t hold fast to too multiple things at the same time...

- Jesus used this same word when He was talking about money... Luke 16:13  - No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to [antecho] one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

- that’s why I’m so glad for the question I was asked a few weeks ago that I’ve already mentioned a couple of times…her question was, we’re not letting go, are we?...

B. Consider it to be faithful.

- you’re not just holding fast to anything...you’re holding fast to what you’ve concluded is worthy of your trust...

- by the way, if you have some questions about how we got the Bible, or why we believe it is God’s Word, or why we believe it is reliable, I would encourage you to read James MacDonald’s – God Wrote a Book...[available as an e-book]…

C. Remember its consistency.

- verse 9 - “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching.”

- As soon as the church was born on the day of Pentecost, we begin reading that the new believers were...- Acts 2:42 - They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

- that revelation was completed through the ministry of the apostles, spoken of as the foundation of the church in the book of Ephesians, laid upon the chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ...and their words were given and recorded for us through the process of inspiration...they were breathed out by God...and has been marvelously preserved unlike any other ancient document...

D. This is why we should treasure it.

- 2 Timothy 1:13-14 - Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

- too whatever degree Wells is right, that biblical and theological truth has no place in Christ’s church...that is nothing short of scandalous...

- now you might say...in what sense should we treasure it?...that’s a nice sounding phrase, but what does it look like with clothes on?...at least…

E. This is why you should desire to learn it and live it.

- Proverbs 23:23 - Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.

- if the third answer to the question of how you build on the foundation of grace is that we are people who treasure learning, and applying, and assimilating, and obeying God’s truth...then every one of us needs to ask...is that true of me?...

- does your hunger for the Scriptures indicate that God’s truth is your treasure?...

- so here’s the answer to the question I keep raising – by God’s grace, we own the NCC, all of it – and we have absolute, complete freedom to proclaim God’s Word in all our spaces in any way we please…

- and we will never surrender or compromise on that freedom and responsibility…

- decades ago now, I made a commitment to our church family that we would never compromise the gospel in order to be involved in community based outreach ministry…

- now, what about this next section in the passage…this is some very strong language…

- this is where the nuance comes in – because here’s the key question…clearly somebody is being rebuked…right…verse after verse in the second half of this chapter is talking about that…

- but here is a crucial clarifying question…are these people who profess to know the Lord, or not?...

- and go back to our hypothetical vignette I posed earlier about the guy in your office who cusses like a sailor when he’s mad at people…does your responsibility to him matter if he says he’s a Christian or not?...

- and here’s another aspect of the nuance – let me set it up as a question…does it matter at the NCC that some of our collaborative partners are entirely secular in nature?...

- and while you’re wrapping your mind around that – let me make a comment that is purposely provocative…and just let it hang out there for a minute and take it up again later…

- does it make sense to you that over the years there have been times when it was more logical for faith to partner with a secular non-profit…than one that was faith-based, but theologically liberal?...

_ we’ll come back to all of this in a minute…but let’s plow further in the passage…the point is…

II. God’s Word Must be Ministered in a Variety of Ways

- I’d like to suggest to you that…

A. There are three very distinct groups of people in this passage.

1. Godly Christians who simply need additional exhortation – v. 9 c

2. Rebellious people who claim to be Christians who need to be rebuked – v. 9d – 16

3. Those who don’t claim to know the Lord who need to see our good deeds – v. 16d

- now, I know these three categories need to be unpacked, and we will…but first, please remember this…

B. This principle is taught in other places in Scripture

- most notably - 1 Thessalonians 5:14 - We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

- what does this tell us?...

- you can’t have a one-size fits all approach to ministry?...why?...because people are different…so there has to be a variety of ministry approaches to a variety of ministry situations…

- that’s why you would not take the same approach with the office profanity with the three different kinds of people I mentioned…

- so now, let’s go through our categories…

C. Godly Christians who simply need additional exhortation

- Titus 1:9 - holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine…

- that’s what we do when we come together on the Lord’s day…

- we don’t sit around and talk about how bad everyone else is…

- we focus on the beauty of the gospel…[develop]…

- and we focus on the specific ways we can be, and need to be changing and growing to become more like Christ…

- 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.

- and I would just ask you this am – are you this kind of follower of Jesus Christ?...

- people who want biblical truth – and want to live it out each and every are what makes up the power and efficacy of the local church…

- but, regrettably, that’s not always the case…because sometimes there are…

D. Rebellious people who claim to be Christians who need to be rebuked

- and Paul says – this is an important part of setting things in order in the church…

- and the description of such persons is quite clear…

1. Their characteristics

  • those who contradict (sound doctrine) – v. 9
  • rebellious men – v. 10
  • empty talkers and deceivers – v. 10
  • upsetting whole families – v. 11
  • teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain – v. 11
  • profess to know God but by their deeds they deny Him – v. 16
  • worthless for any good deed – v. 16

- and the question is – what should happen to people like that?...

- and here’s the challenge – in the past, churches would have twice as many members of their membership roles as they had average Sunday morning attenders – so you had all these people who said out in the community that they were Christians…but there was little accountability or confrontation…and what does that failure on the part of the people of God do to the quality of the light?...it’s diminished because so-called Christians aren’t any different than men and women in the world who don’t know the Lord…

- do you what the issue is today?...evangelical churches have twice as many people attending on an average Sunday as they have actual formal members…and many churches have given up the membership process altogether…which is an incredible deviation from the pattern clearly set out in the early church as early as Day One when the church as born on the Day of Pentecost…

- and the result is the same as the first problem – no accountability, no confrontation, no discipline…and therefore, very little light to a lost and dying world…

- so what ought to happen to such persons…

2. The church’s responsibility

  • refute those who contradict – v. 9
  • must be silenced – v. 10

- so if we want to build carefully, we have to insist that people who are our members live in a way that honors God…even if that means we’re smaller numerically because some people just want to “play church” and don’t want accountability in their life [which is another way of saying they are both foolish and rebellious]…

- and to the degree that it is appropriate – we ought to encourage others who say they know the Lord to live in a way that is consistent with that claim…because the corporate light of Christ in this community or any community is riding on that…

- however…however…however…many of us are around people every day who don’t “profess to know God”…and may do all sorts of things that don’t please Him…that is an entirely different conversation…and an entirely different response…and it is introduced right at the end of chapter 1 and then emphasized strongly throughout the rest of the book…

E. Those who don’t claim to know the Lord who need to see our good deeds – v. 16d

- now, please think about this very carefully…at the end of verse 16, what was true of these Judaizers…these false teachers…these legalistic individuals trying to wrap up the people of God in all their man-made rules who needed to be silenced…what was true of them?....

- v. 16 d – worthless for any good deed…

- aha…aha…aha… - what does that mean is true of the people in the first category?  (godly Christians in need of exhortation) – faithfully performing good deeds…to whom…to everyone, including those who don’t know the Lord…look what happens in the rest of the book …

- so why is all of this so important?...

III. What’s at Stake is Our Willingness and Ability to Do Good Works for Those Who Don’t Yet Know the Lord

- Matthew 5:16 - Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

- the challenge for many churches to perform many meaningful good works is that they are so insular – all the resources are focused inwardly…

- and over time many members don’t know many people who don’t know the Lord…

- the church becomes a high-walled fortress of apathy and indifference…

- so after we had constructed our community centers and doing everything we could think of to be involved in community based outreach ministry…

- we were asked to come down to the inner city…which is fascinating…

- because generally what you find in the inner city of most communities from a spiritual perspective is either atheism or liberal theology…because Bible believing churches often flee to the suburbs…[and we could talk about that for a long time…]

- so we certainly couldn’t partner with any faith-based organizations that were theologically liberal…because that might confuse the gospel…these verses are very clear about what has to happen when that challenge arises…

- but what about all of the good people--on a secular level…who have been doing effective non-profit work in that part of town for a whole lot longer than us…but often are strapped for resources and facilities…[which goes back to so many of us fleeing to the suburbs]…

- in we plop down, even at the city’s request…right in the middle of a neighborhood and start doing things….what impact might that have on other existing secular non-profits?...something a whole lot different than “doing good”…

- and by the way – it also could mean we would miss out on learning all the lessons those dear people have already learned about serving that part of our community…

- you know what you need to put this whole package together?...

- you need a facility…like a mall…it actually helps JC Pennys to have Kolhs because of the synergy…but Penny’s doesn’t tell Kohls what to sell and vice versa…

- what would happen if a church could bring a collaboration and necessary funding together…where non-profit partners could design their own suites and do what is consistent with their missions in their suites…

- with children from low income families…and senior citizens…and homeless families…and meals on wheels…and groups working especially with Hispanic residents, and others with African American residents…and youth mentoring and on and on…

- and provide access to shared resources like a gym, and a pool, and a co-working studio, and study rooms, and community rooms…amenities those non-profits never even dared to dream about before…

- and then right in the middle of that – have a cluster of faith-based church ministries…

- creating a platform where people who loved to be exhorted about their own personal holiness and growth in Christ could joyfully, and naturally, even under the same roof – be a “doing good works” machine…

- and then when the opportunities invariably arose for more gospel focused conversations…to be able to have them in spaces that had been designed for that very purpose right in the same building?...

- who in the world could pull that off?...the answer is – our redeeming Savior – the hero of the book of Titus and every other book in the Bible could…

- so that’s why I want to challenge everyone here to do several things in the next two weeks…

1. Decide right now that you are going to be at our Grand Opening 2 weeks from today at 3:30

- to praise God for what he is doing

- to get to know our collaborative partners and begin looking for additional ways to love the fire out of them

- to get to know our north end neighbors…

- to see how many slices of Arni’s Pizza you can eat

2. Use these tools on your social media accounts to invite every person in your sphere of influence to our Grand Opening celebration

3. Sign up for one of these remaining volunteer days to help us with our final landscaping, cleaning, and move-ins

4. Sign up to serve at the Grand Opening

 

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