Sunday, April 17, 2011

Titus - Part 5

Enabled by the Savior.1 Jesus likened His relationship to the disciples as a vine with branches (John 15:1-8).  The branch draws its fruit-producing ability from the vine.  If there is no connection, there can be no fruit.  Likewise, Paul explained the beauty of recognizing this powerlessness and of allowing God to work His power in and through us (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

1. Proclaim the word (1:3) – God gives believers a treasure of incomparable worth meant to be shared.  Multiple times, instruction is given to bring the Scriptures to others (Mark 16:15; Acts 10:42; Col. 1:28; 2 Tim. 4:2).  Questions and protests arise within from inadequacy: What do I do?  What do I say?  Do I know enough?  Suppose I make a mistake.  Paul, considered the greatest apostle and Christian example par excellence, humbly and truthfully stated that he also was inadequate for so great a stewardship (2 Cor. 3:5a).  We must depend on the adequacy (2 Cor. 3:5-6) and strength (2 Cor. 4:7) the Lord supplies for there to be proper tribute and effectual work by means of words and wisdom which cannot be resisted or refuted (Luke 21:15).

2. Grace and peace (1:4) – The high priest’s benediction (Num. 6:24-26) stated the desire God had to bless His people (Psa. 29:11).  The God-directed instruction for the priest was acknowledging the truth that grace and peace was His to give.  He was the source. Gideon understood this aspect of His character by naming an altar “The Lord is peace” (Jehovah-shalom).  It, too, required obedience to effect peace.  Yet, peace is conditioned on satisfaction of God’s righteousness.  To the Israelite the peace offering (Lev. 3:1-17) demonstrated that God was “a benefactor to his creatures, and the giver of all good things to us.”  God, priest, and offerer joined together sharing the sacrifice and symbolizing communion through reconciliation of atonement.  God’s grace is not so conditioned.  This He freely lavishes on His people and has done so throughout history from the garments of skin given Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21) to the call “let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Rev. 21:17) doing so after the counsels of His own will and in accordance with His divine nature.

3. Future hope (2:13) – From the time of the Patriarchs (Job 19:25-26), there has been an understanding and anticipation of a resurrection.  This was especially true during the final stages of Christ’s earthly ministry, as He told the twelve disciples how He would suffer, die, and be resurrected (Matt. 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19), preparing them for the culmination of His mission.  On the final evening He told them plainly “Where I am going, you cannot come” (John 13:33) but in going promised to “prepare a place for you…that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).  This has been the enduring expectation of every believer and a driving force for conduct in this world (2 Pet. 3:11, 14).  As certainly as the Lord left, He will return, and those who believe will be gathered into His presence to be with the Lord always (1 Thess. 4:13-18).  Without this certainty we are “of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19) for trusting folly of the greatest magnitude.

4. Abundance (3:6) – Zophar the Naamathite queries Job, “Can you discover the limits of the Almighty?” (Job 11:7).  This rhetorical question teaches the nature of God and the limitlessness of His being (Exod. 34:6-7; Rom. 11:33) saving to the utmost those who love Him (Heb. 7:25), as well as pouring out the full fury of His wrath on those condemned (1 Thess. 2:16).  According to this nature, the Father gives from His bounteous supply. Given that there is no gift higher or greater, God promised Himself to His people:
“I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” (Gen. 15:1, NKJV)
“I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel.” (Num. 18:20)
This is most exemplified in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the great object of faith “[i]n his abounding love and grace in his humiliation, and the greatness of his personal sacrifice for us.”2  No greater gift could be given, yet even more God bestows freely (Rom. 8:32) and richly (Eph. 2:7; 3:8) “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).

1 Continuing the series from Part 4.
2 James Petigru Boyce. Abstract of Systematic Theology. 1887., Chapter 34 (Electronic format as add-on module to Online Bible Millennium Edition, 1987-2001).

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