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“What Are These ‘Sounds’?!”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Through the Written Word,
And the spoken word,
May we know Your Living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
During this season between Christmas and Lent, January and February, we are looking at Paul’s letter to Titus, the Church Pastor on the Island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea.
Titus is Paul’s spiritual son whom Paul assigned there to encourage these church members who were better at professing the Christian faith than they were at practicing it. They said they believed it, but they did not live like they believed it!
Last week we finished chapter 1 which teaches what every Christian leader must follow, and every Christian should follow. And, as we learned in our survey – every Christian is a leader, whether it is an ordained ecclesiastical position or simply the life calling God as put us in. Blamelessness and living in congruity with our words and with God’s Word.
Today’s passage deals with some explicit instructions with specific necessities. Listen for three things: 1) What verb is in the instruction? 2) To whom is this directed? And, 3) What is the purpose of this instruction?
Hear the Word of God, Titus 2:1-5 …. —-
1 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
In chapter 1 we read two main activities for the soon-to-be ordained elders and ministers in the churches on Crete: 1) encourage others by sound doctrine and 2) refute those who oppose it. The 1980s Thru the Bible radio guy, J. Vernon McGee, says, “The church must teach sound doctrine or it is not the church…. It really doesn’t matter how high the steeple may be or how beautifully the chimes may play, it is the message that is going out from the pulpit which will tell you whether the church is really a church….”
In the book of Acts, after the day of Pentecost we’re told that the newly forming church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (2:42)” That is “sound doctrine”, fellowship, worship and prayer. Sound doctrine is the apostles’ teaching – it is God’s Word, the most important thing the church must do is teach God’s Word – sound doctrine!
In today’s reading:
1) What verb is in the instruction? Teach. You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Bishop Titus’ job number one is to teach! The “key word” is obviously, “sound doctrine”, biblical theology. What makes it “sound” is that it comes from God’s Word and transforms how we live – our behavior demonstrates our faith. Remember that these Cretans claim they believe in God, but their actions deny Him. So, the instruction is to teach people what is right and how to live rightly because of it – “sound doctrine”. But what may be surprising is whom Titus is instructed to teach, and then what those who are taught are to do with their teaching.
2) To whom is this directed? Teach the older men … Likewise, teach the older women … Then they can urge the younger women. Whom is Titus told to teach? The word is not the “elders”, not the church leaders, but the family leaders: The older men, the older women, the patriarchs and matriarchs of the main social structures of every society – the family. Teach men how to be husbands and fathers; teach women how to be wives and mothers. And teach them these things by way of God’s Word, the Way of Jesus who was sent to us to present God’s righteousness and love; and who sends us to present the same to the world!
In the New Testament Greek world of patriarchal society, there are specific duties to be performed by the different ranks of society – and we see them in this letter. Some would argue that this is the “apostles’ teaching” that Acts 2 talks about as vital, and that, therefore, these same role distinctions are for all people at all times in all places. That is not how I understand it – the “apostles’ teaching”, I believe, is the principle that while family structures might change, family members still have the primary responsibility of teaching the Gospel truths, biblical theology. In other words, I do not think God really cares whether the wife or the husband cooks the meals, does the dishes, brings home the more bacon, etc – but that God does care that our children are raised, to the best of our abilities, in homes where the parents teach the children how to grow into productive, contributing members of society in ways that bring honor and glory to the God who makes us and loves us and who sent His own Son for us!
God creates us in families not only for the convenience or for the emotional support they offer their members, but for the absolutely critical role families play in civilizing the world! The family is the primary place for socialization and moral education. (Can I get an Amen from the families that are actively raising children right now in 2020?!)
I read this week: “The culture of perpetual youth does not suggest that we like children; rather, it implies they are our rivals. We close our condominiums to them and our hearts to them. They are too weak, dependent, arbitrary and unpredictable, demanding…. So we rationalize turning their care over to others….”
Last Sunday we heard Paul say that church leaders need to be “blameless”, and of course, we recognize that since only Jesus is truly blameless, this is really a call to our doing our best to reflect God’s prefect glory and when we fail, to confess, repent, ask forgiveness, and try again….
Teaching sound doctrine falls into that same camp. And raising our families is an act of accountability that when Mom and Dad blow it, Mom and Dad come back to God again, confess both to God, to each other, and to Junior, repent, ask forgiveness and keep trying!
I know – I’m a Dad who has blown it in more ways and more frequently than I understand – none of this happens easily or perfectly. We are broken people living in a broken world. Our parents were not perfect, and our children will not parent perfectly. There are so many ways we all experience this aspect of our fallen world. But that is still the purpose: Did you catch that in Titus 2:5?
3) What is the purpose of this instruction? So that no one will malign the word of God.
As Pastor Kathy makes her way forward for our prayer-time, like we did last week, I invite you to turn to #564 in the hymnbooks – and let’s pray together:
by the indwelling of Your Holy Spirit,
purge our eyes to discern and contemplate You until we attain to see as You see, judge as You judge, choose as You choose;
and having sought and found You
to behold You forever and ever.
We ask this for Your name’s sake. Amen.*
Johnson, Luke Timothy; 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus; John Knox Press; Atlanta, GA; 1987; Pp. 122-132.
McGee, J. Vernon; I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon; Thru the Bible Books; Pasadena, CA; 1983; Pp. 171-173.
*Rosetti, Christina (19th Century); The Worshiping Church: A Hymnal; Hope Pub.; Carol Stream, IL; 1990; #564 (To Be Like Jesus)
NIV Study Bible; www.biblica.com/resources/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-titus/.