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Timeless Wisdom for the Church (from Titus)
One of the key verses in the conclusion of our message series on the Holy Spirit focus on the role that the Holy Spirit does in renewing the minds of the believer.
“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Titus 3:4-6 NKJV
Whenever we study a passage, it is important to look at the context from the verses before and after. Furthermore, the context of the entire chapter, as well as the chapters before and after, are also beneficial. Another important context is to know the specific author of the book. In the case of an epistle (letter), who is the audience it was written to, and the purpose it was written for.
Paul wrote his letter to Titus from Nicopolis in AD 63, after the apostle’s release from his first Roman imprisonment. Upon leaving Timothy in Ephesus to minister there, Paul accompanied Titus to the island of Crete, where he intended Titus to lead and organize the island’s churches in their early years of existence.
The churches on Crete were susceptible to false teachers so Paul directed Titus to establish a group of faithful elders to oversee the doctrinal purity and good conduct of the believers on Crete. The main theme of the letter to Titus emphasizes right living through the careful attention to theological truth.
While the book of Titus may be relatively short, this profound letter contains valuable instructions for the church. There are timeless wisdom and practical guidance for church leaders and believers that were addressed. The crucial issues faced by the churches then continue to resonate with the modern-day church now.
Here are 3 key themes from this powerful book that I believe we can apply for the church today.
1. Emphasizing Godly Leadership
One of the primary focuses of the book of Titus is the importance of godly leadership within the church. Paul instructs Titus to appoint qualified elders who possess a strong faith, exhibit godly character, and effectively shepherd the flock. (Titus 1:5-9)
This emphasis on godly leadership highlights the significance of integrity, sound doctrine, and spiritual maturity among those entrusted with guiding the church. Today, the church must prioritize the selection and development of leaders who align with these biblical principles.
Coastal Church is committed to developing leaders and the underlying principle of our leadership development has always been spiritual development. The measure of godliness cannot be observed simply through external acts over a few weeks but requires a season of testing to produce sound leaders that are above reproach. (Titus 1:6-9)
2. Encouraging Sound Doctrine:
The apostle Paul repeatedly emphasizes the necessity of sound doctrine throughout the book of Titus. He underscores the importance of teaching and upholding the truth, urging believers to reject false teachings and erroneous doctrines. This call for doctrinal integrity remains relevant in a world filled with diverse theological perspectives and cultural influences. (Titus 2:7)
Similarly, our church must diligently study the Scriptures, discern truth from error, and faithfully proclaim the unchanging message of the Gospel. This is exemplified through the weekend messages, and more in depth through Life Groups, Alpha, Freedom Session, INSTE (Bible School), and other theological resources that are provided to our congregation continuously.
3. Cultivating Godly Character:
Titus challenges believers to cultivate godly character and live transformed lives that reflect the grace of God. Paul highlights virtues such as self-control, integrity, kindness, and good works, emphasizing the significance of believers’ conduct as a testimony to the world. In a culture that often prioritizes personal desires and instant gratification, the church must strive to exhibit Christ-like character in all aspects of life, demonstrating the transformative power of the Gospel through their actions. (Titus 3:8)
The introduction of our internship program (both at Coastal Church and Eden Cafe), as well as our ministry apprenticeship opportunities has been excellent grounds for the shaping of character. Leaders of all ages have been instructed accordingly (just as the Apostle Paul included in his letter to Titus) and those that are the most teachable are almost always the ones that possess the strongest identity in Christ.
Going back to context around the key verse in Titus 3:4-6, we read in the preceding verse (v.3) of the culture surrounding the churches in Crete and observe that the same challenges are just as pervasive in 2023:
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” Titus 3:3 NIV
(But) As Coastal Church embraces these timeless principles and applies them to the life and ministry, we can fulfill our God-given purpose to effectively impact our city and the world for the glory of God. Let us, therefore, heed the words of Paul to Titus and strive to build and strengthen our churches in accordance with the biblical principles outlined in this remarkable epistle – always under the guise of the Holy Spirit’s power!