Tag Archives: holy

Titus: Right Doctrine, Right Living

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Titus 2: 1, 7-8

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Show yourself in all respects to be model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Paul instructs Titus to teach the older men, older women, and younger men. Here are the verses spoken specifically for Titus. Laura gave a talk on this passage, and I again am sharing what I learned from this passage and from her lecture.

Challenge #1: Titus 2:1 (“But as for you…”)

Where may God be calling you to be set apart from the world? But as for you ______. This statement comes on the heels of what Paul said about the false teachers and serves as a major contrast. But as for you, Titus, you are to be set apart from them, teaching sound doctrine. 2 Tim 2:21 says:

…anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

I love the image of the object that has been set apart (holy) and is useful for the Master. It is ready to be used for good works in the hands of the Master.

Challenge #2: (“…teach”)

Are you using opportunities to casually and comfortably talk/dialogue with others about the truth of Christ “along the way”?

The word “teach” is not the word kerusso (which means preach, or is a formal way of teaching) but rather is the word laleo meaning to “speak, converse, disclose your thoughts.” It is an informal teaching, implying that you talk about your faith as you walk along the way, engaging people outside of formal settings. Deut 11:19 tells us:

19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Teaching can be simply sharing life and doesn’t have to be anything formal (although that is good too!).

Challenge #3: (“…what accords with…”)

Is there a truth of God’s Word that you know but are not living out in proper alignment/harmonious fit in your daily life? Do your actions reflect your beliefs?

This phrase was Paul’s way of telling Titus to teach what it looks like to LIVE OUT sound doctrine. It’s not enough to teach sound doctrine, but he must also show what it looks like in everyday life. In fact the word “accord” from the Latin means “at its heart” or the “core”. The idea is that the doctrine and the application of it are intertwined (like a cord) and cannot be separated.

James 1:22 tells us to be “doers of the Word and not hearers only…” and in Luke 11:28 Jesus tells the woman, “Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!

A bold way to put this is that people don’t have to wonder what we believe because they see us living it out.

Challenge #4: (“…sound doctrine.”)

Do you have beliefs that you need to more properly align with the essential doctrine of God’s word?

A lot of people turn their nose up at the word doctrine because it sounds scholarly or uppity. Doctrine is not something to be afraid of because it is simply a framework, a belief system, a structure of teaching of essential or core theological truths of Scripture (there are all sorts of doctrines, but in this case, we’re speaking of the doctrine of Scripture). Primary or core doctrines are those which are non-negotiable. Secondary doctrines vary among believers, and some of those include baptism, end times, organization of the church, role of elders/deacons/pastors, and gifts of the Spirit. It would be wise for anyone to read the essential doctrines of the Christian faith (some of which are Scripture, the Trinity, Satan, fallen man, Jesus Christ, salvation through Christ, eternal security).

In Amos 7:7-8, God speaks of the plumb line (or standard) by which they were to use as they built their walls. Our plumb line is the Word of God and we build from that as our starting point and standard. If our beliefs do not align to this plumb line, we must ask ourselves how to be renewed in our minds (Rom 12:2) so as to be transformed.

Challenge #5: (Titus 2:7 “Show yourself in all respects to be a model…)

Consider your “way” or the path you are on. Is it the one that Jesus would travel? When others see your life, is it one that would point them to the ways of Jesus in all things? Are you setting a pattern for others that is safe to follow?

The word “show” has the connotation of taking the whole apart so that all the pieces are in full view. It is a matter of complete transparency. To be a “model” simply means being a type, an example, or a pattern. The idea is that a person would set a healthy or safe example for others to follow. This person would have a reliable track record of consistent actions and behaviors that would be Christ-honoring. This is the concept of discipleship at its finest.

Paul told the churches to imitate him as he modeled Christ (1 Cor 11:1), with the idea that he would eventually step out of the way for them to imitate Christ (2 Tim 1:13, 1 Cor 4:16-17). In Hebrews 13:7 we are encouraged to “remember your leaders…imitate their faith.”

Proverbs 3:6 says,

In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

A Model of…

Integrity: meaning incorruptibility. To teach pure (incorruptible) doctrine and to do it with pure (incorruptible) motives.

Dignity: meaning reverence, respect, majesty, and/or sanctity. To teach in a respectable nor irreverent way. This word carries with it a sense of gravity or weight, meaning to give great respect for that which is worthy of great respect. To keep weighty/serious that which is weighty/serious.

Sound speech: meaning does not deviate from the truth (not even a slight deviation).

So that…

So that an opponent may be put to shame. Opponent can mean enemy, and in this case it is one who has a hostile hatred toward the cross as in Phil 3:18. Christians are a perfect target for the enemy which is why we need to live above reproach, being a model of all these good things. They will have no ammunition to use on those who walk the straight path.

 

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To Inhabit Our Praise

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Inhabits our praise - glory

My husband has been reading Psalm 22 recently which means I get to hear about what he’s discovered. 🙂 I love it. He has written a lesson about it, and I’ve heard it now three times. I still love it. He relates the Psalm to Matthew 27, but not before thoroughly discussing what it must have meant at the time David wrote it. It’s quite a fascinating study, and one I would recommend for everyone!

My favorite part of the Psalm (at least today) struck me right in the heart as if I had read it for the first time. The verse wasn’t even pertinent to the study at that moment, but it hit me hard nonetheless. Go ahead, read the 22nd Psalm for yourself. Something else might strike you.

But here’s the verse in all it’s glory:

Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises of Israel.

David is clearly feeling forsaken (was it because of his first plight with Saul? or was it because of the Philistines? or perhaps one of his sons was out to get him?), but in verse 3 he writes, “Yet You are holy….” An emphatic statement made by a man who needed to remind himself who God is in the midst of his trials. I would surmise that David wasn’t feeling so certain about many things (whether or not he’d live, who his friends were, his role in Israel) yet he knew this truth about God. It’s a beautiful thing to recall God’s character for the encouragement of our aching, uncertain heart.

But this isn’t even my favorite part!

David tells us that God is “enthroned on the praises of Israel.” Another way to say this would be that God inhabits the praise of His people or that God dwells in the praise of His people.

Can we just pause for a moment and think about what that means??

I love how the Hebrew language is full of imagery at its core. This verse gives us an incredible mental picture of our holy God dwelling inside of our praise.

He dwells in our praise!

When I think of God inhabiting a place, I imagine every inch of that place being completely filled with Him. Think of what Isaiah saw when he had the vision of God in the temple:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Isaiah 6:1-5 (emphasis mine)

God was on His throne and the temple wasn’t filled with God, it was filled with only the train of His robe! Imagine the enormity of God! The most bottom piece of His robe is what fills the gigantic (to us) temple! The seraphim tell us that the whole earth is full of His glory (which makes sense why only the bottom of His kingly robe would fit inside of a teensy temple). Notice the reference to God as holy (only this time it is emphasized with the triple repetition). David knew God is holy. Isaiah knew God is holy (interesting fact about Isaiah: he refers to God as “the Holy One of Israel” more than any other prophet). The Holy One filled the temple with a piece of His robe revealing that the place was not only completely filled with Him, but it couldn’t even contain Him.

Now picture the Holy One taking up the space of our praise.

Doesn’t that send chills down your spine? We know God is Immanuel – He is God with us. We know that God made His Son come to dwell among us. We know that when Jesus ascended into heaven, He left His Holy Spirit to dwell in us. This Holy One fills up the space of our lives with Himself. More importantly, He inhabits the praise of His people.

What does this mean for us? If God fills up the space that our praise makes, how much space is full of God in our lives? It’s both sobering and break-taking. Can you envision the Holy One occupying the space in our churches and homes as we lift up our voices to Him in praise? Can you see Him hovering about in those teensy buildings just as He first hovered over the waters during creation? A sense of anticipation and joy as He readies Himself to give life to His creation.

The presence of God is in our midst, and He comes to dwell with us as we pour out our praise to Him. He lives in our praise.

How would this change our lives if we really believed it? If God lives in my praise, wouldn’t I take extra care to pour it out? And if I know He dwells in my praise, wouldn’t I want to speak it liberally so that others could see His presence here on earth?

How does the mood of our homes and churches change when we are intent on speaking His praise? Only His praise? I have a hunch that my words would not fall to the floor as often if I had His praise in mind. There would be less criticism, less angry words, and more love and grace.

Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises of Israel.

May His praise ever be on my lips.

Theology Thursday: Houston…We Have a Problem

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iSIN

Sometimes I wonder about things that I have a feeling I’ll never know this side of heaven (but really REALLY hope to find out when I get there). Things like, why don’t we get the full story in “x” story in the Bible? Or what was Jesus’ tone of voice in “y” story? Or what’s up with the dinosaurs? (seriously, where’d they go? and how?)

One of my favorite things to think about (in a kind of twisted sense) is what sin must have felt like to Jesus as He walked on the earth. And particularly, what did it feel like for this Holy God to experience the weight of sin as it was laid on Him at the cross?

We know sin all too well so it’s hard to wrap our minds around what it was like for Jesus. Sin is like that annoying friend that we really don’t want to be friends with, but she just won’t go away…ever…until we die. (P.S. I don’t think I actually have a friend like that just so no one wonders if you are “that” friend…) We know sin because we were born into it. This is what is known as “original sin” (as opposed to “actual sin” which is exactly what it sounds like…the sins we actually commit). Sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden when the serpent deceived Eve and Adam, and they ate of the forbidden fruit. Going back to our topic on the covenant (and here), God had made a covenant with Adam and Eve, and they broke it when they disobeyed His command (“do not eat…”). This sin brings them under condemnation (Romans 1:32, 2:12-14, James 2:9-10) . It brings guilt, which also involves punishment (Romans 3:19, 5:18, Ephesians 2:3). Sounds pretty rosey, eh? (Btw, you can study more on your own in any Systematic Theology book. I have Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology book and use a lot of material from it for my posts.)

Our problem is that we inherit this sin from Adam (and along with that – condemnation, guilt, punishment…death). This is known as the representative theory. Sin inherently corrupts our nature. Another way to look at it is that Adam and Eve were originally made in God’s image, but when they sinned, it corrupted their nature (that’s not to say that we aren’t still made in God’s image, because we are, but now we don’t naturally seek after God since we are corrupt). Adam is known as our “natural head” and was our representative before God in the covenant. When he sinned as our representative, he imputed his sin to us (Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22). TIME OUT.

Yes, I just said imputed. Here’s your big word lesson for the day. The dictionary defines this word as:

to attribute (righteousness, guilt, etc.) to a person or persons vicariously; ascribe as derived from another.

It’s just really ugly. And there’s no way that we can get ourselves out of this mess. That’s why we need a Savior. We need someone who can be our new representative before God to undo what Adam did.

Let’s think about what Christ did (yes, I know, He did a lot of things, but I mean for salvific purposes!). Christ is the second person of the Trinity, and we know that He has always existed. What we also know is that we humans fail miserably at keeping our promises to God, because frankly, we’re not perfect. So we’re trucking along in the OT and God is making all kinds of promises (or covenants) with the Israelites, fully knowing that they really can’t keep up their end of the deal (and for the record, we wouldn’t have been able to do it either). Enter Jesus, stage right. God the Father, being perfectly faithful to Himself and to us, upholds His side of the covenant but then also made a way for humans to keep their end of the deal by sending Jesus. Jesus leaves heaven, while still retaining his deity, and becomes a man. Romans 8:2-4 says,

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

A.maz.ing! (Also if you’d like to know more about why Christ had to die you can view Heb 9:15-22.) Ok so that’s the first key for how this all works. We have right standing before the Father because of Christ. Now, the second key is how what Christ did transfers to us. The phrase “in Christ” is really the first clue. We are literally “in” Christ. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:5-6,

even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

We were dead, so Christ died to fix it. We couldn’t save ourselves, so God raised Him from the dead, making us alive just as Christ also became alive. He raised Christ up and now He is seated in heaven at the Father’s right hand, we are seated with Christ in heaven.

Come again? I don’t recall ever being in heaven, did you? No near death, extra supernatural experiences here last time I checked.

So how are we seated with Christ? Jesus became our representative to the Father. He goes before the Father on our behalf, making atonement for us, and interceding for us. Check out 2 Corinthians 5:21:

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

This process is what theologians call the “imputation of righteousness”. There’s that big fancy word that you can toss around in casual conversation again! (I found a good source from John Piper on this if anyone wants to read more at desiringgod.org.) To explain this a little further, “impute” does not equal ”impart”. God imparts gifts or fruit to us, but He doesn’t impart righteousness. God imputes righteousness to us which means He credits us with HIS righteousness. You’ve all heard this before (i.e. God credited it to [Abraham] as righteousness), you just didn’t know it was called the “imputation of righteousness!” (or that there was such a fancy way of speaking about it) Paul says it this way in Romans 4:6, 11:

just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them

God credits us with everything that Christ is. Where it can be said of Christ that He is holy, it can be said of us that we are holy. I gain access to the Father because Christ satisfied the demands of the holy God through His death, and God the Father accepted His sacrifice as a pleasing aroma when Christ ascended to heaven like the smoke from a sacrifice. Christ has constant and unhindered access to His Father and lives to intercede on our behalf! I stand as a free woman without the glaring sentence of condemnation for all eternity because Jesus took my sentence (Colossians 2:14) and nailed it to the cross. He stood condemned so that I wouldn’t be. So when Paul writes about being “in Christ,” now you know he really, literally meant it.

Sin problem solved.

Jesus image with 2 Cor 5.21