Thursday, July 26, 2012

Missions in Titus

In a letter about helping bring about godliness and order in the church, does Paul write anything about missions? Not surprisingly, the answer is yes. In fact, we see it right at the opening of this epistle. In Titus 1:1-3, Paul writes:

"Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior."

Regarding missions and evangelism, Paul writes something significant when he says in verse one, "their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness." Paul is concerned not only with people's knowledge of the truth but also with their resultant godliness. In other words, he seeks more than knowledge transfer from him to his hearers. He also expects a life change to result from this knowledge. The life change is a turning from worldliness to godliness.

Much of evangelism is explaining the great truths of the faith. We see Paul repeatedly do this throughout various books of the NT (here's one famous example). There are certain things that anyone must know in order to understand and accept the gospel.

However, intellectual knowledge is not enough. The writers of the NT are clear that those truly in Christ will look different than the world. Jesus tells us that a healthy tree bears good fruit. NT writers tell us again and again that godliness is a character of Christ-followers. In Galatians 5 Paul graphically contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit.

All this informs how we should share the gospel. If we only emphasize truths about God we fail to share the entire gospel. One blessing of the gospel is that we are freed from the power of sin to live a life of godliness. However, godliness is not an option. It requires work and sacrifice. The Spirit empowers it, but we must put forth effort.

This in no way implies that we save ourselves in any way. God does all that. The fruit bearing, or evidence, of our salvation is something we play a part in. Martin Luther said (paraphrasing since he actually would have written it in Latin and/or German), "Faith alone saves but saving faith is never alone."

Let us share the entire gospel. Part of this is stressing that God both expects and empowers godliness in his people.

To read any post in this series, click here.

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