This morning, we will complete the book of Titus.
It is my prayer that this book has given you and I some insight into the importance of Church organization, the need for Elders, sound teaching, and…
The dangers of false teaching.
If you were not with us last week, we witnessed Paul imploring Titus to remind the believers in Crete of what grace looks like applied in godly living.
We contrasted the faithfulness of those who remain in the faith versus those whose hearts become turned from the truth of the Gospel.
Paul’s focus in last week’s study showed us that it was God’s grace and kindness that initiated this new life.
You and I as believers in Jesus must recognize that the fruitfulness of our lives is a result of the faithfulness and kindness of God.
We came to bear with the reality that this grace of God reached the worst of us.
And if it could reach the worst of us, it most certainly reached the Cretan and therefore could reach what we would deem the worst in society.
We also realized that the need to perform as Christians is not only tiring work but it is unnecessary work.
Why? Because everything that we are in Christ and everything that we do for Christ is because of Christ.
The reality is, the truth of the Gospel realized in our hearts and minds transforms our way of life and thinking.
Paul concluded in verse 8 that what is profitable and good for the believer is a right Gospel accompanied with right living.
And because the Gospel demands a response, it demands not just partial obedience but full obedience and will render a whole-life change.
If I were to put a tag on the text this morning it would be “Fruitfulness in Faithfulness”
Pick me up in Titus 3:9-15
If you were to ask a horticulturist what is the most exciting and rewarding moments within their profession, you will more than likely hear two things.
The first will be planting and the second, seeing the harvest.
Planting because there is excitement in what is being sown with the hope that with the right love, care, and cultivation that it will bear fruit.
Being able to witness the harvest and see the fruit or result that comes from it is a testament to the grace and care that was provided.
If you don’t tend to the garden it becomes susceptible to weeds and other irritants that can cause disruption and distress.
Ultimately resulting in hindrance to the growth.
These last seven verses of the letter of Paul to Titus will show the contrasting results between sound teaching versus false teaching.
And it will describe in a very vivid and concise manner, what obedience and submission to the scriptures look like…
Versus disobedience and rebellion to the scriptures.
What we will witness this morning is, if we do not take sound teaching, church organization, and the whole counsel of God seriously
It can lead down a terrible path of confusion, isolation, and destruction.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, pick me up in verse 9 of Titus Chapter 3.
Our pick-up point this morning sets us in the middle of a hard break.
We recently discussed the various things that Paul commands Titus to remind the believers in these home churches in Crete.
These things were not only to be remembered but to be practiced and lived out.
It is towards the end of verse 8 that the Apostle Paul makes mention that “….These things are good and profitable for men.”
If you weren’t with us last week, “these things” that Paul is referring to is:
Being submissive to governing authorities, to be obedient ready for every good deed, and to be gentle and considerable to all men.
Paul juxtaposes the things that we should be reminded of and the things that we are to do (v.1-8) with that of the things that the believer should avoid doing.
Paul mentions that the believer should avoid doing several things:
The believer should avoid:
Disputes about the Law
Towards the beginning of our study, we mentioned a group of people within this body of believers called Judaizers.
These false teachers would use the Gospel message as a means to cause new believers to observe the Law versus that of grace.
The false teacher’s primary motive centered on the idea of religious babble versus the supremacy of Christ and His work on the cross.
Apparently, these false teachers were so skillful at what they did that there were some believers who fell victim to their empty talk.
As believers, we must be cautious of people who place unnecessary burdens upon believers in Christ.
Especially false teachers that use the gift of gab and oratory skills to infiltrate the church with false teaching.
Paul mentions this same thing to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:3-4, check it out.
Paul’s instructions for Titus regarding the false teacher are very straightforward.
Pay these men no mind, for the things that they say are useless and are not profitable for anyone to hear.
Not only is the heretical teaching of the false teacher useless, but it is dangerous.
This is why it is so important that any man that the pastor invites into this pulpit must be a man of sound teaching and right living.
False teaching is so dangerous to those that hear it, especially those who are new to the faith, that it can cause what Paul says, “ruin” to the hearer.
The word “avoid” in Greek is a harsh word. It is periistēmi. It means to stand around or to shun.
The imagery here is someone being accused of something and those who find odds with what is being stated surround them with disapproval.
Paul continues in verses 10 and 11.
I need us to pay careful attention here to the text. This is paramount for us to understand the importance of sound teaching and church discipline.
We have discussed that it is biblical and necessary for Elders to be established in churches because they bring about order and governance to protect the flock.
Church discipline is a subject that to some is extremely sensitive because in some places this was abused.
In another sense, the proper actions were not accomplished in grace.
So it is my prayer that we can understand the importance of church discipline and its desired result.
Paul starts off by saying that the believer in the body is to “reject a divisive person…”
This word “reject” in the Greek is paraiteomai (par-ahee-teh'-om-ahee). It means to not associate with or to reject this person, to shun.
But I want you to pay close attention to the later half of this verse. Paul mentions “after a first and second warning”.
This person that Paul is speaking about has clearly heard the truth of the Gospel but has shown no repentance.
This brings up an interesting question. Was this person in this gospel community ever a believer in Jesus in the first place?
I want to go back to our previous encounter with Simon the Magician and share some revelation that the Lord showed me in my study.
The text will be a bit lengthy but bear with me:
Friends, after spending some time in the text and examining the words and actions of Simon the magician it became very clear – Simon never really believed.
Simon the Magician came across information about the Gospel on an intellectual level, probably saw some emotional response, and went along with what he saw.
This becomes confirmed because verse 17 shows us that the Apostles were laying hands for folks to receive the Holy Spirit.
Remember in our previous teaching, the Holy Spirit provides rebirth and the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and conforms us to the image of Jesus.
But what we see with Simon is completely opposite. Instead, Simon sees the gift of the Spirit and seeks to gain it by financial means.
This is why Peter’s rebuke is so harsh and is why in verse 22, Peter tells Simon to repent.
However, Simon’s response is different. Check out verse 24:
Friends, there is no demonstration of relationship nor a repentant heart from Simon the magician. Rather than Simon seeking repentance himself (which he can’t because he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit) he seeks Peter to pray for him instead.
Simon the magician was simply in the crowd but not a part of the gospel community.
And just like that, we can witness men and women who claim to know God on an intellectual level, but their hearts are far from Him.
These men that Paul is speaking about in Titus 3:10-11 are either one or two things:
1) They are at best misguided carnal Christians who will need to be disciplined by the Lord and repent or,
2) Unbelieving wolves in sheep’s clothing
Friends, in all of this I want you to see the grace of God regarding those in whom are the Lord’s but have been caught up in lies.
These individuals within this body who have been caught up in false teaching are given the opportunity to be restored into the community.
This shows us something for certain: Church discipline is intended to restore a brother or sister in Christ and not lose them in fellowship.
If grace is not the first means to bring that person back to the fold, then we are operating outside of the scriptures.
Pay attention to what happens if this believer does not come to grips with the reality that their divisiveness is causing chaos.
Paul says after you have given them opportunity twice and tried to win them over, but they are not repentant, reject them. Have nothing to do with them.
Paul makes it extremely clear, there is nothing that can be done after that.
If they do not heed to the discipline of leadership in the church, you hand them over to their devices in hopes that repentance is the result.
If repentance is not the result, friends there was no belief to begin with.
True repentance, not emotionalism or intellectualism, is the indication of a truly changed behavior.
Check out how Paul had to deal with two individuals who were once a part of a church community according to 1 Timothy 1:18-20.
Here is what Paul said:
Not much is known regarding Hymenaeus or Alexander, but what is known about these men is that they were examples of a shipwrecked faith.
Some scholars record that Hymenaeus may be the heretic that Paul calls out in 2 Timothy.
We also see a more personal pain that Paul experienced by Alexander in 2 Timothy 4:14.
They are to be handed over to the Lord.
The goal is to restore that brother or sister into right relationship with God if they have truly been called of God.
And it becomes clear that this means of discipline will be accomplished by God Himself if they are truly His.
Here is the question we have to ask ourselves this morning regarding sound teaching. What should be the result of right teaching?
That answer, hopefully over the course of this study should be clear… and that is Right Living.
That there should be good fruit that is displayed from the right teaching that is being taught in churches, more specifically the churches in Crete.
The opposite of this is also true. The result of false teaching leads to unprofitable and unproductive lives.
What type of witness does this give people who are non-believers looking at the church?
How does wrong living and wrong teaching make the Gospel message attractive?
Friends, false teaching not only makes the Gospel non-attractive, but it leaves those who hear and follow it, self-condemned.
If the Gospel frees us from condemnation according to Romans 8:1, then a false Gospel permits sin and keeps you slave to it.
But understand how this self-condemnation comes about. It comes about because that individual submits to their own desires and truth.
Rather than submitting to the truth of the Gospel that they have heard soundly through the Apostle’s teaching.
They ultimately become condemned by their own actions and abuse the grace of God that has been richly shown.
Paul mentions this very thing in Romans 6:1
If we are not sound and sensible in our theology, we open the door for corrosion and self-condemnation.
I want to paint one more picture for us regarding false teaching and how serious we need to be about weeding it out and tearing it down within the church.
Check out what Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:16-18, regarding the result of false teaching.
There’s that word again, “avoid”. Avoid these things, because they lead to further ungodliness.
But check out what Paul mentions regarding what this type of talk does. He says it spreads like gangrene.
For those of you who are not familiar with Gangrene it is death of body tissue due to a lack of blood flow or a serious bacterial infection.
I believe this type of infection paints the most accurate picture of how false teaching corrupts believers.
Here is a graphic provided by 7Orange Hospital to illustrate how gangrene develops. [ Slide 1A]
As you can see, Stage 0 is very inconspicuous, to the point where it is not even noticeable.
Stage 1, you can see something has developed but it looks familiar. In this image it’s just an ulcer.
By the time you get to Stage 2 and 3, your tissue is already corroding from the inside out, until eventually your tissue is rotted out and bone is exposed.
If this doesn’t paint a picture for you regarding false teaching, I don’t know what will.
False teaching starts off in the same way. Very subtle, very inconspicuous.
It will sound normal, look normal, and even feel normal.
This is why the Apostle Paul mentions that not being sound in the faith can cause your faith to be shipwrecked.
The Gospel does not change. The word of God does not shift to and fro. The word of God stands forever.
Isaiah 40:8 says this:
The followers of these false teachers, by the grace of God, are given the opportunity to repent (1st and 2nd warning) and to commune back with the fellowship.
However, if the false teaching they have heard has settled into their hearts and minds, it was recommended that they be removed from the fellowship.
Because once you have one who is seeped in false teaching, like gangrene, if not rooted out, will spread like wildfire.
It is here that Paul moves towards his closing remarks and personal concerns. Check out verse 12 and 13.
Verse 12 introduces us to some men that were not previously mentioned in this book.
These two men are Artemas and Tychicus.
These two men, unlike the false teachers we previously discussed, are men that Paul is considering to take over for Titus while he is with Paul.
I want to briefly contrast Artemas and Tychicus with that of Hymenaeus and Alexander because Artemas and Tychicus have not abandoned the faith.
We see that Paul is mentioning to Titus that he will either send Artemas or Tychicus to relieve Titus of his duties.
One could imagine that the weight and the responsibility of what Titus had to take on was a heavy burden to say the least.
And with Paul requesting Titus to come with him to Nicopolis it would mean that someone faithful, beloved, and sound would have to step up.
In antiquity, this would be known as a “letter of recommendation”.
Individuals of high stature would recommend individuals based upon their character and ability to do a certain task.
In this case, Paul shares with Titus and the congregation that will be hearing this that the one in whom will be recommended to take over for Titus is not a “b team" or "c team” kind of member.
When I was a high school teacher one of the most painful things to witness in the classrooms was when another teacher was absent and they had a substitute.
The students knew that the moment they had a substitute teacher that it was fair game to act up and act out however they wanted.
The reason being is because the students did not see that substitute teacher as a person who carried the same weight, authority, and honor as their teacher.
So when you have a substitute teacher in the mix of unruly high school students, it’s a recipe for disaster.
So imagine for a moment what could have been spinning in the minds of these false teachers and heretics within these gospel communities as they hear Titus will be visiting Paul.
They see this as an opportunity to continue in their ways of promoting and preaching false doctrine.
However, Paul is already ahead of the game here.
So Paul addresses in this letter to Titus that is being read aloud to all the network of churches that there will be someone who is just as competent as Titus.
What we can surmise from the text is that Paul’s recommendation to send either Artemas or Tychicus was well thought out.
This brings out an interesting point in the text. When it comes down to training and equipping the next generation of ministers and Pastors, they must be observed.
If time is not poured into these men that will lead these churches and their lives observed in light of the text, then these are not worthy men.
2 Timothy 2:2, Paul says it this way:
Entrusting the work of the ministry to faithful men requires that their lives have been observed and examined.
This does not mean that they live perfect lives. There is no perfect person.
However, what this does mean is that these men are anchored in sound doctrine and teaching and when they do sin they are repentant.
Their hearts are not warped with their own desires and worldly pleasures but they fully submit themselves under the scriptures.
They make their lives available to the spiritual authority that God has established in the Elders and church leadership.
Not only are the lives of these men faithful to the text but they are faithful to the work of the Spirit in their hearts and lives.
So the man that Paul will send to relieve Titus is a man that Paul has walked with them, equipped them, trained them, and when needed, corrected them.
I hope that you see the organization within the church is meant to steer you into a deeper love for Jesus and need to grow in His grace.
We can deduce from reading through the scriptures that Artemas would be the one Paul sends to Titus.
We come to this conclusion based upon the scriptures, wherein 2 Timothy 4:12, Paul says this:
Paul mentions to Titus in verse 12 of Chapter 3 that he is to meet him there at Nicopolis.
What the Greek wording suggests here is that Paul is not yet at Nicopolis, himself, however that is where he desires to go for the winter.
Some scholars suggest that this letter to Titus was written during the summer which would allow Titus ample time to travel there.
Before we move forward from this part of the text, there is a question that we should be asking ourselves.
Why does the text provide the location for meeting at Nicopolis? What is the significance in Paul including this here.
As we know, everything in the bible from every small detail to every large detail is there for a purpose and a reason.
Nicopolis is not a vacation spot for Paul to stay at and relax for a time, but it is a place of great missional and evangelical work.
The name Nicopolis means “city of victory”and was the largest city on the northwest coast of the Ambracian Gulf, off the Adriatic Sea. [ Slide 2A]
This was ultimately a strategic place for Paul to continue furthering the Gospel message further west.
And who better to accompany Paul to establish this work of organization once again in a secular city, than Titus himself.
If there is something that we should see from the text here it is that:
1. Sound men must be taught well to accomplish the missional work of God in planting churches and leading churches.
2. The work of sharing the Gospel is never over.
3. Active participation in Gospel ministry provides opportunities to engage in the salvific work that God has orchestrated in eternity past.
Paul continues in verse 13 by saying “Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them.”
Here we have again, other faithful men who have been faithful to the teaching of the Apostles and committed to the faith.
We know this because Paul has included their names in this letter to give honor to these men who are faithful to the work of the ministry.
Check out what Paul tells Titus regarding their needs.
He says help Zenas and Apollos on their way so that they “lack nothing”.
This language should sound familiar to us as the church just finished teaching through the book of Philippians.
We became familiar with a church in Philippi that were known for their participation in Gospel ministry in their giving and meeting needs.
Paul mentions here to Titus and to those hearing the letter read aloud that the needs of these brothers need to be met.
And Paul makes mention that they should lack nothing in their need.
What do you see Paul doing here?
He is giving these believers in Crete the opportunity to put into practice what they have learned and what they believe.
Not only does Paul provide examples of godly, faithful men before them in an incarnational manner but he also shows them in practice how to serve needs.
We cannot just be a church known by our theology but not known by our love for one another!
We cannot be a church known by our expository preaching but yet we don’t want to submit to church discipline and correction.
We can’t just be a redeemed church called out by God but yet not bear the fruit of a church that is marked by God.
Paul puts it out on the table for the Christians in Crete: Who are you going to be?
Are you going to live in a way that reflects what Christ has done richly in you by saving you and redeeming you?
Or are you going to enjoy the benefits of knowing you are saved without living like you are saved?
I love how Paul leads right on into verse 14. Paul says:
“Our people”, meaning those in the body, apart of the fellowship, who have been saved and are following sound teaching. They must learn to engage in good deeds.
The Greek word for “learn” here is manthanō. It simply means to learn by study, by practice, and by experience.
How can any of us learn if we have never been given the opportunity to exercise the ability to engage in the work of ministry?
This is why Pastor Steve never believed in doing spiritual gifts classes or tests.
You will come to know how God has gifted you not by a mere exam but by you putting yourself to the test and participating in the body.
How can you participate in the missional work in the world? You put your resources where your mouth is.
How can you see God impact the children in Children’s ministry? Get up and volunteer.
There is work to be done and there are heavenly rewards to be attained, but you’ll never know until you get out there and participate.
The Gospel giants that we know in the bible who God used in a mighty way weren’t extraordinary people.
They were sinful, jacked up, and failed time and time again.
But the moment that Jesus provided an opportunity to engage and participate in the Gospel ministry, they jumped in head first.
We can look around our church and see that there are urgent needs to be addressed. One we know of is Children’s ministry needs volunteers.
Another need that is there is assisting with preparing the baptistry every 3rd Sunday of the month.
But then there are many needs outside of the church. Missional needs, communal needs, and the list can go on and on.
But if we are not helping meet the needs of those around us by living in a way that reflects this glorious life in Christ, we miss the point.
You were not saved to sit. You were saved to serve your Master, Jesus Christ in obedience.
There is always fruitfulness in faithfulness!
As I always pray, we MUST be effectual doers of the word of God and not simply hearers that delude themselves.
Paul leaves us with this last verse as he does in a typical Pauline way.
You have to love Paul’s straightforwardness in the text, I hope you see it here.
He starts by saying all who are with me, that are growing in grace and the knowledge of Christ extend a warm greeting to you.
But then he mentions the next part:
“Greet those who love us in the faith”
Clearly, Paul is talking directly to the men and women in these Cretan churches who are sound in the faith.
Paul’s greeting completely removes and even fails to extend greetings and love to the false teachers in the mix.
It’s that nice gut punch reality that Paul has nothing to extend or to give the false teacher, except for a warm foot to the behind.
You can feel the warmth and genuineness of Paul’s love for the Cretan Christians who have stayed the course and are committed to church discipline.
You can feel the love that Paul has for each member to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.
He then says “Grace be with you all.”
It is my prayer that each of us will continue to have our eyes fixed on this eternal hope of Christ and his promise to us of eternal life.
That as we continue this faith walk in Christ that we remain faithful to the text and sound teaching of Doctrine.
It will be God’s grace that keeps us in all things and may you always remember that.