CHAPTER 3-ADORNING THE DOCTRINE OF GOD OUR SAVIOUR
The emphasis of Paul's letter to Titus is "Good Works." In Tit 1:16 he writes of those who profess a knowledge of God, but are unto "every good work" reprobates. In Tit 2:7 he exhorts Titus to be a pattern or example of good works. In Tit 2:14 he says that Christ redeemed us that He might have a people of His own "zealous of good works." In Tit 3:1 the exhortation is to obey civil rulers and be "ready to every good work." However, in Tit 3:7 he makes it plain and positive that we are not saved by works of righteousness, but according to His mercy. In Tit 3:8 believers are to "be careful to maintain good works." And in Tit 3:14 we are enjoined to "maintain good works for necessary uses."
Titus, a young Greek, was one of Paul's aides, and was given some hard assignments. He appears to have been stronger than Timothy, both in health and courage. The Gospel of Christ must have first been preached on Island of Crete by the Jews who were at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. Paul and Titus had evidently gone there to develop the work, and when Paul left, Titus remained to "set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city" (Tit 1:5). In other words. Titus was assigned the task of organizing the believers into churches with elders or bishops as leaders and overseers. The date of the letter was about 65 A.D., some thirty years after the death of Christ.
In this epistle Titus is given the message for various ages and groups: the old, the young, and the slaves. And the motive for all the good works is that the word of God be not blasphemed (Tit 2:5), and that the doctrine of God our Saviour might be adorned (Tit 2:10).
It is a wonderful hope to hold up before Christians, that they may adorn the Gospel of Christ. And this hope was first held up to slaves on the corrupt Island of Crete. It was not the hope of gaining their political and social and economic freedom, but of adorning the doctrine of our Saviour. This is a good place to say that with the Christian it is "Pie in the sky bye and bye." What the believer hope for is laid up for him in heaven "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; "(Col 1:5). Our inheritance is reserved for us in heaven "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1Pe 1:4). Christ did not die to guarantee an easy time down here, but to assure us of a glorious time throughout eternity. This is not to say that Christians should not be interested in human rights and social justice for all people without respect to color, race, or culture. The true believer is conscious of his obligations to do good to all men.
The world judges the church by the way it's members live. Every Christian is a working model of what the church teaches. If you have money to invest, and a promoter comes to you with a fine invention on paper and urges you to help him put it on the market; if you are wise, you will ask for a working model of it. If you had a cancer and someone recommends a certain remedy, you would want to know if there are actual cases of cure. So when a Christian professes he has something that will make a man better-something that will fill a man with new desires, new hopes, and new joys--something that will make one different from his former self, it is quite fair for the world to ask: "Is this so? Has it changed your life? Is your life a working model of Christianity?" The greatest motive any believer can have is to so live that the world will have to admit that there is something to the religion of Jesus Christ.
The thought is this: The doctrine of God our Saviour is more beautiful when embodied in a life. Practice must match profession. The best illustrated Bible is the good works of those who profess to take it as their guide and way of life.
We either adorn the doctrine of God or we give occasion for others to blaspheme it. We are living for Christ or we are against Him. We are a credit to the gospel, or we are a reproach to it. There is no neutral corner, we are either fighting the good fight of faith, or we have surrendered to the devil, the flesh, and the world. There is no sitting on the fence; we are either in the field of GRACE, or in the devil's field of DISGRACE. On the Lord's Day we are in God's house with God's people, or where we should not be; that is, unless providentially hindered.
At a meeting of the Alcoholic Anonymous in Louisville several years ago, the leader went from man to man, and asked, "Why are you here?" And every man gave the same answer: "If I were not here, I would be somewhere drunk. It is my only protection against getting drunk."
What pastor has not been embarrassed by charges brought against his church because of the way members live? Living a godly life may not help you in the eyes of the world, but it will help the church, and keep the doctrine from being blasphemed.
It must be a life that is uniformly and consistently guided by the Word of God. A life is basically different from the ways of the world. A life that is so conspicuous that a microscope is not needed in order to find Christian principles in it. Too many of us appear to be Christians on certain occasions and something else at other times. Like the Galatians, who did run well, but were soon slowed down. Or like Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, as unstable as water: "Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch" (Ge 49:4), no dependence to be put in him. It has been well said that the best ability is dependability. Suppose everybody who has ever joined our church had been faithful to the end--what a church we would have. Nearly everybody, at some time or other, has dabbled in religion, but so many are superficial and do not persevere. Christ said to some Jews who believed on Him. "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed." Joh 8:31. Persevering attachment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour is the grand mark of a born again believer.
Living the Christian life is somewhat like saving money: look after the pennies, nickels, and dimes, and the dollars will take care of themselves. Look after the homely virtues, such as sound speech, honesty in money matters, keeping one's word, dependability in church attendance, constancy in prayer and Bible reading--and the great things will fall in line.
Look how these slaves on the island of Crete were to adorn the doctrine of God. They were to be obedient to their own masters, doing what they were told without any back talk. They were not to steal from their masters, but show fidelity-and in this way they would adorn the doctrine. Christian slaves, and there were many of them in the early church, were different from other slaves. Whatever our relation in society is, we must be different from the outside world, and thus adorn- -beautify the Gospel of Christ.
And now in conclusion.
How will one get the moral and spiritual strength for such a life? Let it be remembered that no one is able of himself for a life that will adorn the doctrine. Christ said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: For without me ye can do nothing" (Joh 15:5). There must be secret communion with Christ, if we are to beautify the Gospel. He must first beautify us before we can beautify Him. We must be on the mountain like Moses in fellowship with Him if we are to come down and walk among men so as to radiate the principles of true religion and adorn the doctrine of God.
The story is told of a 51 year old widow in Oklahoma City who was told by her doctor that because of a heart ailment she had only one year to live. She had worked hard and had saved some money. When she learned of her fate she set aside $10,000 to spend on herself in search of happiness. She asked for advice on how she might spend the money. She was told to travel but she did not like to travel. She was told to buy a new house and a new car, but she said the ones she had were good enough. She was told to go in for night life and "live it up." But she said that when she gambled she always won. Poor deluded woman! And how typical of multitudes who have much to live ON, but nothing to live FOR: no worthy motive and objective in life. Oh, that Grace may be given to both writer and reader, that we might live so as to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour!
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou are mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven,