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Our Fitting Response

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
May 22, 2023 2:00 am

Our Fitting Response

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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May 22, 2023 2:00 am

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If you would open your Bibles to Titus chapter 2, we will be reading the entirety of the second chapter except for verse 15. But before we start, just one comment, Doug reading the high priestly prayer. Any time that I hear that rhetoric, I read in John 17 that prayer, my mind automatically goes to a scene with Jesus and Peter, where Jesus is telling Peter, Satan has requested to sift you, but he goes on and says, but I've prayed for you, and you will not fall. In that prayer that Doug just read, Jesus goes on to pray for us who are going to believe in what the apostles are teaching, and that we are going to be kept. He has prayed for us, his children. We will be kept. And that is a tremendous looking at Peter and his falling and then looking at us and how we fail continually, but Christ in his glory because of his work redeems and keeps us saved, keeps us right with God.

So just wanted to share that before we get into our text for the night. Titus chapter 2, we read this, Paul writes, but as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women, likewise, are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a 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.

Blind servants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything. They are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Let's pray. Father, we come tonight and we ask that your Holy Spirit teach us your word. Drive the truth of the gospel deep within us.

Drive the truth of your love for us deep within us. Father, let us rest on the sound doctrine that you have given. And Lord, we just ask that you teach us it more fully and conform us more to Christ. And it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. As we have walked our way through Titus, as I was getting ready a few weeks ago to work on this message, I was actually only going to do verses 1 through 10 and separate that from verses 11 through 15, the end of the chapter. And we were going to spend a good portion tonight looking at the way in which we are to live. When we are changed by God, the sound doctrine of what a Christian's life looks like. But as I read the text over and over, I kept seeing that I couldn't divorce the first 10 verses from verses 11 through 14.

They can't be separated. And so as I sat down and read through and started to make my own notes, and I started to pull out because there are several commentaries that will separate those verses, and that is a fine thing to do, but if I were to preach it, I would probably preach it wrong, left on its own, because I would preach that we have some kind of ability of our own that Paul is trying to get across to Titus and the Cretans. But when we see, starting in that very first verse, the same refrain we've seen in the last two messages, but as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine, I knew that we needed to make sure that when we use that in verse 1, we tie it to what the sound doctrine truly is that then allows us from verses 2 through 10 to live what Paul is teaching Titus, the Cretans, and us to live.

And so, you know, you've heard over the past two messages the same refrain. Two messages ago when we were looking at the importance of the qualifications of an elder, that ability to teach sound doctrine was high on the priority list. And then a message ago when we looked at that elder and Titus now taking that sound doctrine to shut down or silence false teaching, we spent several sections of each message touching on that sound doctrine. In chapter 2 where we're at tonight, even the Reformation Study Bible that I use, the heading right above chapter 2, teach sound doctrine.

So I would say that sound doctrine is of grave importance for Titus, for the people of Crete, and also for us. The question arises though in our minds when we hear this and repeat it over and over, what truly is that sound doctrine that Paul's referring to? We saw in the very first message, he alluded to it in his greeting, and he contrasted that sound doctrine to the doctrine that was the false teaching at the end of chapter 1. But now in chapter 2 as he opens up in verses 2 through 10, he lays out teachings that are to accord with, or as the ASV translated, which befit the sound doctrine. And there may be times when there are men who take these verses 2 through 10 which are in themselves sound doctrinal teachings, but they may take them and try to craft some type of moralistic living standard that a Christian is to demonstrate in order to be right, and they try to separate Christ from the importance of that. That we in some way, if we can be the things that we're going to touch on from verses 2 through 10, can be right with God outside of Jesus Christ.

Paul doesn't give us that option. He doesn't allow us to replace justification with the work of sanctification. He doesn't allow us, when reading the text as a whole, to do away with the very sound doctrine that's required so we can meet the teachings he is giving for our life and the way we are to live. William Hendrickson and Simon Kistemacher in their commentary stated that this way what that opening teach what accords with sound doctrine means.

They say now to talk what is consistent with sound doctrine because they're using the new revised standard version in their commentary. Now to talk what is consistent with sound doctrine certainly means, as the author conceives it, doctrine and life must harmonize. We find in chapter 2 that Paul clearly sets out for Titus, for the people of Crete, the church at Crete, for us that the sound doctrine in which our lives must be found and he also teaches the results that must be seen in those who are delivered by that sound doctrine. Tonight I would like us to look at three truths from the text and it's almost kind of, again I always talk about the sovereignty of God after hearing Doug's message and then coming and preaching because the three truths that we're going to share is number one, it's grace alone. Number two, it's God's grace that enables us all. And number three, Jesus' great work leads to our fitting response. If you were here this morning, Doug said these words in his sermon, praise God for Jesus, the cross and grace. And that is what Paul is teaching in this text tonight. We are going to hear the exact same message again because it is the central sound doctrine that we must rely on to make us God's children, to make us able to walk as God calls us to walk. The first truth that I would like us to look at, if you would look at your text, verse 11, is this grace alone.

In verse 11 we read, for the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people. Does anybody know what today is? I found out this afternoon so I'm just a bad PCA member as you guys. Today is actually the 50th birthday of the convening in 1973 at Briarwood of the first group to come out of the PCUSA and form the PCA church.

Today is 50 years old. I never thought I would belong to a church that I was older than, but I do. With that said, we're all good reformed Christians here, right? When we read that for the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people, my mind when I read for the grace of God has appeared, it runs of course to Christ, but it also runs to that sola gratia, or sola gratia, however you want to say it. But grace alone, that tremendous cry that we as reformed Christians stand upon from the Reformation. What we find here in Titus 2 as well as in texts like Ephesians 2, 8 and 9, for by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.

What we find is that it is God who is the one that cries out by grace alone. It is God who reveals that truth and it wasn't the Reformation who figured out that the church never had this idea. The church had this idea. Paul is teaching this very idea to Titus right here. The theological truth of by grace alone is laid out in a ton of Paul's writing and a ton of the gospel message itself. It is by grace.

And so when we see this grace alone or sola gratia, it is God who has made that declaration for us. Paul in teaching Titus uses it to tell him that he can rest upon this because in the previous eight verses he has laid out how a Christian is to live and even how Titus is supposed to live and act as a pastor to the church at Crete, but he ties that too for the grace of God has appeared. In verses 7 and 8 Titus is charged with these very words, show yourself in all respect to be a model of good works and in your teaching show integrity, dignity and sound speech that cannot be condemned.

Think about that. Think about somebody sitting across from you and saying from this moment on, as you enter the community day in day out, you have to show yourself continually to be a model of good works, showing integrity, dignity and sound speech and teaching in a way that converts. And if you don't tie it to verse 11, how straining that would be because we can't do it. Titus could not do it, but Paul does not leave Titus. He doesn't leave us older men who are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, older women who are to be referent and not slanderers or slaves to much wine or younger women who are to be self-controlled and pure and working at home or younger men who are to be self-controlled.

We're not left trying to do it on our own because we know if we try to do it on our own, we will fail. This same Paul made that clear in the book of Romans. In chapter 3 verse 23 he says what?

All men sinned or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The book of Romans was penned before Titus. Titus has gone with Paul in his journeys. He has heard Paul's teaching and preaching.

The book of Romans, a lot of Thessalonians, the Corinthian letters have been penned and so the church has these teachings. And if ever, whenever the weight of an office-like pastor is being put upon Titus or as an older man or an older woman or a young man or a young woman are being charged to live a life that shows Jesus Christ, if we think we can do it on our own, that is foolishness. Paul in that same letter to the Roman church in chapter 3 eviscerates our thought process of our own goodness and our own ability.

But Paul does not leave Titus or the Cretans or us to hang and look and say, how can we work harder to be better? But he says these words, the grace of God has appeared. And there's no other reason that God would appear to us other than his deep love for us. John 3.16, For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.

Ephesians 2.4, Because of the great love with which he loved us. When we sit and realize that Paul in his teaching to the pastor at Crete, to the people at Crete and to the people at Grace, that there is a way that our life should reflect Jesus Christ through these sound ways of living. It is not by us figuring out how to do it. It is by grace that has appeared and has given us the ability to do that.

This leads to that second point. And it is God's grace that is an enabling grace to us. Verses 11 and 12, For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled upright and godly lives in the present age. The very grace that we're talking about that is the sound doctrine that we stand on is the very thing that God uses to do what? In verse 12, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled upright and godly lives in the present age. God reveals to us in our fallen state we are unable. Ephesians 2, 1 through 3 says, And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind.

When we read Ephesians 2, 1 through 3, what clicks in your mind if you're looking at Titus? I would say go back to verse 10, for there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. One of the cretins, a prophet of their own, said, There are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. Man left to himself, not just cretins, us, Americans, currently living, left to ourselves. Those are the things that we are outside of Jesus Christ. In Romans 3, 10 through 12, None is righteous, no, not one. No one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside.

Together they have become worthless. No one does good, not even one. Verses 2 through 10 teach five distinct groups, how they should be living. Paul tells Titus, Older men are to live this way.

Older women are to adorn or live this way. Younger women this way, younger men this way, and even slaves. He takes every possible group that there is, rich or poor, male or female, servant or free, and he applies to them that their lives should reflect a certain way. Now, you sit and read that and you realize the Cretans didn't want to be referred to as liars and evil beasts and gluttons. There was philosophies from Greek culture that tried to teach proper ways in which a moral life could be led. There was pleas, I'm sure, from communities on how men and women, how children, how slaves, how rulers should live, but outside of Jesus Christ, the failings were so great in Crete that one of their own said, Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. Outside of Jesus Christ, God says, All of mankind are worthless.

No one does good, not even one. So how are we to do these things? How are we to be sober-minded or dignified?

How are we to be self-controlled? How are we to be sound in faith, love and steadfastness? Titus, called to be a model of good works. How, Paul, how as a pastor of the Gospel am I to do this?

How is the slave able to be well-pleasing and not pilfering, not begrudging his lot in life, but giving honor? God addresses these groups in these eight verses. He is teaching that we are to live a certain way and there is no doubt to what that life should look like, but if divorced from verse 11, we have problems, but it is not divorced from verse 11. We are to live two through 10 based off that very first utterance in Titus 11, A and 12, for the grace of God has appeared, and we're gonna skip the bringing salvation for all people, for the grace of God has appeared, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passion and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age. We're gonna come back to bringing salvation to all people. But it is clear taught that it is by God's grace that we are enabled to renounce ungodliness, that we are enabled now in our person to renounce worldly passions. We are able now not to sin. We are able to live self-controlled and upright and godly lives in the present age. We have no excuse because it is the grace of God that allows and trains and enables, but we still do, don't we?

We still fail. And oh, thank God for that bringing salvation for all people. Because as we fail, even as we've been made alive and enabled, as that old sin nature clings and there are times that we are going to fail to be those things in verses two through 10, we still have Christ Jesus.

He is the one who advocates. He is the one who has taken our sin debt away. And so yes, we do see the grace enables, but Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15, 10 that we must come to a point of understanding ourselves to this level when he says these words. It is by God's grace I am what I am. Do you wake up every morning and go to God in prayer and beg Him to help you through that day to be an honor to His name and not to give in to sin and disgrace it? Do you open your Bible and study who Jesus Christ truly is? The scripture from Genesis to Revelation fully opens Him to us.

Do you study to grow more into Him and be conformed more into His image? It is by God's grace that we are able even to do that. And as we rest more and more upon that grace, you will find you are enabled more and more to live as verses two through 10 call us. The final point that I'd like to look at is the ultimate of this sound doctrine, the sound doctrine is it's by grace alone and it is that grace that enables you to live in the way that you're to live. But point three, truth three, Jesus's great work, that is the foundation that leads us to be able to offer our fitting response to that grace, mercy and love of God. Verses 13 and 14 in our text say this, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, verse 14, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. These verses lay out three powerful truths that are the sound doctrine that enables us to be Christian, to be followers of Jesus Christ. That very first truth laid out in verse 13, we are waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Theologically rich?

Absolutely. Paul is declaring that Jesus is fully God. He is teaching clearly that it is declared by the Holy Spirit written down for us in text that we know is God-breathed that Jesus Christ is fully God.

What's the implication of that? The implication of that is that His work then is effective on our behalf. Jesus left no question to it in the Gospel of John 10.30, I and the Father are one. In 8.58 of that same book, Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am, declaring himself to be God. In John 20.28, Thomas answered him, My Lord and my God and Jesus accepted that worship and didn't turn Him away as we see angels do in Revelation as John repeatedly falls down to them and they stand them up and say, Don't worship us, worship God. In Matthew 17.5, God the Father gives us this same declaration of truth that Jesus is fully God. It says as Jesus was still speaking, When behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice from the cloud said, This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.

Listen to Him. And God the Holy Spirit, John 14.25 and 26, Jesus tells us this, These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you, but the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. So the Holy Spirit declares that Jesus is fully God. Second, from these verses, we see that it's Jesus' work alone that enables. Verse 14 says this, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness or wickedness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession. Jesus set aside His glory, came and took on our form, came under the law, lived what we couldn't live, gave Himself over to accusers who were accusing falsely, died and rose again, and it is fully completed because He is fully God, but then even in this grace, it is He who works to purify for Himself a people. We become purified as we become more into Christ, not as we find ourselves more and more.

There aren't self-help things that Jay can do. There is only Jesus Christ Jay can be lost into. That is what's going to purify me. I can't make my eyes not look where I don't want, but Jesus can.

I can't make my mind not think as the world pulls at it, but Jesus can because Jesus is actively working to purify for Himself you, His people. The final truth out of that verse is we are not only enabled, but even more, we are giving a love and a longing for Him. Verse 13, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. God just doesn't reveal Himself and say, I'm here and Jesus' work, He's okay, and then go about your business. God says, as you read, you're going to see, as the Holy Spirit teaches this word, as you come in prayer, the amount of love that I have for you, and as you experience that love, you're going to love me back. Isn't that the truth in our relationships? My wife loves me more when I am actively showing her love.

If I am distant or cold, I don't want to say she doesn't love me, but she doesn't feel the same, and she'll even ask, why are you so distant? The neat thing is God is never distant. Jesus Christ's work is never distant.

It is always completed. The writer, the book of Hebrews, a one-time sacrifice completed on your behalf. The cross is a finished work. His love demonstrated in ways unimaginable to us. And as we are brought by the Holy Spirit to an understanding of what Christ has done, that he gave himself, that he has redeemed us, and that he purifies us, it drives us to a love that wants to do works, to honor his name. So tonight, as we close and we look at the truth of chapter 2, we are called to be sober-minded and dignified and self-controlled, sound in faith, love and steadfastness.

We're not to be irreverent or slanderers or drunks. We are to be submissive and servants of one another. We are to be moral, loving people. And this teaching can only occur if we find ourselves in Christ Jesus, the one who has done it all for us. David Platt on this passage uses a Martin Luther quote.

I want to read it to you. It says, this passage shows us that the grace of God is the foundation for godly living in the here and now. It is rooted in Christ's past work on the cross and the promise of his future return. Martin Luther summarized how we ought to live in the light of this passage, and I want you to hear this. He said, I live as though Christ died yesterday, rose again today, and is coming tomorrow. Our present pursuit of godliness is sandwiched in between the death and the resurrection of his second coming. That's where we stand, folks.

That's where we're at tonight. As we approach this table tonight, it is the very thing that dug in his message this morning. We are praising God for Jesus, the cross, and for grace. And it is grace alone by a loving God who has called you to him that will enable us to do zealous for good works and be able to be the people of verses two through 10 that Paul calls us to be. Let's pray. Father, we pray tonight that you just, with your Holy Spirit, drive us to love you more, for us to come together now after you reveal in your word that Jesus Christ is God and Savior, that it is he who has redeemed us, that it is he who is purifying us. As we come to his table tonight, Father, I just pray that you develop in our hearts, our minds, a love for Christ that just, Lord, conforms us more and more and honors your name in the way we live day to day. And it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-21 20:22:44 / 2023-05-21 20:34:10 / 11

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