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March 4, 2022 12:00 am
One of the greatest criticisms of Christianity unbelievers have is a legitimate one: the Church is so divided.
Genealogies status between Gentiles and Jews and Jews all over the head of the Gentiles were the apostles say tribe is this one of that one where we are descendents of that same tribe to produce the great prophet.
Can you imagine the potential conflict when Titus fulfills its mission from chapter 1 and verse 52 point elders. He chooses that unconnected unimpressive Gentile and overlooks Mr. so take steps to combat strife. One of the greatest criticisms of Christianity from unbelievers is really a legitimate church is so divided. Christians can't seem to get along.
This was a growing problem in the church at Crete during Paul's day, Paul wrote about it in the book of Titus is warning to that church rings true for us today. One of the tools in our arsenal is learning to let go of minor issues.
Stephen explores this and more today.
This lesson is called learning the art of refusal here Stephen Devi with today's message I just met this past week on Johnny young police officer who amateur how I got started, but he began podcasting our sermons while on duty he'd listen to them and one day he pulled over and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. He and his wife are now Cummings all brand-new.
We get older. Believers in young brand-new believers with people in the class born in the South. People moved from the North from the West from up east. We have this class, Caucasian, African, Asian, Hispanic in a mixture of a lot of others. We got singles with married couples. We have parents with children and parents without children or couples without children. Some parents are homeschooling Somerset unit is a public school in some are sending their kids to Christian school.
I am able to tell my wife and I did all three homeschool public school Christians go. I can say with authority, none of them work perfectly all add more perfectly the myriad of varieties represented in one new members class in your thinking how in the world are we ever going to get along. Maybe you're wondering if we would believers on the island of Crete get along yet descendents of Gentile pirates and historic Jewish converts. Some of them are poor.
Some of them are wealthy. Some of them aren't educated. Paul will mention one of the end of the letter that an attorney highly educated summary of any people who grew up under the influence of the scenes. I mean they were so liturgical they had ceremony upon ceremony they would need a meal when a ceremonial cleansing, they would come together and eat meals together wearing special clothing ceremonially plans and that person gets converted times the faith stands in the assembly next to a Gentile. That doesn't bathe. Right you have people coming in with all kinds of religious traditions, and some coming from idolatrous background. Everybody came into the faith and into that assembly by means of the cross where their sins were washed away but opinions tend to stick. Funny how that happens.
Paul effectively tells Titus again. I need to remind them that there are opinions and I may have the lineage of rabbinical traditions, but the word is in generally make that clear.
They may have dearly held beliefs but may not be wrong, but are not to be communicated is the model tell them what to leave at the buffet line and not take with them to the table to run profitable, they are worthless to reckon of your spiritual fruit.
Even if you win the argument, it will not advance the gospel without a clear text of Scripture, the interpretation can take on an authority of whoever is dispensing rabbis of old with her volumes of opinions and speculations taught as doctrine and you end up with a no and his family being protected by liens and feeding a king out of compassion with some huge monstrous animal in tow and getting an olive leaf from the garden of Eden at the end of the day. Not that advances the gospel should recently with my penis class my growing opinion that we ought to be wearing white clothing. We were told in Revelation or future wardrobe is going to be triumphant robes of white clean linen indicative of victory in battle. In light of that coming day. I mean why not. We ought even now begin to wear white in anticipation of our final victory with Christ as we eventually come. Revelation 19 says, with Christ wearing the white on the stallions of white. So let's start wearing white clothing course they smile and I think people in my leg and I laugh and say, of course, I could be serious to read a quote to them from one church leader together following the second century and he was serious as he preached and taught a quote for sake colored clothing for sake colored clothing remove everything in your wardrobe that is not white. He goes on, though no longer sleep on a soft pillow or take warm bad's. If you are sincere about following Christ, especially the newer believers of though yeah I'm sincere. Tell me if you are sincere about following Christ never shave your beard for the shave is an attempt to improve on the work of him who created us, can help but laugh and read a quote because I grew up in a circle of churches that believe that if you didn't shave sending any facial hair was tantamount to rebellion if you were really sincere about following Christ. You shaved on the F's. Here's a guy preaching in the second century that if you did shave you were sitting. And guess what the Bible says about either side of that argument.
Nothing unless you twist some Scripture come up with your own interpretation. This in any generation. There are plenty of customers that are really unfruitful. I would imagine you know whether or not global warming is make-believe for drilling offshore is a good idea of gun control is a bad thing under control is a waste of money if you should only be eating organic foods to prove you're really taking care of God's vessel of the ought to be driving electric car show you're really showing good sense taking care of God's planet. If you're feeding your cats and your dogs expensive food that contains vegetables because your dog needs to eat vegetables like you do.
Your dog needs to eat that That's what you ought there's some controversy for you will hear about that let 'er rip.
I mean let's hash out your views on a thousand things. Parenting styles and worship styles, personal convictions or preferences. An array of opinions and the traditions and secondary issues that in an assembly can quickly elevate to becoming equal to doctrine Jesus face that he told the Pharisees are teaching the traditions of men as doctrine. You're taking all your speculations and all your opinions and your elevating it to the level of this is God's truth. It is fruitless to see the apostle Paul is been around the block a few times.
His plan a few churches in those Titus is interfaces kind of threat to be effective and fruitful ministry among the churches on the island of Crete.
All of the non-saving secondary non-doctrinal controversies and to change their name over generations. I mean, isn't it true that the church is not so much defeated she is distracted, we create controversy without any biblical injunction or even precedent and just, shrivels up the demonstration of grace wonder Paul would say that Ephesians be diligent here something to really pursue. Keep the unity of the spirit of the bond of peace. Wonder, he effectively reinforces the Titus, listen, develop the art of refusal to say no to be surrounded by buffet opinions and speculations stick to the word, not some strange unique original interpretation protect the church from loading up on a lot of stuff that nothing more than make her unprofitable worthless. Secondly, verse nine says to Sean, foolish controversies, but also to avoid genealogies. This is going to affect especially the Jewish believer in the Jewish audience. I think there are ways that it would affect people in our community see why in a minute. The Jewish people meticulously investigated and documented their family line.
Their family tree that it provided for them a sense of superiority. I belong to this tribe or that tribe, or a descendent of that land or this claim and that would creep into the church as well. If they weren't careful genealogies could determine the status ancestral dominance could could lead into authority going especially divisive between Gentiles and Jews mean Jews could hold over the head of the Gentiles look were connected to the apostles were in the same tribe as this one or that one where we are descendents of that same tribe to produce the great prophet and we as a Jewish people gave you the word of God and and was through the Royal Oak tribe of Judah. We delivered the Messiah so you got a guy who is descending from the tribe of Judah he's converted. He comes into the church and he got this Gentile is not related. Anybody can you imagine the potential conflict when Titus fulfills his mission from chapter 1 and verse five to appoint elders. He chooses that unconnected unimpressive Gentile and overlooks Mr. so-and-so is descended from such and such a truck. We tend to do that in different ways in the church so you're connected to so-and-so or you make so much money are you do this or you do that, here's your title and you come in here and will just come roll out the red carpet. This is a distraction that the only genealogies that matter are those delivered to us in the word as it relates to proving that Jesus Christ through both Joseph and Mary had legal and familiar right to sit on the throne of David, which is a messianic promise of the kingdom yet to come. The only genealogy that matters to any of us is that we belong to the family tree of God by faith in Christ statement. I mean, that's it that we have by receiving Jesus Christ become a child of God we been put in that family tree that matters. Paul effectively says start living now in light of the value of that family tree. Thirdly, Paul mentions the distraction of strife verse nine, that's just time this categorical word if you felt like you've been able to slip around the other two will this would catches us all strife fussing, quarreling, arguing the idea that Paul was warning the church is what not to do, but is also implying release it is in the text is the implication of the churches are already involved in and I would have little doubt they were because the controversial nature of Titus mission that we learned in an earlier text that Paul is bringing to the body through Titus this encouragement to revel in the fact member and a former study that they've been ambushed by the grace and goodness of God. They have been ambushed by a gracious God. So what did we learn from the example of our Lord. Well, we learned that ambushed people to be learn how to ambush them with grace and kindness is interesting and unrelated to my study with Jim symbolism and wanted to use as an illustration. He pesters the church that his wife wrote the song, the choir sang earlier the Brooklyn Tabernacle you talk to an interview recently how he challenges the new members to join the church to not speak critically or unkindly about any other member. Instead of talking to them directly made this comment to this day. Every time we receive new members.
I say much the same thing. That's because I know what most easily destroys the church is not going to be crack cocaine government oppression or even a lack of funds. Rather, it is this kind of strife grieves the spirit of God like Pentecost a long time, professor of Bible exposition friend tells of one church split that was so serious.
Each side filed a lawsuit to dispossess the other side from church property. The church brought their case to civil court and the judge.
Fortunately enough, through without saying it didn't belong here and so they took it to denominational leadership for church court, the court made its decision and awarded the church property to one of the two factions.
The losers withdrew and formed another church in the area was interesting and the tragic was that in the course of the proceedings.
I read the church leadership found that the origin of the conflict.
The church conflict had begun at a church dinner when an older church member received the smaller slice of meat than the child seated next to an accusation was made and was responded to and then it escalated and it became personal and he will begin to take sides with the older believer in and then the younger child and and soon all kinds of things.
It was a real food strife accusations made church divided strife is an ever present potential distraction waiting to happen. Paul knew it, and so he did one and the letter without saying her some things to avoid because of just lead to strife. Strife reduces the gospel to personality conflicts, strife dissolves the unity of church and click send in circles, strife refuses to listen to reason and it arrives on rumor and an emotion. I mean, I've been amazed at hearing some of the people and great houses. We met personally talking with some of the rumors they heard about this church which kept them from coming for a while.
What I'm telling you we we heard from somebody needs to come here that when the church service starts. They lock these doors and you cannot get out. I think that's a great idea was that if you go to that church and if you want to join.
You got to give the pastor a copy of your of your previous 1040 tax statement and any determined that you'll give up to 30%. I love that was a great idea to please rumors that the real value. He imagined I mean literally believing that stuff.
Mr. strife kind of invites the enemy inside the church.
You know it isn't some wild rumor out there that's that's hurting us is when we invite him to come and join us. He's delighted to stir up trouble. In fact, he lives to engage in one of the seven things were told by Proverbs or by Solomon in Proverbs 619 that he hates the seventh in the list is that he hates the one who spreads strife, constantly stirring the pot strife literally invites the devil to church in NY with the devil ever need to attack a church that allows him to join one more Paul at the fourth and final word in this list of distractions. Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies in strife and notice and disputes about the law church again, especially in this generation is going to be embroiled and will be for decades, and how the law of Moses applies to this dispensation.
How does that old covenant light of the new covenant. How do what we do relate to what were supposed to keep doing that all kinds of thing to deal with. But there is a relationship to the church today and what we find in the Bible and anyone of these dispensations or these covenants that applies today. That's why careful study patients. Teaching is so critical. A major division is already been avoided that require counsel in acts chapter 15 as Peter and James and Paul will lead the congregation at large to a decision of wisdom and grace no longer required Gentiles to effectively become Jews in order to be welcomed into the church they would have debates for years of what you could or couldn't do on Saturday Sabbath. Those debates continue to this day they would today when I get pick up a child and caring to another room of that would be bearing the burden on the Sabbath, embroiled in all these kinds of things as the church shifted back. Chapter 22 worshiping on the Lord's day saying the long farewell to the synagogue, and eventually to this meeting house of believers celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you can imagine in that transition. All kinds of heated debates and arguments Titus was in the middle of the middle needed to stand against those who wanted the church to become just another new outpost of Judaism would correct the gospel destroy the grace of God affect the Greek language uses the root word for disputes here. This fourth distractions. The same root word for sword both divide don't think this word then carries this nuance of violence. It carries this idea effective.
Even use for physical combat war. It's the escalation that leads to harm judgment all commenting on this verse wrote that he was aware to seminary students who were disciplined after their quarrel on the doctrine of sanctification escalated to a fistfight and how ironic is that we argue about how to live a holy life and I'm losing Arizona punch you in the nose makes a lot of sense that tragic thing the church today is the same propensity to disputing over nonessentials as they did on the island of Crete just do that. Don't do it not recommending to do it. I did it my study. Just search Google under the phrase church fights and then hang onto your hat tragic to see the bride of Christ tripping while she walks down the aisle to see her shoes soiled her dress torn and ripped skirmish after skirmish to see the bride of Christ bears her groom to see the bride act in a way that would never imagine a bride with act awaiting for her.
Paul writes avoid this shun this turned her face away from don't get involved in even though there are plenty of people in the buffet line and they're just loading it on, don't do it. Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies in strife and disputes about the law. Here's a strategy for avoiding all of it.
This last phrase in verse nine, for they are unprofitable and worthless to break that down quickly into positive statements. Here's how to develop the art of refusal one. Be discerning, that is stay within biblical boundaries. Another words of the Bible is clear and vocal than it is for all of us. It isn't clear, but the spirit of God is leading you to something, make sure you're not violating other Scripture but then do it. Follow-up don't turn it into a mandate or a model.
If the Bible is for the most part quiet. We ought to follow suit. Give your energy.
He said in verse eight, the deeds that the world can see they can see those good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven. That's profitable. Secondly, be determined to keep your focus on the mission, Paul uses the word here at the end of this verse that helps us evaluate what we been arguing about what we been dividing over effectively says notice this look there. These kinds of distractions are unprofitable and worthless uses the word to be translated fruitless, powerless, useless. So in the midst of the argument that you are attempting to win. Who are you discipling.
Who are you winning by faith in Christ to his church.
How are you advancing the gospel of the grace of God, I'm not and were not but were winning the argument get overheated and all wrapped up in point of distraction and discussions opinions and debates that escalated argument clicks in anger and division to the end of the day we really can't point to real tangible eternal lasting spiritual fruit but boy are we right wonder Paul was right. I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you been called with all humility and gentleness, with patients showing tolerance for one another in love. Diligent to preserve unity spirit bond laying down our Dr. Cardinal care for all these other opinions in this buffet line be determined.
Staying within biblical be discerning. Staying focused. These are some very practical principle, and I hope they encouraged you today this is wisdom for the heart with Stephen Devi.
The principles that you learn today are the things that children need to know and understand as well.
However, children learn differently from adults and often they learn best by hearing compelling stories.
Stephen son Seth has a children's book called the great cat spat. It's a beautifully illustrated book that children will love and cherish and, more importantly, it teaches children the important lesson that nobody wins when we end up in needless disputes. If you're a parent or grandparent. This book will make a great addition to your library of children's literature we've also had listeners purchased this book so that they could donate it to their church library and give it as gifts to children and parents that they now this book is available in the resource section of our website. If you prefer, we can give you information on the great cat spat when you call us today. Give us a call 86 648 Bible will help you get as many copies of this resource. Once again it's 86 648 Bible the website that you can use is wisdom online.org. Thanks again for listening today. Stephen will continue through this series from Titus three, next time join us that your unwisdom