Share This Episode
Wisdom for the Heart Dr. Stephen Davey Logo

Wax Free ... Sun Tested, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 10, 2022 12:00 am

Wax Free ... Sun Tested, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1324 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.


March 10, 2022 12:00 am

We sometimes make the mistake of thinking that Paul had all the answers to life's questions. We think he always knew where God wanted him to go next, and that he had the Christian life all figured out. But thankfully, Paul himself tells us the opposite. Today Stephen reminds us that remarkable Christians need the grace of God as much as everyone else.

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
A New Beginning
Greg Laurie
Insight for Living
Chuck Swindoll
Clearview Today
Abidan Shah
Focus on the Family
Jim Daly
Grace To You
John MacArthur

Paul writes, our people must also learn to engage in good deeds, to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful. So Paul wants the church to learn how to do this. Not just the leaders, but the entire church body. And he happens to drop into this text a wonderful incentive.

Did you notice it? He says, you do this and you will not live an unfruitful life. This isn't, you know, kind of a spark and a flash. It's a lifestyle. It's a mindset.

You're learning how to give your life to people. One of the areas where we need the grace of God at work in our lives is the area of authenticity. Do you know someone whose life seems fake? You never really get to know the real person because they present a fake perception of themselves. As Paul closes the book of Titus, he helps us understand more clearly what authentic Christianity looks like. That's the topic of our study today here on Wisdom for the Heart.

This lesson is called Wax-Free, Sun-Tested. The other candidate mentioned here in verse 12 is Tychicus. His name means fortunate. He's also a Gentile who came to faith in Christ. While Artemis never shows up anywhere again in the entire New Testament, Tychicus shows up often. Paul writes in Colossians chapter 7 that he is his beloved brother, faithful servant, and fellow slave. He also calls him in Ephesians 6 21 his beloved brother and faithful minister. We know that Tychicus delivered Paul's letter to the Colossian believers living in Colossae. Acts chapter 20 tells us that Tychicus also accompanied Paul on one of his missionary journeys.

I believe it was his third one. He's obviously one of Paul's closest companions. And you could see why both would be candidates that could serve well this Gentile population like Titus. They are Gentiles trained personally by the Apostle Paul to carry on a tough ministry. These people on the island, as we've said, are descendants of pirates, fishermen, and you don't have to study the mind of the Apostle Paul or his writings for very long before you discover that he's always looking for men.

He's always investing in men. He's training Timothy and Titus and now Artemis, Tychicus. He understands that these churches will need what he's laid out in chapter 1 for Titus, godly men capable of leading.

He seems to always be on the search. E.M. Bounds would write about this kind of focus and he writes a good challenge to the church when he said the church is always looking for better methods. God is looking for better men. What the church needs today is not more machinery but more men whom the Holy Spirit can use. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods but through men. God does not anoint plans, he anoints people.

He wrote that in 1880 and we need it to this day. If you put the biblical clues together you discover that Paul ended up sending Artemis to take the place of Titus because we find that Paul sends Tychicus to relieve Timothy in Ephesus in 2 Timothy chapter 4 that's mentioned. The point I want to make here is this mark of authenticity that could be easy to miss. Paul openly confesses here that at this moment he doesn't know which man to send and he even admits as much in this inspired letter that's going to be read all over the island of Crete and even to this day to a congregation in Cary. I love the fact that Paul is real. Don't stop at the beginning, read the ending of his letters and you'll find this and in this by the way you find also that Paul refuses the pedestal that fully expected him to always know what was right, always have a decision in mind, never come across as uncertain or indecisive and here he does just the opposite by adding that little phrase that reveals he doesn't happen to know everything ahead of time and aren't you glad? Authenticity is revealed through honest dilemmas.

Secondly authenticity is revealed by personal deference to authority. Look at verse 12 again. When I send Artemis or Tychicus to you, now notice this, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis for I have decided to spend the winter there and now before we get to my point I think it's interesting Paul is saying in other words I haven't decided which man to send to Crete but I know where I'm going to spend the winter in Nicopolis but I want you to get this. This paragraph here is going to hit Titus and it's going to come out of the blue. Everything about this letter has referred to what Titus has been doing, organizing the churches on the island, appointing elders, challenging every age group, standing down false teachers, teaching doctrine, even eschatology, helping them understand that they need to make a demonstration of remarkable Christianity and doing good deeds and oh by the way here at the end of the letter Titus you're not going to be there much longer. Wait, what? Let me fix my glasses and go back and read.

What did he just say? He's sending Artemis or Tychicus and I'm going to go to Nicopolis. Titus, I mean I can imagine that perhaps he could have argued internally, wait I'm invested here.

Crete has become home after what I've been through. He would think you know I've been through all the power struggles, I've taken on false teachers, the churches now have appointed elders, fruit is now just beginning to bud, what do you mean you're sending Artemis or Tychicus to take my place? He could have dug in his heels and said this is home, this is where I belong. So understand that this letter is a bombshell to the plans of Titus. His plans are about to be entirely interrupted from what other passages tell us. Titus is going to be sent to Dalmatia, a tough area to pioneer and it'll be a rough mission field but he's going to go without complaint because his authority, the apostle, has informed him that his ministry there will soon come to an end. So how about holding Titus up to the light and turn him and you discover he's genuine in that he's willing to defer to God's authority in his life. He's willing to be interrupted. Beloved, God not only orders the steps of his children, he orders their stops too. In fact, what I want to point out now is that Paul doesn't know it but his plans are about to be interrupted too.

His life's going to change. Did you notice where Paul said he's going to winter? Nicopolis.

Not a bad choice. It's on the southern side of Greece, the city founded by the first Roman emperor, Octavian, to celebrate his victory in battle over Marc Antony and Cleopatra. By comparing his plans that he delivers at the end of this letter with what he delivers to the believers in Rome, you discover that his plans were to winter in Nicopolis to then go to Rome to serve the church there only briefly and to sort of repack, restock, and then to go from there to Spain.

That's been on his mind and his heart for some time now. Spain is sort of considered the end of the civilized world and Paul views this as the next great missionary stop. Some of the greatest minds in Rome had come from Spain. Seneca, the prime minister, was a Spaniard.

Lucan, the poet laureate, was a Spaniard. Paul couldn't wait to get to Spain. So he's effectively saying, look, I'm going to be sure to send to the island of Crete.

I'm praying about that. God hadn't made that clear yet, but I know where I'm going to spend the winter. It's Nicopolis. And then I'm off to Rome and then to Spain.

Got that nailed down. And God says, oh, not so fast. Artemis did arrive in Crete. Titus did leave for Nicopolis.

But we know that Paul was arrested there and he is taken to Rome not to meet with the church but to serve a sentence in chains and he will never make it to Spain. Both men have put their entire lives into their plans and their ministries and they were both interrupted. So hold them both up to the light and look at them.

They're both going to defer to the authority ultimately of their chief shepherd. Tony Snow, a believer who served as the press secretary for a while for George W. Bush, battled cancer before passing away a few years ago. As a believer, he was interviewed and asked, you know, what are the spiritual lessons you're learning?

And I found it interesting. He said with a smile, he said, well, I've learned that we want to live lives of predictable ease, smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see. But I've learned that God likes to go off road. Isn't that good?

Does he ever? Paul is going to be arrested for the final time. Titus will have his winter plans changed and then he'll be off to an entirely new ministry in Dalmatia. Artemis will set up a new ministry.

Listen, all of this is going to change for these men within a matter of months. But isn't that Christianity? Isn't that your life and mine? Isn't that really the story? That's real. That's real. Smooth roads and clear pathways.

And you think, yeah, now this is Christianity and boy is a quick turn and all of a sudden you're off road. No paved roads, no map, no GPS, no cracker barrel in sight. You know, how bad can it get? What's on your list of expectations? There are three things I'm going to do this year. There are two things that I don't expect to experience. I plan to retire in five years or ten years or fifteen years and then off to this life.

I'm planning on graduating and entering my career in this field or that field. Now look, there's nothing wrong with planning. In fact, Paul and Titus are neck deep in it. But their plans are written in pencil and they've given their authority the opportunity to erase and to rewrite and they defer to the wisdom and plan of God. You see, when we say that we're following a sovereign God, we need to understand that it may mean we follow Him even when He takes us off road. Even when we discover that He doesn't owe us an explanation as He orders our steps and our stops. That's authentic Christianity.

Anything else is a cheap knock off that isn't real. It's revealed through honest dilemmas. It's revealed by personal deference to authority.

Thirdly, it's revealed by selfless deeds. Paul writes in verse 13, diligently help Zenas the lawyer and the palace on their way so that nothing is lacking for them. Well now Paul surprises the entire church by saying let's pass the plate. Let's have a special offering. Zenas and the palace are evidently the couriers of this letter we call Titus, delivering it to Titus.

But they're both on their way to other locations. And so Paul wants Titus to use this opportunity to teach the church how to give to somebody we might refer to today as a missionary who's traveling through, who has another ministry to go to or has needs, needs support temporarily or maybe vocationally or full time. The church might have said, well that wasn't in our budget.

Well God's going to change your plans and mine too. Now you might think, well who's Zenas anyway? We don't know him. He isn't mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament. Now we know he's a Greek because of his name. He's a converted Gentile.

But we do have this little addition. Paul happens to add a reference to the fact that he's a lawyer. Paul uses the typical Greek word for an attorney at law here. So we know he's not a rabbi. He's one trained in Jewish law but he's actually a Greek. He's a Gentile lawyer. Which means he's the only Christian lawyer mentioned in the New Testament. That doesn't mean he's the only lawyer who ever got saved.

Okay? Don't go there. What it does mean is that you've got a lawyer, a practicing attorney who is a believer who just so happens to be committed to the gospel to the point that he has built into his schedule what we might call a missions trip. He's going to come temporarily, put his practice on hold, deliver the scriptures to another group of people and help a pastor for a while. It's a missions trip. He's using the benefits of his career to aid in the spread of the gospel.

What a blessing it is to us here. As I read that I thought of a number of lawyers in our own church who are doing the very same thing, using their skills and their connections to help other believers and I'm not just saying that to get back on their good side which is where I want to be. But here's a great example of someone with a career who takes time out to help ministry advance.

He also mentions Apollos. Now you're familiar with his name. He was a well-known Christian leader in the community. He was a well-known eloquent speaker. He was a gifted apologist.

He could refute the Jews masterfully, had wonderful fruit. In fact he had risen to such prominence that Paul rebukes the church in Corinth on one occasion for dividing into four factions. He said, look you guys are all running around and you're all divided. He said, you know some of you are saying well we're of Paul. We follow Paul. And others are saying we follow Apollos. Others are saying we follow Peter. And so other really spiritual people were saying well we just follow Jesus. What a wonderful unity that church was experiencing.

But no matter how you slice it, what you have are these four men. Jesus the God-man. Everybody ought to be saying they're following him. Forget everybody else. But I want to just point out that Apollos was at the top of that little mountain there with Paul and Peter. That's a heady place to be. In fact you wonder if Paul is saying, wait I've given my life to you people. What do you mean now you're following Apollos? I've been beaten, stoned to death, shipwrecked.

Now this guy comes along. No word of that. No word of that. There's no denigrating comment in this text. Here's the mark of Paul's selfless actions. He tells the church, make sure you help Apollos in every way possible.

And Zenas too encouraged them along. Authentic Christianity is revealed through honest dilemmas by personal deference. It's revealed in selfless deeds. Number four, authenticity is revealed through unified disciples. Notice the next verse where Paul writes, our people must also learn, note that word, learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs so that they will not be unfruitful. So part of authentic living is giving, serving others, meeting their pressing needs. And Paul wants the church to learn how to do this. Not just Titus, not just the leaders, but the entire church body. And he happens to drop into this text a wonderful incentive.

Did you notice it? He says, you do this and you will not live an unfruitful life. Nobody wants to live an unfruitful life. He says, engage in good deeds, which means this isn't all kind of a spark and a flash of service. It's a lifestyle. It's a mindset. You're learning how to give your life to people so that you can be fruitful, have fruit, but you're not going to count out loud.

All right. That's one good deed. That's two and that's three.

I'd like to get before and before supper. And it's been a good day. No, that's not what he's talking about. Have you ever thought about the fact that God never wired into a peach tree the ability to count peaches? Let's see, that's one, five, 12, 200, 300.

I'm good for 300 this year. That's it for me. They just bear fruit. Paul is effectively saying to the church and creed, work together, pull together, serve together to meet pressing needs. And that's how you can have fruit or fruitful living, not only as a church, but as individual believers. And he also implies, by the way, that this is not going to come naturally. I asked you to mark that word in your mind.

Go back to it. He said, did you notice that doing good deeds would be something the church would need to learn how to do? Believers would need to learn how to engage in good deeds, which means your children are going to have to learn how to engage in good deeds. It doesn't just kind of hit them at six or 16 or 21 or 40 or 60. No, you learn how to engage in good deeds by doing them, by watching others do them. And then you do them again.

You practice, you relearn, you practice, you practice some more. I don't know, but I get to the end of this letter and the sentence that strikes me, it's as if Paul is saying at the end here, who cares? Who cares? Who's going to care for somebody else? Who's going to care for those serving Christ outside the walls of any particular ministry? Who's going to care for young men preparing for ministry like Artemis and Tychicus?

Who's going to build into their lives? Who's going to care for people's needs inside the church? As we've already learned in chapter three, who's going to care for engaging in good deeds so that others outside the church can see the love of Christ? Who's going to care about that?

Who cares? Obviously, the answer is authentic. Others are going to care what authentic churches will too. Paul comes to verse 15 where he commends the body now with his customary greeting and blessing of grace. All who are with me greet you. This shows the unity of the universal church. Greet those who love us in the faith. Let me summarize these four characteristics of authentic Christianity with four very brief statements.

Here's what Paul is communicating to the church then and now. Number one, none of us should occupy a role with a sense of permanence. This is my home. This is my neighborhood. This is my job.

This is my world. And if God gives me the kind of Christianity that I think I deserve, that isn't going to change. This is almost, the message is almost delivered here implicitly with that idea of just keeping a bag packed mentally because things can change, can't they? In a matter of days, none of us should occupy a role with a sense of permanence.

None of us. Number two, none of us are beyond needing helpful assistance. I haven't spent any time on it, but I'm just so moved by Paul saying, Titus, would you come and spend the winter with me? He tells Timothy the same thing.

I want you to spend the winter with me. I mean, if the apostle Paul wants company, it's okay for you to want that too. And the assistance of a close friend or companion. None of us are beyond needing helpful assistance. None of us. Number three, none of us should avoid being intentionally generous. None of us. Number four, none of us can make it without the goodness of God's grace.

None of us. That's why Paul ends with his typical blessing. Grace be with you all. The word you is actually plural and so it's translated you all.

It's to all of them. If Paul was from North Carolina, he would have said grace be with you all. That's pretty much what he's saying in the southern translation.

That's the idea. Grace be with you all, the entire church, not just Titus. And why is he extending grace to everyone?

Because you'll never pull off this letter without it. You'll never serve each other without grace. You'll never submit to authority without grace. You'll never pursue godly maturity without grace. You'll never live with humility without grace. You will never establish homes that honor Christ without grace. We'll never operate as older men and older women and younger wives and younger men without grace.

We'll never stand up to false teaching and take the heat without the grace of God. We'll never live with this longing for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ without the work of God's grace in our lives. No wonder he writes grace be with you all. Because without God's grace this letter is impossible to live. Authentic Christianity is impossible without the work of the grace of God in us all. And so with that we say thank you Paul. Thank you Spirit of God through Paul. Thank you for describing in this little letter an impossible life impossible without the grace of God. Just pause beloved and put an exclamation point on some aspect of this letter. Perhaps this lesson or previous lesson or maybe something totally different. That's the beauty of Bible exposition.

God's Spirit just takes truth and applies it in a million different ways. But deal with it now. Go to the Lord. Maybe there's something to change. Something to believe. Something to begin. Something to stop. Something to say.

Something to write. Say Lord I'm willing to defer to you as my highest authority. I'm willing to be honest in the dilemmas of my life. Help me to be selfless and to serve in this body in unity with the disciples. Every believer has areas of life where he or she needs to grow, develop or change. And I hope you take seriously Stephen's admonition to take that to the Lord today. With this lesson Stephen concludes the seven part series that he's calling Remarkable Christianity. This lesson from that series is called Wax-Free, Sun-Tested. If you missed a portion of this lesson or if you missed any of the lessons in the series you can go online and listen to them there. The web address is wisdomonline.org. If you'd like to own this series on CD give us a call and we can give you information. Dial 866-48-BIBLE. This is also the last day that we have Stephen's book on Titus available at a special rate.

We've been offering it at a deep discount during this series. Ask about that when you call. If you have a comment, a question or would like more information you can send us an email if you address it to info at wisdomonline.org. We have a special place on our website where Stephen answers questions that have come in from listeners like you. And of course you can also go to our website and look at what other people have asked and read Stephen's answers to those questions.

It might be that someone had the same question as you. But anytime you have a question regarding the Bible or the Christian faith send it to info at wisdomonline.org. Once Stephen has answered it we'll add it to the collection. And of course you can also use that email address if you have any comment or question about our ministry as well. Thanks again for joining us today. We begin a series from 1 Peter next time. Join us then here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-24 17:47:38 / 2023-05-24 17:57:05 / 9

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime