Thursday, January 15, 2015

How to Be a Slave of God – Titus 1:1-3

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to further the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who never lies, promised ages ago and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by command of God our Savior. (RSV)
Servant of God
When writing to Timothy, Paul asserted his apostleship. Perhaps there were some people who were challenging Paul’s right to be called an apostle in Ephesus where Timothy was over the churches. However, when writing to Titus, Paul emphasizes being a servant of God before his apostleship. Those in Crete, where Titus ministered, didn’t need to be reminded of Paul’s apostleship with the same force as the Ephesians. Since we don’t have any reference to Paul being in Crete except as a prisoner on the way to Rome, it can be assumed that Paul returned with Titus after he was released from his first Roman imprisonment.[1] Since Crete was not the same cosmopolitan center as Ephesus, it is possible that Paul’s detractors had not ventured there.
Paul’s emphasis on being a servant is similar to his self-identification in Romans 1:1 and Philippians 1:1 where he calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ. The word servant is the same in all three texts. What exactly did Paul mean when he called himself a servant? The Greek word for servant is doulos. The following definition is from Thayer's Greek Lexicon. [2]
doulos, doulee, doulon

serving, subject to: Rom 6:19

1.            a slave, bondman, man of servile condition

a.            properly: opposed to eleutheros, 1 Cor 7:21

b.            metaphorically,

1. one who gives himself up wholly to another's will, 1 Cor 7:23

2. those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men: used of the apostles, Rom 1:1

3. devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests: Matt 20:27; Mark 10:44

2.            a servant, attendant, (of a king): Matt 18:23,26 ff
While many translations use the word servant, I think Paul would rather have us use the word slave. One clue to this is 1.a in the definition. The description of a slave is opposition to an eleutheros. The meaning of a word can often be better understood by looking at the opposite.
eleutheros, eleuthera, eleutheron

free

1.            freeborn; in a civil sense, one who is not a slave: John 8:33

2.            free, exempt, unrestrained, not bound by an obligation: 1 Cor 9:1

3.            in an ethical sense: free from the yoke of the Mosaic law, Gal 4:26. [3]

But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. (Rom 6:22 NASB)

In John 8:33, the Pharisees claimed that being offspring of Abraham, they didn’t need to be set free because they had never been enslaved to anyone. They totally ignored their history of slavery in Egypt. They missed the whole point that they were slaves to sin. They were not free born but they were all born under the bondage of sin. Paul uses the point that a person who is a slave can change ownership when a new owner buys him. He is still a slave but has a new master. Paul viewed himself free from the slavery of the Mosaic Law and the constant reminder of sin, which is what Jesus meant. He was still a slave. He was still restrained and bound under obligation, not to sin, but to serve the risen Savior. The parable of the faithful servant (Matt 24:45-51), points out that a master has complete sovereignty over his slaves, to reward or execute. A freeman is not bound by any obligations or the sovereignty of his employer.
Are we any different from Paul? We have been freed from sin and become slaves to God. However, we don’t like the word slave because it implies that we have no choice. We would rather be servants because a servant (in our culture) can quit and find a different job. Look at Paul’s life of stoning, beatings, shipwreck, and imprisonment for his Master’s cause. Would we endure that or would we quit because we are a hireling and not a slave (John 10:12-13)? While we should all have servant attitudes in attending to the needs of others, when it comes to our legal standing in God’s government, we are slaves and we should therefore act like slaves.
·         We need to give ourselves up completely to our Master’s will.

·         We need to be advancing the cause of Christ.

·         We need to be devoted to Jesus.

·         We need to disregard our own interests.

Furthering Faith
And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48 KJV)
One of the primary missions of an apostle was to preach the Gospel where others had not heard it. It was certainly true of Paul’s ministry as it was his goal to preach where other had not gone (Rom 15:20-21). Paul’s preaching at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:14-48) is an excellent example of what he explained in Titus 1:1-3. Many people in Antioch were God-fearers. They were Gentiles who believed in God but had no knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ. Were they saved without knowing about Jesus? That is not for me to say, but Luke, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit said that those who were ordained to eternal life believed the message of the Gospel. There were also many in the city that heard and didn’t believe. For one group, their faith was brought along so that they obtained eternal life. The others believed in God but rejected Jesus and Paul said they considered themselves unworthy of eternal life (Acts 13:46). Their faith was not furthered.
In both Titus 1:1 and in the example of Acts, it becomes obvious that there are people who are chosen (God’s elect) for salvation. However, they need to have their faith furthered before they are actually saved. Paul also explains this in 2 Thess 2:13-14. He says that God chose the Thessalonians and sanctified them by His Holy Spirit, but there was a point in their lives when they were called by the Gospel. Everyone is saved through faith, which is a gift, but that isn’t complete until we explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them and see their faith furthered.  
These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Rev 17:14 KJV)
Election is a strange concept that is hard to understand. God chooses us for eternal life, yet salvation is not granted until we hear the Gospel and believe in our hearts, until then, we are not saved (Rom 10:9). Books have been written about this doctrine of election, some confirming and others denying it. However, it is not something that can be ignored as it is repeated in the Gospels, the epistles, and in Revelation. The Old Testament exemplifies it. Abraham was chosen out of a nation, Jacob was chosen over Esau. Paul uses Jacob and Esau as a powerful example of election (Rom 9:11-16). Then there is that last little word in Revelation 17:14 that confounds us, faithful. How many times in the Word do we find the admonition to remain faithful? It is a big theme in the book of Hebrews. Faithfulness proves that the calling and election are sure.
Truth and Godliness
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness. (2 Peter 1:5-6 NIV)
What is godliness and what is its relationship to truth? Godly can be defined in two ways:
1.       devoted to or worshiping God

2.       fit for or having the divine qualities of God or a god[4]

While Peter says we may participate in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), I think we can eliminate the second definition of godliness since we are and never will be fit for being like God. So a godly person, one who exhibits godliness, is one who is devoted to and worships God. Peter clearly associates several qualities that we need to develop to be a godly person. Right in the middle of these is knowledge. We must have knowledge of the truth if we are going to worship God correctly. While speaking with the woman at the well, Jesus said, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22 ESV).
However, Peter also said that we have everything we need to live a godly life by the power of his Holy Spirit who gives us the knowledge. That knowledge comes through His promises, which allow us to participate in God’s nature (2 Peter 1:3-4). There is a big difference between participating in His nature and having His nature. When we participate in His nature we are carried along by His nature, we don’t actually have it in the same sense that He has it. See Colossians 3:3-4, which says that we are hidden with Christ in God and we will appear with Him in glory.
If we are going to be devoted to and worship God, then we can only do that if we are participating in His nature. We need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit so that we will exhibit the qualities of the one we worship. If we do not worship God in truth, we are not being godly.
Truth has several secular definitions in the Encarta Dictionary. The definitions reveal the presuppositions of those who make up the definitions. The first is “something factual, the thing that corresponds to fact or reality.” The fifth is, “something generally believed, a statement that is generally believed to be true - a religious truth.” How would you define truth? Do you believe something is true only when it is generally accepted? If so then you should believe that all life evolved from puddles of chemicals washed into a rock basin billions of years ago. You should believe that it is the right of a woman to kill her unborn baby for any reason. You should also believe that sexual relations between people of the same sex is normal. By definition, they are all true since they are generally believed and by implication of the definition, these are religious truths. They are the doctrines of the religion of our generation.
The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting. (Ps 119:160 NASU)
What does God say about truth? The first point is that God’s word is truth. This theme is repeated in Scripture. The widow of Zarephath believed that the word spoken by Elijah was from God and the truth (1 Kings 17:24). Jesus, being the Word of God doesn’t just represent truth but He is the truth (John 1:1, 14:6). Whatever Jesus said is truth. If you believe this, then you will have to do a lot of interpretative gymnastics to explain why God would lie to us about creating the world in six days (Gen 1 – 2), that He allows us to kill unborn babies at our whim because they are not yet people (Ps 139:13-16), or that sexual relations between the same sex is acceptable (Lev 18:22, Rom 1:26-27). If we know the truth (God’s Word), then we have no excuse when we don’t live godly lives. Did you notice the last part of Psalm 119:160? His truth is everlasting. He doesn’t change it with each generation that decides something else is true.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6 NKJV) “… Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" (John 18:37-38 NKJV)
Since Jesus is the Word of God He could rightly say that He is the truth. This explains why people who do not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior can have any truth they want. Once they reject Jesus, they have rejected the source of all truth. Nothing is objective anymore and all is subjective to their own reasoning. Replacing Jesus (the Word of God) with their own logic and reason places them above Jesus rather than in subjection to Him. Paul explained it this way, “Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused” (Rom 1:21 NLT).
How does a dark and confuse minds work? For one thing, they believe what they want, and no amount of logic or evidence will convince them otherwise. Is there any hope for them? Paul says that we were all in the same boat before God poured out His mercy on us and saved us (Eph 2:1-10). If we have come to know the truth (Jesus), then we can pray for those with the distorted minds. We can speak God’s Word to them and let the Holy Spirit do His work in them. While God may use reasoning and logic with some, without the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit in their lives (Titus 3:5) no one will ever abandon their self-deceptive thinking to accept the truth.
I, the Lord, will answer all those, both Israelites and foreigners, who reject me and set up idols in their hearts and so fall into sin … (Ezek 14:7 NLT)
Knowing the truth determines what we worship and that is the connection between truth and godliness. If we accept Jesus as the truth, then we will worship Him and in so doing, we will worship God. We will be devoted to God through Jesus Christ. However if we make up our own truth (set up idols in our heart) or follow some other truth, we will be devoted to that idol. God is clear that it is sin, it isn’t godliness when we substitute any old truth for His truth.
Does God Lie?
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should repent. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfil it? (Num 23:19 RSV)
God’s Word being the truth depends completely on God’s character. The Bible assures us that God does not lie. He has no need to repent. Other versions say that He does not change His mind (ESV, NIV). Most people will quickly quote Exodus 32:10-14 when Moses apparently talked God into changing His mind about destroying Israel and starting over with Moses’ descendents. However, Moses’ plea was based on God’s promises. In this way, Moses was not asking God to change His mind about destroying Israel, but He was praying in alignment with God’s character to maintain His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. It would have been against God’s character to destroy Israel because it would have made His previous promises nothing but lies. So, Moses didn’t change God’s mind, but God used the situation to demonstrate the seriousness of Israel’s rebellion and that Israel’s salvation was based not on their performance but on God’s promise. He did this by expressing His disgust for their sin in human terms. Isn’t it just like a man to change his mind and call for a do-over? There are other places in Scripture where God expresses His disgust over sin in human emotions to put it into terms that we can understand to highlight the severity of them. He also tests people, as He did Moses, to see if they have learned anything.
God has no reason to lie. We lie to cover up our sin, to make ourselves appear to be something we aren’t, to get the things we want. God doesn’t sin because He can’t even be tempted by evil (James 1:13). There is no one greater than God and no one can find any fault in Him (Job 40:2) so He has no need to put someone down or make Himself look better. I’ve heard it said that all the gods of the ancient world decried the flood, but God acknowledge it was His doing and also explained why He did it. All these other gods have been described as capricious and immoral. If you think the world is in bad shape now, because of the fall, can you imagine how uninhabitable it would be if our Sovereign God acted in the same way as these other gods or even like a man? There will be a day when God removes His retraining power from mankind’s evil and we will get a glimpse of what life under an evil god is like (2 Thess 2:3-10).
Promised Eternal Life
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will. (Eph 1:4-5 NASB)
In the introduction to Titus, God’s truthfulness is directly connected to our hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2). That promise of eternal life was given before the ages began. If God does not lie (Numb 23:19), if there is no fault in Him, why do you suppose He would have His Word written down in ways that would lead us to believe He did not, could not, or would not do what He said? Yes, there are times when He expresses Himself in poetry, symbology, and parables, however these are usually evident in the way it is written. My question is how can we know if the promise of eternal life is true if we don’t believe God’s Word in other areas of the Bible. If you doubt that God made the world in six days, then how will you believe that God promised the defeat of Satan and our salvation in Genesis 3:15? If you doubt that God made the Sun and Moon stand still in Joshua 10:12-13, how can you know for certain that God chose us before the creation of the world (Eph 1:4)? If you don’t believe that God was able to make a shadow go backward instead of forward (2 Kings 20:9-11), then how can you believe that Jesus was raised from the dead proving that our sins are forgiven and we can have eternal life when we confess Him as Lord and Savior (Rom 10:9-13)? All of Jesus’ miracles were provided to prove that He is God according to His claims (John 10:38). If we reject the miracles then we must reject Jesus.
What I’m saying is that it is intellectually impossible to believe that your sins are forgiven, that you have eternal life, and that you will someday live in heaven forever and not believe in the miracles of the Bible. It is the same God who promises eternal life as the one who insured that the Bible has been passed down to us and that it is His truth. While many reject Jesus because they don’t want to accept creation or miracles, they are not intellectually honest because they have not studied the Bible to ascertain whether it is accurate or not. Their real problem is that “science” has given them a convenient excuse to rebel against the Creator of the universe. If they admitted the existence of the God of the Bible, they would have to admit to Jesus’ claims and the result would be accountable to Him for their sins. That is just too prideful for most people.
Proper Time
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. (Eccl 3:1 ESV)
There is a proper time for many different things as Ecclesiastics 3:1-8 has told the world for thousands of years. However, there was only one proper time for Jesus to come as a baby, to live a holy life, to be sacrificed for our sins, to be resurrected, to ascend into heaven, and to come back again. The people who lived before Christ didn’t fully understand the details of Jesus’ mission to save us (1 Peter 1:10-12). Even after His ascension, many disciples didn’t understand the scope of His salvation. They were surprised to find out that it include Gentiles (Acts 10:45). At the proper time, God singled out Paul to be the primary instrument of clarifying the Gospel message and ensuring it was delivered to the Gentiles as well as Jews (Acts 9:15, Eph 3:1-13).
The length of our days is seventy years — or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. (Ps 90:10 NIV)
Just as God had a proper time to reveal the mysteries of the Gospel, so each of us has a proper time to accept the Gospel, turn from our sins, and be saved. The problem is that we don’t know how long He will put up with our rebellion. If we live to seventy years thinking that we still have another ten before we need to repent, we might not make it. There are far too many who don’t even make it to seventy. God has appointed a time for each of us to hear His voice and we are warned three times in rapid succession in Hebrews 3:7-8, 13, and 15 not to harden our hearts, but to be obedient to His call. If you have not yielded to the lordship of Jesus Christ, today is the day to do it. This is the proper time.
Entrusted with Preaching
Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. (1 Cor 9:16b NASU)
Do you ever feel like you have totally missed something important in your life if you haven’t shared the gospel with others recently or if you missed Bible study where you can actually talk with others and encourage them to grow in their faith and knowledge of the Lord? Perhaps when you first became a Christian you felt that way. But now it is years later and a week, month, or year can go by without any mention of Jesus to the dying world around you. You go to Bible study, but sometimes it seems an imposition on your busy schedule rather than something you eagerly anticipate.
What happened? Jesus nailed it when He rebuked the Church at Ephesus, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev 2:4 NKJV). Paul was entrusted with preaching the Gospel. He had trials and tribulations and I’m sure there were times when he felt like giving up, but he didn’t. We give up when we don’t have the right motivation to keep going. If we let our love of Jesus and His Word grow cold, we will fail to seek first His kingdom. We will look upon our Christian walk as burdensome instead of a joy. When that happens, woe to us. Paul knew what would happen not only to his eternal rewards but also to his life here if he didn’t continue to be faithful in what God had entrusted to him.
We may not all be preachers, but we are all called to be disciples and witnesses to what Jesus has done. If our love has grown cold then either we have forgotten what He did or we weren’t saved in the first place. The resolution is the same, repent. Repenting isn’t always easy, especially when our love of God has grown cold. We are like a cold blooded frog that adapts to the temperature as it gradually changes. Eventually, we don’t even know we’ve lost our love. Asaph was depressed and doubting God when he found the solution and recorded it for all of us.
I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds. (Ps 77:11-12 NKJV)
First, he remembered the works of the Lord. Then he mediated on God’s works. Finally, he talked about them. He takes us back to the fact that when God has done His work in us, then we need to tell others. If we want to be His slaves then we need to obey and tell others.

[1] Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L Quarles, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2009), 17820-17824, Kindle.
[2] Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database, s.v. “NT:1401”, (Biblesoft, 2006).
[3] Ibid, “NT:1658.”
[4] Encarta Dictionary, s.v. “godly,” Microsoft.

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