HOW FAITH WORKS...

Titus 1: 2-4

MB 12-21-98

Take your bibles and turn with me to the book of Titus_ that's the book of Titus_ chapter 1... And let's look at the first 4 verses as we get started tonight... Titus, chapter 1 and starting at verse 1...

"Paul, a bondservant of god and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of god and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2. In the hope of eternal life, which god, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago 3. But at the proper time manifested, even his word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of god our savior, 4. To Titus, my true child in our common faith: grace and peace from god the father and Christ Jesus our savior"...

Now, you've all heard of Alexander the great... I don't know that he was as great as he was cracked up to be... Though, in his own right, he was great... Because, by the age of 31, he had conquered the known world... And he sat down in Babylon and wept because there was just nothing left to conquer... There were no more people he could defeat_ and he was discouraged and despondent over that...

Towards the end of his life, when he was ill with a grave disease, his friend and his doctor_ (one in the same person- his physician), came to him and gave him a mixture to drink_ a medicine_ a potion...

 

But before he drank it, someone put a note into his hand... He opened it and read it... It said that, within that potion_ there was poison... It said that his friend was going to poison him_ and for him not to drink it_ as it would surely be his demise...

In one hand he held the note_ and in the other hand he held the medicine... He held them both up_ he drank the medicine and as soon as it was done, (after drinking the potion), he handed the note to the doctor...

He said, "Read it"... (Thus, proving how much he trusted him, especially with his life)... And he said, "see now, how I have trusted you"...

His faith in his friend prompted an action... He was willing to drink a potion, (even though someone had said it was poisoned)... Because he believed in the integrity of his friend_ he was willing to stake his life, drinking that potion...

Now, one of the most often quoted scriptures in the bible, (by Christians), is in the book of James where it says, "even as the body without the spirit is dead; so faith without works is dead"...

Now, what James meant by that is... Faith_ (to be true faith)_ is never dormant... It's alive_ it's making progress_ it's going somewhere... And that's really the theme that we pick up on tonight_ it's how does faith work?

He mentions faith_ he starts off mentioning faith in verse 1, "the faith of those chosen of god..." and really that is the main subject to the 1st few verses...

There are several lines of thought_ but the main thought (that we can tie everything to), is the theme of faith in the 1st four verses...

He talks about the faith of god's elect_ he talks about that faith, when you hear the truth, (in verse 1), which leads to godliness...

Now in verses 2 to 4... And that's what we're going to cover for tonight...(we're really going to focus in on verses 2 to 4)_ it renders verse 2 with the same thought of faith as it did in verse 1... In fact, it's saying, "a faith and a knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life"...

Now to put this in context_ let me give you a quick summary and background of verses 1 & 2 and part of verse 4...

First we see Paulís credentials, in verse 1... Bondservant and apostle, those were his credentials_ (his calling card).... Literally, "Iím a slave of god and Iím an apostle_ set out to do whatever god wants me to do"....

And then also, we see his calling, as outlined in these verses... Paul's calling was to bring people to faith in Christ_ and to bring them to maturity... (To a godly walk, godliness)...

The apostle Paul has a co-worker... And most of what we know about his co-worker is found in Galatians and 2nd Corinthians...his name is Titus...

Now, Titus was a Greek believer... He was probably led to faith by Paul the apostle... But when we get to verse 5 of this text, we see that he became sort of like a troubleshooter, (sent out on special assignments)...

And one, of several he was sent on, was the isle of Crete... Notice verse 5 where Paul says, "for this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order what remains, and to appoint (ordain) elders in every city as I have directed you"...

So Paul had left Titus in Crete to organize the churches better_ and to ordain elders of the church_ and to instruct them so that they might resist the many dangerous false teachings, which were running rampant at this time... (Which is the reason for the letter)...

Continuing on that same stream of thought from the faith that was introduced in verse 1... And now in verse 2 where it says, ""a faith and a knowledge in the hope of eternal life"...

Tonight, as we stand at the dawn of another new year_ in the closing days of 1998_ and looking forward to what 1999 holds for us_ we're going to look at faith... How faith works... (How faith works)... We're going to see that true faith is...

Hopeful_ it's responsible_ and it's gracious...

First point, a faith that is hopeful... Look at verse 2, "in the hope of eternal life, which god, who cannot lie, promised ages ago"... Or faith resting on the hope of eternal life...

You know, somebody once said that man can live 40 days without food_ 3 days without water_ about 8 minutes without air_ and only seconds without hope...

 

Our faith in Jesus Christ, is leading us somewhere_ it's expecting something more than what we have now... And that expectation is eternal life... It's hope in eternal life, which god promised before time began...

Now, to put it in Peterís words_ in 1st peter_ (his first epistle)_ "we have been born again to a living hope"...

It's important to see this fact... The Christian faith is not just a temporary fix... It's not a self-help program... (One of many philosophies that you can sort-of drink from to get you through this life)... It's not a temporary placebo... It outlasts this life... It's got something more than, "what are the benefits now?"... It's got some eternal benefits... It's the hope of eternal life...

In the book of 1st Corinthians_ in the 15th chapter_ Paul, the apostle, spent a whole chapter speaking about rising from the dead...

It's the hinge of the Christian faith... In that Jesus died, but he didn't stay there... He rose up and came out of the tomb... And that our hope rests on the resurrection...

And he speaks about future hope... In that after we die we'll be with him in glory in heaven... Then, he ends that section by saying, " if we have hope in Christ, in this life only, we are of all men, most pitiable"... Again, " if we have hope in Christ, in this life only, we are of all men, most pitiable"...

Now think about that... Think of all of the martyrs throughout church history... Who have given their life_ willing to die for their confession in Jesus Christ...

Think of all the missionaries who've sold their possessions and gone to foreign countries_ willing to be persecuted_ (beat up) for Jesus Christ...

Think of all the persecutions throughout church history... All for what? A lot of them didn't feel good now... They weren't going through saying, "oh thank you god, this is a great life... I just got beat up today"...

The idea is that there's something that goes beyond the temporary_ and it's the hope of eternal life... Otherwise it's all in vain, Paul said... "We are of all men, most pitiable"... Because, look at what people have given up...

Oh, we have abundant life now_ but there's something that outlasts this life... Tonight we sang a song, (didn't we), great is thy faithfulness... One of the stanzas is "help for today and bright hope for tomorrow... Great is thy faithfulness, lord unto me"...

There's more to this life for us, than just life... There's eternal life...

There's a true story about two explorers... Actually there were two ventures of exploration down at the tip of South America... The 1st team of explorers was sailing around the lower cape of South America, (under stormy seas) and the boat was ready to break apart...

The captain of the expedition, (because the storms were so outrageous that he didn't want to challenge them), turned back and called the name of that cape; the cape of storms...

Several years later, another explorer by the name of Vasco de Gamma, sailed around that cape through the same kind of stormy waters...

But, he renamed it "the cape of good hope"... Because he looked beyond the storm and couldn't wait to get to the land_ because of all of the riches_ the jewels_ and the hope that it promised to go to this new land...

You could call it the cape of storms_ or the Cape of Good Hope... You could look at your life saying, "oh there's so many storms_ so many problems... " You could... But what's ahead is the Cape of Good Hope...

Faith is hopeful, based upon a living hope... You see, this is what separates the men from the boys (so to speak)... It separates the believer from the unbeliever...

The unbeliever is plopped in the middle of this world_ to navigate for himself... Trying to figure out meaning_ purpose in this life... Usually coming up with one big question mark... All that the unbeliever has is a hopeless end...

But we, on the other hand, have an endless hope... It's the hope of eternal life, which god promised...

Eternal life_ I think it bears going over_ for you to understand the importance of the term eternal life in the bible...

The bible speaks of life 3 different ways_ and only one of those ways is it translated eternal or everlasting life... It's the word aionios, for ageless_ and zoŽ, for life...

 

The bible uses 3 terms... The first word is bios_ it's where we get our word biology_ biosphere_ and as you might expect_ it's a term that only speaks of physical life... It's the quality of life_ it's the standard of living_ it's how you biologically are getting along.... And this is usually where most people (outside of Christ)... (Some inside of Christ), spend all of their time... Their biological well being, just trying to feel comfortable here...

The second term in the bible is the term psuche_ it's where we get our term psychology from... It speaks about the personality... Jesus said, "You have to surrender your life to gain it"... The word psuche... Your personality_ your wants_ your desires_ your will...

The third term is used here_ the word zoŽ... And it's a term that speaks of life outside of the biosphere or outside of the personality... It's something that begins now and goes on forever... It's not just the length of time_ it's the quality of time... It can be translated 'age abiding life'...

It's not just something that happens in the sweet by & by... Eternal life is always spoken of, (in the bible), as something you experience now...

If you're a Christian, you have (present tense), eternal life that will go on forever... And will transcend the bios_ (the biological life)...

Jesus said, "Whoever hears my word and believes in him who sent me has everlasting life"... (zoŽ)... When Jesus prayed to his father in john 17... He prayed, "and this is eternal life, (zoŽ), that they may know thee, the only true god, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent"...

We have hope... Our faith is hopeful... Our faith is something more than feeling good right now...

Now, hope is not wishful thinking... Today we use the word hope in many different ways... "I hope you have a great day_ Iím not certain, but I just hope you will"... "Oh I hope it isn't so cold tomorrow".... Or "I hope he finishes soon"... That's wishful thinking...

In the bible, the term hope means confident expectation... It's a very strong term_ it means, "though I don't possess it right now, Iím confident that one day I will"...

The non-Christian may say, "well, I hope I get to heaven" (wishful thinking) but, when a Christian says, "I hope" (with regards to heaven) he's saying it with confident expectation...

Paul said, "Being confident of this very thing, to be absent from the body, is to be present with the lord"... He didn't say, "I hope so"... He was confident that he would...

Your faith works because it's hopeful... It's leading somewhere_ it's the hope of eternal life...

Also, the faith that is hopeful, is backed up by the promise of god... Notice what it says (verse 2), "in the hope of eternal life, which god, who cannot lie, promised ages ago"...

You can constantly expect future glory, because the one who promised that, is not Uncle Bob or Aunt Alice...

It's god!!!... And god cannot lie... It says in numbers... "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should repent..." numbers 23:19

He's immutable_ he doesn't change... You know a promise is only as good as the one who gives it... There are some people that promise you things... And you could think about them in your mind... (I wouldn't think out loud, if I were you_ they might be sitting next to you)...

But, we all know people who say things_ who promise things... And they might be well meaning_ but you just know that what they've promised most likely will slip through the cracks... (They won't come through with it)...

There are other people who have the reputation that if they say they'll do it... They'll do it!!!

I remember an old high school buddy... The neatest guy_ fun to be around_ but he wasn't faithful in keeping his promises... It was just part of his personality... He meant well_ he talked big_ "oh, Iíll help you with that... I'll be there at this time... Oh no, Iíll take care of that"...

And you just knew, (after a while), that you couldn't rely on them... Because a promise is only as good as the one who's giving it...

God cannot lie... And god, who cannot lie, has promised this before time began...

I read about a man who read the bible through 27 times... And on the 27th time he cataloged all of the promises in the bible... It took him a year and a half... He came up with this... There are 7487 promises by god to man... 2 promises made by god to his son... 991 promises made by one man to another... And though there were 7000+ promises from god to man_ there were 290 made by man to god...

Out of all those promises, it's only god's promises that peter says are "great and precious promises".... Magnificent (great) and precious promises... 2nd peter chapter 1, tells us... So faith is hopeful....

But also, secondly, faith is responsible... (Verse 3) "But at the proper time manifested, even his word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of god our savior,

Faith is responsible...and what I mean by that is... Paul says, god has given me a command_ Iím his servant_ (verse 1) "a bondservant of god, an apostle of Jesus Christ" Iím set out to do whatever he wants me to do... He's commanded me to preach the gospel...

And the faith that I have, (that is expecting future glory- the hope of eternal life), is also a faith that makes me responsible to share what I know with others... It's the command to preach the gospel...

He says it here in verse 3... In the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of god our savior,

And then in verse 4, he says, "to Titus..." in other words, Iíve been given the command_ Iím passing the mantle to Titus_ Iím putting him in Crete, (verse 5) to follow up_ Iíve started the evangelistic work there_ and now Iím giving him the job to take over_ to build these believers up... So he obeyed him...

There are some people who believe you can have faith, that's good... They'll say, "Iím glad you have your faith... I'm happy to know that you've come to know Jesus Christ... Do me a favor though; just don't talk about it...

You can have all the faith you want... Everyone is entitled to his or her own belief... But, politics and religion should never be discussed"... You should always keep it to yourself... It's your private opinion... You should never get it out in the open...

But Jesus said, "whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light... What you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops"...

Now, you may recall when peter and john were arrested for doing that... (Acts chapter 4)... They said, don't do this anymore in Jerusalem... Don't speak anymore in the name of Jesus... You can do anything else you want in Jerusalem, just don't fill Jerusalem with your doctrine...

What did they do? They disobeyed... They went right back out, (against the law), and preached the gospel... They got taken before the Sanhedrin a 2nd time... And peter said, "we have to obey god... Rather than man..."

God has given us a command to make a proclamation_ to be responsible with that which we believe... The faith that we have... God has given us a command to preach the gospel...

I wonder how many Christians are like the lepers at the gate of Samaria? You may recall the story from the Old Testament? (2nd kings 7:3-9) they were starving to death... The Aramean's camp was not to far away... The four of them got together and said, "If we stay at this gate_ we're going to die... We're lepers_ the city is going to be invaded_ if we sit here we'll die... Now, if we go to the camp of the Arameans_ they might kill us_ but either way we're going to die...

If we do nothing we'll die_ if we go over there we'll die, but at least we'll die trying, because we need food...

So they went over to the camp of the Arameans and they found it completely vacated... To their surprise it was deserted_ so they made themselves at home... They ate and drank all that they wanted... They took gold and silver and jewels and went out and hid them... The treasures were so many that they returned to carry away more...

Until, one of them said to the others, "wait, we are not doing right... This is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent_ we're keeping this good news all to ourselves... We ought to be telling others about all of these riches_ this good news..."

Paul said, " I am a servant_ Iím an apostle... God commanded me to preach the gospel_ Iíve done it_ and Iím writing this letter and commissioning Titus to follow up...

You, as a believer, have the privilege... It could be called a responsibility, but Iíd rather call it a privilege... To pass the baton of your faith to other people...

Maybe a younger believer_ maybe you're a more mature believer_ and you're saying, "I wish I would be used by god... I wish I could do something for god around here"...

Just look around... There are so many young fledgling_ even struggling believers that would love to have your time_ your arm_ your encouragement_ your instruction...

That person could be possibly your son or your daughter_ your grandson or granddaughter_ your friend or your co-worker...

You know the beauty of passing the legacy of your belief on to your children...(there's nothing like it)...

Faith is responsible_ Paul passed the legacy on to Titus... Look at verse 4... Paul said, "to Titus, my true child (son) in a common faith"... He did it also with timothy...

Everything that Paul received_ he passed on to others to see them raised up in the ministry...

So, faith is hopeful_ faith is responsible_ and finally faith is gracious... Look again at verse 4... "To Titus, my true child (son) in a common faith: grace, mercy and peace from god the father and Christ Jesus our savior..."

As you know, in all of Paulís letters, he opens them up with a greeting... It's a common greeting... Usually he just says, "grace & peace"... Here he adds mercy... "Grace, mercy and peace"... A common greeting, but it has a sense of sweetness... He is expressing more than just, "hi, how are ya"... He's expressing the sentiment_ what he desires for Titus to experience...

And though Paul, I think, was a type a personality_ gung-ho for the gospel_ uncompromising_ he had, at the same time, (and I think we sometimes miss this)_ he had a sense of sweetness in his life... (A sense of grace) "Grace, mercy and peace from god our father"

Now, if you were to walk down Greek streets in Athens or in Corinth_ you would hear a common greeting... They'd say "charis"_ which meant grace_ or graciousness_ kindness_ Iím extending a kind gesture to you...

If you would walk down a street in Jerusalem_ they'd say "shalom"_, which meant peace... These were common greetings...

The term mercy is interesting_ it means love shown to somebody in abject poverty_ or in the most destitute circumstance...

"Iím wishing for you, Titus, god's grace_ god's mercy_ and then god's peace... Kindness or goodwill towards the miserable_ and the afflicted...

Here's my point in that... True faith leads to grace... When you come to believe in Jesus Christ_ a seed begins to grow within your heart, I believe... You start expecting and being very hopeful in what's coming after this life_(eternal life)... It's something that begins now and lasts forever... God promised it...

You become responsible... You come to a place where you want to share with others_ you want to be a viable working part of the body of Christ_ you want to see lives changed through your life... It's a very healthy mark of maturity...

And then also, god works his personality traits into you... God is a god of grace_ a god of mercy_ a god of peace... And I think, to become more like him, you need to be more gracious_ and extending of mercy...

An example... Take the Pharisees... Now when you think of the word Pharisee_ does the word grace or mercy come to mind? No. Legalism comes to mind... (Does it not?)...

Remember when Jesus went to Matthewís house for dinner and the Pharisees started talking, "hey, how come your master eats with publicans and sinners"... And Jesus overheard them and said, "excuse me Pharisees, those who are well don't need a doctor... Only those who are sick... I've not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance"...

Then he said, "go learn what this means... I desire (what?) Mercy and not sacrifice... Pharisees you need to learn a lesson... Go find out what this means_ I want mercy more than sacrifice"...

They were so picky about the sacrifices that they would bring to the temple... But the neglected the heart of god... Which was mercy...

Question... Has god extended his grace to you? Do you deserve his love? Do you deserve his forgiveness? Any one here? No one does... If god extended his grace to you, then learn to extend it to somebody else...

That's god's character_ god's trait_ he's a god of mercy and grace and the result will be peace...

It's often said you can't reverse the order... Grace and mercy come before peace... You experience god's grace and his mercy towards you and the result will be peace... We just need to be about the business of sharing god's grace with others...

So what have we learned? We've learned that we have a faith that hopes...

We have an endless hope... It's the hope of eternal life, which god promised... Your faith works because it's hopeful... It's leading somewhere_ and it's backed up by one who cannot lie. Itís backed up by the promise of god...

We have a faith that is responsible... We have a legacy of faith to share... We've been commanded to tell the good news of Jesus to all the world... That is our privilege and our responsibility...

And we have a faith that is gracious... We have been saved by god's good grace_ through faith... Not of ourselves... And through god's grace_ his mercy_ and his love_ we are being transformed into the likeness of his son, Jesus, (moment by moment and day by day)...

Let's not coast into 1999 on last year's faith, but let's go boldly into this New Year knowing that we have a faith that works...

Amen....

Preached on 12/27/98 Bryant Street Baptist Church Pm Service

 

 

 

 

 

 


Last Updated: January 10, 1999