For the faith of those chosen of God (Titus 1:1–4) – Part 2: The objective of the church’s mission

Author’s note: My faith is in Jesus Christ; therefore, I must rest in the Scriptures, which are inspired by God, inerrant, absolutely authoritative, and utterly sufficient. I am convinced the issues churches and individual Christians are facing today, including the controversies, could been null and void if we would only submit to the word. For that reason, I am blogging through Paul’s letter to Titus. You can find all of the posts in this series here.

The first post served as an introduction to this series and began to address the opening section of the letter, Paul’s introduction and greeting in Titus 1:1–4. Specifically, I wrote about Paul’s authorship, his statement of being a slave of God, and his affirmation of his own status as an apostle of Jesus Christ. As we continue, here is that text again, Titus 1:1–4 (NASB):

1 Paul, a bond-servant 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 a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Ask your average attender of a modern evangelical church what the purpose of the church is and you might get as many answers as there are people whom you ask. Hopefully part of the answer includes something about the propagation of the gospel, the only means by which sinners are saved.

The content of the gospel of Jesus Christ – what it is and is not – will be the subject of one or more future posts in this series; however, in looking at Titus 1:1 we see the purpose of the church boiled down to rudimentary basics.

Paul introduces his letter by calling himself God’s slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ. Implied in that is obedience to what God desires and has decreed, and the reality that as those who have been freed from sin to become slaves of righteousness, we are His ambassadors, the plenipotentiaries of the Lord, to carry His message to the world. Yet, how is that accomplished?

“Evangelism” is the answer, right? But what constitutes evangelism is a matter of far too much debate nowadays. Some believe the church’s goal, or at least one of them, is to redeem the culture, such that those outside the church will come to see how much greater Jesus is and come to Him. That is a laudable aspiration, but misguided.

If you really want to get down to the brass tacks, the objective of the church’s mission is laid out very succinctly in verse one. It is “the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is in accordance with godliness.” Sadly, as I see it, this runs very much against the grain of modern evangelical churches – even a great many which would identify as conservative and with an inerrantist position on Scripture.

Continue reading “For the faith of those chosen of God (Titus 1:1–4) – Part 2: The objective of the church’s mission”

The Christian and the Bible, Part 2: The source

Author’s Note: If you are just joining us I encourage you to read Part 1 of this series.

Having established the Scriptures are inspired by God, inerrant, supremely authoritative, and sufficient for everything pertaining to our faith and practice, in this post I wish to explore some ways in which God uses His word in the everyday lives of His people (those who have come to Jesus by grace alone through faith alone).

The Bible is the source of truth.

In a post-postmodern age in which truth isn’t merely relative any longer, but feelings have been elevated so that they are equal or above perceived truth, the Christian takes comfort and gains confidence in the words of Christ: “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Jesus spoke those words to His Father in Gethsemane, mere minutes (or at the most hours) before He was arrested, tried, and crucified. In a moment which could fairly be described as His deepest human crisis, He was praying for His disciples in the world that they would hold fast to that which God had revealed.

The Lord knew full well the value He wanted His people to place upon Scripture, because throughout His earthly ministry His disciples had seen Him value Scripture. Matthew and Luke both record the wilderness temptations of the devil himself, to which Jesus responded each time with biblical texts, notably from Deuteronomy. The one which screams to us as it pertains to this topic is, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4; c.f. Deut 8:3; Luke 4:4).

The God of the word, in the flesh, relied on, obeyed, and trusted in the word of God. The One who is the way, and the truth, and the life pointed to what God has revealed (Scripture) as the truth which sanctifies, or makes us holy.

Practically speaking, we do not reconcile the Scripture to the world (rather it be history, science, or any other discipline), but we start with the word of God and reconcile everything else to it. And time and time again, the Scriptures have been proven to be exactly what Jesus said they were: the truth. Continue reading “The Christian and the Bible, Part 2: The source”

The Christian and the Bible, Part 1: Introduction and Foundation

There is no more cruel stroke of the wrath of God than when He sends a famine of hearing His words. – Martin Luther

A well-known pastor recently told his audience we shouldn’t be saying “The Bible says…” anymore.

Oh, when it blew up on the internet he did a sort of hemming and hawing backtrack, which really wasn’t backtracking what he said as much as it was an attempted justification. The fact of the matter is this particular pastor doesn’t seek to “preach the word” as Paul exhorted Timothy (1 Tim 4:2) as much as he preaches ideas, using Scripture to support what he wants to say.

But lest I pick on Andy Stanley, this post isn’t really about him, but the condition of the church as it relates to how we view and use the Bible — in corporate worship, in private devotions, in personal application.

We nod our heads and say “Amen” to the statement, “For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name” (Ps 138:2), but in reality we more closely resemble the condition of those to whom the prophet spoke the words of the LORD, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. . . . you have forgotten the law of your God” (Hos 4:6).

This indictment on the church has only become a heavier burden upon my heart, and thus a focal point of my pastoral ministry, but I see both in my own church and the church at large people who are starving for the word of God, and they don’t even realize it. No matter how much I say it or how much it’s said, those who don’t get it don’t get that they don’t get it. Continue reading “The Christian and the Bible, Part 1: Introduction and Foundation”

The indispensable doctrine

Outside of the church, Muslims are killing people, American taxpayers are giving over a half-billion dollars a year to Planned Parenthood so they can murder babies, and judges nationwide are giving a middle finger to God and Christians by forcing “same-sex marriage” down our throats, and there is so much more I could say.

Inside of the (professing) church, Joel Osteen still has clean teeth and is making his millions peddling fortune cookie wisdom, Christian bookstores are bowing the knee to the dollar by peddling his heresy and the unbiblical and antibiblical teachers of others, the largest Southern Baptist Church in the world is led by a man who has redefined the Ten Commandments as promises, and oh, there is here also so much more I could say.

Why is all of this happening? Why are there so many problems both inside and outside of churches? Why is the world the way it is?

The easy answer, of course, is sin. And it’s the correct answer, too. Rebellion against God. A dissatisfaction with His provision and His command and a lust for the idol of self, the idol of more, the idol of my way.

But let’s dig a little deeper. Where does sin come from? Well, not so ironically, the same place we find out what sin is.

The first sin of man, resulting in the fall of man, occurred in the Garden of Eden. You know the story, but you should read it again anyway to be reminded. God told Adam, He “commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die'” (Gen 2:16-17, emphasis mine).

So God spoke. Continue reading “The indispensable doctrine”

Read the New Testament with BBC in 2014

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…” – Col 3:16a

Tomorrow morning I’m going to be encouraging my church to read through the New Testament together in 2014. It’s a simple plan: one chapter a day, every day, Monday through Friday.

I’ve laid out a schedule which spreads the four Gospels out over the course of the year, so you’re not getting one on top of another. You can view and print out the entire schedule here. For more information on our church’s Bible initiative, click here.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Tim 3:16-17

Farewell, PCUSA: An epilogue before the fact

It’s no secret mainline Protestant denominations have been in decline for over half a century now. There are many right reasons one could offer for why this is the case, but ultimately it boils down to one thing: They have no gospel, and thus nothing to offer the dying world.

Case in point: The Presbyterian Church USA (hereafter PCUSA), which for decades has been at the forefront of theological liberalism in this country, and a recent study reveals the fruit of such a drift.

Here are just some of the statistics that could alarm you if you don’t normally pay attention to this type of thing: Continue reading “Farewell, PCUSA: An epilogue before the fact”