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 monochrome elephant in the sanctuary

A couple of years ago The Help was released to much critical and popular acclaim, depicting the relationships between white families (particularly women) and the black women who worked for them (“the help”) in 1963-64 Mississippi.

The character of Hilly Holbrook (pictured) exhibits the worst kind of condescending racism. It’s my opinion she is the best written movie villain in many years, as you laugh when you see her get hers, but still want to just ring her neck in the end.

There is no doubt race relations in this country have changed drastically for the better in the past fifty years, since the era depicted in the film, but if the recent death of Trayvon Martin and trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman tell us anything, our society has a long way to go (Note: By that I am referring to the reaction on all sides, and not on the guilt or innocence, right or wrong, of Zimmerman).

This is a tragic reality, really, but not nearly as tragic as the fact that this long way to go is nowhere better seen (I repeat, nowhere better seen) than the local church. It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself who said in 1963, “We must face the sad fact that at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning, when we stand to sing…we stand in the most segregated hour in America.” As the pastor of a small rural Southern Baptist church, I can attest to this fact. Continue reading “The monochrome elephant in the sanctuary”