Today’s selected reading is found in the first chapter of the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Titus who we will discover was like unto a son to the apostle. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first four verses of the first chapter. When we come to this particular set of verses we find the introduction to this epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Titus who was another individual who like Timothy the apostle viewed as a spiritual son in the faith. As we begin reading the first four verses of this particular chapter we find what has become a customary introduction in each of the epistles which the apostle wrote. The epistle which was written unto Titus is one of only four epistles which were written by the apostle Paul unto specific individuals within the early church. We have already studied and worked our way through the two epistles which the apostle wrote unto Timothy whom we know to be the first bishop ordained within the city of Ephesus. The epistle written unto Titus is one of only two epistles remaining—not only which were written by the apostle Paul, but also within the New Testament. Only Titus and Philemon are left as epistles found within the New Testament which were written by the hand of the apostle Paul. As you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Titus in this particular epistle you will not only notice that he was ordained as bishop of Crete, but there is also very little which was written concerning Titus in the New Testament. You will find another mention of Titus in the epistles which Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Corinth, but other than that you will be hard pressed to find any other mention of this bishop in Crete. With that being said, the epistle which Paul wrote unto Titus was known as one of the pastoral epistles, for it was one of the epistles which were written directly into leaders of a specific church. Timothy was the bishop of the church in Ephesus and had two epistles written unto him, while Titus was the bishop of the church on the island of Crete and had an epistle written unto him.
The epistle which was written unto Titus found within the New Testament was one that was written in an attempt to encourage this servant and minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to provide instruction concerning the ministry. It is absolutely incredible that we have another pastoral epistle which as the one that was written unto Titus for within its pages we find sound instruction concerning the ministry of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Before we even delve into the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Titus we must recognize and understand that he was only one of two leaders within the church whom the apostle wrote to. We know and understand from the New Testament book of Acts that the apostle Paul visited and met with the Ephesian elders prior to his departure and journey unto the city of Jerusalem, but not until we come to the writings of the apostle Paul do we actually find him writing unto specific individuals. It’s actually quite interesting that the apostle Paul wrote unto the various churches such as Corinth, Rome, Thessalonica, Philippi, Colossae, and even the churches in Galatia, and of the thirteen letters which the apostle Paul wrote, only four were written specifically unto an individual. I find the fact that the apostle Paul wrote another epistle unto young Titus to be a powerful testimony and witness that even those in ministry need instruction and encouragement. We would be incredibly remiss and even naïve to think and consider—even for a moment—that just because you are in ministry you are somehow exempt and immune from needing encouragement and instruction in the Lord. There was something very specific the apostle Paul was seeking to accomplish when writing unto Timothy as the bishop of the church in Ephesus, and now there was something very specific which the apostle Paul sought to accomplish when writing unto Titus. There is not a doubt in my mind that the apostle Paul knew, recognized and understood that Titus was in tremendous need of encouragement in the ministry, as well as instruction concerning walking as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ in the earth.
What we must recognize and understand concerning the epistle which Paul wrote unto Titus is that he—like Timothy—was ordained and appointed as a leader of a specific church. It is absolutely unclear what the spiritual and moral climate of the church of Crete was like, but suffice it to say the apostle Paul felt compelled and felt a great need and burden to write a letter unto this specific individual. I personally feel a great need to return to the reality and concept of leaders and ministers of Jesus Christ not only needing instruction in righteousness, but also encouragement in their daily lives. We dare not and must not forget that the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy and declared that the word of God and Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, and instruction in righteousness. What’s more, is that scripture is profitable in order that the man of God might be made perfect and thoroughly furnished unto good works. Please don’t miss the distinct realities of being thoroughly furnished unto good works, nor the reality and concept of instruction in righteousness, for these two realities are often neglected, and perhaps even ignored when it comes to those in ministry and leadership within the church. We must not be so naïve to consider for one moment that those in leadership within the house of the Lord have no need for instruction in righteousness, for to believe such a farce and such a lie would be to declare that there is no need for scripture at all within the life of that particular individual. Haven help the individual who no longer feels as though they have any need for scripture in their lives and no longer need instruction In righteousness. There will never be a day within our lives when we cannot and will not need instruction in righteousness. There can never, there will never, and there must never be a day in our lives when we feel as though we no longer have need to be instructed in righteousness, for if such a day ever comes we are in an incredibly dangerous place. What’s more, is that with that being said, there must also never be a point and place in our lives when we don’t feel as though we need to be thoroughly furnished unto all good works, for while we have not been called to a life and ministry of works—we have been called to a life of action within, upon and throughout the earth.
I can’t help but be completely and utterly gripped by the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in the second epistle written unto him, for there is something truly powerful contained within that epistle. What’s more, is that the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in his second epistle must also be carefully considered and understood in direct relationship to and in light of that which the apostle Peter wrote in the epistles which he wrote unto those saints which were scattered within and throughout the earth. I would present unto you and bring your attention first and foremost unto the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in the second epistle which was written unto him. Consider if you will the words which were written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy concerning scripture and its benefit and usefulness within our lives: But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that form a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:14-17). With those words the apostle Paul makes it perfectly and abundantly clear that “ALL” Scripture—not some Scripture, nor those portions of Scripture which we deem to be profitable, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. It would be very easy to get caught up in the lie and the deception that only certain portions of Scripture are profitable and beneficial for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, however, nowhere in the entirety of the Bible will you find such a reality manifested and written by any author of any book or letter. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that whether we read Scripture, or whether we study Scripture, or even whether we preach Scripture, it is profitable to all for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. We tend to think and believe that only certain portions of Scripture are profitable for such realities within our lives, and yet nothing could be further from the truth. It makes absolutely no difference whether we are preaching Scripture, or whether we are merely reading and studying Scripture, for all Scripture—wether it is preached or whether it is read—is profitable. What’s more, is that I would not only declare that all Scripture is profitable in and of itself, but all Scripture is profitable unto and for all people. As certainly and as surely as ALL Scripture is profitable, I would also present unto you the tremendous reality that all Scripture is profitable unto and for all individuals—regardless of who that particular individual is.
The more I consider this particular reality of all Scripture being profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, the more I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the author of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews wrote. Consider if you will the words contained within this particular New Testament epistle beginning with and from the seventh verse: “Again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:7-13). It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to that which is found in this particular passage of Scripture, for not only do we find the author writing and speaking of a rest which is made available unto and prepared for the saints, but we also find directly connected to that rest the reality of hearing the voice of God and not hardening our hearts. What’s more, is that not only do we find directly connected to the reality of this rest which has been prepared for us, but we also find connected to it a powerful declaration concerning the word of God. It would appear directly connected to this rest which has been prepared for us the word of God which is quick and powerful, and sharper than any-two edged sword, which pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow. What’s more, is that the word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. We must not quickly move past this particular reality, for to do so would be to miss and lose sight of the reality that directly connected to our entering into that rest which has been prepared for us is the call to hear His voice and not harden our hearts, as well as allowing the word of God to discern the thoughts and intents of our heart. As it pertains to those in leadership and ministry within the house of the Lord, we must understand that there is a rest that is available unto them—and not only is there a rest that is available for them, but there are also a number of those who lead and minister within the church who desperately need to experience that rest. With that being said, however, it is imperative that we recognize that one cannot and will not experience that rest without hearing the voice of the Lord and refusing to harden their hearts, and allowing the Word of God to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Transitioning to the second epistle which the apostle Peter wrote unto those saints which were scattered abroad, we must approach another passage which points to the tremendous importance of the word of God, and of the prophecy of Scripture. I would direct your attention to that which is found in the first chapter of the second epistle which the apostle Peter wrote beginning with the twelfth verse:
“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts, knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:12-21).
With the words written and contained within this particular passage of Scripture found in the second epistle written by the apostle Peter, we find that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation. What’s more, is that we find and discover that the prophecy which came in old time did so by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Now, you might be wondering why I would mention and include such words within this writing, however, it is absolutely critical and vital that we encounter the reality that all Scripture and all prophecy of Scripture came not from the interpretation or inspiration of man, but came from the will of God. What’s more, is that any and every prophecy of Scripture came as men of God spoke being moved by the Holy Ghost. To declare and even believe for a moment that we have absolutely no need of Scripture is to deny the fact that Scripture did not come merely from private interpretation and inspiration of men, but actually came through and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Spirit moved upon men, thus causing them to speak. When writing unto Timothy, the apostle Paul wanted to ensure his understanding that all Scripture was profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, What’s more, is the apostle Paul wanted Timothy to understand that the purpose of Scripture was to equip the man of God to be perfect, and throughly furnished unto good works. Please recognize and understand that the word of God is profitable unto us who would minister within the house of the Lord, as we have been called to a life of action and activity and not a life of inactivity. It is true that we have not been called to a life of works, but it is true that we have been called to a life of action here in this earth. So long as we have breath in our lungs, and so long as we are found to be present within this earthly tabernacle, we are and have been called to a life of action. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote in the epistle which is found in the New Testament. Consider if you will the words which James wrote in the second chapter of this particular epistle, beginning with and from the fourteenth verse:
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily foodie, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise, also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-26).
With these words James the half brother of Jesus writes concerning our faith, and that faith without works is dead. What’s more, is that James emphatically and without hesitation and reservation declares that we have been called to a life of action and activity rather than living complacent lives of inactivity. In all reality, that which James has written in this particular epistle is that works—while we are not justified by works—are the demonstration and manifestation of our faith. It would be incredibly easy to declare that we have faith, and even that we are justified by faith alone, and yet there is no tangible evidence and reality of such a faith. For James, we dare not make any boast that we have faith, for even the demons believe there is one God and tremble. If what the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote is true, and without faith it is impossible to please God, than that which James wrote concerning faith without works being dead is also directly connected to it. It is true that without faith it is impossible to please God, and directly connected to that faith which pleases God is a powerful life of activity and action within the life of an individual. In fact, if you read the entire eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews, you will notice and discover that it is a chapter dedicated and devoted to action and activity within the lives of those whose names were mentioned, and even those whose names weren’t mentioned. Without getting into the entire eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews, I feel compelled to present you with the words which are found towards the end of the chapter. When you come to the end of the chapter you find time failing the author of the epistle to write concerning all those who demonstrated and manifested their faith in the living God through their actions and activity within the earth. I would direct your attention to the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote beginning with the thirty-second verse of the eleventh chapter:
“And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barack, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed vailiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mocking and scourging, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandred about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:32-40).
The entirety of the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews perfectly and powerfully describes the tremendous reality concerning faith, and how necessary and vital faith truly is within our lives. In verses one through three of the eleventh chapter we find the following words written by the author: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not ma de of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:1-3). In the sixth verse of this same chapter we find the author making this bold and emphatic declaration concerning faith: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarded of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). What we find and what we notice within this particular chapter is not only that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, but also that without faith it is impossible to please God. What’s more, is that within and through this chapter we find directly connected to faith a powerful demonstration and declaration that faith allows us to be justified before God, and to please God, but faith also compels us to a life of action and activity within the earth. You cannot read the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews and not be compelled with and by the reality that faith is wonderfully demonstrated and manifested through and by our actions and activity within the earth. I understand full well that you declare yourself to be a man and a woman of faith, and I understand that you declare of yourself and believe that you are justified before the Lord your God by faith, but I would draw and bring your attention to the question of whether or not your faith has a face. THE FACE OF FAITH! Does your faith have a face, or does your faith wear a mask, thus concealing and hiding it from those who are around you? Can others see your faith—not as though and as if it is some tangible reality which is visible to the natural eye—but is made visible through and by your actions and activity within and upon the earth? For James faith without works was dead, thus demonstrating and manifesting the overwhelming and powerful reality that faith must have a face, and face must be made visible to those around us—as well as unto the living God—through our actions and activity within the earth. Consider if you will what is perhaps one of the most powerful demonstrations and declarations of this reality which is found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew beginning with the thirty-first verse:
“When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answered and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he also say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-46).
When you begin reading the opening verses of the first chapter of the epistle written unto Titus you will find a greeting which was customary in all of the Pauline epistles—namely, the apostle Paul describing himself as a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have to admit that when I read the opening verse of the first chapter of this epistle, I am captivated with and by the reality that the apostle Paul first and foremost viewed himself and understood himself to be a servant of God. There were certain instances when the apostle Paul would begin and open his epistles with a declaration concerning his apostleship before and of the Lord Jesus Christ, but when writing unto Titus, the apostle Paul first spoke of himself as a servant of God, and then as an apostle of Jesus Christ. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this particular reality, for all true ministry, service and labor before Jesus Christ, as well as in and for the kingdom of God must first be born from a place of living as a servant unto and a servant of God. If and unless your ministry and service in the earth—even if you claim it is in the name of Jesus Christ, and is unto Jesus Christ—is not first and foremost manifested from the place of service unto and being a servant of God, I would strongly and emphatically declare unto you that your service and ministry is in vain. In the opening verse of the epistle which was written unto the church in Rome the apostle Paul wrote the following words: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). In the opening verse of this epistle written unto Titus we find the following words: “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness” (Titus 1:1). In the first verse of the epistle which was written by James we find these words: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (James 1:1). In the second epistle which the apostle Peter wrote we find these words: “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1). Finally, in the first verse of the epistle written by Jude we find the following words: “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called” (Jude 1:1). It is quite clear and quite obvious when reading each of these opening verses that these men viewed themselves as first and foremost a servant of the true and living God, and of Jesus Christ, for ministry is always and will always be birthed and demonstrated from a place of servitude before the living God. I leave you with the words which the apostle John wrote in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel concerning the life and ministry of Jesus beginning with the first verse:
“Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; He raiseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, doest thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray Him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (John 13:1-20).