Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament epistles which the apostle Paul wrote unto Titus who was another faithful son and fellow minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as unto Philemon. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters one through three of Titus, as well as the only chapter found in Philemon. “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; in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; but hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 1:1-4). “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed unto thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:5-9). BE CAUTIOUS WHOM YOU LAY HANDS ON! BE CAUTIOUS WHOM YOU APPOINT UNTO THE MINISTRY! BE CAREFUL WHO YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH! THERE MUST BE ORDER IN THE HOUSE OF GOD! SET IN ORDER! SET IN ORDER THE THINGS THAT ARE WANTING! [WHAT IS WANTING IN THE CHURCH? WHAT IS WANTING IN OUR CHURCHES TODAY? WHAT IS LACKING IN THE BODY OF CHRIST? WHAT NEEDS TO BE SET IN ORDER AMONG US? WHAT HAVE WE ALLOWED TO BECOME AND GET OUT OF ORDER! RESTORING ORDER WITHIN THE CHURCH! BRINGING ORDER BACK TO THE HOUSE OF GOD! ORDER! ORDER! ORDER IN THE HOUSE OF GOD! WHAT IS LACKING! ONE THING! ONE THING IS NECESSARY! ONE THING IS NEEDFUL!
“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).
“And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful…” (Luke 18:18-24).
ONE THIS IS NEEDFUL! LACKEST THOU ONE THING! When I consider the words which are found in the epistle which was written unto Titus who was another beloved son in the faith to the apostle Paul—and not only this particular epistle, but also the epistles which were written unto Timothy—I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth concerning the charge and the instruction the apostle Paul sought to present unto them. Here within these three epistles we find two faithful ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ who were both actively engaged in the work of the ministry in two different churches and communities. If you read the two epistles which were written unto Timothy you will discover that he was in Ephesus where the apostle Paul had left him after departing for Jerusalem, while upon reading the epistle written unto Titus you will find him on the island of Crete. The apostle Paul would take to these epistles written unto these spiritual sons in the faith that he might charge them concerning the care, the work, and the ministry of the body of Christ. If we are going to understand the language that is found within these epistles we must needs recognize and understand that they were written that these two faithful servants of the Lord might properly minister unto and among the body of Christ. Both of these spiritual sons of the apostle Paul were entrusted with care of two different churches—and not merely churches, but rather communities. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this reality, for when reading the epistles which were written unto these two ministers we find the apostle Paul providing them with guidance and instruction concerning the work of the ministry they were both actively and very much engaged in. What’s more, is that as you read these epistles you will encounter the awesome truth that the apostle Paul sought to charge each of these spiritual sons and ministers in the Lord Jesus Christ to not lose their voice, to not lose their fight, and to not lose their witness within the earth. We must needs pay close and careful attention to this, for it helps us understand that which the apostle Paul wrote unto these dear sons.
If there is one thing I can’t help but see right off the bat and from the start when reading this epistle—as well as the epistles which were written unto Timothy—is the strong bond and relationship that existed and was shared by the apostle Paul and these two spiritual sons. You cannot read these epistles and not encounter the tremendous truth that there was indeed a strong bond that existed between the apostle Paul and these two sons who were now actively engaged in ministry before and unto the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul sought to write individual epistles unto these two spiritual sons, for through these epistles he would not only charge them with instruction(s) concerning faithful ministry within, unto and among the churches where they were serving, but would also impart unto them encouragement, confidence, strength, trust, and even faith. It is truly remarkable to take the time to read the words found within these epistles, for the words the apostle Paul called both of these servants and sons into a place of authority within the churches and the body of Christ. These epistles which were written unto Titus and Timothy were indeed powerful epistles intended on providing them with sound instruction for them working the work of the ministry within the church and among the saints and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering that these epistles were intended on encouraging and charging these servants of Jesus and sons in the faith to step into the authority that had been given unto them by the laying on of hands, and by the gift of God which was given unto and imparted unto them. It would be through these epistles the apostle Paul would essentially and effectively challenge both Titus and Timothy to rise up in the authority they had been given by God through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the laying on of hands. These epistles were wonderful and powerful instructions and charges that were given unto these two servants and sons of the apostle Paul that they realize and recognize the authority given unto and placed upon them—and not only that they would recognize that authority, but also walk in it. It is truly something astonishing and worth thinking about when reading these epistles, for one of the greatest foundations and underlying currents found within them is the solid charge to rise up, step into and exercise the authority that had been given unto them by the laying on of hands according to the gift of God that was given in the person of Jesus Christ.
In fact, if you begin reading with and from the opening verse of this particular epistle you will find the apostle Paul—when referring to himself—first speaking of his being a servant of God, and secondly being an apostle of Jesus Christ. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs recognize and understand this right off the bat when reading this epistle, for there are those who would like to put apostle before servant, and those who would like to place greater emphasis on the role of apostle rather than the role as a servant. I am absolutely and completely convinced there is a great and present danger that exists within and surrounding those who think and feel as though they can somehow separate apostleship from servanthood and that they can somehow, someway be an apostle without first being a servant. There are those within and among many of our churches who think and feel as though there can be ministry without and apart from a willingness to first be a servant. Such individuals might even cite and quote the words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples when He declared that He no longer called them servants but friends. What we must needs realize and recognize when considering this particular encounter between Jesus the Christ and His disciples is that while He would indeed declare unto them that He called them “friends,” He would also declare unto them that they would be His friends if they did what He commanded and instructed them. While Jesus does indeed and does in fact call us “friends” we must needs recognize and understand that there is still a tremendous responsibility on our part to not only hear and listen to the words He speaks unto us, but also obey and do them. We cannot, we dare not and must not call and/or consider ourselves as friends of Jesus the Christ if, until and unless we are willing to do what He has commanded us. What’s more, is that these words mean that we are to do everything Jesus has commanded and instructed us—not just those parts we agree with, or those parts which are comfortable and convenient within our hearts and minds. We must needs realize and recognize that we are indeed the friends of Jesus the Christ when we are willing to hear and obey that which He has commanded and instructed us in His Word.
With this being said, I find it absolutely necessary that when we consider the opening verses of the epistle written unto Titus we pay close attention to the apostle Paul referring to himself—not only as an apostle of Jesus Christ, but also a servant of God. It is incredibly important that we understand this truth, for it brings us face to face with the fact that before we even consider ourselves apostles, before we even consider ourselves ministers, before we even consider ourselves teachers, or pastors, or the like, we must needs recognize and understand that we are a servant above everything else. Even Jesus Christ Himself emphatically declared that He did not come into this world to be served, but to serve. It was in the upper room where Jesus would put aside his garments and take up the towel and basen filled with water and would wash the feet of each of the disciples. This is an incredible powerful lesson and truth for us to come face to face with, for it allows us to truly recognize that when Jesus came to the earth—although he was indeed the Christ, and although He was indeed the Messiah, He was first and foremost a Son. Not only this, but Jesus the Christ was also a servant—and a servant of the Father who was in heaven and seated on the throne. How absolutely incredible it is to read the words found in the New Testament gospel narratives and accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus, for it is within these gospel narratives we are brought face to face with the fact that Jesus came to the earth to seek and to save those which were lost, as well as to serve others. Jesus did not come unto the earth to serve Himself, nor even to be served, but He came that He might serve the needs of those which were before and all around Him. We dare not and must not miss this, for when we think about the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ we must recognize that He came to seek and to save that which was lost, and He came as both a servant and as a Son. Oh how truly wonderful and beautiful it is to think about the fact that when the Father sought to accomplish His greatest work in the earth He chose to send a servant as was prophesied and proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah—and not only as a servant as the prophet Isaiah spoke of, but also as a Son whom the gospels spoke of and portrayed.
There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words found in the epistles written unto Timothy and Titus the apostle Paul was charging these two spiritual sons in the faith to step into the authority that was given unto and placed upon them, as well as to live their lives as faithful servants of the Lord Jesus. What’s more, is that as you read the opening four verses of the first chapter of this epistle you will encounter the apostle Paul referencing himself as “a servant of God,” and referring to Titus as “mine own son after the common faith.” It is within this epistle we not only find the apostle Paul using the language of servant, but also using the language of son. Essentially that which we find and that which we have in this passage of Scripture is the apostle Paul as more than simply a servant of God, and more than simply an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also as a spiritual father unto Titus his own son after the common faith. Moreover, it would be faith that would strengthen and unite this bond of a father and a son, for the apostle Paul would be a spiritual father unto Titus—not according to flesh and blood, nor of the will of man, but according to the common faith which they shared. For the apostle Paul Titus and Timothy were more than simply fellow ministers which were found within Crete and Ephesus, as these two individuals were sons whom the apostle Paul viewed as being spiritual sons in the faith. The apostle Paul would take to these epistles and letters to charge and command these two faithful ministers of the Lord in the work of the ministry for which the Lord Jesus had called them to. Timothy would be left in Ephesus that he might fulfill the charge, the command and the commission that was placed upon his life, while Titus would be left on the island of Crete that he might fulfill the charge, command and commission that was placed upon his life. It is truly something astonishing and worth thinking about when reading these three epistles, for when we take the time to read them we find these were the only two individuals whom the apostle Paul wrote unto as it pertains to ministry. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there were others who traveled and journeyed with the apostle Paul and that there were others who engaged in the work of the ministry within the churches—individuals such as Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla, Barnabas, Silas, John Mark, Luke, and others. It would only be unto these two spiritual sons in the faith the apostle Paul would actually make mention of in epistles which were specifically written unto them.
It’s actually quite interesting that when you examine the apostolic assignment and ministry of the apostle Paul that there appears to be those fellow workers, those fellow laborers, those companions and brethren who would participate in the work of the ministry together with the apostle Paul, and yet within these two epistles we find something quite different from anything else we saw in the book of Acts—and not just in the book of Acts, but also in the epistles the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were in the various cities and churches throughout Europe and Asia. You cannot read the epistles written unto the churches and not find a tremendous and powerful list of companions who would participate in the work of the ministry, and those who would labor and toil together with the apostle Paul in the work of the kingdom. In fact—more often than not it would be in the final chapter of many of the epistles which were written unto the various churches you find a list of those companions, those brethren, those fellow laborers, those fellow workers in the work of the kingdom of God. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering how many men and women would join together and participate in the work of the ministry of the kingdom, and those who would commit themselves to participating in the joint labor and task of engaging in the work of the gospel—and not only the work of the gospel, but also in the afflictions of the gospel. You cannot read the final words found in the final chapters of the epistles written unto the churches—and sometimes in some of the earlier chapters of these epistles—and encounter those who were willing to participate and give their lives for the sake of the work of the kingdom. Beginning with the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome you will find those to whom the apostle Paul would reference as being companions and faithful brethren together in the work of the ministry. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these epistles written unto the churches to get an idea of those who would participate together with the apostle Paul in the labor and work of the ministry of the kingdom:
“I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: that ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. Greet Priscilla and Aquilla my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. Salute Androcnius and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ Jesus before me. Green Ampilas my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus’ household. Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narciussus, which are in the Lord. Salute Typhena and Typhosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord. Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them. Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olumpas, and all the saints which are with them. Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:1-16).
A SERVANT OF THE CHURCH! SUCCOURER OF MANY! HELPERS IN CHRIST JESUS! WELL BELOVED! BESTOWED MUCH LABOUR IN US! MY KINSMEN! FELLOW PRISONERS! OF NOTE AMONG THE APOSTLES! IN CHRIST BEFORE ME! MY BELOVED IN THE LORD! HELPER IN CHRIST! MY BELOVED! APPROVED OF Christ! MY KINSMAN! IN THE LORD! LABOUR IN THE LORD! LABOURED MUCH IN THE LORD! CHOSEN IN THE LORD! THE BRETHREN! ALL THE SAINTS! THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST!
You cannot read the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Romans and not encounter and come face to face with a wonderful list of individuals whom the apostle Paul not only shared the bond of fellowship with in faith, but also those whom the apostle Paul considered beloved and brethren in the faith. The words which are found in these chapters are absolutely wonderful and beautiful when you think about and consider that there are not only those whom the apostle Paul wrote and spoke of as being beloved in the Lord, but also those who labored in the Lord. What’s more, is that regardless of where individuals were found within this list there is one common theme that is found at the very heart of it all. As you read the words which are found within this chapter you will encounter and come fact to face with the awesome and incredible truth that the one thing which united these individuals whom the apostle Paul wrote and mentioned was three simple words—yet three words which carry a tremendous amount of significance and meaning. If you go back and reread the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find three words that ran as a current throughout this entire list—and not only which runs as a current throughout this list, but also that which should unite us within and among the churches. In fact, these three words is what we find at the very heart of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Philemon. It is as you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will notice the three words which run as a current throughout and serve as a foundation for this list of individuals is that of being in the Lord. This concept of “in the Lord” is not only directly linked and connected to relationships, but also in the labor and work of the ministry of the kingdom. This reality and concept concerning “in the Lord” is a strong and powerful undercurrent that not only touches on the realm of fellowship with one another, but also touches on the realm of labor with one another. Consider the following words which are found within this particular chapter concerning this strong current of being “in the Lord:”
“my beloved in the Lord” “which are in the Lord” “labour in the Lord” laboured much in the lord” “chosen in the Lord”
IN THE LORD! BELOVED IN THE LORD! LABOR IN THE LORD! LABORED MUCH IN THE LORD! CHOSEN IN THE LORD! BELOVED, LABORED, CHOSEN! Oh how absolutely incredible it is to read the words which are found within this chapter, for it highlights and underscores that common theme and that common bond which we all share—and not only which we all share, but which is at the very heart of the relationships we have, as well as the labor which we commit ourselves to. You cannot read the words found within these verses and not be brought face to face with the beautiful truth that at the very heart of our labor and at the very heart of our relationships is that of being in the Lord. It is the Lord who truly does in fact unite us and knit us together as one people—and not a people in and of ourselves, but a people in the Lord. Oh I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs recognize and understand this, for that which we find within this chapter is a further exposition of that which the apostle Paul had previously written in the twelfth chapter of the same epistle. What’s more, is that it is not only an exposition of that which is found in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints at Rome, but also that which is found in the twelfth chapter of the first New Testament epistle written unto the saints which were at Corinth. This is also a reality that is expressed in the fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus, for the apostle Paul would provide powerful instruction concerning the unity and growth of the body. That which we find in the sixteenth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome is essentially an expose of that which was written and expressed in the twelfth chapter of both the epistle written unto the saints at Rome, as well as the first epistle written unto the saints which were at Corinth. We dare not and must not miss this, for if you want to truly understand the charge which was given unto Timothy and Titus you must needs recognize and understand the ministry of the body, and how the body of Christ should indeed function within and upon the earth. I am absolutely and completely convinced that you cannot truly understand the significance of what is found within the epistles written unto Timothy and Titus without and apart from understand the ministry of the body and how the body of Christ should indeed function within itself, as well as within the earth.
I am sitting here today and I am brought face to face with the extremely important truth that when you read the words written and recorded within the epistles unto Timothy and Titus you will fin the apostle Paul charging and commanding them to instruct the saints and the brethren which were in the churches at Ephesus and Crete, however, there is something else which must needs be recognized and understood within these epistles—namely, that of charging and commanding these church leaders concerning relationships which must needs exist between the brethren and the body of Christ. In fact, that which is written in the epistle unto Titus is a wonderful and beautiful Segway into the epistle written unto Philemon, for at the very heart of the epistle written unto Philemon is that of restoration of relationship—and not only that of restoration of relationship, but also the common bond of fellowship and brotherhood in the Lord. You cannot read the words which are found in the epistle written unto Titus and not also be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the thirteenth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome, as well as the words which were written unto the saints which were at Colossae and Ephesus. It is in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto saints which were at Rome, the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written unto the saints which were at Corinth, the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Ephesus, and even the second chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Philippi that we encounter and come face to face with the true ministry of the brethren within the body of Christ. Consider if you will the following words which are written and recorded within each of these chapters to encounter and obtain a powerful picture of how the body of Christ must needs operate and function within the earth:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:1-8).
”Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. IF it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap colas of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).
“Wehrefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (Romans 12:12-27).
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling: One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the minister, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:1-16).
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wehrefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus ever knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Ephesians 2:1-11).
The words which we find within these chapters are a powerful picture of what the body should look like—and not only what the body of Christ should look like, but also how it should operate and function within the earth. If you want to truly understand the language that is found within the epistles written unto Timothy and Titus you must needs understand the dynamic of the body of Christ, and how the body of Christ is fitly framed and joined together. If you want to understand the instruction the apostle Paul gave unto these fellow servants and ministers in the Lord you must needs pay close attention to the words within each of these four epistles, for what is found in the epistles written unto Timothy and Titus is actually instruction given unto ministers of the Lord concerning the order and operation of the body. The epistles written unto the saints in Corinth, the epistles written not the saints in Thessalonica, as well as the epistles which were written unto the saints which were in Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae and Galatia were written unto the churches and saints themselves as a corporate body of Christ within the earth, while the epistles written unto Titus and Timothy were such that were written to the ministers within the churches rather than simply the congregation and body itself. It would be here within these epistles we find the language of the apostle Paul shifting from speaking to the body to now speaking to those who were given charge over the care, operation and function of the body. It would be Timothy who would be given charge within and among the saints which were in Ephesus, and it would be Titus who would be given charge within and among the saints which were in Crete. Each of these letters were written unto these fellow ministers of the Lord that these men might faithfully discharge and execute the office of bishop and elder within these respective churches. These two men were entrusted and given a great responsibility before and in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ to faithfully execute the care within and among the body of Christ in these respective areas within Asia.
The more I read the words which are found within the epistles which were written unto Titus and Timothy the more I can’t help but encounter the tremendous truth that within these epistles the apostle Paul was charging these men—both as spiritual sons in the common faith they shared, as well as faithful ministers of the Lord—to labor among the saints of God within these churches that they might operate and function the way they were designed, created and intended to by the Lord Jesus Christ. If you take the time to read the words which are found within these epistles you will quickly encounter and discover an awesome and powerful truth concerning these churches, and how the apostle Paul sought to encourage and strengthen these men and ministers of the Lord who were responsible with the care of the body of Christ—these men who were entrusted with governing and leading the saints of God which were in Ephesus and Crete. Oh I cannot help but read these epistles and come face to face with the truly wonderful and powerful truth that within these epistles we find the apostle Paul charging and commanding these men to labor in the Lord within and among the body of Christ that it might operate and function in the earth as it was designed and intended to. In all reality, what we find within these epistles is the apostle Paul instructing and charging these faithful ministers of the Lord to faithfully execute their office, their role and their assignment within and among the body of Christ that the body of Christ might truly operate the way the Spirit designed and intended to when it was formed and created on the day of Pentecost. It is actually quite powerful and astonishing to think about the fact that the church began in the city of Jerusalem and would be a body of believers which were present there within the city, and yet after the great persecution broke out in the midst of the city of Jerusalem the saints and believers would be scattered throughout Judaea, throughout Samaria, and even unto the various cities, lands, and regions surrounding Judaea.
What I can’t help but think about and consider when reading the words found in the epistle written unto Titus is the tremendous emphasis that was placed on relationships—not merely within the body of Christ, but also relationships which were present within the culture and society in which the saints of God and brethren in Christ were living. You cannot read the words which are found in the epistle written unto Titus and not find the apostle Paul speaking directly unto him concerning the relationships which the church must needs have the world. Despite the fact that the churches and body of Christ is in the world, yet not of the world—we must needs realize and recognize that it is absolutely impossible to not have contact and association with the world. Unless you have completely and entirely relegated yourself to living a monastic and secluded lifestyle completely and utterly separated and cut off from the world it is absolutely impossible to distance yourself from any interaction and contact within the culture and society in which you are living. If there is one thing we must needs realize and recognize when reading the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Titus it’s that it is absolutely impossible to distance and disconnect ourselves from the world and there will indeed be interaction and communication with the world. It is within the epistle written unto Titus where you will find the apostle Paul touching on two distinct and two specific realities he wrote about in the epistles which were written unto the Ephesian and Colossian saints, as well as the words which are found in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. It is as you read the words which are found in the epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Rome that you find the apostle Paul instructing these saints to not only submit themselves to the authorities which were set up in the midst of the earth, but also to respect, pray and intercede for those in authority. It is in the thirteenth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints in Rome you find the apostle Paul instructing the church to both submit themselves to those in authority, as well as to pray for—and even bless those who were in authority. It is when the apostle Paul was writing unto Titus that he instructed him to charge the saints of God which were in Christ Jesus in Crete to submit themselves unto the authorities which were established in the earth—and established not by man, but by the living God.
As you read the words which are found in the third chapter of the epistle written unto Titus you will find the apostle Paul charging and commanding him to faithfully teach and instruct the saints of God in Christ Jesus there in Crete to not only recognize and understand authorities which were set up and established in the earth, but also to submit themselves to those authorities. The apostle Paul charged Titus to faithfully instruct and teach the saints of God in Christ Jesus to commit and devote themselves to submitting themselves unto those who were placed in positions of authority. Oh, if there is one thing the body of Christ must needs recognize and understand is that when it comes to those authorities which have been set up and established in the earth we cannot and must not be those who resist and rebel against it. The church has never been granted, nor will it ever be granted license to disobey, disrespect, rebel against, complain against, murmur against, and even criticize those who have been placed in authority in the earth. Would it shock and surprise you think and consider that if you are a saints of God in Christ Jesus you have never been given license, nor have you ever been granted permission to complain against, nor speak evil against those who are in authority. Particularly and especially within this nation when there is and has been so much division surrounding the political realm and sphere in this country we must needs realize and recognize that we as the body of Christ have been called to a different and higher standard than the world before and around us. While the world before and around us might rail and complain against those in authority, might rail and complain against government, and might give themselves to speaking evil against those who have been placed in authority within this nation—the church must not engage themselves in any form or type of complaining, slandering, gossiping, murmuring, rebelling and railing against those who are in authority.
I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the tremendous division that surrounds the government within nation—and not only the government within this nation, but also the government within each of the states which comprise this nation—and how there have been countless professing Christians among us within our churches who have allowed themselves to be given over to complaining, murmuring, and grumbling against those in leadership within this nation. There are those among us within the church who have allowed ourselves to be caught up in a spirit of rebellion—and not only a spirit of rebellion, but also a spirit of complaining against those in authority, and those who have been established as leaders within this nation. It makes no difference whether it is the President of the United States, of state governors, or sitting senators, or sitting congressmen or congresswomen, for there have been countless men and women within the church who have allowed themselves to be given over to a spirit of complaining and rebellion against those whom the Lord has allowed to be in positions of authority and leadership. If there is one thing we must needs realize and recognize it’s that we have not been given the license, nor have we been given the right to complain against anyone who has been placed in a position of authority and/or leadership—this, regardless of whether or not we agree with the views of those leaders or not. One of the greatest truths we must needs recognize and understand is that the church has never been given the license, nor has the church ever been granted permission to complain, nor rebel against authority in this earth and in this life. In fact, if you read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts—and even when you read the narrative and account of the early church and early church fathers—you will never find them speaking evil against those in authority, nor speaking evil against those who were in positions of leadership and government. Nowhere in the book of Acts will you find any of the believers in Christ, nor even the apostles themselves speaking evil against those in authority, and even when you find the apostle Paul speaking of the high priest as being a whitewashed wall you will find him repenting of his words as he did not realize that he was the high priest. The apostle Paul himself would go on to speak and declare how we have been commanded not to speak evil against those who are in authority.
Oh I read the words which are found within the epistle written unto Titus—and not only the words which are found within the epistle written unto Titus, but also the words which are found written in the thirteenth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome—and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that nowhere in Scripture have we as the people of God, nor we as the saints of the Lord Jesus Christ been given permission, nor the right, nor license to speak evil against those who are in authority. I am absolutely convinced that this pandemic which has spread like wildfire throughout this nation and across the globe is a powerful training ground and trial run for how we as the saints of God can and will handle laws, statutes, commands, and orders issued by the government which we don’t agree with. Whether it’s a stay at home order, or whether it’s an order to wear a mask, or an order to social distance six feet apart from others, or whether it’s even an order for indoor gatherings being limited to no more than ten people—an order which would effectively shut down churches—we have been given a powerful invitation before the Lord to show and demonstrate how we can and will respond to those orders, and that which those in authority have been commanding and instructing us to do. In all reality, I am absolutely and completely convinced that there are—and there have been—countless professing Christians who have allowed themselves to be given over to a spirit of rebellion in the midst of this pandemic, and have demonstrated their rebellion against authority. What’s more, is there have been countless professing Christians who have demonstrated and revealed that they feel and believe they have the right to complain against, argue with, and even take to court state, local and federal government officials whose orders they don’t agree with.
I am absolutely convinced that the pandemic which has rocked and shaken this nation over the past several months is indeed a powerful training ground for how we as the saints of God in Christ Jesus in particular can and will handle government orders which have been issued and decreed—specifically those which we don’t agree with. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we have witnessed in recent months concerning orders which have come down from government officials is a powerful training ground and trial run for how well the people of God can and will handle orders that are much more drastic. Pause for a moment and think about this—for if you cannot handle orders given and spoken to wear a mask, or to social distance, or to even stay home then how on earth do you expect to be able to handle orders and commands to cease meeting together as the body of Christ, to cease speaking about Christ, and to cease preaching the gospel concerning Christ. If you cannot handle commands that touch the realm of physical health and safety then how on earth are you going to handle commands to cease preaching the gospel, to cease fellowshipping together with other saints and believers, and to cease speaking about the truth found in the gospel concerning Christ. The question we must needs ask ourselves is in that moment and in those days—will we argue against, rail against, complain against, and respond with anger, malice and rage against government officials, or will we live peaceably among men? Please note and please understand that I am not in any way suggesting that we cease preaching the gospel, nor that we cease speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ, nor even that we cease fellowshipping with each other. I read an article recently that revealed how the party scene within the city of New York did not cease, nor did it stop, but it simply went underground. Oh I can’t help but read an article like this and think about how the church can and will respond when orders which touch not upon the realm of health and safety, but rather upon the realm of the gospel, the realm of Jesus the Christ, the realm of fellowship. Will there be professing Christians who will rebel and complain against authority and seek to take matters to the law, or will Christians simply continue to fellowship together with each other, and continue speaking about Christ, and continue preaching and teaching—regardless of what orders, decrees and commands have been handed down by government officials. Oh it is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found within the third chapter of the epistle written unto Titus, as well as the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome:
“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceive, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost: which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:1-7).
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; customer to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Ow no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:1-10).
We must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found within these chapters and passages of Scripture, for the words we find here bring us face to face with the tremendous reality that we have great need to subject ourselves to those who are in authority. Even if we don’t agree with those who are in authority, and even if those in authority issue decrees, commands and ordinances that are contrary to the word of God—while we are not instructed to obey such commands, we are indeed and are in fact instructed to submit ourselves to them in godly fear and reverence. You will recall that when the religious leaders and Sanhedrin during the days of the apostles commanding them to cease preaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ they emphatically declared unto them that it was better for them to obey God rather than men. I am sitting here thinking about how many professing Christians within this country and nation would not only refuse to rail and complain against those in positions of authority in the government should they issue decrees and ordinances concerning preaching the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, but will instead peacefully submit themselves unto them with all respect and godly fear. This is not to say they cease preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, but rather that they do not raise themselves up against them in rebellion by maliciously slandering them, vehemently opposing them with their words, complaining and rebelling against them with a spirit of defiance, and resorting to accusation against them. I can’t help but get the strong sense that there can and there will be men and women among us within this nation in the coming days who would even think to take state and local governments and government officials to court should such issues, decrees, and statutes be handed down. We have witnessed church leaders threatening to take governments to court over the shutting down of churches in the midst of the pandemic, and we have witnessed professing Christians taking to the streets in protest demanding that churches be opened again, and men and women be able to freely meet in church buildings. Oh there have been countless men and women who have failed to realize that we have been called to be the church without and apart from church buildings, and that we have never needed, nor will we ever need church buildings to do church and to be the church.
It is when you come to the second chapter of the second epistle written unto Timothy you will find the apostle Paul writing unto him both charging and instructing that all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men—and not only for all men, but for kings, and for all that are in authority. This ought to be done that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. As I bring this writing to a close I am absolutely and completely convinced that we have a divine mandate and mission from the eternal and living God to devote and commit ourselves to living quite and peaceable lives within this nation and within the generation in which we are living. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—is protesting and marching in the streets living a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty? Is threatening to take governments to court leading quiet and peaceful lives with all godliness and honesty? We have witnessed countless professing Christians—instead of committing themselves to all supplication, all prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. There have been countless men and women among us within recent months who have given themselves to a spirit of rebellion, a spirit of defiance, a spirit of complaining, and a spirit of disobedience before and against those in authority and those who have been placed within the government of both states and of the nation. There is not a doubt in my mind that we as the people of God have been called into a place where we are willing to devote and commit ourselves to submitting ourselves to those in authority within this nation and within this country—and this regardless of whether or not we agree with them, and despite those issues, those decrees, those ordinances, those laws, and those commands which they issue. Oh there is a great need present within and among us during these recent months to truly examine our hearts and see how we can indeed and can in fact handle affliction, opposition, suffering, and even persecution. How we handled, and we continue to handle life in the midst of this health crisis and pandemic can and will reveal how we can and will handle ourselves when something greater than masks and social distancing will be presented before us within this nation and within this country. Show me how one as a professing Christian reacted, responded and lived during the recent health crisis, and I will show you how that individual can and will live during a time of intense suffering, affliction, opposition and persecution in this nation when it does indeed and does in fact rise up among us.