Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wednesday, February 19th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 9-10; Psalm 36; Mark 8
Today's scripture focus is Titus 2:6-10

Titus 2:6-10

English Standard Version (ESV)
Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Accompanying John MacArthur sermons:  God's Plan for Younger Men and God's Plan for Employees
Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermons: Paul's "House-Tables" and Make "Bonnie" the Doctrine

Yesterday's passage and today's blend right into each other and are one cohesive unit.  In contrast to the false teachers and their lives, Titus was not only to teach sound doctrine but to teach the practical requirements for living that are consistent with that sound doctrine.

Many of the things listed are relatively obvious and even acceptable among our culture today - our culture would (and should) expect Christians to be self-controlled, sober, and reverent.  But, as Rayburn says....wives submitting to husbands, that they should be instructed to be busy at home, and that slaves should serve their masters so selflessly, all of this seems like a communication from some other world, some distant galaxy. It strikes the modern ear as hopelessly out-of-date, even Neanderthal. The younger the reader is, the less likely it is that he or she would appreciate that well into the 1960s, the average American, Christian or non-Christian would find little here that sounded strange or unnatural. So greatly has the world changed in the last generation....though we are falling apart as a country so far as the life of the household is concerned, we somehow pity the mother in the fifties who had a stable home and a committed husband and consider normal a poor woman who, physically and emotionally exhausted, is struggling to raise children by herself and fearful that she is not doing a very good job....

 the other day, on my MSN home page, I noticed that they were offering the results of a recent sociological study on what makes wives happy in marriage. With Paul’s house-table ethics before me, I checked out the article. There were some entirely predictable things mentioned in the accompanying article – a committed husband who cares about her life, her heart, her feelings – a sharing of her responsibilities, etc. But what was genuinely interesting – this is MSN remember – is that the conclusions of the researchers were that women were happiest in traditional marriages, when they were at home with their children, when their husbands were the primary breadwinners, and they were free to make the choice to give themselves full-time to their children.

Our culture is anti-marriage and anti-children, no question.  And that combination condemns our society to extinction by simple mathematics.

If Western nations – if any nation – wishes to survive, it must bear children. The very thing modern Western, secular people want less and less to do. But if children are born they must be cared for. They must be loved, nurtured, educated, brought up to responsible adulthood. And as any faithful mother can tell you, that is a full-time job! Will any of this happen – is there any evidence anywhere that it will happen – without mothers who are busy at home. And, we go on to ask: will that ever happen in a wholesome way if husbands and wives do not again find their God-created and God-appointed order for life in which the husband’s masculine life and the wife’s feminine life are drawn together in a unity of love for the sake of the rising generation? Will any of this happen if there is not that division of labor that God’s Word and all of human history proves is necessary for the welfare and happiness of children?...

what we have here in this house-table is not the ethics of some antiquated and out-moded social system. What we have here is the way of life of a society that will not only prosper and thrive in a sinful and unjust world, but will pass on that life, that happiness, that fruitfulness to its children so effectively that they will bring a still greater measure of the wholeness of human life to the world they inhabit as adults. What we have here is not what people normally will do when left to themselves. Far from it. What we have here is what people ought to do and what a society needs for them to do.

A quick note on the slavery issue.  This passage is in no way condoning slavery. Slavery was the custom at the time, and though often slaves were mistreated by evil masters, the way the slavery system was set up in the Bible was similar to the employee/employer relationship of today.  This passage isn't discussing the issue of slavery.  It's simply saying that if you are a slave, you have the obligation to live out your faith so that the saving power of God is evident in your life. The same is true for us today if we are in an employee position.  Your workplace is your mission field.  How you conduct business and how you perform for your employer has evangelistic implications. You need to work for them respectfully, with excellence, not being argumentative or obstinate, with honesty, showing trustworthiness and loyalty.  No matter where we are or what we're doing, we need to live out our faith.

And notice why we are to live this way....
so that no one will malign the word of God. (v5)
so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. (v8)
so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. (v10)

MacArthur:  the purpose of your living this way is that the Word of God may not be dishonored, that the opponents may be shamed and silenced and that those who are watching us may indeed see that we have a saving God, a God who delivers people from sin.

The behavior of Christians – that is, if they live as Christians should – should be a recommendation of the Gospel to the unsaved. It should commend the truth about Jesus to others. It should make unbelievers sit up and take notice. The lives of Christians should be the setting for the diamond of the gospel. And those lives should certainly confirm rather than call into question what Christians are saying. It should be easier to believe what they say about Christ and salvation because their lives beautifully recommend their words.....

what finally proves to an unbelieving man that happiness is to be found in Christ and believing in Christ? Well, surely ultimately it is the Holy Spirit illuminating that person’s mind and turning his or her will. But, what instruments does the Holy Spirit use? Well, no doubt he uses the argument of the Gospel itself: man’s need and Christ’s provision. But just as clearly, in many cases, it is the witness of a Christian’s life, his conduct, her behavior. A Christian’s life is to be a pointer to happiness, a roadmap if you will. They are happy people – in the deeper, richer sense of the word; they have found the secret to goodness and contentment and joy – and so it makes sense to discover what that secret is.

When we live out our faith authentically and consistently, it makes others want what we have - it makes the gospel attractive.

When you get up in the morning and begin your day, and when you encounter other human beings, remember that you carry about with you the reputation of Jesus Christ. They will think of him, to some degree, as they think of you. And that should be motivation enough for us to live a distinctively Christian life everyday!

MacArthur puts out a challenge as well...
Approximately 90 percent of all people surveyed as to how it was that they came to know Jesus Christ pointed to a personal witness, a friend, a relative, somebody whose life impacted their life. Less than ten percent of the people who come to Christ come because of something other than a personal witness.

We need to talk Jesus Christ and live Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Titus 2:11-15
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 11-12, Psalm 37, Mark 9

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