God Makes Known His Word Through Preaching (Titus 1:1-4)


Titus 1:1-4; Key Verse: 1:3

"...and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior" (NIV, 2011).

Paul wrote Titus during a 4th missionary journey (A.D. 62-64) not recorded in Acts. He instructed Titus in how to lead the churches in Crete. Tit 3:8, a key verse of Titus, says, "...those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone." The theme of Titus is the inseparable link between faith and life, principle and practice.

Like 1 Timothy, Titus exhibits a strong concern for sound doctrine (Tit 1:9,13; 2:1-2), and contains 2 marvelous theological meditations on the grace of God extended in Christ (Tit 2:11-14; 3:4-7). Doctrine is then balanced by an emphasis on proper Christian conduct. Think BCD: Belief and behavior. Creed and conduct. Doctrine (devotion) and duty. Both always go hand in hand. Sound doctrine and proper conduct is the basis for critiquing false teaching, instruction in Christian living and qualifications for church leaders. In particular, Paul stresses the quality of sober-mindedness or self-control (Tit 1:8; 2:2, 4-6, 12) and the importance of doing what is good (Tit 2:7, 14; 3:1,8,14). With the theme of Doctrine and Duty, John Stott subdivides Titus as follows (after the introduction [Tit 1:1-4]):

  1. Doctrine and Duty in the Church (Tit 1:5-16).
  2. Doctrine and Duty in the Home (Tit 2:1-15).
  3. Doctrine and Duty in the World (Tit 3:1-15).
In his introduction (Tit 1:1-4), Paul identifies himself, expresses his purpose, and greets Titus.
  1. Paul identity (Tit 1:1).
  2. Paul's purpose (Tit 1:1-3).
  3. Paul's blessing (Tit 1:4).

As I was preparing for this sermon, my title and key verse changed 3 times. My 1st title was "The Hope of Eternal Life" (Tit 1:2). 2nd was "What is your identity and purpose of life?" (Tit 1:1). Finally, on Sat morning, I woke up and felt inspired to settle on my 3rd title and key verse: "God Makes Known His Word Through Preaching" (Tit 1:3). Though there are 3 parts, this is a 10 point sermon based on 4 verses.

I. Identity (Tit 1:1): Not what you do, but who you truly are.

"Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ..." (Tit 1:1a).

  1. Servant/Slave. 2 types of slave: temporary, permanent.
  2. Apostle. Paul did not appoint/choose himself (Jn 15:16; Ac 9:15). Paul committed to his calling/purpose/mission (1 Cor 10:31).

What is your core identity? Is your identity based on what you do, or on who you are? Paul had crystal clarity as to his identity. His purpose of life stemmed from who he was in Christ. He was a permanent slave of God willingly and voluntarily. He was chosen by God to be an apostle whose goal and aim in life was for the sake of God's elect (those chosen by God): for their faith, for the truth that sanctifies and leads to godliness, and for their hope of eternal life, which is God's fantastic guarantee to His children. May God bless each of us as we discover more and more our core identity in Christ Jesus.

II. Purpose (Tit 1:1-3): For Faith, Truth, Hope (Tit 1:1-2).

"...to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godlinessin the hope of eternal life" (Tit 1:1b-2a).

  1. Faith. Whose faith? God's elect.
  2. Truth. Truth sanctifies.
  3. Hope. Hope of eternal life is the ultimate encouragement.

Knowledge and Truth. There tends to be an anti-intellectual idea in the church because Paul said, "Knowledge puffs up" (1 Cor 8:1). But it is also true that a stupid ignorant person can also be quite proud. But because some Christians think that "too much knowledge" is bad, they conclude that studying theology is bad. Thus, they think it is not good and not practical for a Christian to go and study in the seminary, regarding it as a cemetery. Yes, you should not go to a bad liberal seminary. Choose a good seminary and study for the glory of God, because the "knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness." Clearly, Paul is not against knowledge and learning. Even before his execution, he asked Timothy to bring his books (2 Tim 4:13).

In Chap 1 (The Study of God) of his clasic, Knowing God, J.I. Packer tells this story.

“On Jan 7, 1855, the minister of New Park Street Chapel in Southwark opened his morning sermon as follows: It has been said by someone that 'the proper study of mankind is man.' I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.

“There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content. But no subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind than thoughts of God...

"But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around the narrow globe. The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity.

"And while humbling and expanding (the mind), the subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quiet for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, than a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning.

Then he goes on to preach the sermon. These words were spoken over a century ago. The preacher was 20 y/o. He had no formal theological education. But obviously he read and studied extensively by the time he was 20 y/o. What so motivated him? The grace of God (1 Cor 15:10). And he had no video games, spectator sports, or streaming movies to distract him. His name is Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Doesn't it make you kind of sick, that a 20 y/o can speak and preach like this!

The hope of eternal life. The movie Amish Grace (88 min), showed that the Amish parents had the hope of eternal life, when the worst of tragedies befell them. 5 of their daughters was shot to death by a man who was angry with God. But their hope of eternal life in the midst of their inconsolable grief enabled them to forgive the murderer of their children and to embrace his widow and his 3 children. How can they and we be sure of eternal life? God Himself guarantees it in 3 ways. "...in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior" (Tit 1:2-3).

  1. God does not lie (Tit 1:2a; 12).
  2. God promises eternal life before the beginning of time (Tit 1:2b; 2 Tim 1:9; Eph 1:4). Reflect on the mystery with gratitude and tears that God has chosen you to be saved before you were born, and even before Gen 1:1.
  3. God entrusts preachers with the gospel (Tit 1:3). In Strong's concordance, "preaching" (kerygma) occurs 8 times, and "preach"  (kerysso) occurs 61 times. Both words have the similar meaning of "to proclaim, to herald, to publish, to declare with formality, gravity and authority that which must be listened to and obeyed." But kerygma signifies, not the action of the preacher, but that which he preaches upon, the content of the proclamation, while kerysso is the act of preaching or declaring the message to a group of people. What is the object or the content of what is preached? It is the gospel, which always carries with it the implications of "good tidings proclaimed."

What does Paul preach? The gospel (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:23, 2:2,4). Telling people what to do based on the Bible is not preaching the gospel (but teaching or didache), because the imperatives are based on the indicatives and the order is not reversible. Behavior must follow belief. Duty must follow doctrine. Our Bible teaching can easily be skewed based on our bias or tradition or methodology. Paul taught the whole will, the whole plan, and the whole counsel of God (Ac 20:7). Paul gave his whole life to testify to the gospel of God's grace (Ac 20:24). Jesus himself said that all of the OT teachings pointed to him (Jn 5:39; Lk 24:27,44). Preaching, proclaiming, declaring, heralding the word that centers on the gospel is the way to shepherd God's flock, make disciples, have blameless elders, promote sanctification, increase our glorious hope, and thus have a healthy church.

III. Blessing (Tit 1:4): Grace and Peace.

"To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior" (Tit 1:4).

  1. Grace (Tit 2:11-14; 3:4-7). Charis repeated ~170 times.
  2. Peace (Rom 5:1).

Tit 1:1-4 is the introduction to Titus, which is Paul's greeting and salutation to his true son Titus. This is how Paul says, "Hello." Paul packed a comprehensive theological doctrinal teaching in his "Hello." Paul's "Hello" included what a Christian's identity is, what a Christian's purpose of life is; he mentions faith, truth and hope of eternal life; he explains several attributes of God: he does not lie, he promises the elect eternal life, he commissions preachers, he blesses with grace and peace is, etc. In these introductory words you find Paul explaining the godhead of the Trinity at work. You also find the process of salvation, sanctification and glorification. If that's Paul's "Hello" in just the first 4 verses of his letter to Titus, just wonder what is coming next in the body of his letter. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we complete our study of Titus in 5 more sermons.

May God bless us by calling and anointing preachers of the Gospel among us to declare the good news of salvation and the free gift of eternal life through Christ, in spite of all our sins.

  1. What is Paul's identity? For what purpose had Paul become God's slave and Christ's apostle (Tit 1:1-3)? Elaborate on the 3 characteristics of the elect (Tit 1:1-3). Is knowledge "bad" for faith (cf 1 Cor 8:1; 2 Tim 4:13)?
  2. What 3 fold guarantee does God give us, which makes our Christian hope of eternal life reliable (Tit 1:2-3)? Reflect on God's promise made to the elect before the beginning of time (2 Tim 1:9; Eph 1:4). The role of preaching (kerygma) (Mt 12:41). What does Paul preach (Rom 1:16, 16:25; 1 Cor 1:23, 2:2,4, 15:1-4, 14; 2 Tim 4:17)?
  3. How does Paul address Titus and bless him (Tit 1:4; 2 Cor 8:23; 2:13)? Who is Titus (Gal 2:1,3; 2 Cor 2:13; 7:5-7,13; 8:6, 16-18, 23; 12:18; 2 Tim 4:10)? In what way is God and Christ our Savior (Tit 1:3-4; 2:10,13; 3:4,6)?
  4. What are the 2 reasons Paul left Titus in Crete (1 Tim 1:5)? What is the predominant requirement of Elders (Tit 1:6-7; 1 Tim 3:2)? In what 3 areas should elders be blameless (Tit 1:6-9)?
  1. What an Apostle Is For? (Tit 1:1-4). Ligon Duncan.
  2. The Message of 1 Timothy and Titus: Guard the Truth. (Bible Speaks Today.) John Stott.
  3. Titus - Introduction.
  4. Tit 1:1-16 Executable Outlines.
  5. Preaching (Kerygma). Preach (Kerysso).

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