Lesson 18: "The Grace of God that Bringeth Salvation Hath Appeared to All Men" (Titus 2:11)
Paul's Letters To Preachers. Welcome again! This is lesson # 18. This lesson begins in Titus 2:9 and we hope to complete ch. 2 in this lesson. This is a continuation of our last lesson. Paul left Titus in Crete and instructed him (as a gospel preacher) to "set in order the things that are wanting" (1:5). As we have seen in ch. 1 and the first half of ch. 2, there was a lot wanting, i.e. a lot lacking in the Cretan churches. Paul told Titus to ordain elders in every city (there in v.5) and then he told Titus what to look for, i.e. what we call the qualifications of elders (1:6-9). Then the apostle said in effect, this sure is needed and he told about the Cretan attitude and the false teachers that abounded in those quarters. Then, the apostle gave some qualifications for gospel preachers in ch. 2, "speak...sound doctrine!" We sometimes mention that Paul gave qualifications for elders or bishops or overseers or pastors or shepherds or presbyters (and that is true); but, we forget that the apostle didn't stop there. He gave qualifications for preachers too, for old men, for young men, for old women and for young women, i.e. the way we must conduct ourselves "that the word of God be not blasphemed." You see, to do otherwise is to blaspheme the word of God. That's what he said (in 2:5). So, Paul didn't just give qualifications for elders, he gave qualifications for all of us, men, women, preachers and even slaves which we didn't get to in our last lesson. That's where this lesson begins (in 2:9), Christian slaves, even slaves must qualify; so, Paul didn't slight anybody. Don't feel left out! Use sound speech "that cannot be condemned!" (2:8). Did you notice in Paul's list of qualifications for old men and old women (etc.) that Paul used some of the very same words as he used in qualifications for elders? "not given to wine," "temperate," "holy," "sober." Titus and all gospel preachers got sprinkled with those same words! So, you see, it doesn't all depend on the elders and the preachers, we're all obligated. You can't just turn it over to the young people; we talked about that. Don't let your age or your occupation or your hobbies get in the way. Work for the night is coming when no man works, when the day is over and that final sun goes down in this life.
Alright, let's get down to v.9, Christian slaves. What did Paul say to slaves? Are you ready? Beginning in Titus 2:9 and we'll read to the end of ch. 2, i.e. down through v.15. Are you tuned in? Here we go! "Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee."
O.K., Christian slaves! Paul had spoken to preachers, old men, young men, old women, young women and now the apostle speaks of slaves. What did Paul say? The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the term "Christian slaves" is that slavery and Christianity are incongruous or contradictory. However, as we have commented before, the institution of slavery was very great at the time of Paul in the first century. It is said by some that far more than half of the Roman citizenry were slaves. I don't think we have a good figure on that; but, obviously the number of slaves (as a percent of the empire) was great. The apostle Paul said to the Corinthians brethren in I-Cor. 7:20 (in discussing marriage, incidentally) "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant." Thus, Christianity did not demand that the slavery system, then known, be immediately abandoned. To have done so would (no doubt) have brought about a great civil upheaval. However, the institution of Christianity set forth principles that would eventually dissolve the institution of slavery when properly applied, i.e. the gospel (Christ's coming, his death, burial and resurrection) did not instantly change slavery. However, slaves could become Christians just as a free man could become a Christian (the very same way) by obeying the gospel. Thus, we are forced to conclude that obeying the gospel, becoming a Christian, applies to everyone exactly alike. It has nothing to do with your station in life, your nationality, young, old, rich or poor, literate or illiterate, male, female, slave or a free man. These things make no difference! If you can improve your lot in life...do it! That's what Paul said (I-Cor. 7:21), i.e. if you can do it consistently with faith in Jesus Christ and the gospel. Thus, Christianity does not have to do with your occupation, your hobbies, your bank account, your wardrobe or anything else; so long as those things do not violate faith in Jesus Christ or your dedication to our Lord Jesus Christ and his kingdom or church. Yet, you are obligated to serve Him above and beyond all these things. They must not get in the way of your service to King Jesus. Back there in that same text, the apostle Paul said: "likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant." Thus, free men and slaves have exactly the same obligation to the Lord. You may have been born free, i.e. free born... freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of travel, freedom of occupation, freedom in selecting a spouse, ect.; however, to the Lord Jesus Christ you are a slave. That's what Paul said! (I-Cor. 7:22, read it!). In the sight of the Lord Jesus Christ civil slaves are just as free as anybody else according to that verse. Therefore, slaves can be Christians or they can be atheists, they can be preachers, they can be elders, they can be evangelist, they can be saved, or they can be lost. Perhaps while we're at this juncture in our discussion, I should not leave this point without tossing in another thought. There is another principle found in the Bible, I believe, that might be stated something like this: TO HIM WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN, MUCH IS REQUIRED. In other words if you have greater opportunity, you are accordingly given greater responsibility. Jesus stated this principle in Luke 12:47-48 and the apostle Paul applied the idea (in this principle) to himself (in I-Tim. 1:13). So, to keep the picture in spiritual focus, you must stir in the responsibility principle also. "Render...unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's" is Jesus' statement (in Luke 20:25). So, Christianity (in my feeble words) comes down to DO THE BEST YOU CAN, WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, WHERE YOU ARE. That's all the Lord expects! But, he does expect that much! Slave or free makes no difference.
Therefore, the apostle Paul admonished the slaves on Crete just like he admonished Titus, the preacher, the elderly Christians, the younger Christians and everybody else. Now, getting back to our text (Titus 2:9), the apostle Paul said: "Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things..." Christian slaves on Crete were to make every reasonable attempt to accomplish what their slave-masters-owners assigned them to do, i.e. consistent with their faith in God. They couldn't lie, cheat, steal or kill for their masters. God comes first! Of course, free men can't do that either. Free men must put God first also. Notice, that not only were slaves "to be obedient unto their own masters," they were "to please them well." In other words their service was not to be half-hearted. Their service to their masters was to be genuine, "pleas(ing) them well in all things." Not just when it was convenient. Not just when it was easy. Not just when their master was watching. They were not to do it and then grumble about it. They were not to talk back, smart mouth, or be sassy. Does that mean they couldn't ask an honest question or make a conscientious comment? Of course not! Does that mean they didn't get tired, sweat or have pain. Of course not! They were to do the best they could, with what they had, where they were. Could they take advantage of any honest opportunity to improve themselves, to advance themselves or to improve their lot in life? Of course they could. The word "purloining" (in v.10, KJV) is translated: "steal," "pilfer," or "embezzle" in some other versions. They were not to do that and free men are not to do that either. On the contrary, servants were to lookout for their master's best interest, "showing all good fidelity" (v.10). In so doing, they would "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour," i.e. Jesus. What a beautiful thought this is! To adorn means to decorate or enhance. In serving their masters faithfully, slaves were displaying Christianity in it's best light, i.e. clothed in righteousness. Jesus said: "let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 5:16). What are men to see? Your good works! Hang on to that phrase "good works" just a minute. Salvation is by grace, i.e. it is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8); however, "good works" glorifies God. Paul used that phrase, "good works" several times in this letter and strongly encourages good works. He said to Titus, show "thyself a pattern of GOOD WORKS." (2:7). We are to be "zealous of good works." (2:14). We are to "be careful to maintain good works." (3:8) and in summary, the same thought is repeated (3:14). And that doesn't just apply to slaves, that applies to everyone, bond or free.
Now, why do "that"? Why must we have a new lifestyle as Christians, i.e. "good works" that adorns the doctrine of God? Why must we be a pattern of good work, or let our light shine, i.e. be a good example to those about us? Why must our lifestyle adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour? There's a reason! For this reason (v.11)! The reason is that "the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." Grace means kindness, unmerited favor or a gift bestowed. God has shown us great kindness, the gift of God. The gift that bringeth salvation, i.e. the sacrifice of Jesus has appeared to all men or in other words is available to all mankind. Is it unreasonable that he should expect us to be zealous of good work? to maintain good works? to be a pattern of good works? i.e. be a peculiar people purified unto himself (v.14)? This grace "teaches us" something (v.12), see that? What does God's grace teach us? It teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lust. When? In this present world (end v.12). This is the negative side of the coin. The other side of God's grace teaches us "we should live soberly, righteously, and godly..." When should we do this? "in this present world" (end v.12), in other words NOW. Notice, that through God's grace we have a "blessed hope" (v.13). Notice also, that "hope" is connected to Christ's , second coming. The looking for of that hope is the looking for and the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Without this hope Paul said (I-Cor. 15:19), "we are of all men most miserable." The second coming of Jesus is the climax of our faith. It is for this cause that Jesus gave himself for us (v.14). The purpose of his giving himself was "that he might redeem us from all iniquity," i.e. rescue (or salvage us) from sins (here called "iniquity"). By justice, our sins would require that we be destroyed. Because, sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:1-2). No sin can enter heaven (Rev. 21:27). And don't forget, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). However by grace, the grace of God or God's gift (if you will), the sacrifice of Jesus, is capable of redeeming us or rescuing us from that destruction we deserve. This redeeming, rescue from sins, depends upon our acceptance, i.e. our response. It's like a life saver or a life preserver on the end of a rope. Jesus has thrown us the life saving end of that rope in our lost and dying condition; but, the other end of the rope remains with the saviour and he is firmly ready to rescue us if we will but respond. If you do not respond in faith, by hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, being baptized and living a faithful life, he will not save. It's the gospel message. Paul said (v.14) that Jesus, our Saviour, "gave himself...that he might redeem us." The word "might" (v.14) implies uncertainty. Any uncertainty is on our part, i.e. on the part of our response, not on the part of God. In the sacrifice of Jesus, He has already done His part, i.e. to "redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people." Peculiar in the sense that we are to be zealous in doing good works, i.e. righteous and not evil as the worldly view naturally assumes and expects.
THIS is sound doctrine! Back in v.1, Paul told Titus "speak thou the things WHICH BECOME SOUND DOCTRINE." Here in v.15, after the apostle has reiterated these things, he says, "these things speak." These things (i.e. God's grace and what God's grace teaches us); Paul says "speak," therefore these things are (by the nature of the case) defined as sound doctrine. Any doctrine contrary to this is NOT sound doctrine. It's just that simple.
Therefore, the apostle emphasizes the importance of sound doctrine by saying (v.15), "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority." Look at the verbs: speak, exhort, and rebuke. This is authoritative, this is sound doctrine, this is official. You have the authority to do this (Matt. 28:18). It has a life saving capacity that emanates from the throne of God. Speak it! Exhort, i.e urge, caution, forewarn and alert everyone to the dangers of being lost and the great grace on the other hand that is now available to all men. Do not hesitate to rebuke, i.e. expose error, criticize or disapprove any thing that is not sound doctrine. The message is urgent. Be courageous! Speak it from the housetops. Make all aware of this saving grace. And, just as Paul admonished Titus, in doing this to be a pattern of good works, the apostle says in v.15 "Let no man despise thee." Now, I can't control exactly who loves me and who despises me. So, the point is not to control other people. The point is that if someone makes light of me or shows contempt, I must not let that deter me or discourage me. The message is still true. The message is still urgent and the message still carries God's saving grace even if the whole world ignores it and belittles it. Don't be discouraged. Sound doctrine is sound, i.e. reliable and trustworthy. If you are teaching what is true, then have no fears. Just make sure you stay on the true track. We're going to stop here; but, I'll be back. Have a good day.