Discipleship and other thoughts…

5 Jan

Christians are supposed to be different. God has a way that He wants you to live your life.

Profound, huh?

I know that is a simple statement to make but it is one that seems to be lost on many professing believers. The church often times looks a lot like the world. The character of those inside the church and those outside the church is very similar.

That’s tragic.

It’s tragic because our worldliness brings shame on our Savior. One of the reasons the church is so often ineffective is because it is full of individuals who are no different than the world around them.

It’s tragic because it means that there are many professing believers who are in reality unbelievers. Jesus Christ died, He gave Himself up to redeem us from every lawless deed and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession. Jesus is not a Savior where He is not a Purifier. In other words, the people that Jesus saves He changes. Now, it may not be all at once, but it will be. That means if a person is entirely worldly he is an enemy of God. It doesn’t matter how much he professes to love God, if his life and his desires are against God, he doesn’t really know God at all.

In the book of Titus, this how Paul describes the false teachers in Crete, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.”

Charles Spurgeon put it like this, “Most men would be very religious if religion did not entail obligations. The worldly man most of all objects to Christianity because he does not like its demands. If the worldling could keep his sins and have Christ oh how willing he would be. There is no true religion where there is no biblical morality. Do not tell me about your orthodoxy; do not come and tell me about your private prayers and secret piety – if your life is bad, you are bad altogether. A good tree cannot bring forth anything but good fruit and a corrupt tree will bring forth corrupt fruit. There is no questioning that “what your life is, that you are” for as out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, so out of the abundance of the heart the man lives.”

We are presently planting a church in a very religious culture. Where we are working, there are many, many churched unbelievers. Unbelievers who have gone to the same church all their lives. They profess to know God but they don’t know Him. They say one thing when in reality they are another. So we have a particularly tricky job – we have to point out – there is a big difference between saying and being!

Now it’s very easy to point our fingers at others. We can be very good at this. The problem is that many times the one pointing the finger is just as worldly.

One of the ways that we soothe our consciences is by making up lists of things that we think our worldly while ignoring what the Scripture says that God wants us to be. We hear someone say – evaluate your heart – check if you are worldly and we don’t even blink – we are so sure that we are not worldly – because we are evaluating our hearts and our lives by our own made up standards rather than the standards and principles that are expressly set down for us in the Word of God!

That’s where a passage like Titus 2 is so helpful. God tells us here what He wants His people to be. This is the kind of life that He’s calling on you to live. Evaluate your lives carefully by the principles He describes.

Take for example what he says about young men.

The actual term young men, describes any man from the ages 12 to about 60. So you can be encouraged, under 60 is young, and over 60 is just a little bit over the hill.

Paul does something a bit unusual here in these verses, he gives only one quality for young men – be sensible, and then in verses 7 and 8 he turns and talks to Titus specifically. But really all these qualities can and should be applied to young men, because he is calling on Titus to show by his life how young men are to live. So he’s talking to Titus specifically, but young men generally.

I just want us to notice where Paul begins.

He tells Titus,

“Likewise urge the young men…”

Paul is giving a charge to Titus – you have a responsibility to train up, or to teach the young men. God wants Titus to be concerned about the spiritual good of other believers, in particular young men.

He begins likewise, or in a similar manner – the question is: like who? Who is Titus to be like? The answer is two verses up: Older women are to encourage the younger women to be… Paul’s saying, Titus – just like the older women have to get into the younger women’s lives to encourage them – you need to get into the young men’s lives.

Specifically, Paul says you are to entreat, or to teach the young men. “Likewise, urge the young men…” You have a responsibility to the believers in your church – you are to train them. This word urge – is in the present tense – so it’s not a once and done thing – it is to be his continual practice – he is to be constantly teaching, constantly training.

So we see here that there’s a charge to Titus – you have a responsibility to teach. But there’s something else here- and it’s implied. If Titus has a responsibility to teach the young men, its obvious that young men have a need to learn. Young men -you have a responsibility to be teachable. You need to grow!

Why would Paul command Titus to train up the younger men, if they knew everything already – there’d be no point. But, because Paul knew that young men have things to learn – he reminds Titus of his responsibility to them -to train them. That’s sometimes hard for young men to hear – because we want to think we have the whole thing figured out – but we need to hear it – we have ways to grow.

Now all of this sounds very simple – and it really is. God wants you to grow in your relationship with Him – in living for Him in a sinful world. God’s grace saves you from the penalty of sin and the power of sin. When God saved you – He did an amazing thing – He made you an entirely new person. Your old self – died with Christ on the cross – that old way of living – and God has caused you to be born again. To have a new life, He gives you new desires and new longings, you now belong to Him and you want to live your life to please Him. That’s nothing you can do, that’s what He did. But still we all struggle with that old way of living. We still struggle with sin that is within us. It is a battle. There are many different tools that God has given us to overcome that sin, to become more godly people.

One is the Bible, another is preaching, another is prayer – but here and this is really what we are seeing in Titus 2 – that one of the primary ways He does that – that He trains you to live a godly life – is through life on life relationships. Titus you are to urge the young men…Older ladies you are to encourage the younger women. You are to be about discipleship.

Now notice – what in general is Titus to teach the young men?

We see here that specifically – he is to teach them to be sensible in all things. But let’s be more general than that – to begin – how would you categorize this kind of teaching? How would you describe in general what Titus is to do?
Well, Paul tells us up in verse 1 – he is to teach them how to live in a way that is fitting for sound doctrine. Or to say it another way – he is to teach them to apply doctrine to their everyday life. The point is – Titus isn’t just to get together with these men and talk about philosophical ideas, or esoteric subjects. Many men enjoy those kind of things. They can sit around a table and debate all kinds of topics with one another. Paul has to warn Timothy about that in 1 and 2 Timothy, “I left you there in Ephesus Timothy, ‘in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith…for some men…have turned aside to fruitless discussion.” No, Titus you are not there to get in all sorts of useless arguments, you are to train them how to live in a godly manner – his teaching is to be very practical – it has to do with the way one lives his life. You need to teach them to be sensible in all things. That’s very down to earth isn’t it?

You say how can I learn that? How can I learn how to apply the Scripture to my every day life? That’s where discipleship comes in. You need to find someone older and wiser, someone who is godly and you attach yourself to that person and suck him dry of all the wisdom he has. And older, wiser people need to understand that they have a responsibility – they need to find someone who knows less, who has areas that they need to grow in – and they need to pump their brains and heart full of the truth that God has so graciously taught you.

Make sure you understand this. To teach someone how to live life sensibly – you have to do at least two things:

1.) You have to begin by laying a foundation – you have to teach them content – or truth. This is what is sensible. This is what the Bible says makes sense. You’ll hear people say sometimes – I just want practical teaching – don’t give me doctrine! Well, how can you know how to live sensibly apart from God’s Word, from doctrine? No, obviously – in order to train them how to be sensible, you’ve got to teach them what makes sense.

But

2.) You have to teach them how to apply that truth to their everyday lives. To see how what the Bible says impacts them where they live. This is where sometimes we have a problem. I can prepare a message on love all week, and then go out and do something unloving. Sometimes, because I haven’t thought through how that message should impact my day to day walk. It takes someone else coming in and saying – hey – this doesn’t quite match. And I’ve seen this in the lives of others – I’ve preached messages where people have come up to me and thanked me for a certain truth, and then they’ll tell me later about something they are doing – and it doesn’t match at all that truth. They don’t even recognize it – because they haven’t thought about how that truth should impact their life. We all need help with that. And that’s what Titus is to do with these young men.

I want to warn you, if you truly are committed to doing this – you are going to face conflict. We don’t always like this – this is not always the most comfortable thing – sometimes this hits a little too close to home.

I remember going to my dad, when I was in college, to ask him a question about a decision I was making. I was very happy when I went in there, I explained why I wanted to do such and such, and he didn’t agree with me. You know what? I didn’t like that. I pretended like I wanted his advice, but really I didn’t. I just wanted him to agree with me.

And that’s the way many of us are, isn’t it? We don’t mind when people tell us the things we want to hear, when they tell us things that we are already doing, but when they come into our lives and they show us the truth and show us where we need to grow – that gets a little uncomfortable. But we need it! We desperately need it.

You’ve heard of people who go to physical therapists after an operation. And physical therapists can be tough, they’ve got to be, because they have to push you beyond what you think you are capable of in order to get you where you need to be. But imagine going, and the physical therapist says – now this is going to hurt a little bit – but you need to do this – because this is the only way you are going to get better. Now it would be easier just to sit there, and to ignore his advice. Because who wants to hurt? So you go home to your mom. And she tells you that you are doing just great, and she gives you orange juice, and lets you sit there in bed for the next six months. Now of course, that’s a lot easier than going to the therapist. But did your mom really help you? If you just sit there for the next six months, will you ever become any stronger? Of course not. You’ll still be dealing with the same problem you had six months ago.

The same is true in our spiritual lives. Many times we just gather around us people who will say what we want to hear – even if it is unbiblical. And we try to crowd out of our lives anyone who would ever tell us otherwise, because that hurts a little bit. That’s sinful human nature. Paul warns us about this in 2 Timothy 4 – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, and will turn away from the truth…” We can fall into that trap. And that’s why we’re the same place this year that we were last year. We neglect this important ministry of discipleship.

This is one of the most neglected ministries in the church today. I believe that with all my heart. That’s one of the reasons why you meet Christians, who having been going to church for twenty years, but have never had anybody get into their lives and help them see what all that doctrine, all those things they are learning on Sunday morning, have to do with their day to day life. So they are pretty clueless, they look a lot like the world. They need help! And I’ll tell you what – I beg God that we won’t neglect the important ministry of discipleship. We need to feel a deep responsibility for one another’s spiritual good.

Now understand this, this is not a very popular ministry in our world. Our world doesn’t understand what this is all about. And that’s probably why there are so many churches that neglect it. Don’t get into my business and I won’t get into yours. My sin is my private business, what right do you have to talk to me about it? What right do you have to ask me questions about my heart, about my actions? Non-Christians are kind of shocked when they hear about someone confronting someone else – what right do they have? I’ll live my life my way! Scripture on the other hand – says you do have a responsibility to get into someone else’s business – when they are clearly violating biblical principle – I’m not talking about nosiness – and you are to do this not because of pride, or a desire for gossip, or a way to make yourself look good – but in gentleness, knowing your own weakness, realizing that you could fall apart from the grace of God, you are to restore them – you are to help them grow in Christ – you are to not just talk to them about superficial things but get into the heart issues and help them grow in love and good works.

I know you have heard me say this often, and I will continue to say it until my grave – and that is a church that neglects the ministry of discipleship – and that’s really what this is – older ladies weren’t to stand up behind a pulpit and preach a sermon on how to be a godly wife, no, they had to develop relationships, they had to get into people’s lives, and the same is true for Titus – they were to disciple the younger men and women – a church that neglects the ministry of discipleship – fails.

That church is a failure and is a church that will bring great harm to people’s lives.

I pray that you would get involved in each other’s lives beyond the superficial – that you would teach each other the truth and that would help each other to apply it to your daily lives.

Now how are we to do this, you ask? Look back at our text – how is Titus to teach them.

1. We see in verse 6 that he is to urge them. He is to teach them with his lips. It’s hard to urge someone to do something without talking. So discipleship involves verbal communication – it involves teaching.

2. But look down in verse 7 here, there’s something more here – Paul tells Titus to show himself an example of good deeds. You could translate this verse, ‘you yourself prove to be an example…’ In other words – Paul is trying to emphasize to Titus how important it is that he prove to be an example to the young men how to live.

The Greek word for example is ‘tupos’ which “literally refers to a mark or impression left by an instrument such as a pen, a sword or a hammer. It came to be used figuratively of a pattern, mold, model or copy of the original of something, whether a physical object, such as a statue, or a principle of virtue.” It’s a lot easier to do something well when you have a pattern. If you just asked me to make a chair, and didn’t give me a pattern – there’s no way that I could do it. But if you gave me a pattern, there’s still no way I could do it. No, you get the point – when we have a pattern to follow – it’s a lot easier.

The same is true in life. We need patterns, we need heros, we need models to follow – not to take the place of Christ – but so that we can follow in their footsteps and in doing so be like Christ – imitate them as they imitate our Savior.

So Titus you are to teach these young men how to live with words, and you are to show them how to live with your life. You are to provide a pattern for them – they should be able to do what you do and in doing so be imitating Christ.
To put it another way – Paul is saying, DON’T BE A HYPOCRITE! You say I have a real passion to help others grow in Christ, I want to do this – I want to be a discipler. Well, you have to get involved in another person’s life, you need to teach them to truth, and you need to show them how to live by example. DON’T SAY ONE THING AND DO ANOTHER. Be consistent!

Dr. MacArthur explains, “Consistency of life with teaching is perhaps the most important aspect of effective spiritual leadership. The writer of Hebrews could confidently admonish his readers to imitate, “those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you,” because the conduct of those leaders corresponded to their counsel. Paul informed Timothy that the surest way to overcome the perceived disadvantage of his youthfulness was to make sure that in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity he showed himself an example of those who believe. Members of the church at Ephesus might resist the bare words that he taught, but they could not deny the power of the truths that were faithfully exemplified in his life. If his speech in his daily life, not just from the pulpit was godly, if the conduct of his personal life was moral and selfless, if his love for the Lord and fellow believers was genuine, if his faith was manifested in genuine trust in the Lord, and if his life was characterized by moral purity, he could be sure that his ministry would be effective, that it would be blessed and bear fruit.”

Titus, Paul says here in verse 6 – you’ve got to urge these young men – you have a responsibility to teach them – lesson for us – we ought to be concerned about other’s spiritual good, because young men they have things they need to learn – lesson for us – humble yourself and be willing to learn from others, Titus, you need to train them not just in theoretical ideas and arguments, but in how to apply truth to their day to day lives, lesson for us – God is concerned about the way we live our lives, and to do that effectively Titus – you need to urge – you need to use your lips – and you need to prove yourself an example – you’ve got to live it with your life! Lesson for us – Effective discipleship is a combination of lips and life. Words and Actions. Show and Tell.

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