the purpose of titus


[PDF]the purpose of titus - Rackcdn.com07c1d8c8de3b7b6b4654-2e07e4be122d43c9bdd9ed31d0d15ca4.r72.cf2.rackcdn.co...

7 downloads 91 Views 924KB Size

TITUS Cultivating Cultural Renewal

Compiled by: Larry Renoe Copyright © 2014 by Waterstone Community Church All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of Waterstone Community Church.

1

TA B L E

ABOUT TITUS

O F CO N T E N T S

TITUS

Introduction – Paul, Titus and Crete Lesson 1 – Titus 1:1-4 – “Preaching Entrusted to Me” Lesson 2 – Titus 1:5-9 – “Appoint Leaders in Every Town” Lesson 3 – Titus 1:10-16 – “They Claim to Know God”

is given the responsibility for laying the foundations of a Christian community in a culture that doesn’t know much about spiritual community or a life of discipleship. It presents us a case study in how the gospel, planted into everyday society by everyday Christians, takes root to cultivate cultural renewal. Paul’s main counsel for Titus as he sets about to establish churches on Crete is to develop leaders whose character gives the impression that they deeply love Jesus. Eugene Peterson writes, “Christian community is developed by the Holy Spirit using men and women who are mature in their relationships, who have acquired the habits of the heart that make it possible to live in faith and faithfulness. What we call ‘the ability to lead’ has almost nothing to do with it. If we want to develop community in Christ, we have to scrap most of what we are told today about leadership. Forget about charisma, go for character” (The Unnecessary Pastor, 203). In other words, the lasting effect of Christianity on culture—what Jesus called “salt” and “light”—comes not through skill or charm, natural ability or expertise, but rather through a person whose life is oriented and shaped by Scripture. Cultural influence is always most about Jesus’ character experienced in relationship as Christians love their neighbors.

Lesson 4 – Titus 2:1-10 – “Make the Teaching About God our Savior Attractive” Lesson 5 – Titus 2:11-15 – “The Grace of God has Appeared”

THE AUTHOR:

Lesson 6 – Titus 3:1-2, 8 - “Ready to do Whatever is Good”

PAUL

Lesson 7 – Titus 3:3-7 – “Rebirth and Renewal by the Holy Spirit” Lesson 8 – Titus 3:9-11 – “Avoid Foolish Controversies” Lesson 9 – Titus 3:12-15 – “To Not Live Unproductive Lives”

Matthew records Jesus’ parting instructions to his followers as he ascended to the Father’s throne: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). The embodiment, the hero, the trend-setter, our mentor in this mission is the Apostle Paul. With writings, preaching and mentoring, consumed by the love of Christ, he has helped change more people than any other person ever. Especially startling to consider is that Christianity arose as a movement within the Jewish community in the land of Israel. Its founder (Jesus!) was a Jew as were its first disciples who proclaimed the good news to the Jews first. But within a generation after Paul’s death, Roman authorities recognized Christianity as a predominantly Gentile cult that covered the known world.

2

3

What made Paul such an effective evangelist? The only physical description of him comes from Syriac, a second century church leader in his book The Acts of Paul: A man of middling size, and his hair was scanty, and his legs were a little crooked, and his knees were far apart; he had large eyes, and his eyebrows met, and his nose was somewhat long (admittedly, this sounds like the job description for the male Waterstone pastors). By Paul’s own admission he was a boring speaker, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing (2 Corinthians 10:10). How does a bald-headed, bow-legged, big-nosed lull at the lecture travel through an empire preaching Jesus and writing letters to churches—some from jail—to conquer a world? Here is some of what we know about Paul. He is born “Saul of Tarsus” (Tarsus is a city in modern day Turkey) into Roman citizenship (Acts 22:28) and educated in the school of a famous rabbi named Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) who is the foremost authority sitting on the Jewish “supreme court” in mid-first century Judaism. In other words, Paul is highly “cultured” in terms of education and social connections. At the pinnacle of his early vocation, Paul is the leading prosecutor of Jewish Law against the “blasphemy” of the early Christian church. He is first mentioned in the New Testament when the deacon Stephen is stoned to death in Jerusalem (Acts 7:58), and then we read, “But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison” (Acts 8:3). Not long after this, Paul’s personal world is rocked and conquered when Jesus Christ personally appears to him during a business trip to Damascus (Acts 9). Paul is converted and immediately begins to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior. Is it not ironic that Jesus transforms the leading persecutor of His Church and Mission into the foremost preacher of His Church and Mission? Paul would lead at least three extended missionary journeys to spread the good news of Jesus to Gentiles throughout the Roman Empire. During one of his journeys (or some scholars believe it was during an additional trip following Acts 28), Paul traveled with Titus to the Mediterranean island of Crete, just south of Greece in A.D. 63-64. After a brief stay, Paul moves on, leaving Titus on Crete to establish leadership and build doctrinal foundation for the Cretan churches (Titus 1:5). Paul’s letter to Titus is written not long after departure from Crete. Traditionally, the letter to Titus is included in the section of the New Testament known as the “Pastoral Epistles,” a title coined in 1701 to designate Paul’s two letters to Timothy and this one written to Titus. These three letters are the only letters in the New Testament not addressed to congregations, but to two of Paul’s protégés serving as “pastor of pastors” over the many churches Paul had planted. Pauline authorship of the Titus letter is widely affirmed by the consensus of church history. For instance, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons and a disciple of Polycarp (who was a disciple of the apostle John), cites frequently from the Pastoral Epistles in his “Adversus Haereses” (c.180) and is the earliest source to cite from Titus attributing Paul’s authorship.

“Christians are quite serious in believing that when they gather together for worship and work, God is present and sovereign, really present and absolutely sovereign. God creates and guides, God saves and heals, God corrects and blesses, God calls and judges. With such comprehensive and personal leadership from God, what is the place of human leadership? “Quite obviously, it has to be second place. It must not elbow its way to the front… Ego-centered, ego-prominent leadership betrays the Master… What [Paul] had learned so thoroughly himself, he was now passing on, and showing [Timothy and Titus], in turn, how to develop similar leadership in local congregations. This is essential reading because ill-directed and badly formed spiritual leadership causes much damage in souls. Paul in both his life and his letters shows us how to do it right.” -Eugene Peterson, The Message, 2161.

The Culture: Crete In Titus 1:12 Paul quotes a Cretan poet, Epimenides of Knossos, about Cretan culture: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” Understand, the poet writes this with pride and gloating. Crete is known as the “birthplace of hospitality” in the ancient world, but think of Las Vegas resettled on Hawaii! There is stunning natural beauty mixed with island fever and pirate-like-lawlessness. Crete is home to the legendary “100 Cities” which live in rivalry with each other attracting the “tourists.” Crete’s legal code affords women certain freedoms not enjoyed by women elsewhere in the Greek and Roman world, if only to keep them on the island. The religious landscape is diverse, but the chief claim is that Zeus was born and died on Crete. The cultural reputation of Crete is self-indulgent, belligerent, wild, immoral, sexually promiscuous—excess and gluttony— like the Grammy Awards show. J.N.D. Kelly speaks of the “shocking reputation for mendacity which the Cretans had in the ancient world. So prevalent was this that the verb ‘to Cretize’ was a slang word for lying or cheating” (A Commentary of the Pastoral Epistles, 235). In this kind of soil, Titus is called upon to cultivate the seeds of Christian community.

The Recipient: Titus We know little about Titus. He is not mentioned by Luke in Acts, but Paul reveals that Titus is Greek (Galatians 2:3). He is likely an early convert to Christianity under Paul’s ministry and Paul becomes his mentor, his spiritual father (note Titus 1:4 – “my true child in a common faith”). Titus plays a prominent role in 2 Corinthians as Paul’s representative to oversee the offering from the Corinthian churches given to help the struggling church in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 2:12-13; 7:5-7, 13-15; 8:5-6, 16-19). Titus is Paul’s “trouble-shooter” and trusted ambassador for the Christian mission, and therefore when Paul wants to engage the intricate challenges of the Cretan churches, he enlists the experienced Titus. Eventually, Paul dispatches Titus (2 Timothy 4:10) on to Dalmatia (in modern day Serbia/Montenegro). There are glimpses of Paul’s love and esteem for Titus throughout his letters, such as in Paul’s report in 2 Corinthians 7:6, “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus…” The mentoring relationship of Paul with Titus is a model for leadership development in the Church. Eugene Peterson writes,

4

The Letter: Becoming Church Reshaping Culture Paul writes to Titus with guidance to help the young Cretan churches form in the gospel to engage their culture. The direction has three parts: 1) choose good leaders because leaders are indispensible to healthy churches; 2) teach the Cretan church sound doctrine because solid thinking is indispensible to gospel-living; 3) model good works as the fruit of grace and salvation because winsome Christians are indispensible to cultural change.

5

About the Weekly Studies

About Studying the Bible

The format of each weekly group study goes like this:

Studying the Bible is much like entering an unknown land to dig around the ruins of an ancient civilization. We need to know how to dig and discover the meaning of the biblical text. There are three steps:

Case Study

Step one: Observation

Each week begins with warm up discussion about real-life scenarios of how the good news of Jesus Christ intersects and interacts with particular parts of our cultural existence. These case studies may become lively and even controversial so it is important to remember that they are designed to be discussion starters not discussion solvers. With the exception of the first week where we take more time for sharing some of our personal history, limit the time to discuss the case studies to 15 minutes.

Understanding the Text This is the “meat” of the discussion when the questions guide us to understand what the text means, which is to ask: what does the original author intend to say to the original audience? Questions will focus historical background, key words, grammar and context. Listening to the messages on Titus before the small group meeting will be beneficial. Give these questions 20-25 minutes. See below: “About Studying the Bible.”

Applying the Text This is the “so what” of the discussion when the questions guide us to work the meaning of the text into our lives. The person who obeys the words of the text is the person who loves God. Any kind of creative ideas and any kind of encouragement we can share with one another empowers faithfulness. Give these questions 10 minutes.

What do we see? In this step we survey the land, taking note of everything around us. We read interactively by asking questions: who, what, why, how? We seek to learn all we can in order to understand what the original audience already knew when they received the writing. We strive to think the same thoughts and ask the same questions as the original audience did when they first heard the letter. As we work through the texts in Titus we will practice marking up the passages by underlining verbs (the action, the flow of thought), circling key words or phrases, putting boxes around repeated words or phrases, and writing our observations in the margins. All of this work is invested toward the goal of interpretation: to understand what the original author intended to convey to the original audience.

Step two: Interpretation What does it mean? After we survey the site (text), the next step to enter the ancient world involves excavating the site. Now we dig into specific details of the text with specific tools. As we work through the Titus paragraphs, we will learn how to take note of context and grammar, how to research key words, how to discover important facts about the culture, geography, and history of the text—all of this guided by the Holy Spirit as we ask for his help.

Step three: Application Praying with Paul for the Church As our small groups share this season together, we want to grow in prayer and be formed by prayer. Each week we will pray with Paul for the Church. The idea is simple but with profound results: just as God’s Word must reform our theology, ethics, and practices, so also must it reform our praying. During each gathering we will use one of Paul’s prayers to align our prayer habits, our praying vision, and our prayer priorities with his. When we ask how Paul, this unexpected convert, changes an Empire so unexpectedly, could not one of the major answers be he prays? If genuine revival and lasting transformation spring from the work of the Holy Spirit as he takes the Word and applies it to our lives, is it not vital that we pause weekly to implore the Spirit: “Revive us again?” Allow at least 15 minutes for prayer.

6

How does it work? Once we have completed the digging, it is time to put down the tools and analyze the discoveries. The Bible is God’s revelation to humanity about God’s grand story of his love for humanity. So we ask, “How does God want us to live in light of what we learned from Paul’s letter to Titus?” This entails bridging the meaning of the text (what the original author intended to say to the original audience) into our culture: how does this meaning apply to my life? Is there a promise to rest upon? Is there a relationship I need to pursue or repair? Is there a situation that needs my prayers? Is there a habit that I need to cultivate or change? Once we have selected a conviction, then we proceed with a plan: what exactly will I do differently? And who can I enlist for help?

7

The Main THING Our hope is that, as Waterstone small groups listen in on this conversation between Paul and Titus, they are encouraged and motivated by the thought that we are now living proof of this Titus-way of influencing culture. Over the past twenty-plus centuries, followers of Christ—largely unnoticed by the main conduits of cultural expression—have loved their neighbors in the Name of Jesus. The result, the plain fact of historical reality, is that today billions of people still read Paul’s missive to Titus and worship the Savior who appeared with the kindness and love of God (Titus 3:4). We realize that the Kingdom of God continues to permeate any and every culture. On the surface of history, the most powerful man alive when Paul writes this letter to Titus is Nero, Emperor of Rome. The verdict of history is that today (as I’ve heard several preachers note) people name their sons Paul and their dogs Nero. Waterstone, what we will discuss and produce in our small groups is the Church, from Crete to Littleton on a mission. We are part of something massive, unstoppable and certain. Someone once asked teacher and scholar Lesslie Newbigin whether, as he looked to the future, he was optimistic or pessimistic. He replied: “I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!” [quoted by John Pritchard, Living Easter through the Year, 44]

8

THE PURPOSE OF TITUS:

Becoming Church Reshaping Culture Paul writes to Titus with guidance to help the young Cretan churches form in the gospel to engage their culture. The direction has three parts: 1) choose good leaders because leaders are indispensible to healthy churches; 2) teach the Cretan church sound doctrine because solid thinking is indispensible to gospel-living; 3) model good works as the fruit of grace and salvation because winsome Christians are indispensible to cultural change.

1. Describe your “cultural story.” Where did you live your childhood and how does that story continue to shape your life?

2. Describe your “culture-making.” What is your vocation and most consistent hobbies or volunteer activities?

Understanding the Text

C A S E S T U DY :

Discussing Christians and Culture

IT

is difficult to imagine a world, especially in Western Civilization, without the influence of Jesus Christ. He has shaped every facet of our existence: art, literature, history, law, medicine, education and science. Yale historian Jeroslav Pelikan wrote, “Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western Culture for almost 20 centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull up out of history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?” (Jesus Through the Centuries, 1). Paul’s letter to Titus reveals how Jesus continues to influence culture—through his Church. Through both reshaping the social fabric of our communities and through bringing a Christian worldview to the family and workplace the Church brings cultural renewal. The main goal of Christians is always loving service (to God and neighbor) and the consistent by-product is cultural change. Throughout this study of Paul’s letter to Titus, we will engage the question of how Christianity influences culture. We begin by defining “culture.” Every person is placed into a story, a story that will be told with words like mama and daddy as well as words like meaning and love and death. For our earliest ancestors, according to the archaeological data, it is the mysterious story of a world with stars and rocks and bison, a world that cries out for explanation. God rebuts all the myths of human origin with the Genesis story where we find man and woman called to go to work with given raw materials, forming and reshaping the world they find themselves in. Culture is what we make of the world (phrase from Ken Myers in Albert Louis Zambone, “But What Do You Think, Ken Myers?” Regeneration Quarterly 6, no. 3, 2000).

Step one:

Observation - What do we see?

Every time we read the Bible, the first thing we should ask is, “What do we see?” Read the text below two or three times during your group, either silently or aloud. As you read, mark up the passage by underlining verbs (the action, the flow of thought), circling key words or phrases, and putting boxes around repeated words or phrases. Put yourself into the original audience. Investigate, ask questions (who, what, where, when, how), listen to the text, and write. Note your observations between the lines.

Titus 1:1-4 (NIV) Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness-- 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and which now at his appointed season he brought to light through the preaching

In his book Culture Making, Andy Crouch writes: “Culture is, first of all, the name for our relentless, restless human effort to take the world as it’s given to us and make something else. This is the original insight of the writer of Genesis when he says that human beings were made in God’s image: just like the original Creator, we are creators… This is clearest in the realm of art, where the raw materials of pigment and canvas become more than you ever could have predicted. Even a five-yearold’s finger painting is more than the sum of paper and paint. But creation, the marvelous making of more than was there before, also happens when a chef makes an omelet, when a carpenter makes a chair, when a toddler makes a snow angel. Culture is all of these things: paintings (whether finger paintings or the Sistine Chapel), omelets, chairs, snow angels. It is what human beings make of the world (p. 23).

10

entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior, 4 To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

3. Share your observations as a group. What stands out? What do you notice?

11

Step two:

Step three:

Interpretation - What does it mean?

Application – how does it work?

The goal is to understand the original author’s intended meaning to the original audience. We work to see the text from the point of view of the original readers. This requires research and discussion on the original readers’ cultural and historical background. This is where it is beneficial to dig into a commentary, Bible dictionary, or listening to a sermon. We are careful NOT to begin our study by asking, “What does this passage mean to me?” That question is application, not interpretation. There is only one meaning of the text – the author’s intended meaning. Until we understand the meaning of the text we will not apply the text correctly to our lives.

Crete Community Church: Paul begins his letter in the usual method of his day. He identifies himself – as both a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ – and then he states the purpose of his calling to be an apostle: to bring about the faith of the elect by teaching the gospel and the corresponding life of godliness so that the culture will see what eternal life looks like. Titus is Paul’s official minister in Crete who will carry out Paul’s instructions for how a church is formed by the gospel in order to reshape the culture. 4. Paul refers to himself (his “culture-making”) as an “apostle of Jesus Christ.” What is an apostle? (see 1 Corinthians 9:1-2; 12:28-30; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 2:19-22; 3:1-7) If you were a member of the early church audience, why would it matter that Paul claims to be an apostle? What difference does it make that Christianity is founded by “apostles?”

It is the person who not only knows God’s Word, but also obeys His Word that truly loves Him (John 14:21). Application of God’s Word to our lives involves identifying the specific instructions from the text and making a plan to obey them. The questions below will identify some specific items to consider for your life.

7. Do you have someone in your life that you could describe as “my true son/daughter in the common faith?” In your opinion, what is the value of being mentored?

8. Could you share the Gospel with someone if they asked why you are a Christian? What would be important to share? (Leaders: please distribute “The Story” brochure to the group)

Weekly Prayer with Paul Romans 15:13

5. Paul shares that much of his vocation or “culture-making” has to do with preaching “a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.” How do you think the Gospel (knowledge of and trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection for salvation) speaks to the deepest needs of every culture?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

6. Paul shares that much of his “culture-making” also involves investing in a mentoring relationship with Titus. What do you appreciate about how Paul describes his relationship with Titus in verse 4?

10. Pray for a situation in your life where you need hope.

9. Paul prays that Waterstone will be a place of hope. Hope is a picture of the final future that invades the futile present. Pray that the Spirit gives every person at Waterstone the ability to view all parts of their story “in the hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2).

Additional Resources: “The Story” brochure: www.ViewTheStory.com

12

13

THE PURPOSE OF TITUS:

Titus 1:5-9 (NIV)

Becoming Church Reshaping Culture Paul writes to Titus with guidance to help the young Cretan churches form in the gospel to engage their culture. The direction has three parts: 1) choose good leaders because leaders are indispensible to healthy churches; 2) teach the Cretan church sound doctrine because solid thinking is indispensible to gospel-living; 3) model good works as the fruit of grace and salvation because winsome Christians are indispensible to cultural change.

5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless-- not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as

C A S E S T U DY :

Discussing Christians and Leadership

it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

New parents Ross and Jenna have felt the pull to start attending church again as they want to raise their child in the Christian faith. Having both been raised in church, but now living in a different city, this couple is faced with thinking about what priorities they would look for in a church. They decide to Google “Christian Churches” and well over fifty churches are listed within their geographical area. Now they are overwhelmed with the prospect of how to discover which church is best for them.

3. Share your observations as a group. What stands out? What do you notice?

1. How would you counsel this couple? What do you think are the indicators of a healthy church?

Step two:

Interpretation - What does it mean? 2. What role does good leadership play in the health of a church? The goal is to understand the original author’s intended meaning to the original audience. We work to see the text from the point of view of the original readers. This requires research and discussion on the original readers’ cultural and historical background. This is where it is beneficial to dig into a commentary, Bible dictionary, or listening to a sermon. We are careful NOT to begin our study by asking, “What does this passage mean to me?” That question is application, not interpretation. There is only one meaning of the text – the author’s intended meaning. Until we understand the meaning of the text we will not apply the text correctly to our lives.

Understanding the Text

Step one:

Observation - What do we see? Every time we read the Bible, the first thing we should ask is, “What do we see?” Read the text below two or three times during your group, either silently or aloud. As you read, mark up the passage by underlining verbs (the action, the flow of thought), circling key words or phrases, and putting boxes around repeated words or phrases. Put yourself into the original audience. Investigate, ask questions (who, what, where, when, how), listen to the text, and write. Note your observations between the lines.

16

Crete Community Church: For a church to engage their culture, good leadership is indispensable. Paul counsels Titus on how to identify good leaders for the churches on Crete. Paul puts healthy leadership traits into three categories: leaders and their families; leaders and their (avoided) vices; leaders and their virtues. The character qualities to which Paul gives attention reveal a church situation in Crete that is primitive, harsh and verging on crisis. Vices are listed that should not normally warrant discussion in a Christian church. But in the Cretan setting, ethical formation needs to begin at the ground floor. “The omission of an age/maturity requirement in the Cretan instructions and the explicit instructions regarding the faith of the elder’s children both reflect the church at the missionary stage where ‘mature’ believers were nonexistent and mixed households were common” (Philip H. Towner, The New International Commentary of the New Testament: The Letter to Timothy and Titus, 693-694.

17

4. Agree or disagree: A good look at a person’s home life will tell much about a person’s character and ability to give leadership to the church. Does this mean that a leader’s family should never have any problems? 5. Paul lists five vices (these are representative, not exhaustive) to be avoided – “Being overbearing, being quick-tempered, drunkenness, being violent, pursuing dishonest gain.” In general, how do personal vices work against a person’s vitality as a leader? 6. Paul lists six representative virtues of leaders: “To be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” These qualifications seem to focus more on character than on gifting or abilities. What is Paul’s philosophy of leadership based on the kinds of qualities he tells Titus to look for? How do you think these virtues would help the church engage the Vegas culture on Crete?

Step three:

Weekly Prayer with Paul: Acts 20:32 (Paul prays over the elders from the church at Ephesus) Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 9. Paul prays that Waterstone will be a place where leaders are built up and motivated by future eternal reward and present spiritual growth of the church. Pray that the Spirit will give encouragement to every person in leadership at Waterstone. 10. Take time for praising God: Father, I see your grace in my life in this way…

Application – how does it work? It is the person who not only knows God’s Word, but also obeys His Word that truly loves Him (John 14:21). Application of God’s Word to our lives involves identifying the specific instructions from the text and making a plan to obey them. The questions below will identify some specific items to consider for your life.

7. As you think of the health of Waterstone as it relates to leadership, brainstorm some ways your group could bolster the strength of Waterstone’s leadership. Choose one way to engage.

8. Paul’s list of desirable qualities for leadership presents us with a picture of what Christian maturity looks like. Where on this list do you specifically need to grow? What is one step you can take in that area of growth, and whom will you ask to help you?

Additional Resources: The subject of Paul’s view of women in church leadership has sparked debate in church for many years. For a one-stop resource that fairly presents both the egalitarian and complementarian positions see: http://cbmw.org/uncategorized/overview-of-two-views-on-women-in-ministry/ Or the book: Two Views on Women in Ministry. Edited by James R. Beck and Craig L. Blomberg. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001, 383 pp.

18

19

THE PURPOSE OF TITUS:

1. Why do you think this church responded so forcefully to the growth and changes that were happening in their church?

Paul writes to Titus with guidance to help the young Cretan churches form in the gospel to engage their culture. The direction has three parts: 1) choose good leaders because leaders are indispensible to healthy churches; 2) teach the Cretan church sound doctrine because solid thinking is indispensible to gospel-living; 3) model good works as the fruit of grace and salvation because winsome Christians are indispensible to cultural change.

2. Do you see “the kind of outsiders that Jesus attracted” coming to Waterstone? Why or why not? What does a church look like that accepts outsiders/seekers?

Becoming Church Reshaping Culture

Understanding the Text C A S E S T U DY :

Discussing Christians and the Gospel The closest thing to Christian Cage Fighting happens at church business meetings. Several years ago Pastor Ed Rowell shared this story: “We had made deliberate changes in our church in order to better focus on evangelism. As a result, God was doing amazing things. But some folks were really struggling with the changes, so we got together to talk. They were unhappy because they couldn’t find a parking space. New people were sitting in their seats where they had sat for years. The pastors were giving the new members all the attention and weren’t paying enough attention to the ones who paid the bills around there. The music was too loud. The room was too dark. The sermons were too soft. Pretty soon it escalated into the biggest gripe session you’ve ever heard. In an effort to turn away from the negativism, the elder leading the meeting went back to the reason for change. He brought up the fact that our church was seeing an unusual number of people come to faith in Christ. Surely we could put aside our preferences and rejoice over lost brothers and sisters being embraced by a loving Father. One man got to his feet, his face flush with anger, and shouted: ‘See, that’s the whole problem right there. I am sick and tired of these damned seekers coming in here and messing up the way we like church.’ It was as if all the oxygen was suddenly sucked out of the room. I thought to myself: I cannot believe he just said that. Surely someone will speak up about how selfish he was, how that remark was so unlike the Spirit of Christ. But instead the room broke out in applause.” (Sermon: “Gratitude Gives Way to Resentment,” PreachingToday.com)

Step one:

Observation - What do we see? Every time we read the Bible, the first thing we should ask is, “What do we see?” Read the text below two or three times during your group, either silently or aloud. As you read, mark up the passage by underlining verbs (the action, the flow of thought), circling key words or phrases, and putting boxes around repeated words or phrases. Put yourself into the original audience. Investigate, ask questions (who, what, where, when, how), listen to the text, and write. Note your observations between the lines. Also be sure to connect to the previous context – Titus 1:5-9.

Titus 1:10-16 (NIV) 10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by

Timothy Keller writes: Jesus’ teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren’t appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we’d like to think. (Prodigal God, 15-16)

teaching things they ought not to teach-- and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” 13 This saying is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

22

23

3. Share your observations as a group. What stands out? What do you notice?

Step two:

4. Notice the tone of the text: “They must be silenced…” “Rebuke them sharply…” “They are detestable…” Why do you think Paul is so concerned about confronting these teachers? What are the dangers and possible outcomes of their teaching?

5. In Titus 1:13, what is the goal (intended outcome) of sharply rebuking these opposing teachers? Do you think these opposing teachers are Christians, and would that make a difference in how they are approached? (Galatians 1:6-9 gives insight)

Interpretation - What does it mean? The goal is to understand the original author’s intended meaning to the original audience. We work to see the text from the point of view of the original readers. This requires research and discussion on the original readers’ cultural and historical background. This is where it is beneficial to dig into a commentary, Bible dictionary, or listening to a sermon. We are careful NOT to begin our study by asking, “What does this passage mean to me?” That question is application, not interpretation. There is only one meaning of the text – the author’s intended meaning. Until we understand the meaning of the text we will not apply the text correctly to our lives. This is a passage with some challenging words and historical background – so it’s helpful to consult some commentaries (see “Additional Resources” below). Crete Community Church: Having spelled out instructions for appointing church leaders, Paul now clarifies why Titus must choose gospel-grounded and communicative leaders. There is a group of opposing teachers in the Cretan churches that is causing disruption in the small groups (“households”) and distortion of the gospel (vv.10-11). The teachers are likely converts from Judaism who are insisting that certain parts of the Old Testament Law have to be obeyed in order to be a spiritually sound Christian. Paul connects their motives for teaching to greed: they are making good money from their teachings. So with a striking rhetorical grab, Paul links these opposing teachers to the basest elements of Cretan culture – deception and greed – “they are acting Cretan!” (12-13a). Therefore Titus must rebuke them sharply with the truth of the gospel (we are saved by God’s grace alone, not by our keeping the rules) so that the church may be healthy in its doctrine rather than devoting themselves to Jewish myths and human add-ons which are perceived to make us God-worthy. Despite the appearance of being wholesome and dedicated to their religion, the lives of these Cretan opponents show they do not know God (13b-16).

6. What is Paul’s point in Titus 1:15? Restate this verse in your own words. Compare this verse to Jesus’ teaching in Mark 7:1-8, and share how Jesus’ words illumine this Titus passage.

Step three:

Application – how does it work? It is the person who not only knows God’s Word, but also obeys His Word that truly loves Him (John 14:21). Application of God’s Word to our lives involves identifying the specific instructions from the text and making a plan to obey them. The questions below will identify some specific items to consider for your life.

7. How do you typically respond to others who have a difference of opinion on worship practices, biblical doctrines or lifestyle choices than you? What might be some of the underlying reasons for responding negatively toward others who hold different views than you?

This passage contrasts mere religion with the vital message of the Christian gospel. Religion is a set of rules and standards that determine what a person must do to obtain divine approval and enter heaven. In contrast, the gospel says that because Jesus lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died we are forgiven of our sins and declared by God to be righteous! Therefore, the Christian breathes grace and does not live a fretting, rule-keeping life in order to control or impress God. Timothy Keller writes: “The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued … that Jesus was glad to die for me” (The Reason for God, 181).

8. Search your heart for any shred of “gospel add-ons.” Do you require a person to hold any of your same beliefs before you will engage them or befriend them? Who comes to mind as you read this question, and how will you approach them this week?

24

25

Weekly Prayer with Paul: 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 9. Pray that Waterstone will be a place where our love for each other and for everyone else increases and overflows. Pray this for specific ministries at Waterstone: children’s ministry, youth ministry, missions ministry, worship services, outreach ministries… Pray that our love will set us apart! 10. Pray that the Holy Spirit will pour the love of the Father into your heart so that when people encounter you – they will experience something of what it would be like to actually meet Jesus.

Additional resources: Here are two excellent commentaries on Titus for gaining historical background and language definition: Gordon D. Fee, New International Biblical Commentary: 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, 332 pages. Philip H. Towner, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Letters to Timothy and Titus, 886 pages.

26

THE PURPOSE OF TITUS:

Understanding the Text

Paul writes to Titus with guidance to help the young Cretan churches form in the gospel to engage their culture. The direction has three parts: 1) choose good leaders because leaders are indispensible to healthy churches; 2) teach the Cretan church sound doctrine because solid thinking is indispensible to gospel-living; 3) model good works as the fruit of grace and salvation because winsome Christians are indispensible to cultural change.

Step one:

Becoming Church Reshaping Culture

C A S E S T U DY :

Discussing Christians within Culture In an article for the Atlantic Monthly, Jonathan Rauch coins a term to describe his spiritual condition. After a couple glasses of Merlot, someone asks him about his religion. He was about to say, “Atheist” when it dawns on him that this is no longer accurate. “I used to call myself an atheist,” he finally responds, “and I still don’t believe in God, but the larger truth is that it has been years since I really cared one way or another. I’m…” - and this is when it hits him – “an… apatheist!” Rauch goes on to describe his condition as a “disinclination to care all that much about one’s own religion, and an even stronger disinclination to care about other people’s” (“Apatheism: Beyond Religion,” May, 2003). Rauch is not alone. In the 2011 Baylor University Religion Survey, 44 percent said they spend no time seeking “eternal wisdom.” A Lifeway Research poll showed 46 percent never wonder whether they will go to heaven. In his book, Society Without God, sociologist Phil Zuckerman chronicles his 14 months investigating Danes and Swedes about religion. He concludes that religion “wasn’t really so much a private, personal issue, but rather, a non-issue.” One person he interviewed replied, “I really have never thought about that… It’s been fun to get these kinds of questions that I never, never think about.” When it comes to matters related to God, religion, or even atheism, many seem to be thinking, “So what?”

Observation - What do we see? Every time we read the Bible, the first thing we should ask is, “What do we see?” Read the text below two or three times during your group, either silently or aloud. As you read, mark up the passage by underlining verbs (the action, the flow of thought), circling key words or phrases, and putting boxes around repeated words or phrases. Put yourself into the original audience. Investigate, ask questions (who, what, where, when, how), listen to the text, and write. Note your observations between the lines.

Titus 2:1-10 (NIV) 1You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no

1. Within a culture where God is mostly “out of sight, out of mind,” what are some ways you’ve discovered to bring God to the surface?

one will malign the word of God. 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and

2. Within our culture, where are some places that people might bump into God or religion?

soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. 9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

28

29

3. Share your observations as a group. What stands out? What do you notice?

7. “On a side note” - Do Paul’s instructions to slaves in 2:9-10 condone the institution of slavery? How does Paul address the issue of slavery elsewhere in the New Testament (see 1 Corinthians 7:20-23; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-4:1; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; see also “Additional Resources”).

Step two:

Interpretation - What does it mean? The goal is to understand the original author’s intended meaning to the original audience. We work to see the text from the point of view of the original readers. This requires research and discussion on the original readers’ cultural and historical background. This is where it is beneficial to dig into a commentary, Bible dictionary, or listening to a sermon. We are careful NOT to begin our study by asking, “What does this passage mean to me?” That question is application, not interpretation. There is only one meaning of the text – the author’s intended meaning. Until we understand the meaning of the text we will not apply the text correctly to our lives. Crete Community Church: Paul has been contrasting one group of people with another. He has listed the qualifications for church leaders (1:5-9), which contrast with the characteristics of the legalistic opponents (1:10-16). Paul urges Titus to teach the Cretan believers that their commitments and behaviors must be on an entirely different level from those of the opposing teachers and from Cretan society. In 2:1-10, Paul details how he wants Titus and the different social groups within the church to live and transfer the gospel into the culture by integrating sound theology (right thinking about God) with godly ethics (right choices about life). The intention is to weave the dimensions of belief and behavior into a single fabric that will “make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (2:10).

4. What do you think of Paul’s emphasis on mentoring (older men/younger men; older women/younger women) as being the most robust method of learning and living the teachings of Jesus (“sound doctrine,” 2:1)? What makes this method of learning Christianity effective?

Step three:

Application – how does it work? It is the person who not only knows God’s Word, but also obeys His Word that truly loves Him (John 14:21). Application of God’s Word to our lives involves identifying the specific instructions from the text and making a plan to obey them. The questions below will identify some specific items to consider for your life.

8. If we are to “make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” there must be neighbors around to see the beauty. At Waterstone, one of our three rhythms is “Neighboring” where we strive to see the Kingdom of God come in others. We are (always!) asking that you make a list of 7-10 people with whom you live, work or play. Pray for them weekly. Pursue conversation and hospitality with them as part of your monthly goals. Seek to have spiritual conversations with them as the Spirit leads. This week, refresh your neighboring list. Share your list with the group.

9. Are you currently engaged in a mentoring relationship? If so, share its impact on your life. If not, what steps could you take towards a mentoring relationship?

5. What similarities and differences do you notice between the gender-based instructions? Are these differences still relevant today?

6. Three times we see the phrase “so that” (vv. 5, 8, 10) and we notice Paul’s point: the reason for aligning sound theology (right thinking about God) with godly ethics (right choices about life) is to impact the culture by our lifestyle in order to “make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (2:10). The BDAG Greek Lexicon defines “attractive” as meaning: “to do credit to.” In other words, our lifestyles give credibility to our beliefs. Why do you think the Christ-centered life would be “attractive” to the Cretan world of “apatheists” (as Jonathan Rauch put it in the Case Study)?

Weekly Prayer with Paul: Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. 10. Pray that Waterstone will be a place where those who are “apatheists” (from Jonathan Rauch in the Case Study) unimaginably show up because they see the beauty, the attractiveness and credibility of Christ in us! 11. Spend time praying for your neighbors by their first names.

30

31

Additional resources: Brief Statement on Slavery in the New Testament Slavery in ancient Rome did not always exactly resemble the institution we know from American history. To be sure there were cruel masters and horrific conditions, but many times slaves lived more like the indentured servants of wealthy families in Medieval Europe. Others were government officials, teachers, traders, or artists. Many were able to buy their own freedom. Many who could, chose not to, preferring instead the security of their patrons to the vagaries of freedom. Slavery was generally not based as much on the color of your skin as it was on who defeated whom in battle. Even so, slavery is wrong, which is why Paul encourages: “If you can gain your freedom do so.” (1 Corinthians 7:21). Paul is opposed to slavery, so when an opportunity for freedom arises he says, “Seize it.” Owning humans as property fundamentally contradicts their status in Christ and their value inherent in being made in God’s image. The fact that Paul addresses “slaves” and “slavery” throughout his letters shows the amazing boldness of the gospel to buck the status quo of any and every fallen societal structure. In his approach to the evil of slavery, Paul shows us that the gospel-strategy of cultural transformation is to plant Christians within a fallen system and see change come from the inside. As the scholar F.F. Bruce says about Paul’s brief statements about the equality of slaves and masters in 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon: “What [Paul’s letters] do is to bring us into an atmosphere in which the institution of slavery could only wilt and die” (F.F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, 407). In his book, Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller notes that “slavery was an accepted institution in all cultures and societies of the world from time immemorial. Only within Christianity did the idea eventually arise that slavery was an abominable institution to be abolished. Why? Largely because of the implications of the gospel, laid out by Paul. • All Christians are “slaves” of Christ, who himself came as a doulos, or servant (Philippians 2:7). • Paul regularly told Christian slave owners that their slaves were equal to them in the sight of God and had to be treated as brothers (1 Corinthians 7:22–23). • In Galatians 3:26–29, Paul writes that in Christ there is no slave or free—again, all are equal. • The case study in which he applies this gospel theology is the book of Philemon. There Paul sends Onesimus, a Christian slave, back to his Christian master, Philemon. Philemon is told that Onesimus is his beloved brother in the Lord and a fellow man.” Keller continues, “Despite how complicated this subject is, it is important for Christians today to think it out. Many critics of Christianity simply assume that the Bible wrongly endorsed slavery and that, therefore, it may be wrong about other things it teaches. Actually, biblical theology destroyed the coercive heart of the institution of slavery within the Christian community and finally led Christians to abolish the inevitably oppression-prone institution itself… When Paul speaks to Christians [about slavery], he is not denouncing the institution of slavery per se (which would have been useless in imperial Rome). He is speaking directly to individual Christians within the institution about how to conduct themselves, and what he says is quite revolutionary.” - Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor, 213-214, 280-83.

32

THE PURPOSE OF TITUS:

1. Can you share a story about a time when someone showed you grace (undeserved favor which led to incredibly generous treatment)? How did you respond?

Paul writes to Titus with guidance to help the young Cretan churches form in the gospel to engage their culture. The direction has three parts: 1) choose good leaders because leaders are indispensable to healthy churches; 2) teach the Cretan church sound doctrine because solid thinking is indispensable to gospel-living; 3) model good works as the fruit of grace and salvation because winsome Christians are indispensable to cultural change.

2. Why do you think the experience of receiving grace can be deeply transformative?

Becoming Church Reshaping Culture

Understanding the Text

C A S E S T U DY :

Discussing the core distinction of Christianity In Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, the main character, Jean Valjean, is a bitter ex-convict who spent nineteen years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. Not long after his release from prison, Valjean steals valuable silverware from a Christian bishop who has shown him kindness. He is caught by the authorities and dragged back to the bishop’s house holding the silverware. In an act of radical grace, the bishop tells the authorities that the stolen silver belongs to Valjean and then “chastises” Valjean because he forgot to take the silver candlesticks as well. Valjean is then released from arrest. This act of mercy transforms him at the core. *[It may be enjoyable for your group to view this scene from the 2012 cinematic adaptation of Les Miserables starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe. You can see it on YouTube: The Bishop – Les Miserables Film 2012, https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCvLfypVszl (1:45 min.)

Step one:

Observation - What do we see? Every time we read the Bible, the first thing we should ask is, “What do we see?” Read the text below two or three times during your group, either silently or aloud. As you read, mark up the passage by underlining verbs (the action, the flow of thought), circling key words or phrases, and putting boxes around repeated words or phrases. Put yourself into the original audience. Investigate, ask questions (who, what, where, when, how), listen to the text, and write. Note your observations between the lines.

In the following chapter, Victor Hugo reflects on how threatening this kind of grace is: To this celestial kindness [of the bishop] he opposed pride, which is the fortress of evil within us. He was indistinctly conscious that the pardon of this priest was the greatest assault and the most formidable attack which had moved him yet; that his obduracy was finally settled if he resisted this clemency; that if he yielded, he should be obliged to renounce that hatred with which the actions of other men had filled his soul through so many years, and which pleased him; that this time it was necessary to conquer or to be conquered; and that a struggle, a colossal and final struggle, had been begun between his viciousness and the goodness of that man. – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, Book One, Chapter 13, “Little Gervais.” Valjean goes on, leaving behind his crippling self-pity and bitterness, to display a life of deep-graciousness toward others. He chooses to let grace have its way in his heart, transformed at the core of his being.

Titus 2:11-15 (NIV) 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

3. Share your observations as a group. What stands out? What do you notice?

34

35

Step two:

4. Titus 2:11-14 constitutes one sentence in the original language, with “grace of God” standing as its subject. According to Titus 3:4-7, Romans 3:21-24 and Ephesians 2:8-10, what exactly is this “grace of God” that is given to us? To whom is this grace made available? How did God make this grace available?

Interpretation - What does it mean? The goal is to understand the original author’s intended meaning to the original audience. We work to see the text from the point of view of the original readers. This requires research and discussion on the original readers’ cultural and historical background. This is where it is beneficial to dig into a commentary, Bible dictionary, or to listen to a sermon. We are careful NOT to begin our study by asking, “What does this passage mean to me?” That question is application, not interpretation. There is only one meaning of the text—the author’s intended meaning. Until we understand the meaning of the text we will not apply the text correctly to our lives.

Crete Community Church: Paul displays effortless theological grist by packing into this brief passage his view of salvation as a past-present-future reality (Gordon Fee, New International Bible Commentary: 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, 193). The elevated language makes this section the rhetorical flourish and emotional highpoint of the letter to Titus. This text is crucial to Paul’s flow-of-thought for two important reasons. First, it is intentionally linked (“For”) to the preceding passage (2:1-10) as the foundation for Paul’s instruction to display lives that are “attractive” to “outsiders” (2:10). Paul reasons that, because God’s grace offers salvation to all people, all Christians should display how God’s grace has transformed their lives. Salvation, as observed by the culture in the grace-full lives of believers, is the present reality of a certain future glory for all who receive Jesus Christ. Second, this passage is important for Crete Community Church because Paul’s choice of language subversively retells some parts of the Cretans’ cultural story. The Cretan legend (and stereotype) is based on the tale of Zeus, who told lies (compare with Titus 1:2 – Paul’s God “who does not lie”) in order to have sexual relations with a human woman in order to become closer to human beings. Zeus was portrayed as one who received divine status from humans in return for the benefactions he bestowed on them. We can see how this upside-down approach to “theology” at the popular level (i.e., good people get good things based on their goodness and god’s niceness) would lead to a collision with the Christian gospel of grace. What begins as a religious lie, that god emerges from humanity, develops into a lie that human virtue is the cause, not the effect, of salvation. Paul’s choice of ethical language for this text (“self-controlled, upright, and godly”) and the way he links these ethics to an outside power source— Jesus’ giving of himself for us (2:14)—strikes at the heart of the Cretan “story” where the power source lies within human cunning and sheer will-power.

5. Titus 2:14 emphasizes that Christ’s followers are “a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Believers are not casually interested in obedience, but rather they are passionate to walking previews of life in God’s Kingdom. Why do you think Paul makes such strong connection and contention that those who have received God’s grace display lives described as “self-controlled, upright and godly?”

6. Titus 2:13 conveys that spiritual growth is motivated by a forward-looking hope of when Jesus returns in full glory. How does waiting for Jesus to reappear motivate spiritual growth?

Step three:

Application – how does it work? It is the person who not only knows God’s Word, but also obeys His Word that truly loves Him (John 14:21). Application of God’s Word to our lives involves identifying the specific instructions from the text and making a plan to obey them. The questions below will help you identify specific items to consider for your life.

7. “[Grace] teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (2:12). Will you identify one area of your life where you want to be more self-controlled, upright and godly? What will you strive to do differently in this area this week? Will you share this with your group or an individual in the group?

8. Brainstorm ways that you take time to reflect on the outrageous grace of God that has been shown to you. What environments or practices are especially effective in helping you deeply embrace God’s love as displayed in the Cross?

36

37

Additional resources: A Dialog about Grace between a writer (Michka Assayas) and a rock star (Bono from the band U2).

Weekly Prayer with Paul: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 9. Pray that Waterstone will be a place where decisions (individually and corporately) are made in light of “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

10. Pray for one person in your life who needs to experience the grace of God.

Bono: … It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma. Assayas: I haven’t heard you talk about that. Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace. Assayas: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me. Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff. Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that. Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity. Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that. Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled… . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven. Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched? Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched … From: Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas (Riverhead Books)

38

39

THE PURPOSE OF TITUS:

1. Since your group now knows and likes one another, can you talk politics? What are some guidelines to follow when Christians discuss politics with one another?

Paul writes to Titus with guidance to help the young Cretan churches form in the gospel to engage their culture. The direction has three parts: 1) choose good leaders because leaders are indispensible to healthy churches; 2) teach the Cretan church sound doctrine because solid thinking is indispensible to gospel-living; 3) model good works as the fruit of grace and salvation because winsome Christians are indispensible to cultural change.

2. What role does the Church play in helping Christians form and express political beliefs?

Becoming Church Reshaping Culture

Understanding the Text

C A S E S T U DY :

Discussing Christians and Politics In The Atlantic (July/August 2104), Jonathan Rauch writes: “A few months ago, an odd news story out of St. Louis caught my eye. A Christian business had fired, so to speak, a customer who supported legalizing marijuana. ‘We simply said it was against the idea of being clean and sober-minded and treating your body as a temple to the Holy Spirit,’ one of the service’s owners told The Huffington Post. The service, Pack Leader Plus (motto: Faith. Family. Dogs.), is not alone in its determination to shut its doors to un-Christian custom. Religious business owners have declined to provide services for gay weddings and commitment ceremonies and refused to offer insurance that covers certain kinds of contraception…” Rauch goes on to detail how Christians are “walling themselves off from secular society” because of the sweeping social and political changes that are occurring. He proposes three reasons why Christians may be responding to these changes by isolating themselves from culture: “One is fear that traditional religious views, especially about marriage, will soon be condemned as no better than racism, and that religious dissenters will be driven from respectable society, denied government contracts, and passed over for jobs… A second factor is the failed promise of what seemed, around the turn of the millennium, to be a grand new partnership between our elected and religious leaders… Finally, a new generation brought changed attitudes [about these social issues].” Rauch, who describes himself in the article as “a homosexual atheist,” goes on to make his case that it would be detrimental to the nation if Christians draw back or drop out from public discourse and participation in the political process. Instead of isolation, he suggests this: “There is, of course, a very different Christian tradition of engagement and education, of resolutely and even cheerfully going out into an often uncomprehending world, rather than staying home with the shutters closed. In this alternative tradition, a Christian photographer might see a same-sex wedding as an opportunity to engage and interact: a chance, perhaps, to explain why the service will be provided, but with a moral caveat or a prayer. Not every gay customer would welcome such a conversation, but it sure beats having the door slammed in your face.” – Jonathan Rauch, “Politics: The Great Secession,” The Atlantic, July/August 2014, 19-21.

42

Step one:

Observation - What do we see? Every time we read the Bible, the first thing we should ask is, “What do we see?” Read the text below two or three times during your group, either silently or aloud. As you read, mark up the passage by underlining verbs (the action, the flow of thought), circling key words or phrases, and putting boxes around repeated words or phrases. Put yourself into the original audience. Investigate, ask questions (who, what, where, when, how), listen to the text, and write. Note your observations between the lines.

Titus 3:1-2, 8 (NIV) 1Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone… 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that 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.

3. Share your observations as a group. What stands out? What do you notice?

43

Step two:

Step three:

The goal is to understand the original author’s intended meaning to the original audience. We work to see the text from the point of view of the original readers. This requires research and discussion on the original readers’ cultural and historical background. This is where it is beneficial to dig into a commentary, Bible dictionary, or to listen to a sermon. We are careful NOT to begin our study by asking, “What does this passage mean to me?” That question is application, not interpretation. There is only one meaning of the text—the author’s intended meaning. Until we understand the meaning of the text we will not apply the text correctly to our lives.

It is the person who not only knows God’s Word, but also obeys His Word that truly loves Him (John 14:21). Application of God’s Word to our lives involves identifying the specific instructions from the text and making a plan to obey them. The questions below will help you identify specific items to consider for your life.

Interpretation - What does it mean?

Application – how does it work?

Crete Community Church: Christians live in a fascinating tension: they must live in this world, while not being of this world. Jesus has actually prayed for us to boldly engage this predicament (see John 17:14-21). In Titus 2, Paul’s instruction to Titus is to teach the Church to engage their culture by making “the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (2:10). Paul now raises the question of how Christians display Jesus’ teaching in the realm of politics and the public square. In other words, what is the Christian’s obligation to the world’s unbelieving inhabitants and their political structures? The Cretan Community Church has to deal with this question because the Church is compelled to share Jesus’ teachings throughout the world (Matthew 28:18-20)—a task that generally requires interaction. The Church must deal with this question because the political system in the early church is generally opposed to the exclusive claims of Christianity. How should the Cretan Community Church be the Church in the world?

7. What attitude do you typically have toward those in authority over you? How much do you struggle in submitting to authority? How will you work to change poor attitudes toward those in authority?

8. Where in your life are you living out the mission of “doing good” to make Jesus’ teaching attractive to “everyone?” Brainstorm some ways your group could engage this mission.

Titus 3:1-2 is grouped with Titus 3:8 in this lesson because of their similar theme: ready to do whatever is good.

4. Compare Paul’s instruction in Titus 3:1 (“be subject to rulers and authorities”) with Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-15. What are possible outcomes of the New Testament’s command for Christians to submit to governmental authorities? What are the limits to this submission? Can you think of any examples (in the Bible or church history) when believers disobeyed authorities in order to obey God?

5. In Titus 3:2, Paul advises the Church to use their speech and demeanor to foster good relationships with “everyone” (no slandering, practice peace, be considerate, display humility). Do these terms advocate a “doormat Christianity” where Christians are passive or silent in the public square? How do you see these terms reflected and effective in Jesus’ ministry?

6. Paul’s view of the church-on-mission is Titus 3:1, 8: “Be ready to do whatever is good” and “devote themselves to doing what is good.” How are the deeper needs of the county-city-state addressed as the Church does “whatever is good?”

Weekly Prayer with Paul 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 9. Pray that the Father and His Son will strengthen Waterstone “in every good deed and word.” Pray for the Restore Ministries of Waterstone: Africa Hope Community, Awana, Deacons, Feeding Many, Helping Hands, Impact Orphans, First Impressions, Justice in Action, Less Homelessness, LifeBridge, The LINK, Men’s Ministry, Missions, Night Lights, Prayer Team, Royal Family Kids, Small Groups, Waterstone Kids Ministry, Stephen Ministry, Waterstone Students, Waterstone’s Creation Care, Waterstone Food Pantry, Women’s Ministry, Young Marrieds, 20s-30s Ministry 10. Pray for all those who are in authority, for encouragement and strength for their work.

44

45

Additional resources: Good read - Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity What the Holy Spirit unleashed through the first Christians (like those living on Crete) was nothing less than a cultural revolution that reshaped the Roman Empire. One of the finest accounts of the early church’s impact is sociologist Rodney Stark’s book The Rise of Christianity. Stark’s purpose was to examine, in purely secular terms (he was not a Christian at the time) using data and primary sources, what made Christianity become such a powerful force in the Roman Empire that by 313 A.D. Constantine made Christianity “legal.” Stark writes, “In an empire having a population of at least 60 million, there might well have been 33 million Christians by 350 [A.D.] – for by then some contemporary Christian writers were claiming a majority” (Stard, 10). How did a movement that started with a few hundred followers become half the Empire’s population in three hundred years? The answer comes down to what Paul tells Titus: “Be devoted to doing good.” In chapter after chapter, Stark shows how Christians were boldly attractive in the ways they served their neighbors. In the chapter titled “Epidemics, Networks, Conversion,” Stark examines how Christians responded to epidemics that swept through Roman cities in the first centuries of the Christian era. At least two major epidemics claimed up to a third of the Empire’s population. In the face of terrible conditions, the pagan priests, elites and medical practitioners fled the cities. The only functioning social care network left behind was the Church, which provided basic nursing care to Christians and non-Christians, along with a gospel that transcended death. The bishop Dionysius wrote: “Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead. The best of our brothers lost their lives in this manner, a number of presbyters, deacons, and laymen winning high commendation so that death in this form… seems in every way the equal of martyrdom” (Stark, 82). The Church had no magic or medicine to cure the plague, but it turns out survival of a terrible disease can have much to do with one’s access to the most basic elements of life: providing food, water and friendship. Christians enabled many to remain strong enough until their immune systems could mount an effective defense. And when many lost their entire family to the plagues it is no wonder that many of these neighbors would naturally convert to the Christian faith of those who cared for them. The Church would grow, not just because it proclaimed hope in the face of horror, but because it displayed a new approach to the sick and dying, a willingness to care for the sick even at the risk of death. It is cultural creativity (the “doing good”) of the early church based in the belief that Jesus of Nazareth had been raised from the dead and had now sent His Spirit to live in them to do good that made them culture shapers whose beliefs were so attractive that much of the Empire wanted in.

46

THE PURPOSE OF TITUS:

Titus 3:3-8 (NIV)

Becoming Church Reshaping Culture Paul writes to Titus with guidance to help the young Cretan churches form in the gospel to engage their culture. The direction has three parts: 1) choose good leaders because leaders are indispensible to healthy churches; 2) teach the Cretan church sound doctrine because solid thinking is indispensible to gospel-living; 3) model good works as the fruit of grace and salvation because winsome Christians are indispensible to cultural change.

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

C A S E S T U DY :

6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been

Discussing Christians and Spiritual Power When Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, former president of Asbury College, was a young pastor in upstate New York, a successful businessman became a Christian under his ministry. Although the man’s Christian experience was genuine, he had no knowledge of religious language, having come out of a completely secular background. As they were riding together one day, the man kept referring to “the Spook.” The Spook had showed him this, and impressed him thus, and guided him that way. At first, Dr. Kinlaw was at a loss to understand what his friend was talking about. Finally, it dawned on him that this rock-hewn-pagan-now-become-Christian was referring in his stammering, unsophisticated ways to his experience of the Holy Spirit. Having committed his life to Christ, he had become aware of an indwelling presence that was reconstructing him from within. Not knowing the proper terminology, he was calling this presence “the Spook” - Gilbert Bilezikian, Christianity 101, 87. The apostle Paul says, “If anyone be in Christ, he or she is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When a person receives Jesus (what Jesus describes as being born again in John 3), heaven invades their heart. Their life is transformed as the direct result of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. 1. How would you describe the presence and work of “the Spook” in your life? In what ways do you experience God but have had trouble describing or articulating it? 2. What have been some of the large shifts in your life since you started to follow Jesus Christ? How would you say the Spirit is shaping your life right now?

Understanding the Text Step one:

Observation - What do we see? Every time we read the Bible, the first thing we should ask is, “What do we see?” Read the text below two or three times during your group, either silently or aloud. As you read, mark up the passage by underlining verbs (the action, the flow of thought), circling key words or phrases, and putting boxes around repeated words or phrases. Put yourself into the original audience. Investigate, ask questions (who, what, where, when, how), listen to the text, and write. Note your observations between the lines.

48

justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that 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.

3. Share your observations as a group. What stands out? What do you notice?

Step two:

Interpretation - What does it mean? The goal is to understand the original author’s intended meaning to the original audience. We work to see the text from the point of view of the original readers. This requires research and discussion on the original readers’ cultural and historical background. This is where it is beneficial to dig into a commentary, Bible dictionary, or to listen to a sermon. We are careful NOT to begin our study by asking, “What does this passage mean to me?” That question is application, not interpretation. There is only one meaning of the text—the author’s intended meaning. Until we understand the meaning of the text we will not apply the text correctly to our lives.

Crete Community Church: Paul wants the church planter Titus to equip Cretan believers to share their conversion experience with others (a rhythm of every believer’s life that Waterstone calls “neighbor”). In Paul’s letters, he often describes the starting point of a person’s journey with Jesus by using a conversion formula—“formerly / now” (cf. Romans 6:20-22; 11:30-32; Galatians 1:23). The former way of life (Titus 3:3) is rough and churning, and though Paul admits he also once lived this life (“we”), it is at the same time another allusion to the Cretan culture unto which Crete Community Church is called to serve and share the Gospel. Titus 3:4-7 (one sentence in the Greek language) describes the now component of life in Christ, the results of which have already been mentioned in Titus 3:1-2, 8: devoted to doing good. When God’s grace is introduced into human culture there is transformation. This sentence (Titus 3:4-7) is packed and compressed with theology and metaphor, and serves as one of Paul’s clearest statements on the work of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life. Biblical scholars believe this sentence was intended to be memorized by the Church in order to be shared with their neighbors when describing the changes Jesus had brought to their lives.

49

The sentence is quite remarkable as it moves from God’s gracious action in history by sending the Savior, to the human experience of entering into relationship with God by the power of the Spirit, to the promise of the ultimate goal—having eternal life now. The meaning of the sentence is mind-bending, telling us that, because the Spirit dwells in every follower of Christ, we experience the future in the present. The sentence contains the entire story of the Bible.

4. Notice in Titus 3:3 how Paul includes himself in the description of a life without God: “We too were foolish, disobedient and enslaved… We lived in malice and envy…” When Paul is moved to speak about the gospel, he often identifies with those who live without God. What would be the evangelistic value of this self-identification? In what ways do you find Paul’s description of the human condition to be accurate?

5. Titus 3:4-7 is God’s loving response to the present human condition. The main verb of the sentence is in 3:5: “He saved us.” The essential question of Christianity is, what does it mean to be “saved?” The term “salvation” is a massive word in the Bible because it gathers in these three important “stages” of what happens when we are “saved”: (Read together.) A) Justification This stage begins at the moment of faith in Jesus wherein God declares the sinner to be righteous in His sight because Jesus’ perfect life and death for sins are credited to the sinner. This moment of justification by his grace (Titus 3:7) through faith is once-for-all-time in the believer’s life. This moment of faith establishes our position with God forever: delivered from the penalty of sin. [See Additional Resources for a good illustration of Justification.] B) Sanctification This stage continues from the moment of faith to the believer’s death. This is the present, progressive work of transformation in the life of the believer. The Holy Spirit moves into every believer’s heart to bring the commands and encouragement of Scripture alive in the believer’s mind. This produces holy and holier living during the believer’s lifetime (the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5). Believers grow to become more like Jesus because the Holy Spirit delivers them from the power of sin.

Step three:

Application – how does it work? It is the person who not only knows God’s Word, but also obeys His Word that truly loves Him (John 14:21). Application of God’s Word to our lives involves identifying the specific instructions from the text and making a plan to obey them. The questions below will help you identify specific items to consider for your life.

7. Titus 3:5b-6 says, “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior…” “Rebirth” means “re-genesis” – a new start, a renewal or revival. Paul implies that when we become a believer, Jesus pours the Spirit on us to keep us continually renewing and reviving. The Spirit gives us a new identity and a new agenda, which operate with new power. What would change in our lives if our service for God became based even more on the power and presence of the Spirit working in us?

8. In doing what is good, what motivates you most: A) Call of duty? B) Fear of judgment? C) Hope of Christ’s return? D) Praise of people? E) Gratitude for what God has done? F) Love of the Holy Spirit living in you? G) Other?

C) Glorification The final stage of salvation occurs at death (or when Jesus returns) when the believer is graced forever with perfected morality and (at Jesus’ return) a resurrected body, just like Jesus’ resurrection body (heirs having the hope of eternal life, Titus 3:7). At the moment of death or Jesus’ return, the believer will be delivered from the presence of sin. Does reading this full description of what it means to be “saved” change how you view your salvation? Why can the Justification stage be so difficult for people to accept? (See the first illustration in Additional Resources below.)

Weekly Prayer with Paul 2 Corinthians 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

6. We see in Titus 3:8 that the reason Paul wants the “trustworthy saying” (Titus 3:4-7) to be stressed in Crete Community Church is “so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.” Based on Paul’s reasoning in 3:8, what is the primary evidence that a person has the Holy Spirit dwelling in them? How does Galatians 5:22-26 reinforce this idea?

50

9. Pray that Waterstone will be a place marked by “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit”—a bond between believers that is deeper than words and displayed by loving action toward one another. 10. Pray for the worship of Waterstone to be overwhelmed and revived by the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

51

Additional resources: Two Illustrations and a Prayer Here is a great illustration to accompany Question 5, specifically how we are justified by God’s grace through faith: There was a man who had a small collection of baseball cards. The card that is worth the most is called “Future Stars” and is valued at $100. There are three players on this card. The first is Jeff Schneider. Schneider played one year of professional baseball, pitched in 11 games, and gave up 13 earned runs in those 11 games. The second player is Bobby Bonner, who played four years of baseball but only appeared in 61 games, with 8 runs batted in, and 0 home runs. The third “Future Star” played 21 years for the Baltimore Orioles and appeared in 3,001 games. He came to bat 11,551 times, collected 3,184 hits and 431 home runs, and batted in 1,695 runs. His name is Cal Ripken, Jr. Now imagine if you met Bobby Bonner, and he shook your hand and boasted, “Did you know that my baseball card is worth a $100?” You would laugh because you know the worth of the card has nothing to do with him. That’s how it is when we come to Christ and point to our good works, our statistics, and ask, “Is this good enough?” If you want to hold up your stats to God, you don’t have a chance. But when you put your faith in Christ, his statistics become yours, and your baseball card becomes worth a lot because of someone else’s stats. Here is a quote to shed light on Question 6 about how the Holy Spirit makes our salvation visible in culture through our doing good: … it would have been a dramatic and depressing turn of events if the Spirit’s work suddenly disappeared from history into the realm of the merely and purely ‘religious’ matter of worship and inward sensations. God’s plan for history had never been to escape from history. Our word ‘spirit’ has acquired connotations of bodilessness, leaving modern Christians with the impression that the Spirit is some vague and largely psychological phenomenon. But both the Hebrew word ‘ruach’ and the Greek word ‘pneuma’ meant ‘wind’ and ‘breath’ much more than they meant ‘ghost.’ As Jesus told Nicodemus, the wind is in some ways ineffable and unpredictable – but when the wind blows, branches bend, grass ripples and waves rise. The same Spirit who brought the creation into existence has measurable, visible cultural effects, no matter how difficult it may be to tell exactly ‘where it comes from or where it is going.’ In Acts, in the first centuries of the Christian era, and today, especially when Pentecostal faith is reshaping vast swaths of our globe, there is no contradiction between divine power and cultural effects that can be measured by even the most irreligious scientist. - Andy Crouch, Culture Making, 158. And a Prayer – this lesson lends itself to giving the opportunity for anyone in your group to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Perhaps the leader can invite anyone who has never asked Jesus for salvation to pray this prayer with her/him silently with the whole group: The more we understand Christ’s sacrifice, the deeper it impacts us. If you are unsure about whether you have ever believed in Jesus, here is a prayer that you can pray as a way of starting the Christian life: Heavenly Father, I am sorry for the wrong things I have done in my life. Please forgive me. I now turn from everything that I know is wrong. Thank you that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to live the life I should have lived and to die on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven and set free. From now on I will follow and obey Him as my Lord. Thank you for this gift of forgiveness and Your Spirit. I now receive that gift. Please come into my life to be with me forever. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

52

THE PURPOSE OF TITUS:

1. Did you grow up in a movie-watching home? Who decided which movies were acceptable and which were not?

Becoming Church Reshaping Culture Paul writes to Titus with guidance to help the young Cretan churches form in the gospel to engage their culture. The direction has three parts: 1) choose good leaders because leaders are indispensible to healthy churches; 2) teach the Cretan church sound doctrine because solid thinking is indispensible to gospel-living; 3) model good works as the fruit of grace and salvation because winsome Christians are indispensible to cultural change.

C A S E S T U DY :

Discussing Christians and Divisions History bears out that the Christian Church has struggled to define their relationship with culture. Some leaders within Christianity believe and teach that Christians are essentially to withdraw from culture, and that Christians are defined by what they are NOT allowed to do. The false teachers in some of the small groups in Crete Community Church were teaching that Christians must separate totally from cultural participation in the areas of art, recreation, politics and social gatherings (and their beverages!). Their teaching was divisive in the church, but the question remains: how are Christians supposed to relate to their culture, to be in the world but not of it? In Culture Making, Andy Crouch reflects on the issue of Christians and movies this way: The fundamentalists said, “Don’t go to the movies.” The evangelicals said, “Go to the movies – especially black and white movies by Ingmar Bergman – and probe their worldview.” Experimenters in CCM-style film [Contemporary Christian Music industry] would say “Go to movies like Joshua, soft-focused retellings of the gospel message using cinematic form.” But most evangelicals today no longer forbid going to the movies, nor do we engage in earnest [20th century theologian] Francis Schaeffer-style critiques of films we see. We simply go to the movies and, in the immortal words of Keanu Reeves, say, “Whoa.” We walk out of the movie theater amused, titillated, distracted or thrilled, just like our fellow consumers who do not share our faith. If anything, when I am among evangelical Christians I find that they seem to more avidly consume the latest offerings of commercial culture, whether “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “The Simpsons” or “The Sopranos,” than many of their fellow Americans, or perhaps, driven by a lingering sense of shame at their uncool [Fundamentalist] forebears, just slightly more like their fellow Americans than everyone else (89).

2. Regarding Christians and their relationship with culture, which best describes your posture (labels taken from Andy Crouch in Culture Making (90-93): A) Condemning culture “I stay away from it and reject it because it is sinful and has no value. It can cause Christians to fall away from the faith.” B) Critiquing culture “I strive to understand the author’s purpose in the art and then discuss it with others while bringing in the Christian worldview to compare and contrast. God wants me to engage with culture by using art forms like movies to spawn theological refection.” C) Consuming culture “I just want to escape and enjoy a movie. I don’t condemn or examine it. Please pass the popcorn.” D) Copying culture “I think we should borrow art forms from mainstream culture, like movies, and infuse them with Christian content so we can communicate the Christian message without any sense of compromise with worldly baggage.”

Understanding the Text Step one:

Observation - What do we see? Every time we read the Bible, the first thing we should ask is, “What do we see?” Read the text below two or three times during your group, either silently or aloud. As you read, mark up the passage by underlining verbs (the action, the flow of thought), circling key words or phrases, and putting boxes around repeated words or phrases. Put yourself into the original audience. Investigate, ask questions (who, what, where, when, how), listen to the text, and write. Note your observations between the lines.

Titus 3:9-11 (NIV) 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.

54

55

3. Share your observations as a group. What stands out? What do you notice?

Step two:

6. Based on Titus 2:11, after the corrective process has been exhausted, what would be the reasons for the severe step of excluding a false teacher from the church?

Step three:

Interpretation - What does it mean? The goal is to understand the original author’s intended meaning to the original audience. We work to see the text from the point of view of the original readers. This requires research and discussion on the original readers’ cultural and historical background. This is where it is beneficial to dig into a commentary, Bible dictionary, or to listen to a sermon. We are careful NOT to begin our study by asking, “What does this passage mean to me?” That question is application, not interpretation. There is only one meaning of the text—the author’s intended meaning. Until we understand the meaning of the text we will not apply the text correctly to our lives. Crete Community Church: With these final exhortations Paul again counsels Titus on how to respond to the rebellious Cretan teachers who were first discussed in 1:10-16. Titus is to proactively engage them in the “church discipline” process, following Jesus’ own pattern in Matthew 18:15-17. The operative imperative is “have nothing to do with them,” which implies that the worst-case scenario has unfolded after an attempted process of reconciliation and restoration. The false teachers would not stop teaching Christianity as “do’s and don’ts” (what Paul calls – “quarrels about the law” in Titus 3:9), nor would they desist from imposing “required behavior” (“thou shalt not go to movies” or “thou shalt only go to movies starring Charlton Heston or Kirk Cameron”) and thus, they would not back off from being divisive in the church. Gordon Fee defines the false teachers this way: “Apparently some Hellenistic Jews (culturally Greek/religiously Jewish) on Crete, who had ‘accepted Christ,’ were also promoting continuing connections with Judaism, especially in the form of speculative teaching and rigorous devotion to rules and regulations. Thus it is not only the theological aberrations (1:10-16) of the false teachers, but their ‘unprofitable and useless’ behavior as well, that distresses Paul…. Unfortunately, all too often in the church the ‘orthodox,’ in ferreting out ‘heretics’ (i.e., people who hold different views from mine), have become the divisive ones!” – New International Biblical Commentary: 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 211.

4. Notice the phrase in Titus 3:9 - “arguments and quarrels about the Law.” It seems these false teachers persistently attached their ideas of “purity” and “God’s expectations” to the message of Jesus and made it a “Jesus-plus” gospel. So Paul calls their teaching “unprofitable and useless (empty, futile).” What happens to the gospel when extra requirements are added?

5. In Titus 2:10, Paul encourages a process of corrective discipline with these false teachers. Compare Titus 2:10 with Matthew 18:15-17. What do you think is the purpose of this corrective process? What, if any, grace do you see in this process?

56

Application – how does it work? It is the person who not only knows God’s Word, but also obeys His Word that truly loves Him (John 14:21). Application of God’s Word to our lives involves identifying the specific instructions from the text and making a plan to obey them. The questions below will help you identify specific items to consider for your life.

7. One of the primary roles of the Waterstone elders is to protect the church from false teaching and “gospel add-ons” (Titus 1:9). Do you have any specific ideas for supporting the elders in this role?

8. What “gospel add-ons” do you see in the Church today?

Weekly Prayer with Paul Romans 15:5-6 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9. Pray that Waterstone will be a place of beautiful and attractive unity where we have “the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice they [we] may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 10. Pray that the people of Waterstone who have been disappointed or mistreated by a church in the past will experience healing and encouragement from Jesus Christ.

57

Additional resources: For discussing movies as theological reflection as well as reading insightful movie reviews, see Mark Eckel’s www.warpandwoof.org – key word “movies.” For an informative free article on church unity, download Timothy Keller’s “The Missional Church” from http:// www.gospelinlife.com/the-missional-church.html.

58

THE PURPOSE OF TITUS:

1. Have you stayed in another culture for any length of time? What was that experience like for you? Did the experience change your life in any lasting way?

Paul writes to Titus with guidance to help the young Cretan churches form in the gospel to engage their culture. The direction has three parts: 1) choose good leaders because leaders are indispensable to healthy churches; 2) teach the Cretan church sound doctrine because solid thinking is indispensable to gospel-living; 3) model good works as the fruit of grace and salvation because winsome Christians are indispensable to cultural change.

2. Would you say that in some way you have a partnership with people in “urgent need” (Titus 3:14) right now?

Becoming Church Reshaping Culture

Understanding the Text

C A S E S T U DY :

D i s c u s s i n g C h r i s t i a n s l o o k i n g a t p e o p l e ’s b u t t s . The main theme of Titus is that if we love our Savior by serving our neighbors it will mean social change in our communities. Christians should not seek to take over and control society as an end in itself, rather we seek to serve. Serving others opens a door for us to influence those around us in an impactful way. “If we seek power directly, just to get power and make the world more like us, we will neither have influence nor be of service. Everyone will view us with alarm, as well they should” (Timothy Keller, The Bible on Church and Culture, www.gospelinlife.com, 2). In his book Culture Making, Andy Crouch puts forward service (Christians following Jesus by serving others) as the primary spiritual discipline for “dealing with the gift and temptation of power” (228). When God works in history, he does so through partnership between the powerful and powerless alike (229). Crouch alludes to Jesus’ model of washing his disciples’ feet in the upper room the night before his death (John 13). Then, Crouch shares one of his basic disciplines for service:

Step one:

Observation - What do we see? Every time we read the Bible, the first thing we should ask is, “What do we see?” Read the text below two or three times during your group, either silently or aloud. As you read, mark up the passage by underlining verbs (the action, the flow of thought), circling key words or phrases, putting boxes around repeated words or phrases. Put yourself into the original audience. Investigate, ask questions (who, what, where, when, how), listen to the text, and write. Note your observations between the lines.

One of the basic disciplines I have put in place in my own life is travel outside the developed world, about once a year if our family budgets of time and money allow… Placing myself in a context where I am dependent on the hospitality of strangers, as well as Christian brothers and sisters, is for me a singularly unnerving experience. I am used to considering myself a fairly culturally savvy and resourceful person, but in the cultural context of my hosts I am generally of very little use… All I can offer is my willingness to listen, learn and pray for brothers and sisters who are much farther along the road of discipleship, and observe with awe their cultural creativity in the face of crushing odds.

Titus 3:12-15 (NIV)

On one such trip my friend Bill and I were walking along a dusty street in Nairobi bustling with people on their way to and from the slum where one quarter of the population make their home. “When I’m in places like this,” he said, “I like to look at people’s butts.” He laughed at my confused expression. “Because I figure that when we’re all in the New Jerusalem around the throne of the Lamb, I’ll have barely made it into the room – I’ll be in the cheap seats, while these folks will be up front. So this will be pretty much the view I’ll have in eternity. I might as well get used to it now.” – Andy Crouch, Culture Making, 229.

what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives. 15 Everyone with me sends you

12 As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there.13 Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need. 14 Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing

greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.

3. Share observations as a group. What stands out? What do you notice?

60

61

Step two:

Step three:

The goal is to understand the original author’s intended meaning to the original audience. We work to see the text from the point of view of the original readers. This requires research and discussion on the original readers’ cultural and historical background. This is where it is beneficial to dig into a commentary, Bible dictionary, or to listen to a sermon. We are careful NOT to begin our study by asking, “What does this passage mean to me?” That question is application, not interpretation. There is only one meaning of the text—the author’s intended meaning. Until we understand the meaning of the text we will not apply the text correctly to our lives.

It is the person who not only knows God’s Word, but also obeys His Word that truly loves Him (John 14:21). Application of God’s Word to our lives involves identifying the specific instructions from the text and making a plan to obey them. The questions below will help you identify specific items to consider for your life.

Interpretation - What does it mean?

Application – how does it work?

Crete Community Church: In Paul’s typical writing style, he turns from church-related instructions in the body of the letter to the more practical and personal directives regarding his own travel and the needs of the mission team, including orders for redeploying Titus to the Greek city of Nicopolis to winter with Paul. This closing section also includes a final directive that captures the main theme of the letter: “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good” (Titus 3:14, see also Titus 1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8). In this case, Crete Community Church is expected to provide hospitality to two mission team members (Zenas and Apollos) when they pass through Crete. Paul uses this opportunity for hospitality to again convey his big idea:

7. Would you say that you “practice hospitality?” What is the power of hospitality for the spread of the Gospel? How will you begin to make hospitality part of your spiritual practices?

8. Over the past three months, where have you sensed growth in leading a “productive” life for the Gospel of Christ? What has been the most transformative part of this small group study for you?

In the epiphany of Christ, God communicated grace and gifts to enable his people to live in a qualitatively different way from the rest of the world. The outward dimension of this new existence (attributed to God’s grace, to Christ’s self-offering, and to the gift of the Spirit) is defined in terms of “good deeds…” This sacrificial action effectively prolongs the epiphany of God’s grace so that people outside the faith community might become aware of the reality of Christ among his people. -Philip H. Towner, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Letters to Timothy and Titus, 804.

4. What are your observations from this text about how the early church operated to carry out the mission of the Kingdom of God?

Weekly Prayer with Paul 2 Corinthians 13:14

5. In Titus 3:14, the word “unproductive” is taken from the agricultural world and means “unfruitful” or “not producing seeds.” Based on this text, what would lead to non-productivity in our lives? How does Paul redefine the measure of a “successful life?”

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

6. Titus 3:14 reveals Paul’s conviction that the Church proclaim the Gospel using both words and works, by proclamation and demonstration, in this specific situation by practicing hospitality. How do you think the practice of hospitality would impact the culture in a place like Crete?

10. Pray for the future of your small group, the decision to keep going as a group, as well as the enduring legacy of living “productive” lives for the Gospel of Christ.

62

9. Pray that Waterstone will be a place marked by the practice of hospitality where people experience grace, love and fellowship.

63

Additional resources: For information about going on a short-term mission trip with Waterstone, contact our Missions Director, Kathy Peterson at [email protected]

64