Friday, October 30, 2015

Ephesians 2:19-22

Recently, the terrorist group ISIL has released propaganda footage of themselves blowing up the temple at Palmyra. Ornate stone buildings that were built during the lifetime of the Apostle Paul and had lasted through much of human history were destroyed when radical Islamists strapped bombs to and destroyed it. These buildings may have caved to the pressure of dynamite, but their existence there prior to the destructive work of ISIL was a testament to the incredible work of the Roman engineers who built it. Architecture during the First Century Roman Empire was equal parts art and genius.
I imagine that when Paul is writing to the believers in Asia Minor about a building that is “fitly framed together” he does not have a modern wood and sheetrock home in mind. Rather, based on the language used, Paul is describing a building much like the temple of Herod or other ancient Greco-Roman temples to other gods. These buildings were not just awe-inspiring and breath-taking, they were truly works of master engineering.
Stones would be chosen, measured, cut, and re-measured before being fitted into place in the final structure. All of the dimensions must be just right in order for the building to be structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. As Paul makes the analogy between the beauty of Roman architecture and what God is accomplishing in the church, he uses a few words that I think we would do well to see.
First, Paul uses a few phrases to describe the construction of this building – “are built,” “fitly framed together,” “ye are builded together.” The language here indicates that there is Someone doing the building. The architect and the construction crew is one and the same. And while the truth of God’s working is not the primary point of this text, or even of these phrases, it is a reality that is never lost on Paul in his writing. He easily could have written using only language that says, “you are all stones in the same building,” but instead, he uses distinctly theologically consistent language to describe the work of God in fitting and building this building together.
Second, Paul describes this building as the “household of God,” and a building that is “together.” The point that Paul had just finished making in the paragraph prior to this one was that the wall of division has been torn down and now in Christ all are joined together in the blessing and peace of God. Here that same thought pervades the entire analogy. There are not separate buildings for Jews and Gentiles, rather all are together blended and forming the building that God Himself builds. This idea of a building speaks of the fluid and natural blending that should occur amongst believers when there is true spiritual unity.
In unity, those who were once enemies have become the very habitation of God. Those who were self-serving and self-seeking had been chosen and used by God to build His building. This thought takes us back to language Paul used earlier in Ephesians 2:10, “for we are His workmanship.” The unity that should exist among brothers and sisters in Christ should reflect this imagery that Paul uses. There should be no quarrel, and there should be no fighting. Rather, as perfectly as a beautiful temple is formed and fashioned by the very hands of God, we should be “fitted” and “built” “together” for our joy and for God’s glory.

Reflect: What other analogies can you see between the church and constructing a building?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ephesians 2:14-18

I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. – Genesis 12:3

I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him. – Isaiah 57:19

As God called Abraham to leave his homeland and his family and start a new life, God made a promise to Abraham. This was a spectacular promise considering the magnitude of its results. Not only would God bless Abraham, but God would bless the rest of the world through Abraham. There would be no limit to the distance the blessing would reach. There was no people group remote enough to be untouched by the promise that the Omniscient and Omnipotent One had made. The blessing was coming to Abraham, and through him, the rest of the world would be blessed.
In Isaiah, we find a prophecy that God has given regarding the days to come. With a prescient eye, it was clear that the future held a time when there would be peace for all. There was coming a day when those who were “far off” and those that were “near” both could be joined together in peace and unity. There would exist a division for some time, and there would seem to be a wall that separated those who were near from those who were far off. In this prophecy to the Jewish people, it would have been understood that those who were near were Jews, and those who were far off were Gentiles. Now, what may not have been clear to them, however, was how that those who were near and those who were far off would ever be joined together as one.
In Ephesians 2, Paul explains clearly how that is possible. The world-pervading, culture-penetrating promise made to Abraham was that all the families in the earth would be drawn together in blessing. Now, in Christ there is peace and blessing has come to the two groups. Those who were “far off” and those that are “nigh” have received the message of peace. (v.17) There was always a wall, and the tension of ethnicity and culture had always divided, but now in Christ, the distinctions of culture do not separate. What believers have in common supersedes any other difference that may be in them. In the sacrificial, substitutionary death of Jesus, God brought Jews who believed into peace with himself. In the sacrificial, substitutionary death of Jesus, God brought Gentiles who believed into peace with himself. Now, those who are Jewish and at peace with God should find no quarrel with those who are Gentile and at peace with God.
In Christ the divisions have melted. There are no longer distinct bloodlines. As believers we don’t look to our family or national heritage as our defining characteristic. Instead, we look to the blood of Jesus Christ, and the peace that we have with God through Him. Those who would claim Christianity but hang onto any vestige of racism or ethno-centrism fail to see the peace-bringing, wall-demolishing nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Galatians 3:28, Paul writes clearly “there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”
What a great promise God made to Abraham, that through him all the nations would be blessed together. What a delightful prophecy that the day would come when those near and those far off would be able to join. And what a splendid reality that now in Christ, all of this has been fulfilled. Now, we who were far off can rejoice and love, and strive to exist in the unity that Christ has accomplished. May we not ever call “enemy” the one whom God calls “friend.”

Reflect: How do you think that the peace that we have with God should influence the peace and unity we should have with one another? In Ephesians 2:14-18, what brings about this dual-natured peace?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ephesians 2:11-13

No matter where Paul went in his doctrinal instruction, he would always arrive back at the same point – those who have been given God’s grace were once alienated from God. Beginning verse 11 with “Wherefore remember,” Paul calls the believers at Ephesus to remember the facts of their conversion. The “wherefore” is connecting the previous thought that Paul had explained. Paul had just finished his exciting description of the nature of saving grace. We are saved by grace through faith, and we are God’s workmanship. The God of the Universe has chosen us to be his masterpiece and hand-crafted piece of work. Seeing all of these truths brings a person into a feeling of importance and value.
But before we get away from ourselves with how special we are now, Paul puts our feet back on the ground with “wherefore remember.” We must not just see what we are now, we must never lose sight of what we were. From the beginning of chapter 2, Paul had described us as children of wrath and disobedience. Now, he had told us that God had loved us and cared for us in Christ. But we were not always accepted by God. We may be His workmanship now, but there was a time when we were at enmity with God.
In time past, we were estranged from God. We did not desire to obey His laws or His commands, rather, we lived in the ways that we wanted to, always pleasing ourselves. We were a-theos – without God. We wanted nothing to do with Him. We were content to live our lives in sin, pleasing ourselves and denying Him. But being without God had also left us “having no hope.” There was no lasting joy or surety in our Godless lifestyle. Everything seemed to be pointless and the end of our life looked like the end of our purpose. We must remember this, that before God extended his grace to us, and before He declared us to be His workmanship, we were strangers and aliens living apart from Him.
But Paul can never tell of the bad news without returning to the good news. In verse 13, he begins with, “But now.” Yes, we were alienated and strangers. Yes, we were without God. Yes, we were without hope and purpose. But. Now. We are no longer estranged, alone, or hopeless. We are made “nigh by the blood of Christ.” We get to rejoice in this – Jesus died and accomplished for us what we could never accomplish for ourselves. Paul wasn’t bringing us down to leave us down, he was helping us to see the gap between our undeservedness and the grace of God that was demonstrated in the death of Jesus. “Wherefore remember” the “but now.” All those who are now in Christ were at one point aliens and strangers without hope, but now, we have been brought near to God through Christ.
Reflect: Write out the thought behind “wherefore remember” and “but now” in your own words.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ephesians 2:10

A sculptor takes a piece of clay and works and molds it with care and purpose. Carving and shaving, he deliberately etches and defines each curve and nook. As he labors intently, the outside world begins to perceive what the sculptor’s mind has envisioned so clearly. Through careful strokes, the shapeless and unrecognizable lump is replaced by an exquisite masterpiece. In the hands of a master, even the most rudimentary form can be transformed and recreated into a work to be admired. The beauty of the finished product relies on one thing – the skill of the artisan. The deftest hands create the most perfect workmanship.
We are God’s workmanship. This is an incredible thought. There is no artisan with more skill than the creator of all things. As we continue our study of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, we see that this unparalleled skill is displayed in all who receive God’s grace. God’s grace is a saving grace, but it is also a transforming grace. It is not good enough to perceive God’s grace as simply the thing that saved us from the eternal punishment for our sin and brought us to peace with Him. We must further understand that God’s grace extends beyond our being justified to our being sanctified.
Paul helps us further understand this workmanship of God in his letter to the Philippians when he says that “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform (complete) it.” (Phil. 1:6) At the point of our conversion, (described here in Ephesians 2 as “for by grace are you saved through faith”) God is at work to transform us into something different from what we already are. Like a sculptor picking a lump of clay, God chooses us to be His workmanship. From the point of regeneration, He uses His Holy Spirit as a shaping and transforming agent in our minds and in our hearts.
In Ezekiel 36:27, the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel tells of the day when God will put His “Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” This prophesied indwelling of the Holy Spirit is accomplished at the moment of regeneration. Jesus himself describes this as a “new birth” while speaking to Nicodemus in John 3. After telling Nicodemus that he must be born again, Jesus goes on to explain that those who have been reborn are the ones who believe on Him.
This is the beginning of the work – regeneration. But the work continues for our whole lives. It is an ongoing work of God whereby he shapes and fashions us to look like something different than we are. In Romans 8:29 we find that God is conforming us “to the image of His Son.” He works to shape us and mold us into conformity with Christ. And all the while that he shapes and fashions us he calls us to challenge one another to “love and good works.” (Heb. 10:24) He is working to transform us, and He desires that we strive to conform ourselves and each other in the process.
So what does this workmanship look like? We are called to good works. Galatians 5 tells us that the Spirit is at work in those who are believers and the evidence of that indwelling Holy Spirit will be seen in their actions and interactions with others and toward God. Do we repent of our sin? If we truly see sin as a violation of God’s holiness, we will. Do we love and care for others? If we truly see love as the desire of a loving and gracious God, we will. Philippians 2:12-13 tells us that as we strive to obey God, He is at work in us to help us obey Him by loving Him and doing what He commands. What a wonderful thing that if we are believers, we are God’s workmanship!

Reflect: Read 1 Corinthians 15:10. How does Paul explain that he is the workmanship of God in this text?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ephesians 2:8-9

Although the believers in Ephesus had once been children of disobedience under the wrath of God, through Christ, they were now the children of God who would receive the “exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness.” That isn’t just avoiding what is bad, that is receiving the exact opposite of what is due. But how do we receive this? Paul’s argument so far has told us what has happened in us and to us, but we have not yet fully seen how it has happened in us and to us. So what is the how?
First, we must understand the how that Paul has already given: God…has blessed us (Eph. 1:3); He has chosen us (1:4); Having predestinated us (1:5); In whom we have redemption (1:7); He has abounded toward us wisdom and prudence (1:8); and made known unto us the mystery of His will (1:9); In whom we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purposes of him who worketh all things (1:11); he has quickened (2:1); he loved us (2:4); he quickened us together with Christ (2:5); and has raised us up and made us sit in heavenly places (2:6). The first part of the how that Paul explained was that God is at work, accomplishing in us his will. This is the point that Paul reiterates in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are you saved…and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
The second part that Paul wants us to understand is how that we are involved in our receiving God’s grace. Have you ever been to the grocer on a Saturday morning? Walking through the store, you will find strategically placed little tables that are manned by apron-wearing “cooks” of some product being marketed by the age-old, taste-bud-stimulating strategy of “free samples.” This ploy allows the smells to waft through the aisles, while the packaging and display glisten with images of delicious promise. Upon arriving at the “free sample” table, you realize that the small portion on the toothpick will never satisfy your appetite, but you accept the free gift all the same. There available to all patrons are the tasty nuggets of temporary gratification. There are ways that this analogy completely implodes, but the principle is similar. There is a table with delicious rewards for those who come seeking those rewards. Similarly, seeing the riches offered through God’s grace, only a fool would walk the other direction.
For the person that sees the wonderful truth that God extends his saving grace and all the riches that it entails, there is a hope to receive this grace. With far more satisfaction than the morsel on a toothpick can offer, God’s grace comes to those who freely accept it. The words that Paul uses are plentiful: who first trusted (1:12); In whom ye also trusted (1:13); after that ye believed (1:13); us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power (1:19). Now, in Ephesians 2:8, Paul tells the second part of the how, “ye are saved through faith.” In order to receive the free gift of God’s grace, we must come in faith. This is a measure of responsibility that we must accept ourselves.
So then does faith save us? There are two terms that you would do well to learn: instrumental cause and formal cause. Understanding the truth of God’s grace, we must see that we are not ultimately saved by anything in us…that includes our faith. In this sense faith is not meritorious. This means that just like works don’t earn us God’s favor, neither does our faith. In this sense, we are saved “by faith,” as an instrumental cause (it is the instrument through which God in His wisdom has chosen to extend his grace, but not the cause of His grace). So what is the formal cause for God extending his grace to those who believe? Jesus Christ. Our faith is not what saves us, it is the meritorious work of Jesus. In a sense, our salvation is by works, the works of Jesus. His sacrifice is the cause for our salvation, and we must come to Him in faith to receive that gift.

Reflect: What are the two parts that Paul gives regarding the how of our salvation? Use scripture to make your point.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Ephesians 2:4-7

“And you were dead in trespasses and sins…But God is rich in mercy.” This is the great disparity between us and Him. We are lifeless corpses, but he is the life-giving, merciful One. After explaining the desperate condition that all of humanity is in, Paul continued his letter by revealing the remedy for that predicament. In response to all of mankind being the children of disobedience and ultimately the children of God’s wrath, Paul explained that the believers in Ephesus were also objects of God’s love and mercy. In this statement, Paul established a key fact about salvation – it is not because of us that we were saved. In God’s economy of things, we were dead and depraved, but he loved us. There was nothing in us that would cause him to love us, therefore his love for us only came because of something in him.
Now, instead of being lifeless corpses, we have been raised to life by God’s love and mercy. And if all we received was spiritual life, we could continue the rest of eternity in wonder and awe at the kindness and grace of God to undeserving people. But God does not just bring us back to life, and leave us in the graveyard. In his raising us up and giving us new life, he secured an eternal place for us with Christ. No longer is the cemetery our home, rather, we have a new home in heaven. Now, instead of being the resident of a graveyard, we are citizens of heaven with the promise of God’s blessings and exceeding riches of God’s goodness.
What a change! We were dead and hopeless, but now we have been given life and hope. We could not help ourselves, but he came and helped us. We had nothing, but he gave us everything. In verse 7 we see the extravagance of God’s grace. Not only does he bring us to life and offer us riches, but according to verse 7, he gives us “exceeding” riches of his grace. This incredible pouring out of his kindness on us is undeserved, unmerited, and a token of God’s kindness towards us. Now, instead of being “children of disobedience” we have been brought to life so that we can be “children of obedience” who love God and do what He commands.
Instead of being “children of wrath,” we are now “children of grace” having been forgiven of our sins and had the eternal punishment replaced by eternal blessing. Instead of enemies, we are family. Through Christ, we have been given life and hope. By God’s grace, and love, and mercy, and kindness, we have received an unimaginable gift. Now, let us walk as children of grace, and war against the sin that still exists in our bodies. Let us strive to conquer the dead works of our flesh, and live in obedience to the Holy Spirit of God.

Reflect: According to Ephesians 2:4-7, how were we brought to life? Why do you think it is important to understand that we did not bring ourselves to life?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ephesians 2:1-3

Seeing a dead body is incredibly bothersome. Even at a funeral, if it is an open casket funeral, there is something that is unnerving about seeing the recently deceased body in the coffin. Bodies were made by God living, and they were never meant to die. And although death seems natural to us, before sin, in God’s original design, there was no death. This was not meant to be, and perhaps the eerie feeling that we get at seeing a dead body is because something in us realizes this was never meant to be. But although seeing a dead body is unnatural, there is one thing that is more disturbing than a lifeless corpse.
When we read Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul tells us of a different type of death. The body is temporary, and when it dies, it returns to dust. But here in verse 1, Paul writes about a much worse type of death – a spiritual death. Just as the death of our physical bodies is unnatural, the death of our spirits is also not the way that God originally designed it. It was only because of Adam’s sin that God punished Adam with spiritual death. Now, every human being is born into a body that is alive with a spirit that is dead and separated from God. And this spiritual death should be as eerie as and more so than seeing a lifeless corpse.
The difference between physical and spiritual death is most clearly seen in the consequences of these deaths. The result of physical death is the corruption of our bodies. No longer do we have skin and bones, instead, our bodies decompose and return to dirt. However, the result of spiritual death is separation from God. This is not a thing that happens in a moment, but rather it is a thing that goes on and on forever. Physical death is something that happens at one point when you die, but spiritual death is something that you must experience throughout all eternity. The consequences of spiritual death are far graver than those of physical death.
Describing the tragedy of those who are spiritually dead, Paul explains that the believers in Ephesus were formerly those who were dead spiritually. Those who are alive physically but dead spiritually exhibit this spiritual death in their lifestyle (v.3, the King James translates it as “conversation”). This spiritual death is seen in those who live in “disobedience” to God so much that they inherit the title “children of disobedience.” This is spiritual death – a heart that cannot obey God, but is bound to doing the dead works of sin. This spiritual death is exhibited in sinful lusts and desires of the mind and heart, both thought of and acted out.
And as I said before, seeing someone who is spiritually dead is even more disturbing than seeing someone who is physically dead. Why? In verse 3, Paul says that those who are spiritually dead are going to face the wrath of God. Just as much as their disobedience to God is so characteristic of their life that they were called the “children of disobedience,” here we see that they are so defined by the destruction that they are going to receive because of their spiritual death that they are called “children of wrath.” While seeing someone who is physically dead may be disturbing, seeing someone who is spiritually dead should be horrifying, because those who are spiritually dead will face the eternally unbearable punishment of God.

Reflect: Why is spiritual death worse than physical death?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ephesians 1:20-23

What image does your phone go to when you push the “Home” button? What about your computer when you click on your desktop? In using our digital devices, we come in contact regularly with the concept of a default screen. This is the screen that our devices go to when they are not operating an application or some other function. If we were to inspect our lives with a small amount of introspection, I think that we would find that in addition to the default screen on our digital devices, every person has a mental default screen that they go to when they are not engaged in a task (or even sometimes while they are engaged in a task). For some, this default is sports. While reading a book, they can’t keep their mind from resetting to the default screen of sports. At the dinner table, when the conversation lulls, their mind returns to the default screen of sports. When they are in the car headed down the road, their mind defaults to sports.
Different people have different defaults, and often the defaults are a direct representation of a person’s life and passions. What are your defaults? Where does your mind go when you are supposed to be engaging in conversation with your family members? What do you default to when you are supposed to be working? Everyone has a default, it is just a matter of inspecting your heart to see what yours is. Typically, the thing we value the most, or the thing we desire the most is our default. Often, if we have idolatry in our lives, it will reveal itself in the obsession of our minds. Like a moth drawn to the irresistible glow of a porch light, we return constantly, mindlessly, out of default to the same thing over and over.
As we read Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, we see a couple of defaults in his life. These were things that mattered so much to him, that when he was speaking, or writing, or teaching, he would default to them. Some might imagine that he was merely following a rabbit trail away from the main point, but for Paul, his default was not a tangent thought, instead it was the motivating thought of his life. His identity and purpose were summed up in the default screen of his life. In Ephesians 1:16, we see that one of the defaults of Paul’s life was to pray constantly for the other believers around him. The prayers that he offered up were deep and meaningful prayers as well. With a heart that saw the eternal as far more valuable and important than the temporal, Paul prayed especially for the spiritual needs of the church.
In his explanation of his constant praying for other believers, Paul revealed another default screen of his life. As Paul encouraged the believers with the reality that he was praying for them, he moved on to explain that the power and understanding that he desired for God to grant them, was only made available through Jesus. After mentioning such a distinct truth and clarifying the source of all power and help, Paul expanded this other default – praise and wonder at the nature of Jesus. Without missing a beat, at the mention of Jesus, Paul couldn’t help but proclaim the awesomeness of Jesus. Here we see the truth about the authority granted to Jesus by God following his resurrection. Jesus suffered and died, but when he rose on the third day, he was exalted and lifted high above all things and set as ruler and Lord over all. What an incredible default mindset! Instead of sports or hunting or clothes, Paul defaulted to the praise and worship of God. We would do well to see the default of Paul’s heart and pray that God would help us calibrate our defaults to matters of such eternal importance.

Reflect: Read Colossians 3:2. What phrase does Paul use in this text to admonish the believers in Colosse to set their default screens correctly?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ephesians 1:15-19

What do you do when other people come to mind? What is your natural reaction when you think of your family members or your neighbors? What does your mind default to when your church family comes to mind? As Paul writes his letter to the churches of Asia Minor, he explains what he does when he is reminded of the believers there – pray. I wonder what our conversations would look like if this was our default. Imagine if someone came up to you and mentioned a family from your church and how they were having a rough time, and instead of merely acknowledging the inconvenience that they are in, you looked at your friend and said, “That makes me want to pray for them.” Imagine being at home watching TV or playing a game, and suddenly a friend is brought to mind, and instead of ignoring the thought and moving on, you default with a prayer to God for their spiritual growth and well-being.
This default heart of prayer that Paul describes here would be a great thing for us to develop. We must see further however that Paul’s prayer for those believers in Ephesus was not just a generic prayer. Often when we think of praying for someone, we think through the physical needs that they have, and finish with “well, I don’t really know anything going on their life right now,” and instead of lifting them up in prayer to God, we go on ignoring their needs. Paul doesn’t pray for Aunt Helga’s knee, or Cousin Edith’s pancreas, or Jimmy’s neighbor’s job, rather, Paul prays for the entire congregation in deeply meaningful spiritual ways. There must have been people in the congregation that had joined the church since Paul had visited them. He couldn’t possibly have known all of the people there and the physical things they were going through. So instead, Paul prayed for their spiritual needs. It is not bad to pray for the physical needs of others, but that was not Paul’s main focus.
As Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus, he prayed for some very specific spiritual needs. In verse 16, Paul says that he thanked God often for the work that God is accomplishing in the believers. Do you ever pray and thank God for the spiritual growth you see in those around you? He continued by praying that God would grant them “wisdom,” and “understanding” from the Scriptures. This assumed that they were regularly involved with the word of God. Here Paul prays for them that they might continue in the Spiritual Discipline of Bible Intake and in their perseverance, and that God would use His Spirit to open their eyes and teach them the truths of Scripture. Do you ever pray that those you know and love would grow in their understanding and wisdom of God’s word? Do you think in these terms? Do you default to praying for others in this kind of way?
Continuing his prayers for those in the churches of Asia Minor, Paul prayed in verses 18 and 19 that the believers would realize the riches that they had inherited because of Christ, and that they would see the power that was offered to them from God himself. This was crucial to their living a Christian life of obedience to God. They must see that they had been delivered from sin, and given power to do what was right. Now, Paul was praying this specifically for them. Do you ever pray that those around you would understand and live in the promises and power offered to them by God? I fear at times, we are so busy with entertainment or work that we fail to think of others the way we should. Perhaps today, as you see the example of relentless meaningful prayer in the life of Paul, you will be challenged to pray for those that come to your mind throughout the day.

Reflect: Perhaps after seeing Paul’s spiritual prayers for those around him, you could be challenged to pray for the same spiritual needs of those around you.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ephesians 1:11-14

Imagine that as you sit down at the dinner table tonight, a knock comes at your door. As you open the door, a man in an expensive suit greets you and explains the unbelievable news that a distant relative has passed away and has left you with all of his possessions. The relative was an independently wealthy multi-billionaire recluse, and now all of his fortune is your inheritance. What an amazing experience that would be. Perhaps once the disbelief dissipated, you would be absolutely ecstatic. When we come to Ephesians 1:11, Paul fills the roll of the man in the sharp dressed suit. Instead of a distant relative, he says that because Jesus died for our sins, and God has redeemed us, “We have obtained an inheritance.” What an unbelievable and unexpected blessing! Becoming the heir to a billionaire would be a spectacular thing, but becoming an heir to the Almighty God of the universe, that is a completely different matter.
Here Paul explains the theology behind our receiving the inheritance of God as being “in whom [Christ].” We did not get this inheritance because we had the right last name. We didn’t get this inheritance because we worked really hard and were finally noticed by God. We have become recipients of this eternal inheritance because of the work Jesus accomplished for us. Paul continues his explanation of our receiving this unspeakably awesome inheritance by telling us that we were “predestinated” to receive it because God desired to give it to us. Here Paul describes God as both the one who “purposed” it and the one who “worketh” it. He desired to give us the inheritance and he works it out for us to receive it.
Moving to verse 12 and 13, Paul further tells the believers in Asia Minor that this predestinating work of God was accomplished by their believing the gospel. In His own will, God desired that Christians (ourselves included) would come in faith to trust the truth of the gospel. In His power as the One who “worketh all things,” God then brought us into faith and salvation through faith. Here from verse 7 through 13, we see the truth unfold perfectly. Those whom God purposed to receive the inheritance in Christ, believed and were redeemed by God’s grace through the death of Jesus. Having believed and been saved, God then gave an “earnest.”
An “earnest” is a foretaste of what is to come. In the illustration of gaining the inheritance of the billionaire, this would be like the man in the suit giving you one million dollars in cash before leaving your house. After promising billions, he gives a taste of what that experience will be like by providing you with something that is incredible and exciting. Similarly, God has promised us eternal reward and an inheritance, but now, he gives us His Spirit. In verse 14, the Holy Spirit is described as “the earnest of our inheritance.” This means that for the time being we do not fully experience all the benefits of our inheritance, but we do get a foretaste.
So what is the inheritance? One day we will be in heaven apart from the presence of sin. There will be no more heart ache and no more affliction. There will be no more sorrow and no more tears. There will be an unhindered knowing of God that can only be had by being in the presence of the Almighty God. Here we find the foretaste of that inheritance in the Holy Spirit that God gives to us. When we are aching, we can find comfort in the Spirit of God as He works through the word of God. In times of trial and affliction, it is to the Spirit that we run for solace. And although at this time we are not in the presence of God fully free from sin, we can look to God and find strength in His Spirit to gain victory over sin. For now, we have the Spirit, a foretaste of the wonderful inheritance that awaits us.

Reflect: What did we do to earn our inheritance? What is our inheritance?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ephesians 1:7-10

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:8-11
Jesus Christ became the sacrifice for our sin. Paul writes in Philippians 2, “he humbled himself.” Here we see Jesus, the loving savior, laying aside every right that he had to authority and power, and offering himself as a substitute for our sin. Paul continues by explaining that after Jesus died, he was resurrected, and that there is now coming a day when all of the universe (“things in heaven…in earth…under the earth”) will bow and worship Him as Lord.
In Ephesians 1:7, we find the glorious truth that it is through the humble sacrifice of Jesus that we can have forgiveness of sins. In the abundance of God’s grace, we have been given forgiveness of sin, or as Paul also writes, we have “redemption.” We were slaves to sin, but now, we have been purchased and set free by the blood of Jesus. We no longer have to live with the looming death penalty for our sins; Christ took our sin on himself and bore the wrath of God as a substitute for us. We have been forgiven our sins through the blood of Jesus.
Not only have we gained forgiveness of sin, we also have received the blessing of the indwelling Holy Spirit who empowers us to obey and illumines our minds to understand the truth of Scripture. In this regard we have received “all wisdom and prudence,” in verse 8. Before, our minds were darkened by sin and by deception, but having placed our faith in Christ, we have been indwelled by the Holy Spirit to live differently. We can now see the lies of sin, and can be convicted by the Spirit of God through the Word of God to obey.
But why have we received the forgiveness of sin, and the abundance of understanding? What reason could there possibly be for our receiving the grace of God so freely? Again, the nature of grace is that it is granted not based upon our deserving it, but rather on “his good pleasure which he has purposed in himself.” We are not the cause for God’s grace being poured out on us, rather, God’s own unrevealed purposes are the reason. The only reason that we see, although there are certainly more than this one, is given in Ephesians 1:10.
“That he might gather together in one all things in Christ.” There will be a day of gathering where all the redeemed and all of the cosmos will join together in praise and worship of Christ. That just as Philippians 2 foretells the day of His exaltation, all that are in heaven and on earth will gather together and praise and worship him. Seeing then that we will join with the rest of the cosmos in the exaltation of Christ, we should respond in very specific ways. 1) We should begin praising him now, and should strive to worship him with our words and our hearts. 2) We should draw others into worship with us. 3) We should live lives of obedience knowing that he has taken away the penalty for our sin.

Reflect: What does Ephesians 1:7 talk about? What does this mean?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ephesians 1:4-6

We have done nothing to earn the kindness of God. When we speak of His grace, we literally mean “that which is undeserved.” Grace is a gift given in the freest sense. At times, in speaking of God’s grace, we mean that we have received not merely what we didn’t deserve, but rather the exact opposite of what we deserved. Yet, we need to constantly remind ourselves, if we did not deserve it, then there is nothing in us that brought God’s grace upon us.
In Ephesians 1:4, Paul writes that God has “chosen us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world.” The argument is then made that God did not choose of His own will and desires, rather, something must have caused Him to choose. The logic of this premise then concludes that God chose for salvation those who He knew would choose Him. This premise lessens the elective foreknowledge of God.
According to this idea, God knew what would come to pass, so he chose to elect those who would eventually choose Him. While in a nuanced way this may appear to be correct, the design of this argument has one fatal flaw – God chose to elect certain people based upon something in themselves (albeit in their future selves). In this regard, His grace is not free and unmerited, rather, in His foreknowledge, He owes His grace to those who will eventually believe. This view undermines the nature of grace, and mishandles the truths presented here in Ephesians 1.
In His love God chose us, not because we would eventually choose Him, but because of v. 5, “the good pleasure of his will.” He wanted to. It was His desire that brought us into His family through the sacrifice of Christ, not our own desire. In this regard, those who would argue for an election based upon the foreknowledge of God have the cart before the horse. In a right view of Scripture, John 6:4 says, “no man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” We then understand, that we will only choose Him after he has chosen us.
So then why does He choose us? If it is not because of something we have done (or will do) then why were we chosen? What cause could God have to elect from every nation, tribe, and tongue, a diverse group of sinners? In Ephesians 1:6, Paul answers this query, “To the praise of the glory of his grace.” He chooses of His own good pleasure so that he will be praised and worshipped. We have been chosen to be a part of the family of God so that God will be glorified and exalted.
We have been chosen. We have been loved. We have been predestined, and it was all because of his good pleasure, and for his own glory. What an amazingly loving God who would choose us in spite of ourselves. What a wonderful God who would forgive our sins in Christ and offer us peace with Him. We ought to praise and worship Him for his unmerited kindness toward us.

Reflect: How does the idea of God electing us because He foreknew that we would trust Him go against the very nature of grace?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ephesians 1:2-3

Continuing his introduction to the believers in Asia Minor, Paul mentions two realities that exist for the “saints” that are “faithful in Christ.” These who are holy and set apart by God for service and live every day by faith in Christ are also recipients of the “grace and peace” of God. There is no better place to be than at peace with the sovereign of the universe. As Paul establishes the position of the believer, this is a truth that overshadows all other reality in the Christian life.
In 1777, the American War for Independence raged on with fierceness and intensity. The American Patriots were short on manpower and supplies, and found that the converted merchant ships of their struggling “navy” were no match for the superiority of the world dominating British Fleet. The losses at Quebec, New York and Philadelphia had seemingly shaken any hopes of securing victory, and left the Americans somewhat despondent. If Independence would be had, a major change must come in the form of military support from another major world power. On the other side of the Atlantic, Benjamin Franklin worked craftily in the French courts until upon the victory at Saratoga he convinced the French to sign the Treaty of Alliance on February 6, 1778, officially pledging their power as the hope of America. Through French military support, naval support, and supplies, the American troops were rallied and the rest is United States history.
Like this alliance between America and France made all the difference between success and failure for the colonists, our being made at peace with God makes all the difference in our lives. Coming to an agreement of peace with France meant the difference between life and destruction for the American Patriots, and coming into peace with God has brought us life in place of the wrath of God. Before, we were certainly doomed, but now, we have peace and we are found in the family of God. It was not merely the crafty wiles of a seventy year-old diplomat that secured our peace with God. Rather, Paul writes in v. 2 that it was through the work of God himself.
He made us at peace with himself. He could have left us as enemies under his wrath, but instead he extended his grace and brought us into peace with Him. Our situation was desperate and we needed help, and he came and offered us that help. In Roman 5:6, Paul writes, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” We had no power to bring the peace of God to ourselves, but in his grace, he provided for us what we did not deserve. This would be like France seeing us in need against the British, and instead of signing the Treaty of Alliance, just dumping millions of dollars of supplies and troops into military support as our ally. God provided peace through grace alone, and not because of anything in us.
This is why Paul can write in verse three that we have been blessed by God, “who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” This is the loving and caring God, who of his own desires brought his enemies into peace with him. Through nothing in us, he extended freely the hope and life that we have in Him. Now, we are blessed with a bounty of blessings because of his unmerited kindness. Having been brought into peace with God, by the grace of God, to receive the blessings of God, we should turn in praise with Paul to say “Blessed be God!” We should be thankful and praise him constantly for his wonderful grace and undeserved love for us.
Reflect: How were we brought into peace with God? Why is this different from almost every peace treaty that man has ever made with other men?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Introduction to Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians

The epistle to the church at Ephesus was written while Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Biblical historians have narrowed down the dates to A.D. 60-62. It was during this imprisonment that Paul continued to write, and penned what have now been called the Prison Epistles. These include – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. As with the other epistles of Paul, each of these letters serves a purpose of either dispelling heresy that has arisen in the local churches or like the Epistle to the Romans, of teaching the believers in the church the grand truths of God and the gospel.
While many of Paul’s letters addressed specific heresy that had crept into local churches, Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians served to describe the truth of God that would affect the whole body of Christ, not just a local church. The book of Ephesians has been historically broken down into two sections. In the first section, Paul describes the positional truths of the Christian life. In this, he describes the theology of the body of Christ, in essence, he describes the doctrinal basis and foundation for all Christians. The last three chapters then describe what we should do with those theological moorings. These last three could also be called the practical truths of the Christian life.
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.”As Paul starts his letter, he begins in typical first century greeting style with the author’s name at the front of the epistle. He then moves on to describe himself with two statements. The first statement establishes his authority as an Apostle. There were only 14 Apostles on the earth, the original 12, Mathias (who was chosen to replace Judas), and Paul. These Apostles served as the leadership of the early church and established the doctrine that Jesus had taught them personally. They were the penmen of Scripture, and served to spread the gospel around the world after Jesus left. Paul was a member of this elite group. According to 1 Corinthians 15:8, Paul was an Apostle that was “one untimely born.” He was not chosen along with the other disciples, rather, Christ personally chose Paul on the road to Damascus and added him to his band of Apostles.
Paul continued his self-description with “by the will of God.” This is an impressive claim. He was not an accident. Rather, the all-wise, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good God of the universe had chosen Paul to be an Apostle. It was the very will of God that Paul serve the church as an Apostle. Paul had been a religious zealot before in Judaism, but after his conversion, he was now an Apostle of Jesus Christ, because God had willed it to be so.
“to the saints…and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.”Paul continued his introduction by describing his audience. These truths that would follow were written for “the saints.” The word used here is hagios and it means “holy.” In addressing the believers in Ephesus and the rest of Asia Minor, Paul calls them “holy ones.” This is not because they were sinless, but because even from the outset he was establishing what we already mentioned – the positional truths of those who are Christians. Those who have placed their faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ are truly “holy” and have been declared righteous by God. These believers have been declared holy, and are now being fashioned into practical holiness by God. The next descriptor Paul uses helps us to understand further that truth, “the faithful.” These holy ones (saints) are living lives that are full of faith. They live every day trusting in the saving work of Christ to help them to live as they ought in holy and righteous ways. Their positional seating causes them to strive in the day to day for the practical outworking of righteousness. Perhaps as we explore Paul’s encouragement to the holy and faithful believers in Ephesus, we can find some comforting and warming truth for us.
Reflect: In your own words, connect the doctrinal truth for believers who are “saints” and how they are “faithful.”

Friday, October 9, 2015

Titus 3:14-15

In his letter to Titus, Paul has given instruction for how the church can and should run. Titus was instructed to appoint leadership in the church that was faithful and “blameless.” It was vital to the health of the church that the people of the church were taught the word of God. There were plenty of personality things that a pastor or elders might desire to teach that were not the clear exposition of the Scriptures, but they were to refrain from serving themselves, and instead serve the church by teaching the word of God.
Paul admonished Titus to correct those teachers who were teaching things that were not consistent with Scripture. Those who sought to establish their own cults of personality were to be stopped and corrected. The words Paul had used were that Titus should “rebuke them sharply.” For the sake of the church, those leaders who were not teaching the testimony of Scripture but were instead railing and unruly were to be sharply rebuked. It was vital for the health of the church that each congregation have a leader that was grace and truth oriented, and not misguided by error.
The instruction in the letter of Titus then transitioned from the distinction between the good teachers Titus should appoint and the false teachers that Titus should rebuke, to the relationships that the church members should have with one another. The church should be a multi-generational family that exists in community encouraging and exhorting each other. And those who were in the bonds of slavery were to seek to serve well and to exemplify their trust in God to their employers. Their life was to evidence the transforming grace of God to those around them, especially their masters.
In very practical ways, Paul finished his letter by directing Titus to admonish the believers in their practical everyday living. Again, this was not Paul venting his own personal preferences, rather, he was confirming under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, what God had revealed elsewhere in Scripture as the duty of the people of God. This was not Paul’s agenda and attempt at developing a cult, rather, he was explaining what a Christian should look like.
Christians should relate to their authorities (governmental and otherwise) in humility and obedience. Christians should guard their words and not speak of things in ignorance or malice. Christians should be marked by the kindness and love that has been shown to them and that they should show to those around them. Christians will be transformed by the grace of God, and will seek to see others transformed by that same grace. As Paul closes his letter to Titus, he gives one last challenge for those who are believers. “Let ours also learn to maintain good works.” This should be the lifestyle of the believer. That in good works, and then in what Paul mentions in verse 15, “love in the faith,” God’s grace can be seen at work in us.
Walking away from Titus, perhaps we can see the value of good leadership in a church. Maybe we can more clearly understand the priority of the word of God in the life of the church, and how each member in the church should relate to the other members. Overall, I pray that our study together will result in us loving one another better. That instead of seeking areas to argue and be contentious, we can be a people who are marked by kindness and gentleness with the love of God.

Reflect: What are some things that you have learned from Paul’s letter to Titus?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Titus 3:12-13

1 John 4:7
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

Romans 12:10-13
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;13 distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Hebrews 10:24-25
24 and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

In 1 Timothy, Paul tells Timothy that he is to instruct those in the church to treat each other like fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. The church is like a family. There should be a natural love and affection one toward another. In place of strife should be self-sacrifice. Instead of conflict should be compassion. The church should be a place that in the kindness and joy of a familial relationship everyone exists for the good of everyone else.
When Paul writes to Titus, in Titus 3:12-13, it is clear that his heart for the men he mentions here is that of brotherly love. Paul was constantly training young men to do the ministry, and he was concerned for their well-being long after he had finished training them and had sent them away. Here, Paul is dispatching Artemas or Tychicus to the church in Crete. It was going to be the job of Titus to make sure they were settled and taken care of so that he could travel to see Paul.
As Artemas or Tychicus would serve in place of Titus, Titus was to get in touch with his brothers, Zenas and Apollos. Paul’s specific command for them was “that nothing be wanting unto them.” In essence, “whatever they need, make sure they get it.” This was not an every man for himself mindset. Here, Paul was interested in the well-being of Zenas and Apollos, and he instructed Titus that he should be concerned about their welfare as well. The church family should take care of one another. Every member of the family should exhibit and receive the love of Christ.
How do we do with this today? Perhaps busyness or materialism or entertainment has caused us to be so self-absorbed that we fail to care for the needs of the other Christians around us. Do we endeavor to make sure that “nothing is wanting” in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ? James wrote in his epistle, “True religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction.” In essence, those in need should be taken care of by the church. May we see ourselves as the church, and may we desire to provide and care for the needs of those around us. As God has loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Reflect: What are some specific ways that you can show the familial love of Christianity to other believers?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Titus 3:10-11

How can we achieve unity? How can people dwell together and not have division or contention? Some would say that the best way to unity is toleration. In this line of thinking, if everyone were to tolerate everyone else, then eventually, there could be peace. The only flaw with the idolatry of toleration is that it cannot truly be fully tolerant. Toleration cannot tolerate those who are intolerant. Toleration says “I accept everyone, except those who don’t accept everyone.” The flaw of this view is that it excludes itself from being truly tolerant when it excludes those who are truly intolerant. Tolerance is a very weak footing on which to build unity.
Especially in a church, tolerating disagreement and those who would vehemently argue against others in the church would lead to chaos and ecclesiastical anarchy. There must be a better way to gain unity in the church. Thankfully, scripture gives us a better basis for unity – the Bible. While toleration is only as absolute as the fickle human being attempting to be tolerant, Scripture is an absolute authority that does not change. If understood, the truths found in scripture can serve as the bedrock foundation of the church and when applied, they can lead to flourishing in unity.
Those churches that would fully follow the commands of Scripture would find a common ground that surpassed their own cultural persuasions and preferences. Instead of dividing over the nuance of the religious sub-culture they had been raised in, a church that used Scripture as its final authority in all matters would find true unity. The unity that Christ desired in his disciples and in the church could be accomplished if all Christians everywhere would simply submit themselves to the authority of Scripture. There would not need to be any in-fighting or subversion. There would not be any flash-in-the-pan celebrity pastors that burnt with the fury of a Fourth of July sparkler only to fizzle out shortly thereafter in like fashion. The church would be protected from the tides of doctrine that ebb and flow throughout it and instead, when the people of God knew the word of God, they could dwell together with the unity of God.
It is to this point that Paul admonished Titus in Titus 3:10-11. Those who were unwilling to submit themselves to the truth of Scripture were to be admonished and corrected. Instead of tolerating their convoluted perspective as potentially valid, they were to be shown biblically why their words or actions were incorrect. If they held any position that was antithetical to Scripture, it was not to be tolerated, it was to be corrected.
Paul used the word “nouthesia” (translated in English as “admonish”) to explain what this should look like. We now use this word in regards to a specific type of counselling that we as Christians are to use in dealing with those who are not following the commands of Scripture – Nouthetic Counseling. This type of counselling is used to point people towards the proper understanding of Scripture, and the duty of the believer to submit to that teaching. If someone is willing to receive Nouthetic Counseling, unity can be had in the church. However, Paul tells Titus that if the person being corrected by Scripture fails to submit to Scripture, then they are to be “rejected.” The unity in the church was too important than to sacrifice the truth of Scripture. We must uphold the purity of doctrine if we are to ever have true unity in the church.

Reflect: Why is tolerance a weak base upon which to build unity?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Titus 3:9

A true Christian believes certain truths. A true Christian lives in ways that reflect the truths that they believe. A true Christian speaks about the truth. With this three-fold basis, the world should be able to recognize Christians at first glance. It should not necessarily be because of the clothes that we wear as much as the lifestyle that we wear. It should not be as much about the words we choose not to use as the words of love, gentleness, and truth that we do use constantly.
However, some Christians live in ways that seem to indicate that these realities are not necessary in the life of every believer. Some consider themselves Christians, yet they fail to understand and believe the basic truths of the Christian faith. Others mentally affirm the truths of the Christian faith, but they fail to ever live in any way that would indicate that they have been “converted” or changed from their sinful lifestyle to live a holy lifestyle. Others still believe rightly, and even perhaps live rightly, but their words reflect a different reality. Instead of hungering after the truth of God’s Word, and instead of desiring to discuss the matters of Scripture with those around them, they pursue conversation and arguments that are of such low value, that they may have been better served to not engage in conversation at all.
In our modern context this is possibly most evidenced through Facebook. Through arguing and banality some people indicate that they have not been fully affected by the word of God. Instead of “preferring others better than themselves,” some people go about seeking to convince others of their non-spiritual opinions or preferences. Instead of explaining clearly the gospel of Jesus Christ, some stoop to argue about much less important things. This is a sad derailment of their main purpose that God gave them at conversion. Instead of being known by their love of God and his gospel, their social media platform looks more like a right-wing or left-wing conspiracy theorist.
At times, we even see misguided Christians labor passionately to convince others of some political position or some great social cause for which they are zealous, but in their fervor they have left off their obedience to the command of God to share the truth of the gospel and to demonstrate the love of the gospel. In exchange for obedience to the commands of God, they have pursued being perceived as “intellectual” or “well-learned.” At the end of the day, when they enter a conversation it is simply with motives to demonstrate their “rightness” and not to learn, or help, or exhort.
As we read Titus 3:9, we would do well to see that these people who are side-tracked by conspiracy theories, or political agendas have fallen quite short of the clear command to live and speak the truth of God. Instead of pursuing righteousness, they celebrate misguided conversation and relish preoccupation with things of little or no eternal consequence. In foolishness, they become children of the King enthralled by the trinkets of the beggar.

Reflect: Why would Paul exhort Titus to “avoid foolish questions…contentions, and strivings”?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Titus 3:8

One of the most beneficial things that you can do for others is to believe the word of God. At face value, this truth does not seem perhaps to be as much in the best interests of others as it is in our own interests, but upon further inspection we will see that loving God and obeying His word is one of the most loving things that you can do for others. Knowing that obeying God leads to human flourishing, we should then strive with everything in us to learn the word of God and obey it.
This is the exact point that Paul is making to Titus in Titus 3:8. Paul tells Titus that there is a lifestyle that is “good and profitable unto men.” It was important that Titus not just live a lifestyle that would be beneficial to others, but also that he would “affirm” or teach these things to those around him there in the Cretian churches. This was a continuation of Paul’s instruction in Titus 2:1, “speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.” It was Titus’s job to instruct and teach the truths of God so that the people of God would live in ways that were good and profitable to those around them.
This was in contrast to those who “professed that they know God; but in works they deny him.” (Ti.1:16) These people were trying to convince those around them with their words that they were Christian, but their actions betrayed their true nature. Having failed to obey the word of God, they indicated in their lifestyle that they did not truly believe in God, rather they had simply “professed” that they had believed in God. Instead of becoming a blessing to those around them, they became “abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” The truth of God had failed to sink into their motivations and actions, rather, they simply acknowledged it and assumed that their “Christianity” was good enough.
Now, Paul exhorts Titus to “be careful to maintain good works.” This would be the evidence to those around him of the truth of the word of God. If Titus lived in obedience to the things that God said and commanded, then the world could see plainly that God’s word truly was best. Titus must, “speak evil of no man,” but be “gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.” His life must be marked by right interactions with those around him. His words and his actions would indicate whether or not he truly believed God.
It is hard to convince people around you of a message that you yourself do not believe. If Titus lived the life of the hypocrite, telling people to obey God and follow his word, while all the while disobeying it himself, then there would be no one who would ever come to Christ. In this, we see that our good works and our love for others is one of the greatest tools in evangelism. Instead of being provocative in negative rhetoric, we should be provocative in our love and good works. If we are true believers of the word of God, we must live in ways that are loving and evidence the truth of God to the world around us.

Reflect: Why is it important that Christians live in ways that are loving and gentle?