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SOUND DOCTRINE (8): Stress These Things – Titus 3:8

This is a trustworthy saying. 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. – Titus 3:8

This is the fourth “trustworthy saying” we will consider. These are important because these “trustworthy sayings” are markers Paul uses to name various characteristic of “sound doctrine.” In Titus 1:9 he had said the elder must hold firmly to the “trustworthy message” so that he would be able to encourage others by sound doctrine and to refute those who oppose it. See this post from earlier in this series where I point out that the Greek for “trustworthy message” is almost identical to the words for “trustworthy saying.”

I was once speaking in a lectureship with several other preachers present. I introduced Titus 3:8 by asking them if they would like to know how to get people to do good without having to harangue them. You should have seen them perk up and grab their Bibles when I said, “Here is Paul’s solution to helping people become eager to do good works!”

What is the “sound doctrine” and “faithful saying” way to encourage good works? Paul said, “Stress these things.”

What Things Should We Stress?

The answer to this could go back to the beginning of the book. However, let us just go to Titus 2:11 – 3:7, the section immediately before the faithful, trustworthy saying:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 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.

These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

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. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He save us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

What things are we to stress?

There is hope for fractured, broken lives that are enslaved to passion and pleasure while living in malice, envy and hatred. God’s love can change that for us – as it did for Paul.

God’s grace teaches us how to live. It gives us the fortitude to say “No” – and the strength to live upright, godly lives, which are redeemed from wickedness and purified in a way that makes us eager to do what is good.

Our salvation is in this present age, even as we are looking forward to the blessed hope we will receive when Jesus comes again. In the here and now, He redeems us from the wickedness that engulfs the world – as Paul confessed in 3:3. There he said, “At one time we too….”

Paul never forgot what he once was. He was anything but peaceable and considerate when he was on the road to Damascus! Hate filled him – and he receiving the fruit of hatred, as others hated him too. He took pleasure in capturing and persecuting disciples of Jesus. His passion was to eradicate that blessed name from the lips of all men, women, and children everywhere.

But when God’s kindness and love came, things changed. God changed Saul into Paul. Paul said it was not righteous things he did that made him different. It was God’s mercy and gift of the Holy Spirit who brought this great renewal.

These are the things we are to stress.

But Doesn’t Grace Just Mean We Get Away With Sin?

This is why Paul charged Titus in 2:15, “Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.”

Do we ever despise one who teaches Paul’s concept of God’s grace? Unfortunately, the answer is that many who wear Christ’s name do despise teaching of a God’s love and mercy. They consider it a “soft” and “namby-pamby” message – though how loving people who hate you is “soft,” I cannot imagine.

How does stressing God’s goodness, grace, and gifts promote an eager passion to do what is good?

The answer is simple. When we appreciate what God has done for us, we will come to love God passionately – and will not only want to please Him, but we will want to become like Him. In seeking to become like God, we will want to do the works of God.

We will want to become gracious, loving, and kind ourselves – not because we believe “God will not save me unless I am gracious, loving, and kind,” but because we will want to become gracious, loving and kind like the One who has saved us at such great cost to Himself.

When you see Christians who are lethargic, indifferent, and unconcerned you can know that these are people who have never caught the magnificent beauty of the love of God He lavished on us in so many ways. If preachers and teachers would do more to stress what God has done for us because of who He is and because of the deep love He has for all of His creation, people would respond.

They will not respond to the preacher – but to the Christ whom we lift up so He draws all of us to Himself.

NEXT: SOUND DOCTRINE (9): “He Desires a Good Work”

PREVIOUS: SOUND DOCTRINE (7): “We Shall Live With Him”


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