Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Titus 1:2

Titus 1:1-2 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— in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,

In the first verse we learn how Paul identifies himself, what his purpose is, and what the result is - godliness.  This thought continues in verse 2...when we live godly lives we are doing so because of our hope of eternal life promised by God.

The definition of eternal is without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be.

We know from this verse that there is eternal life with God, but what is the alternative?  The Greek word eternal is used twice in this verse...
Matthew 25:46  “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

There are no other options - there is only eternal punishment or eternal life.  So how can we be assured of eternal life?  There is a reason why this is one of the most quoted verses.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Let's look at this a little deeper, we cannot grow spiritually unless we understand this.  When we believe in Jesus we have eternal life.  Jesus is life.  This is simple and basic truth.  Jesus conquered death on the cross and as a result we have eternal life.

Here are some verses, just from the gospel of John that Jesus said about eternal life.  It is so powerful to see them all listed together, isn't it?!



John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 4:14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
 
John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 11:25  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  

John 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.




 

Titus 1:1 ...still

Yikes, never even got through half of Titus 1:1 yesterday.  At this rate it could take decades to study the Bible in this way.  Although as long as someone is learning and growing spiritually through studying God's Word it really doesn't matter how quickly or how slowly we go through, right.  So let's grow....

Titus 1:1
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ 

Paul identifies himself as a servant of God, which we looked at yesterday, but he goes further and also identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ.  What is an apostle?

The definition is a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.  The apostles were sent forth to spread the gospel.  This is different than a disciple, which is defined as a learner, pupil.   In the Gospels, the twelve were called disciples first.  They were learning with Jesus as their teacher. 

Here is something that is very fascinating to me.  Pull out your KJV concordances (I am using the online version at BlueLetterBible.org) and check this out.  The word disciple is found only in the Gospels and in Acts.  The word apostle is found throughout the New Testament.  It would seem then, that we are be disciples and learn (we simply need to learn the basics of what the gospel is before we can share it), but it is far more important to be apostles and go out to spread the gospel. 

The verse that comes to mind that combines these two is called the Great Commission.
Matthew 28:19  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

In this verse Jesus gives them a command and instantly makes them apostles by sending them out to make people into students or disciples of Jesus.  Once a person becomes a believer and learns about Jesus, they also then become apostles as they share and spread the gospel.




Okay, I think we now know how Paul identifies himself.  Next he tells us what his purpose is.

Titus 1:1
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


 Paul states that his purpose is to do two things:
1. to further the faith of God's elect
2. to further their knowledge of the truth

The first purpose is to increase the faith of Christians.  Here is another verse that uses the same Greek word for elect, which also means chosen.

1Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

How precious it is to be chosen by God.  And what do we do because we are chosen?  We declare...we make it known by praising and proclaiming and celebrating.  It is so glorious to be chosen that we become apostles and praise him by sharing his gospel.

Paul's second purpose is to increase knowledge of the truth.  Here is another verse that uses the same Greek word for truth.

John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

Wow! That is powerful, we have access to "all truth" through the Holy Spirit at work in us.  Are we getting in the way of the Holy Spirit guiding us?  Ouch, I stepped on my own toes there!

What do we receive when we have knowledge of the truth?  Well, as we finally get to the end of the first verse of Titus we find out...

Titus 1:1 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 

We receive godliness.  As I searched for the answer to "what is godliness" I came across a great article entitled "What is Godliness?"  Pretty sure we will find the answer ;-) and a clue is already found in the subtitle Something More Than Christian Character.  Reading the article I found one paragraph that really explains the meaning of godliness.

"The New Testament word for godliness, in its original meaning, conveys the idea of it, a personal attitude toward God that results in actions that are pleasing to him. This personal attitude toward God is what we call devotion to God."
Did you think we were going to step into the faith/works debate?  Me either, but whammo, all of a sudden here it is, so beautifully explained.

We are saved by faith, not by works.
Ephesians 2:8-9   For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.

But grow with me... as our faith and knowledge of the truth increases, our devotion to God also increases which results in our desire to please him through our actions or our works - in other words, godliness.

James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Titus 1:1

As I begin studying Titus I didn't get very far before I had to stop with a couple observations.   :-)

Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God
  
When you look at the word 'servant' in other translations, such as in NKJV the word 'bondservant' is used.    What is a bondservant?  The Greek word is doulos and one of the definitions is that a bondservant is one who is devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests.

So Paul is not at all concerned for himself, but is instead devoted to who?  To God.

What did it mean to be a bondservant in Paul's time?   There was certainly a large portion of the population that were slaves, but this could mean different things and not necessarily the way that we think of the history of slavery in this country.  In Paul's time, it could mean that a slave was in a voluntary servant capacity, however, under Roman law slaves were considered personal property and had no rights.

The old testament gives a law for servants that I have heard applied to the New Testament definition of bondservant.
Exodus 21:5-6 But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.

It is easy to conclude that a bondservant or slave in this context then is a person who wants to serve, who chooses to serve, who gives up all of himself to serve. 

One other observation - as I was scrolling though the verses in which the Greek word doulos is used, one verse jumped out at me.  
Luke 1:38  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Upon hearing that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would have a child called the Son of God (Luke 1:35), Mary then uses the feminine form of the word doulos, doule.   She willingly becomes a bondservant to the Lord.  

Here is something else that is interesting - the word doule is only used two other times according to the KJV concordance.  It is in the song that Mary sings while pregnant and visiting her cousin Elizabeth who is carrying the child, John the Baptist.
Luke 1:48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

And the third use of the word doule is said by Peter right after they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and when he addresses the crowd.  He is quoting from Joel 2:28-32.
Acts 2:18  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

What is interesting to me is that in all three uses of the word the Holy Spirit is at work in those speaking.  But grow with me... If we are to become a bondservant to God, then we need to have the Holy Spirit come upon us and fill us.

Ok, I just realized that I could continue down this path for hours, but I need to get back to Titus 1:1   ...tomorrow!


  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Intro to Titus

We are starting the study of Titus in my Sunday morning Bible Study.  It will have a focus on building Godly character.  But first an introduction to Titus.  What can we find out about this book?  But grow with me as we start with the basics of Who? What? Where? When? and Why?

Who?

It is written by Paul and is considered one of the Pastoral Epistles.  Did you know that there were different kinds of Epistles?  Well there are...isn't learning fun :-)  I have learned that there are missionary journey epistles, prison epistles, and pastoral epistles.  Titus falls into the pastoral category because it is a letter Paul has written to Titus to help him oversee and grow the church.  And that answers Why?

But who was Titus?  He was a Gentile Christian (see Galatians 2:3) who ministered with Paul (see Galatians 2:1) and was left in Crete to continue to grow the church (see Titus 1:5). 

What do we know about Crete at this time?  Crete was deplorable, full of sin and depravity. The quote below is what someone from Crete says of his own people!

Titus 1:12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”


Where? There are two important locations we learn about in Titus.  Titus is on the island of Crete and in Titus 3:12 Paul writes that he has decided to spend the winter at Nicopolis, so the assumption is that he was not there yet. 
Apostle Paul Journey <b>Map</b>

When? According to the Blue Letter Bible resource Titus was written late in Paul's ministry, in about 65 AD and was one of the last books he wrote.

New vision and focus

I have not been blogging in so long, I almost forgot I had a blog!  I have been doing Bible studies and have even enrolled in two ministry schools just that I have not been blogging about it.  If I had plenty of spare time maybe I would list all the Bible studies I have done in the last few years...Yeah right!  I can hardly remember them all.  Which is one of the reasons why I have come back to the idea of using this blog as my study notes.

I have no idea if anyone will even read this little blog, but if there is anyone out there, welcome!  As for ministry school, I probably won't use this blog much for those.  I am taking online classes at Christian Leaders Institute which is a fantastic program and I am also taking classes through the NCAG District School of Ministry.


It was during the last class at NCDSOM and in the reading of the assigned book Living by the Book that I was inspired to take a new look at how I approach Bible Study.  All of this coincides with my Sunday morning Bible Study where we are starting to study the book of Titus.  And so...here we go.  In depth Bible study, starting with the book of Titus.  No spending a lot of time making a plan, just going to jump right in.  Prayers appreciated :-)



Oh!  And I just remembered that it is the first day of spring!  How beautifully appropriate that I am refocusing my vision of spiritual growth on the first day of spring. I chose the verse for this blog when I started it years ago, it is not new.  The Holy Spirit has been working for a long time, I just have not always been cooperative!  But now...But Grow!

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.


I pray that this simple, little blog will bless you as you also work towards spiritual growth. 


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Transported right into the story of Ruth



The Girl's Still Got It


The Girl's Still Got It: Take a Walk with Ruth and the God Who Rocked Her World

by Liz Curtis Higgs


Most have read the book of Ruth.  I have read it, several times.  I have even seen the movie and completed an in-depth Bible study on the book of Ruth.  However, there is something about the way Liz Curtis Higgs writes that takes you right into the story, deeper than all the other resources. 

Each verse of Ruth is taken apart and broken down as if the screenplay is being written and we are transported right into the story.   With this style of writing supported with the authors detailed and extensive research we are seeing the events as if we were standing right there. 

Combining the study guide at the back of the book with the DVD that is also available would make a wonderful group Bible study.


Did you know that many new books have preview trailers now.  What a great concept!
Go here to see the book trailer and to buy the book.

Disclosure: WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided me with a complimentary copy of this book as part of their BloggingForBooks.org book review program.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Disappointed



1000 Days - The Ministry of Christ
By Jonathan Falwell

Based on the description of the book I expected an in-depth chronological study of the three year ministry of Jesus.  I was disappointed. 

This book instead provides simple topical Christian lessons with a disjointed attempt to connect them to the "1000 days" ministry of Christ.  I might recommend this book for a new believer (which is the only reason why I gave it two stars).  However, for a not so new Christian the overall feel of the book is simplistic and rather dull.

The end of each chapter contains several questions that are titled "Questions for individual reflection or small group discussion".  I found many of these questions to be useful but often wanted there to be more.  Well, at the end of the book there is more, titled as "Bible Study Guide (with Leader's Helps).  I have no idea why the author or publisher choose to separate these two sections. I found that the section at the back of the book would be far more useful to an individual or a small group as a way to take the topical study deeper and be able to have relevant application.

The final section of the book provides the final disappointment.  It contains a list of the "100 Main Events In Jesus' Life".  It is in this list that we are provided with the chronological ministry of Christ.  Unfortunately it is a simply a basic list with scripture references.  I have the pretty much the exact same list in my Bible called "The Harmony of the Gospels".

Disclosure: Thomas Nelson Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program.


I review for BookSneeze