Reflecting on Titus and growing in grace
In this session we will be reflecting on the book of Titus and recapping from the previous sessions. So if you have not made any or only some, then hopefully this will round it up for you. If you have managed to get to most or all of the sessions, it’s a great opportunity to review and consolidate what you have learned and to refresh your memory – we will look at:
A brief background and setting to the letter from Paul to Titus.
A look at where Titus fits in terms of his character and background.
We have an 8minute video clip of a roundup of the letter.
A look back and recap from each of the talks so far.
Testimonies from one of the women with regards to what they have learnt about growing in grace.
When you read the letters which are written to various people in the bible its like reading someone else’s mail. It gives an insight into the writer and the congregation. Paul’s letter to Titus has a practical application it’s written for instruction and is as applicable today as it was then. It is eternal.
Titus was written in around 66AD it is one of Pauls Pastoral Epistles along with 1st and 2nd Timothy. Titus and Timothy were both leaders/pastors in the church and both converts of Paul. Paul preached to multiple groups and many were converted through his ministry, yet only 3 does he refer to as his sons – three sons in the faith – Timothy, Titus and Oneisemus (written about in the book of Philemon).
The letters were written to individuals about the challenges of church organisation and church function. The book of Titus is often referred to as the book of good works (Titus ch2 v 14 & ch3 v 1&8). Paul makes it clear that good works is not a means to salvation (ch3 v4-5). Good works do not save us. ‘GOOD WORKS ARE THE FRUIT OF SALVATION NOT THE ROUTE’. Good works are the result of salvation not the means of.
The letter was written to Titus who was on the Island of Crete – the Crete churches had moved on from the pioneering stage. In chapter 1 of Titus it describes the Cretans as liars, evil beasts and lazy gluttons. It seems that the church there had lost their way and needed some sound guidance.
Titus was a Greek born of Gentile parents and as we said earlier he was converted through Pauls teaching. Titus travelled a lot with Paul. When Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to discuss the salvation of the Gentiles, Titus travelled with them as a Gentile, saved by grace, apart from the works of the law, apart from circumcision. What does this mean to us as ladies saved by grace? What might we be doing to feel that we have to fulfil the law? Do we need to fulfil the law? We all say NO – good we don’t have to fulfil the law – God already considers us his treasure there is nothing more we can do to be ‘more treasured’ . I think sometimes we create laws which mean we ‘Do bits of church’ like a ritual. If we don’t do them God doesn’t disown us or take away our salvation instead we miss out on what God has for us and my Christian brothers and sisters suffer. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ and by sharing church activities with them shows that I love them it’s an encouragement to them.
Galatians ch2 v1 is significant in terms of Titus role in salvation story – Galatians ch2 v3 ‘Yet not even Titus was compelled to be circumcised even though he was a Greek’. As a side note; In Acts ch15 v1 Paul and Barnabas had just got back from their missionary journey they had gone out through the Gentile world and established churches and many people were saved. They had returned to their home church in Antioch which for the most part was a Gentile church. Paul and Barnabas were horrified to find that some men from Judea (Judaizers) had come into the church and were claiming that men cannot be saved unless they are circumcised. The upshot was that Paul, Barnabas and a few other men went to Jerusalem to discuss the situation with the apostles and elders. There would have been lot of discussion and deliberation, and the outcome was Acts ch15 v19. James says ‘It is my judgement therefore that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God’ – It is said in some commentaries that Titus may have been travelling with Paul and Barnabas which would have been interesting as we said earlier, Titus was an uncircumcised Gentile.
Titus must have been an outstanding believer – it would seem that Paul would send him out to churches which had many problems.
What do we know from the bible about Titus character? (Flip chart Ann) split group in half give bible readings
1. 2 Corinthians 7v13
2. 2 Corinthians 8v23
Ask for ladies to feedback what they can see of Titus character,
This video clip is from the bible project which is a non-profit animation studio which gives a snapshot of the books of the bible.
SHOW VIDEO CLIP (The bible project) 8mins
Let’s look back on the previous sessions – I printed off all of the notes of the previous sessions and with highlighter pen in hand studied all of the session notes. If you have missed sessions I would highly recommend you have a read of the notes and even as a refresher, I found that there was more to learn. Maybe over the summer you could plan to meet with your study buddy armed with a printed out copy of the talks. Highlight the bits that stood out to you and discuss and pray God will help you to grow in grace. The notes are woven with grace and each of the studies brings this out.
In session 1 Sharon gave an introduction to the book of Titus, already laying down the foundation that Titus is about how we live out grace and how we live the good life powered by God’s grace and in 3 specific areas CHURCH, HOME, and WORLD. Paul’s key concern for Titus and the church is the knowledge of the truth which leads to godliness. Sharon posed some questions to us. Do I know the truth about God? Who is God? Is he the same God who chooses, saves, equips, promises and does not lie that I read about in the bible or is he some cosy God I have constructed so I don’t have to confront some of the tricky and uncomfortable truths.
Sharon’s illustration of us being like tadpoles, immature, not fully grown – I know I can have an overstuffed head often believing that the ‘knowledge of the truth’ is a fat bible and me being a lazy Christian. Rather than knowing the truth and applying it so as to live the good life and fly into the air like a frog.
In the second session Kathy focused on what the knowledge of the truth which leads to godliness looks like for church communities and the importance of godly leadership that will equip the church to grow in maturity. Titus 1 v5-16 talks about stabilizing the church by appointing godly elders and silencing false teachers. Kathy concluded by saying good leadership is godly leadership – and godly leadership means leaders whose lives that reflect Jesus more and more. Only leaders who are clearly following Jesus can help others to do the same. Kathy also gave us a warning to watch out for people who desire positions of leadership and influence for selfish reasons rather than Gospel reasons. What is our responsibility to our church leaders? We need to pray for them – pray for protection over them and their families and for wisdom and grace for when they face challenging situations.
In the third session Vicky looked at Titus ch 2v 1-10 where Paul is especially concerned about behaviour and relationships and the reason why we should listen and act as suggested is to show the teaching as attractive. Doing good for the sake of the gospel. This section of Titus is vast as it looks at specific instructions to the different groups within the church. Paul instructed Titus to teach each of these groups except for the younger women who would get their teaching form the older women. Vicky focused on relationships:
Within the family encouraging/growing and supporting one another.
Within the church – building up disciples.
Within the world showing grace and enticing people to a different way of life.
Most importantly our relationship with God.
Vicky very honestly stated that this feels overwhelming and I know that how I feel at times – it does involve sacrifice and as we pray for growth in grace – God will train us but allows us to make the decision between our own desires which lead to nothing or a relationship which honours God and furthers the Gospel. Vicky stated that when two, God loving women come together to pray/praise and speak out their thanks to God, He is honoured and glorified. His world is uplifted and his teaching is attractive to all. Vicky concluded with Pauls overarching concern is that your lives and relationships glorify Gods name and draw others to him.
Christine led session 4 entitled living between the grace and glory of God – the session was split into 3 sections. 1) God is for us 2) His grace will train us 3) So track towards Christs return. In part 2 Christine very clearly points out that choosing God instead of the immediate and visible pleasure is tough and states that we are in training. We are all on a journey and Christine beautifully pointed out that God does not ask us to change our sinful desires ourselves and in the passage she studied Paul helpfully personifies the grace of God so that the grace the saviour (as Jesus was referred to as in Titus Ch2v11), now becomes grace the teacher. How does grace teach me? Break into pairs to discuss.
Feedback from question: Grace does not teach me through facts and figures or extra knowledge – Grace teaches me by opening me up to see God – Grace Reveals the character of God and through Jesus we have an example of his life here on earth to follow.
In session 5 Sharon pointed out that the good life is not an easy life not a life that will make me happy – she backed this up by quoting Jesus call to us in Mark ch8 v4 ‘whoever comes after me, he said, must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Within this section of Titus there are 6 clear commands.
Submitting to the authorities
Ready to do good
Not slandering others
Showing humility to everyone
Here again we see that we as Christians have a responsibility to present the gospel in the way we live. Sharon states the world is watching. The way Christians behave is linked to the impact the gospel makes in the world around. Sharon sets a challenge to take time to repent and receive God’s grace. The standard of holiness is high. Ask Gods Holy Spirit to pour that grace into you, overflowing, so you can live a good life which glorifies God and benefits others.
Victoria’s session covered Titus 3: v3-8 Entitled ‘He saves’ in this session Victoria acknowledges the need for salvation and that Christianity is not merely rules to be followed but a joy to be found. To illustrate this she gave us the picture of a salvation cake the ingredients being our sinful hearts and Gods heart of pure love. Then God has done the making and mixing of the cake for us – doing all the hard work by making us new and giving us new life. Then finally dressing the cake in righteousness and justification. Its good enough to eat and good enough to share with others. Victoria points out that it isn’t us who makes it in our own strength it is God. He poured in his merciful heart and made it how he first intended. Victoria left us with a really helpful final thought.
Past – Justified, regenerated, renewed
Present – ‘good life’, new life, to do good works in the Holy Spirit
Future – secured in heritance of eternal life.
Esther finished the series last month looking at Titus 3 v 9-15 – Entitled Productive lives, powered by grace. Esther asked several helpful and challenging questions. At the very start of the session Esther asks: What is the difference between what the world says is a good and productive life as opposed to a good and productive life that glorifies God? We as Christians should have a different motivation and a different purpose. This made me ask myself the question: What is my motivation and purpose? Am I so enthralled by God’s grace and love for me that I wake every morning overwhelmed by the thought of this? Honestly no I don’t why? Because I immediately think about ‘me’ I naturally look inwards – I forget how much God loves me. What is your motivation and purpose? Esther also asked: Are our lives, ALL the different spheres of them, distinctly shaped by God’s Grace? Do we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and strength? These questions really challenged me and pushed me to revisit my view of God. I realise that unless I truly understand how much God loves me how can I possibly live a productive life powered by grace. Esther then looked at how we deal with foolish controversies, genealogies, arguments and quarrels about the law. If not dealt with graciously what impact this may have on our Christian witness to others both inside and outside of the church. Alongside this dealing with divisive people within the church and how Paul instructs Titus in how to deal with them. Esther gave an excellent example of this in her own life. Esther concluded with some valuable points:
1. We need to learn to be devoted to doing good – it is a skill we must learn if we are going to be productive in our knowledge of Jesus.
2. Living a productive live means being changed by the knowledge of what God has done for us.
3. When we are wholeheartedly devoted to doing what is good it makes the gospel attractive.
HELEN CHRISTIE – up to 5 mins on what she has learned about grace during this time looking at Titus.
So having looked at this really practical and helpful letter to Titus WHAT NOW? How will we be transformed by God’s grace? How will we grow in grace? You each have a gift verse card in your seats – take a few minutes to write on the back a prayer for yourself asking God to help you grow in grace. Put this card somewhere you will see it each day e.g. bathroom mirror, by your kettle –only you will know what is written on the back you don’t have to share it. This is the word of God it’s even more powerful when spoken out loud.