ReNEWed COVENANT Ministry
SABBATH BIBLE STUDY
Compiled by JS LOWTHER
A Community of Election and Order
(cont. from Why Can’t We Have Community?)
(An expository reading of Titus)
In our last study as we enter into our look at the apostolic teachings as directed by God’s Law on the subject of Community and Eldership as an organic familial order; we saw a very important letter or epistle of Paul’s to Titus moving past the faith the Elect of God who Share in the hope of eternal life from God who can not lie promised before the world was to these who can hear the manifestation of the word in preaching and continue from that common faith unto a joint acknowledgment of truth which is after godliness, that is knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness.
And of this knowledge of Godly truth we have seen that at the forefront was the common faith of Eternal life having been promised since before the ages began, since the before the world was (It is important to note for those who shift the meaning of age in order to take God’s proclamation of Election out of His grasp, that the word ages or world is a plural αιωνιων / aionion , that is all ages -plural).
The common faith of God’s elect must acknowledge this godly truth as a command of God for some very important reasons:
1. Because Grace is based in this revelation that God has and does exercise the right of commanding His Elect to have hope in eternal life and that if you can not shake that command you too have that election.
2. The acknowledgment of God’s promise being able to be established since before the ages of this world ever existed, means that God’s word is always good on every level. Because God is not a man that he should lie…God doesn’t need to lie, and he doesn’t lie, therefore all of his promises and commands are faithful! And establish our faith.
If we can not accept this fundamental truth that is according to godliness, then why believe any word of God?
If the God who tells you how to live by a divine decree, by a commandment, is not able to save you without your own help then why would you call him savior and consider yourself elect? Our Faith is based in the faithfulness of God through and through, that He is the God who saves his Elect.
He is the God who should be feared and obeyed regardless of the time we live in, regardless of how hard it is in our day, we have a God who commands his will to be done despite the operations of the wicked, we have a God that is in control beyond our comprehension and who knows He has the ability to speak and not lie in all things that he promises and commands to be done by his Elected ones.
The abandonment of the commandments of God which are after the truth of Godliness will always occur by those who think God cannot be faithful himself.
Honestly, if your opinion of God is that he needs your help in the process of confirming hope in eternal life, and that he does not have the ability to promise it and command it to your heart by Faith, then why would you believe that God’s WORD is as true today as it was yesterday and forever? I mean, if God cannot command his predestine Elect to be faithful by a command before time, then why would we think our God could command a law that is relevant to us today?
Wouldn’t that mean: What if he didn’t foresee the harshness of our captivity? or What if he didn’t realize how hard it would be to keep His 10 commandments? Or His Laws of holiness?
To believe in a Savior that is not the author and finisher of your faith: from issuing it since before the world was, unto its manifestation of its truth to you at the opportune time of its preaching, and to this Word implanting itself into your heart and mind by an absolutely believed New Covenant – God’s Law is true and the truth of that law condemns by sin able to be forgiven by the blood of Jesus is a package.
The God of Paul’s preaching gives Faith to God’s Elect to believe in Him, that is where it starts in salvation that is where it starts in obedience to the commandments of God our savior.
And so God knew where ever we would be, as His people he has assured us by his faithful Word that:
Deu_30:1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,
Deu 30:2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
Deu 30:3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
Deu 30:4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
Deu 30:5 And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
Deu 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
Deu 30:7 And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
Deu 30:8 And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.
Deu 30:9 And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:
Deu 30:10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
Deu 30:11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
Deu 30:12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Deu 30:13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Deu 30:14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
Deu 30:15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
Deu 30:16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
This is not a word spoken by a God who lies… this is the Word of Faith spoken by a faithful God who can not lie!
Question: Are we the generation God has chosen to “return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.”?
Or are we another generation who says it is hidden from us… is it far off, it’s still in heaven, it is below the sea !?
Are we the generation of Israel that says:
Deu 30:14 The word is very nigh unto us, in our mouth, and in our heart, that we may startand continue to do it. ???
According to the Apostle Paul, no generation of Christians have this excuse:
Rom_10:6-8 Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Rom_10:7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
Rom_10:6-8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach…
These Cretans whom Titus carried out the orders of Paul among were receiving the most basic instruction in structuring the church: The ordaining of Elders / old men in cities to lead the families they were heads of. The Apostles utilized the Law of God as it is founded in th most fundamental realities of civilized life, Patriarchal family ( a form of family that is being surveyed for conquest right now … as we speak). But this is the time we are in, and thus we are Elected to the battle like Titus and Paul, who came to the Scattered Israel of God to be found among the Nation of Crete.
While it is highly likely, that Crete was still operating on a form of Patriarchy as most nations of that time in the Mediterranean and Europe had a natural rule of such by default, the Elect Church of the island of Crete was in need of serious reform.
And so we hear the words of Paul to Titus: “that the things missing you should (set in order) correct,G1930 and should placeG2525 in every city Elders.
And then the enumeration of the qualities of an Elder are laid forth as we has expressed in the prior message in detail:
• the husband of one wife,
• having faithful children that are not accused of riot or unruly / debauchery or insubordination .
Because a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God;
• not selfwilled,
• not soon angry,
• not given to wine,
• no striker,
• not given to filthy lucre / shameful money
• But a lover of hospitality,
• a lover of good men,
• Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught,
• able by sound doctrine both to exhort
• and to convince the gainsayers (anti-word speakers).
And so this whole list is given for the ideal and qualified Elder in the Church Crete, just decades or less after receiving the Gospel’s call to repentance- Paul is organizing a church with Elders of families according to the Law of God as taught in Ex_18:22 and Deu_1:13 as we can clearly read it.
Was this the doings of Paul? or of Titus? or was it the doings of God who is incapable of falsehood, The God who does not lie?
TWO problems are particularly made known to Titus in this epistle’s first chapter.
Things which Titus needed to keep in mind while he taught the people the ordinances of Eldership from the Law and why it was important that a Cretan Elder must be able to hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught: so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
this threat came from:
In Tit_1:10 We see an (1)external threat against the church of those who are :
a. insubordinate, (not subject to God or his law)
b. empty talkers and deceivers, (meaningless words, that will nonetheless deceive)
who are especially those of the circumcision . They must be silenced…
This threat is particularly, but not limited to those who taught the doctrine of Circumcision (Acts_15:1) and thus either of the Christian genre or of the Jewish genre. Regardless of what title they wore, these men spoke meaningless words, empty words, that were not subject to the Word of God and to its logical manifestation, but nevertheless its message sounded good and still could deceive. And to what end did these words deceive?
Tit_1:11 …since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.
This ungrounded, un-submissive , insubordinate empty talk of deception ‘are’ upsetting whole families! – And that for the purpose of money making, shameful money, filthy lucre; and a Elder Bishop, the elder who over sees his family must identify this problem and silence it with meaningful words that can convince those who have been deceived.
The second threat Paul tells Titus: (2) The culture of the Cretan himself which is prone to being deceived and now of these especially of the Circumcision.
Tit_1:12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
Tit 1:13 This testimony is true.
So Paul says because of this true testimony about the ethnic or cultural propencity of the Cretans,
Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
Tit 1:14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.
The Poet or prophet Paul is quoting is names Epi-men-ides (Called Epimenides Cretica)- Epimenides was born in the island of Crete at a place called G(K,C)nossos this poem is now called The Epimenides paradox.
This is an important thing to know for a depth of understanding the thoughts of Paul and Titus: Epimenides was a famous poet, born nearly 500 years before Christ ( circa 600 BC) and said to be the the 7th wisest man of antiquity… by the Cretans and Athenians .
Here is what the whole poem says that Paul is affirming as a true testimony of the Cretan cultural tendencies:
“They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one
The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
But thou art not dead: thou livest and abidest forever,
For in thee we live and move and have our being.”
The last part of this should be noticeable as Paul quotes Epimenides in Act_17:28
This Epimenides paradox, when it is pondered upon reveals a problem with ‘self-reference in logic’ as Epimenides was a Cretan, the question is, so… was he lying?
By Comparison of other ancient sources, No not this time… but then again?, he is of the few exceptions to the norm.
In all major accounts in the Ancient world the term ‘Cretan’ means what it means today, pretty much a vial person morally.
Adam Clark the commentator says that they: “…were reputed to be egregious liars, several of the ancients declare; insomuch that Kret-izeion / Κρητιζειν, to act like a Cretan, signifies to lie; and χρησθαι/ kresth-ai and Κρητισμῳ/ Kretis-mo, (means) to deceive. The other Greeks reputed them liars, because they said that among them was the sepulcher of Jupiter (Zeus), who was the highest object of the Greek and Roman worship. By telling this truth, which all others would have to pass for a lie, the Cretans showed that the object of their highest admiration was only a dead man.”
Did you know that this was the culture of Crete? This is what a Cretan family grew up in, a boy or girl grew up with this culture.
And so Paul is warning Titus by reminder of this well known Cretan Poem that these people are prone to believe foolish and vain words- this is why you must reverse the culture Titus!
This is why you find Elders in the city of Crete that the Lord has truly heard and acknowledged the commandment of God given tot heir heart by faith, Cretans now giving the LORD God the status of God who cannot lie! The LORD GOD Incapable of falsehood!
This is the hope of the Cretan family.
Elders who they can trust, who look over them, who will fight for the Word of God as they have been taught by the Commandments of God by the Common faith made manifest to their heart by preaching, as well as that faith which leads them to acknowledging the truth which is according to godliness.
This was a revolutionary concept to the Gentiles of Crete… that if they heard the Scripture heard it before under the pretense of empty talking to deceive for the enrichening of some circumcised preacher.
But Paul says Christian Elders of the Common faith by the Election of God are:
Tit_1:14 “sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.”
Do you see the paramount position of truth?
A God who can not lie! A God who Exists and promises by commands before the ages of the world were framed- As opposed to a culture who worships a dead god which they admit to having his tomb among them… And what type of culture does that create?
Tit 1:15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.
Tit 1:16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
This is the lesson Epimenides and his paradox…
You need the word of Faith preached to your heart to purify you heart by faith, to be the individual, families, and Nations you are called to be according to God’s Law.
If you are pure you will desire purity, if you are defiled and unbelieving (having no true faith) nothing is pure that you touch or even consider: this is why even the empty talking deceivers of the circumcision could espouse the scriptures and do it with out any benefit for them selves, because they them selves didn’t believe.
“their minds and their consciences are defiled. ” because they have not been purified by faith.
The Elder who is over seeing his family must be willing and able to rebuke sharply, those who profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
To this benefit, that The Elect may be sound in the faith, professing to know God and showing it by their works. That are not detestable, not disobedient, but to the contrary fit for every good work.