In chapter three of his epistle to the churches of Crete, Paul again addresses the parishioners of the newly founded churches he had established throughout the nation. In verses one and two he instructs them to give honor and social obedience to the political leaders and to be always ready to do the right thing in every situation. This is part of the “works” command the Lord issues to both spiritual leaders and followers. This is to be the case except when those in authority want them to go against what God has commanded. As Peter said, if it comes to a choice between what the authorities tell us to do and what God commands us to do, we must obey God and accept the consequences. This is what cost Jesus and the apostles their lives. Paul, writing to all church people then and now, proclaims that we are to be humble, even when refusing to do what those in authority tell us to do. We are not to exalt ourselves above others, even when they are wrong. We are to humbly do the right thing and, if a leader, tell them that they are wrong, how they are wrong and correct them. In most cases, our correction is not appreciated. I can assure you of this from first-hand experiences. Over the many years that I have been preaching God’s Truth, I can count on one hand the people who have believed it. None one of them are related to me. All of them are religious, church-going, Bible-owning church-defined Christians. The problem is that they are not Bible-defined Christians. And as Jesus tells us in John 12:48, it is the Bible which He will use to judge every soul who has ever lived.
In verse three Paul reminds us that, prior to coming to Christ, we were all foolish, disobedient, deceived reprobates who did what we wanted to do to satisfy our own pleasure, even, in some cases, hating our fellow man.
In verses four through six he reminds the church then and now that God, through His mercy and grace, “saved” us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many people use the word “saved” in verse five to “prove” that one can be saved in this life. Recall that this same Paul, as well as Jesus Himself, said that we have the “HOPE of eternal life (vs 7).” In God’s eyes, our salvation has already taken place. It is our inheritance. It is ours, provided we hold onto to it “… until the end,” at which time we “SHALL (then) BE SAVED” (Jesus–Mat. 10:22). Read Hope and Salvation. Key word–Hope. Note that the entire Book of Revelation, written over 2000 years ago, was written in past tense, even though it described events that had not taken place and would not take place until far in the future. In God’s view, the events have already taken place. This is the same sense in which people are “saved” in this life. Like the three-year-old heir of the family business, he will be awarded the business IF HE DOES WHAT HIS PARENTS TELL HIM TO DO UNTIL THE TIME OF THE TRANSFERAL OF POWER. If he does not, he will be disinherited. Though the believer’s salvation is guaranteed, he must qualify for it through obedience of God’s Word.
Having this Truth in mind, Paul tells us that we must remind ourselves “constantly” that we who believe in God must “be careful to continue in “good works.” Why, if we are already saved? Why be sober, holy, righteous, blameless, just, temperate? Why hold onto the faithful word? Why have faith? Why hope for salvation? Why be peculiar in the eyes of the world? Why obey the authorities? Why adorn the Gospel of God? Why accept martyrdom for obeying God’s Word? Why do all these things if the fix is in?
Notice the one word–the most important word in the church’s lexicon–is not mentioned once in Paul’s all-inclusive letter to Titus: REPENT. God commands obedience.
Jesus died so that we can receive the Holy Spirit which provides the power to live holy lives, not to repent repeatedly after repeatedly sinning. Only those who do so will qualify to join Jesus in the first resurrection, be born again and receive eternal life upon Christ’s Second Advent. Read The Three Resurrections. Key word–Three. L.J.