Paul left Titus in Crete so that Titus “might put what remained into order” (Tit. 1:5a).
Paul had proclaimed the gospel in town after town. And in every place where people believed, the lost sheep who were found came together as local flocks who were gathered. Thus, what remained was the need for shepherds. And so, Titus was to “appoint elders in every town” (1:5b).
These “overseers” were to act as “God’s stewards” (1:7). They were to manage the household of God. And, it would seem, a big part of caring for the flock involved holding firm “to the trustworthy word”, giving instruction “in sound doctrine”, and standing strongly against those who would contradict it (1:9).
But, with each reading this week in Titus, it hits me, again and again, that the goal of teaching sound doctrine goes so far beyond just imparting knowledge. Sound doctrine is about impacting behavior. Right teaching begets right living. Where there is good news, there are good works.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
(Titus 3:4-8 ESV)
If you just skimmed that, can I encourage you to go back and read it again slowly and carefully?
What a concise, theologically packed, summary of the gospel!
You have the incarnation, God in flesh, as God our Savior appeared. You have the love of God as He saves according to His mercy and not our best efforts. You have the dynamics of redemption in regeneration and renewal, and that through the active agency of the Triune God as the Father pours out the Spirit through the Son. The Son who is Jesus Christ our Savior — the One who gave Himself as the once for all atoning sacrifice for all sin. Thus we are justified, and that by grace alone. What’s more, we have been adopted as sons and daughters of Almighty God, thus becoming heirs. Heirs according to hope, the promise of eternal life.
What’s more, Paul says, “Insist on it!” Affirm it strongly. Assert it confidently. Articulate it frequently.
So that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.
The gospel is for good works. When we really get the good news it is apparent through good deeds. It’s a cause-and-effect sort of thing.
That’s why Paul was so set on caring for the flock. That they might be fed the word. That it might bear the fruit of devotion to good works. That it might adorn sound doctrine (2:10). That it might make known our beautiful Savior.
Get the gospel, and you’ll want to give your lives. Internalize the good news, and you’ll want to externalize the good God who resides in you through His Spirit. Pursue sound doctrine and you’ll reflect the living Savior.
Not something we make happen. Something that happens to us, and in us, and through us, as we give ourselves fully to the gospel because the gospel has been given fully to us.
Good news. Good works.
By His grace. For His glory.