Paul set out God’s plan of discipleship for Christ’s church nearly 2,000 years ago.
We began to study that curriculum in Titus 2 about one year ago, and we are entering the final stretch. Before us lay the final elements or characteristics of what a useful, godly, servant of the Lord not only acts like-but also really is like on the inside.
First, we will trace through the pages of the Scriptures in Titus 2, the entire scope of this nurturing plan for growing strong believers. Like Peter said in his letters, our hearts will get stirred up by way of reminder. Then we will move on to the next element in our study which is, grace-energized men are characterized by persevering hope.
The church-wide discipleship curriculum, written by Paul, starts with the backbone of any church, the older men. These men were to be mature, godly, gifted men who are in step with the Spirit. As we open to Titus 2:1, note the profiles.
Godly Men of
The men of Crete, saved by grace, were to be personally trained by Titus in the six areas that God considered paramount for the survival of His Church. As we read through these descriptions of the highly useful men of Christ’s church, ask yourself, “Is this the direction of my life?”
v.1 “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine, v.2a that the older men be…”:
1. “sober”: This is a call for older, godly men to Maintain A Balanced Life In An Obsessive-Compulsive World;
2. “reverent”: God also asks older men to Stay Serious About God In An Amused World;
3. “temperate”: Then they are to be characterized by Living Wisely In A Foolish World;
4. “sound in faith”: This means God wants them always Guarding A Healthy Mind In A Sick World;
5. ” [sound in] love”: Means that God also wants His servants to Stay Tender Hearted In A Cruel World;
6. “[sound in] patience”: And finally, as we’ll see later today, God wants older men to Finish Hopefully In A Despairing World.
Godly Women of
Titus is next instructed to be sure that the women of influence are tuned to what God considers most meaningful and profitable for Christ’s church. Paul says to Titus, be sure that each of the older women are taught that these five characteristics should be characterizing their daily lives. As I read this list and describe these qualities, do a mental check up on how you are doing ladies.
v. 3 “…the older women likewise, that they be”:
1. “reverent in behavior”: We learned last year about how the godly, mature women were to Live Holy in an Unholy World;
2. “not slanderers”: They also were characterized by Speaking Gracefully in a Graceless World;
3. “not given to much wine”: The godly women also were visibly marked by Disciplining (their) Appetites in an Undisciplined World;
4. “teachers of good things”- v. 4: These qualities gave the older women a powerful platform to Model Godliness in an Ungodly World;
5. “that they admonish”: And, as the goal of their lives, these women were to make it a life long goal to be personally Investing in others in a Detached World.
Young Women of
Paul then asks Titus to address the younger ladies in the congregations. The younger women were to be pointed down a pathway that would lead to them becoming the godly, older women of great influence in Christ’s church. To be that woman of influence, these were the seven characteristics God was looking for on your spiritual resume, Paul asks Titus to explain.
v. 4b the young women:
1. “to love their husbands”: The most powerful tool in God’s hands for a watching world is a band of godly wives who live out in their marriages, Christ’s Self-sacrificing Love in a Selfish World;
2. “to love their children”, v. 5: Then these women continue as mothers who demonstrate Christ’s Nurturing Love in a Loveless World;
3. “to be discreet”: The younger women who are in tune with the Lord also are Focusing on God in a Foolish World;
4. “chaste”: They seek to be Pursuing Modesty in an Immodest World;
5. “homemakers”: And, knowing the role God has given to them, they seek His well done good and faithful servants by Pursuing Homemaking in a Hostile World;
6. “good”: And all through life they are Pursuing Kindness in a Harsh World;
7. “obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed”: And finally, in step with the Spirit, and energized by grace they are Pursuing Submission in a Rebellious World.
Tomorrow’s Godly Men
Finally, Paul said that God put the spotlight on the next generation of leaders for Christ’s church. The young men, who want to grow up to be the godly and mature servants of God must begin while they are young to cultivate these six qualities.
v. 6 “Likewise exhort the young men”:
1. “to be sober-minded”, v. 7: First in any godly man’s life is a firm resolve to Live A Restrained Life In A Lust-Filled World;
2. “in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works”: Next, these men seek to Become Representations of Christ In A Christ-less World;
3. “in doctrine showing integrity”: Then is the constant desire to Maintain Godly Purity In An Impure World;
4. “reverence”: And the vigilant attitude of Keeping A Singular Focus In A Blurred World;
5. “incorruptibility”, v. 8: This means that God wants His servants to shine before our sin-darkened world by Keeping an Incorruptible Life in a Decaying World;
6. “sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you”. (NKJV):And finally, the whole reason God left His servants here was to go and “tell”, so godly young men are Speaking God’s Words In A Godless World.
What a plan God has presented to us in His Word; and what a responsibility each of us have to respond. Let’s stand for prayer and open our hearts to all that God wants us to be for His glory!
Please turn back to the next Titus 2 element we are studying this morning. At the end of v. 2, Paul described the godly, older men of the church as having persevering hope. This last quality is actually part of the trio “faith, hope, and love” that show up in most of Paul’s letters. Paul said that a spiritually healthy life, an eternally useful life would often show “healthy faith, healthy love, and persevering hope”.
God says that when His grace energizes our lives we have three clear character qualities:
- Sound in faith means that if we believe right, we’ll behave right.
- Sound in love means that when doctrine is not wrapped in love is useless to God in His plan for Christ’s church.
- Sound in persevering hope means that we are willing to sacrifice the present for the promises of the future.
Paul told Titus that he was to teach believers how to “adorn” the doctrine of God. That is why Paul frequently introduces that sacred trio of “faith, hope, and love” to various New Testament assemblies. Even John at the end of the New Testament era emphasized those three truths that must be kept in balance..
As we grow in faith (sound doctrine) we must adorn it with hope and love.
When these three, sound faith, sound love, and persevering hope–operate in concert together, they result in a life, a marriage, a home, and a church filled with happiness, holiness and assurance. These three qualities present in a believer’s life constitute the evidence, the litmus test, of a true Christian.
In A Despairing World
The life lived in hope has always been one of the distinguishing qualities of God’s servants. Peter speaks of this quality at the end of his life in his first letter. Turn there with me to I Peter 1:3-13. Listen to the beautiful hope-filled life we are to live before a watching, and often despairing world:
1 Peter 1:3-13 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,9 receiving the end of your faith-the salvation of your souls.10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-things which angels desire to look into. 13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; NKJV
The writer of Hebrews portrays the life of hope in chapter 11 as he profiled the faith set upon God’s promises yet ahead, led those heroes of faith to a living hope.
But one of the most beautiful expressions of this persevering hope that we hold on to as we go through each lap, especially our final lap, is seen in Psalm 146. The source of strength to live in persevering hope is clearly seen in this majestic Psalm.
Praise the Lord!
1 Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 While I live I will praise the Lord;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
4 His spirit departs, he returns to his earth;
In that very day his plans perish.
5 Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
1. v. 6 Who made heaven and earth, The sea, and all that is in them;
2. Who keeps truth forever,
3. v. 7 Who executes justice for the oppressed,
4. Who gives food to the hungry.
5. [Who] The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.
6. v. 8 [Who] The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
7. [Who] The Lord raises those who are bowed down;
8. [Who] The Lord loves the righteous.
9. v. 9 [Who] The Lord watches over the strangers;
10. [Who] He relieves the fatherless and widow; But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.
11. v. 10 [Who] The Lord shall reign forever-Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord! NKJV
Hupomone means to wait patiently and endure triumphantly what ever needed for the goal. Believers with persevering hope hold on to the end, their desire to be God’s servant is a stronger bond that the tug of the world can erode.
The opposite of enduring hope is when a believer gets their eyes off the hope laid up for them, quits, gives up the struggle, and backslides; all because they think it doesn’t matter anymore.
If a man is complete in perseverance, this means that he goes all the way. He is focused on Christ’s return. He doesn’t turn back. God’s Word warns that those who are not truly the Lord’s turn away from Him. Listen to the Apostle John’s warning:
“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19).
Jesus said that persevering hope would guard us, but those who do not ‘keep themselves in the love of God’ will slowly fall away and grow cold. Listen to Christ’s warnings:
“Most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).
We live in a world that says we are to get what we deserve today. Our God says we await our reward coming in the future. The Scriptures tell us that the hope that God wants to see growing in the hearts and lives of His servants is so strong, that is prompts us to sacrifice anything necessary to wait for what God has ahead for us.
In Colossians 1:5 Paul says that our hope is “laid up” for us in Heaven. Literally that word (apokeimai) means “in store, reserved”. God says we have a possession held securely for us in His presence.
Peter expands this idea in I Peter 1:4 where we read, by calling our hope an “inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you”.
The writer of Hebrews goes on to say that we are to actively reach out by faith and “laying hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil” (Heb. 6:18-19).
Hope for us, as believers, is a solid mooring in a safe and secure harbor. No storm can tear us away, no wind can blow us adrift, and no waves can dash us to destruction. Our souls are tied securely to a rope, the other end of which is tied to the very Throne of God.
The effect of such a hope is that we as believers will sacrifice in the present for what God has promised us in the future. We live in a world that teaches us from childhood to get what we want now, and not to wait. We have all heard the old adage to ‘not sacrifice the future on the altar of the immediate’. Yet that is what the world says every day to do.
As we mature in Christ our perspective changes. We increasingly learn to give up present comforts, immediate glories, and instant gratifications for a greater and enduring treasure. As all the world around us buys now and puts off payment until some later time, we are learning to pay now for what we wait to receive later. Grace-energized hope enables us to persevere, going against the tide of the world. We believe that we can endure like Moses, seeing our Invisible God by faith. Like Moses we forsake the present glories to get far greater and enduring possessions through Christ (Hebrews 11:24-27).
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.”
Moses sacrificed the present pleasures and possessions of Egypt for the future treasures of Heaven, and the presents delights of knowing God. What an example Moses is to all of us to have persevering hope. We like him need to be “looking for the reward” of God’s promises.
Paul said that trials and troubles of living for Christ in this world are “light and momentary” and that they produce an “eternal” reward (II Cor. 4:16-18) and that the struggles is “not worthy” of comparison to what we have ahead of us (Romans 8:18).
Paul takes that attitude of Moses to the churches of the Roman Empire. He told the saints at Philippi to always remember their real security came from Heavenly citizenship (Phil. 3:20). Each time we make choices prompted by grace-energized hope, Jesus said we lay up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). Paul lived this hope-driven lifestyle to the end, even confessing that he was awaiting a crown that would never fade or rust (II Tim. 4:8).
Over 50 years ago, this hope-prompted life led Jim Elliott and four other missionary companions to give their lives in pursuit of Auca Indians for Christ. Jim had written earlier in his school days a motto that crystallizes this grace-energized, persevering hope: “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”
Becoming a Man of
God asked Paul to begin a church-wide training curriculum that would encourage men who would persevere through hard times that always come in life, and then become models to other saints the triumphant hope that Christ provides. Especially as the woes and infirmities of old age beset their lives, these “older” men were to be radiating hope. That is grace-energized patience, and persevering hope.
These godly men were to face hardship and not quit, they were to wade through disappointments and not drown, and experience the loss of thwarted plans and desires and yet still say that Christ is sufficient. The grace-energized men were to persevere through growing physical weakness and find Christ’s strength as their own, to find loneliness as a time when the Lord takes everyone else out of their lives so that He can be closest, and to enjoy the smile of God when others misunderstand, overlook, and don’t appreciate or even remember their contributions.
As Paul confessed, the grace of God can give us such hope that we do not “lose heart” when life doesn’t turn out as we planned. The supreme confidence of the persevering hope grace gives is that God Himself is actively at work to make ALL things that come in life work together for His good and glory (Romans 8:28).
God wants older men to finish well, as well as older women. Just as Paul confessed in II Tim. 4:7, so each of us should desire to finish the race with joy, with the grace-energized hope that keeps us looking unto Jesus to the end of the race!