Knowing What's At Stake: An Introduction To Titus
For those of you who have decided to journey with us through the book of Titus, a huge hello to you! If this is the first time you’ve heard about our new study, it’s not too late to jump in! Click over here and download your free Titus study guide to begin the lesson. Also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for weekly encouragement and blogs.
This week we begin our overview of this short letter written to Titus and discover more about the author, audience, and aim of this book. As I began studying Titus, I couldn’t get past the first verse without hearing the deep urgency within what’s being said here:
“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness…” (Titus 1:1, ESV)
Paul realizes that something is at stake here: the believer's faith, their knowledge of the truth, and their godliness. Each one of these qualities are incredibly important to a healthy believer. And so Paul has something very important in this letter, that if not shared or understood or guarded, it could stunt the growth of countless believers … including us today.
My heart began to lean into this message with anticipation.
Because I definitely desire more faith. I definitely want to know truth. And I desire to be godly.
Faith, truth, and godliness are the lifeblood of a believer in Jesus -- and they are freely available to us -- but Paul is writing to Titus because all of these things are at stake if we miss this important message.
I was having a conversation the other day with a friend who was asking me about growing in godliness. She was beginning to recognize countless areas in her life that aren’t healthy and she realized she was more like the world than like Christ. It seemed like every day she discovered yet another dark corner of her heart in need of the light.
Almost to a point of frustration, she asked me, “So what do I do now? How do I fix all of this junk and be a more godly person?”
I immediately thought back to what I was studying in Titus, especially all the goodness in the first verse I mentioned above. When I looked up the word for “accords with” I found it to mean “leading to, or resulting in.” It’s a word that carries motion usually connecting something higher to the lower. In this case, our faith and knowledge of the truth should result in or lead to godliness. Don’t rush past that truth too fast.
It’s a formula of sorts. What you believe about God produces how you behave. We use this kind of formula all the time; if someone says something like “I love you,” but then ignores you and betrays your trust over and over, you would confront that person and say, “You don’t really love me because your actions reveal otherwise.”
The Apostle John says it this way in 1st John:
“Whoever says “I know [God]” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:4-6 ESV)
This basic idea [faith + knowledge of the truth = godliness] weaves itself through the entire letter of Titus because if we miss the importance of this truth, our godliness is at stake.
Some of us may have a general idea of what it means to be “godly,” but for the sake of clarity, I wanted to look up the definition. It means “respect or reverence toward God, pious and devout.” It’s behaving in a way that demonstrates respect and reverence for God, and walking in holiness.
As I considered my friend’s question and the implications of this same reality in my own life, I realized that if I start by caring for my faith and cultivating my knowledge of the truth, that this is the soil in which the fruit of godliness grows. I began to pray that God would show me the true condition of my faith and knowledge of the truth, and I ask you to join me in praying for these things as we begin Titus.
Here are some questions I began to ask myself while I prayed:
- According to Hebrews 11:1, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” How strong is my assurance in Jesus? How convinced am I that all of what He said is true? Do my decisions and actions reveal my confidence in His Word?
- There is a lot of “knowledge” out there, but am I devoting myself to the “knowledge of the truth?” Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:17 ESV) Am I going to God’s Word for truth or do I depend on other people or materials as my sources of truth? How accurate is my knowledge of God’s character and agenda?*
Won’t you join me as we consider what we truly believe as we study Titus over the next few weeks and watch how our behavior reflects or denies those truths. I’m convinced that if someone truly encounters God as He describes Himself in His Word, we will respond in faith that produces godliness.
Yes, there was much at stake when Paul wrote this little letter to Titus. He wanted him and his church to know that words are not enough, and that our actions either deny or embrace our Savior. Oh how we need to hear this message, even today.
Kaysie Strickland is definitely nothing fancy. Jesus found her in a mess and won her with His Words. She feels called to be a servant of the Word and His people through spending her life and words proclaiming the reckless restoration available in the gospel. She is married to her best friend on earth, drinks lots of coffee + tea, constantly rearranges the furniture in her house (God bless her husband), loves gardening and DIY projects, enjoys long conversations over coffee, and loves all the words. She and her husband are expecting their first little one in February 2016. You can find her onInstagram | Facebook | Twitter | Blog