Summary: The message is intended to provide encouragement for a new congregation to remember the task before them. It is a call to see the magnitude of the labour and the greatness of God.
TITUS 1:5, 10-2:1
COMPLETING THE WORK
“I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order…
“For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 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. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”
In the message to be delivered this day, I am invoking pastoral prerogative to alter the preaching schedule I set out many weeks ago. I need to preach to myself in order to seek the face of the Lord so that I may know His will and do those things first importance. As was true for the Ephesian congregation which the Risen Christ addressed through His servant John, we need to be confronted with our busyness, which has caused us to forget our business.
Almost one year ago, we initiated services as a congregation of Christ the Lord. As we began our service before the Lord, we chose the name New Beginnings Baptist Church. Throughout the past year, we have invested considerable effort in organisational activities. Though there have been changes in the composition of the congregation, the transformation has been less traumatic than I might have anticipated. Some who encouraged us in earlier days have chosen to invest their energies elsewhere, the demands of a new congregation proving too difficult for them. Others have fallen away from active participation for other reasons of their own. I have no doubt that we will witness further departures by individuals in coming days. Nevertheless, we can testify that God has been gracious to us thus far.
We began under inauspicious circumstances. Disappointed with a demonstration of ungodly behaviour from prominent members of a former congregation, several of us chose to leave them to the mercies of God rather than be divisive. Not only did those prominent individuals dishonour God through their conduct, but the majority of their fellow members acquiesced to their attitudes and actions. When we saw that they were determined to walk in a disorderly manner, we bid them well and ceased fellowship with them.
We did start well, and we have done some things right, but a great work remains before us. It is a common failing of the people of God that they are sprinters when marathoners are required. This phenomenon seems to have been a malady afflicting the churches from earliest days of the Faith. As one example, consider that a major and pressing necessity of Paul’s letter to Titus was to encourage him to complete the work he had initiated. I cannot help but believe that we, also, need similar encouragement. Therefore, we shall turn our minds to the words Paul inked to Titus, his “true son in the common faith” [TITUS 1:4a], there finding instruction and strength to recapture our dedication to complete the work.
Paul speaks first of A JOB TO BE COMPLETED. The Apostle reminded Titus that he had been left in Crete in order to “put what remained into order.” We cannot know what specifically remained for Titus to do, but we are certain that he would need to organise churches that had been established and teach those whom God was bringing into the Faith. He would provide structure and healthy instruction for those nascent churches. He would correct the unruly and encourage those who would seek the Lord. Similarly, we have a job to be completed.
The population of the communities about us have grown as oil and gas exploration expands; and the influx of peoples represent in the main men and women of other faiths or of no faith. Perhaps many once attended a church, but their faith has been left behind. The influence of evil in our society has become greater while righteousness has been tarnished through the antics of media superstars and through misrepresentation of truth and distortion of the Gospel by supposed saints. This does not even begin to address the cowardice endemic to modern society. And we ourselves have grown complacent. We need to be stirred up, just as the people of Israel needed to be confronted through Joshua’s challenge [see JOSHUA 13:1, 2a], and just as young believers in the early Church were in need of being confronted and challenged to excel.