Summary: Dealing with controversy
Titus 3:9-11 November 5, 2011
Turn with me this morning to the book of Titus, chapter 3. It’s in the middle of the NT, right after 1 & 2 Timothy, and right before Philemon and Hebrews. This letter is written by the Apostle Paul to one of his young protegés, a young Greek man named Titus. Paul had left Titus on the Greek island of Crete, a 160 mile long island in the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Greece. Paul left Titus on Crete to appoint elders in every town. Why did the church need elders? Because elders are to set an example for all of us to follow. We are to follow the pattern of their lives and live our lives the same way.
Paul talks about the pattern for living in chapter 1 & 2, and Paul reminds us in 2:10 that when we live as we should, we make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. We have the greatest message: a grace that redeems us, a grace that reforms us, a grace that rewards us - but often because of the way we live our lives, the unsaved do not find our gospel, our good news, attractive. Titus goes on to teach about how grace redeems and reforms and rewards us -- but what then? Once we are saved, what should happen in our lives? The book of Titus teaches us that we should be eager to do good works. It should not be what we do, but who we are. I trust you looked this week for an opportunity to come alongside someone else and sought for a way to be a blessing to them.
Today, we’ll pick up the text in chapter 3, verse 9. Our question to consider today is this: Is it loving to give everyone a hearing? What I mean is this. We know that God is love. And we are to be just like Jesus. But what does that love look like in daily living? Yes, we know that we need to be accepting of others, no matter what their race or gender or economic status. But we also know from chapter 1 that we DON’T accept false teachers. We are to refute and rebuke them! We want nothing to do with false teaching. Paul said in Galatians 1:9 - If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Those are strong, powerful words.
When a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness comes to our door, we know that we should not accept their false teaching. We talked about that the other week. But the area that is much more dangerous for us, the area that affects far more of us on a regular basis is the issue of how we handle Controversy. That’s what Paul addresses here in verse 9. Let’s look at it and see what God has to say.
READ 3:9-11 -
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. [Pray]
To start with this morning, let me say that “questions” are not bad - they are the way we learn. Sometimes we are afraid of questions. I’ll be the first to admit - I don’t have all the answers. We never need to be afraid of questions because we don’t know the answer.
Secondly, we know that the way we find the answers is to study. 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Jesus says in John 5:39 - Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. Paul commended the people of Berea in the book of Acts because they studied the scripture - Acts 17:11 - Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
As Christians we are called to study the scriptures. In fact, we are going to spend a couple months after the new year learning more about HOW to study the scriptures. But it is a fact of life that many of the people we meet do NOT want to STUDY, instead they just want to ARGUE! And that is Paul’s focus here in this section. First, he reminds us to
* Watch out for the THINGS that divide us - The first thing he lists here in verse 9 is