Summary: Effective Gospel Ministry must be 1) Committed to God’s Mastery (Titus 1:1a), 2) Committed to God’s Mission, Message and Means (Titus 1:1b-3), as well as 3) Committed to God’s Members (Titus 1:4).
As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with President Donald Trump this week, there was much on the line. Revolving around their common interests, the future economic, security and travel implications of their citizens was on the line. For the Apostle Paul, his discussions with Titus in Titus 1, had the issue of the Gospel at stake. With an emphasis on God’s saving work (both God and Christ are repeatedly called Savior: 1:3, 4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6) the opening greeting sets this theme by centering on the nature of gospel ministry. Titus was the direct legate, envoy, or ambassador of the apostle, sent to Crete to strengthen the churches for the purpose of effective evangelism in that pagan culture. Under the compulsion of divinely revealed absolutes from the Lord in the power of the Spirit. God, who desires to save sinners, wanted to prepare Titus for the building of congregations able to reach the lost.
If we desire to have the life changing Gospel of Christ impact the lost as it has impacted us, then we need to have particular commitments. There are many voices, from our own thoughts, from other well-meaning Christians or even those in marketing that want to convince us that we need to dumb down the message in order to have the greatest impact. They suggest that we follow the principles of modern marketing that says to have an easy message, presented in a easy way, calling for an easy response. Paul shows Titus in that the only real way to impact the lost for Christ is to be controlled by God, following His mission, message, means, while serving one another. Such a process is guaranteed to produce life changing results because they are of God and He has promised to bless them.
In Titus 1:1-4, Paul calls Titus in Leading by Example revealing five core features that guided his life and service to God upon which the Church must be built in order to reach the lost. Effective Gospel Ministry must be 1) Committed to God’s Mastery (Titus 1:1a), 2) Committed to God’s Mission, Message and Means (Titus 1:1b-3), as well as 3) Committed to God’s Members (Titus 1:4).
In order to reach the lost, Effective Gospel Ministry must be:
1) Committed to God’s Mastery (Titus 1:1a)
Titus 1:1a 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) (ESV)
Above all else, the apostle saw himself as a man totally under divine authority, “a servant of God”. This was his commitment to God’s mastery The apostle’s Hebrew name was Saul, after the first king of Israel. Soon after his miraculous conversion and calling by Christ, however, he came to be known exclusively by his Greek name, Paulos (Paul). With full truthfulness, Paul could have identified himself as a brilliant scholar, a highly educated Jewish leader who also was learned in Greek literature and philosophy. He could have flaunted his inherited Roman citizenship, an extremely valuable advantage in that day. He could have boasted of his unique calling as apostle to the Gentiles, who was granted full privilege and authority alongside the Twelve. He could have boasted of being “caught up to the third heaven, … into Paradise” (2 Cor. 12:2, 4), of his gift of miracles, and of being chosen as the human author of a great part of the Scriptures of the new covenant. He chose, rather, to identify himself foremost as a servant of God. This wording would suggest a direct connection to Moses, David, and others in the OT who were described as servants of God (e.g., Moses, Ps. 105:26; David, 2 Sam. 7:4, 8; and the prophets, Jer. 7:25; 25:4; Amos 3:7; Hag. 2:23). The effect is to place Paul in the long line of those who have been God’s spokesmen from the beginning (Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2348). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles).
The servant/slave (doulos) was the property of the master and had none but qualified (and therefore extremely limited) rights, and a slave’s existence was therefore determined by servitude and submission to the authority of the master. This manner of existence was one of complete dependence upon the master/owner for subsistence and protection (Towner, P. H. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus (pp. 665–666). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
• Paul was in complete, but willing, bondage to God. He had no life that he called his own, no will of his own, purpose of his own, or plan of his own. All was subject to his Lord. In every thought, every breath, and every effort he was under the mastery of God.
• Unless our first and ultimate aim is to do the will of God in His timing and by His means, then our half-hearted efforts will fail. There are no true part time servants for God. To be a true servant of God our family, recreation, work and all other activities must be given over to God.