Summary: The Bible is full of passages that tell us what we should be known for and how we should act. The Bible is full of passages that command us to do good and be good and look after those around us. We are part of a “Good Works Army” and we are going to loo
The Good Works Army
INTRODUCTION… Christians are known for (www.orcmagazine.com)
If you were to Google the phrase “Christians are known for” what do you think the results would be? What are people who call themselves followers of Christ known for… whether good or bad?
The following are some of the results you would find:
… being trustworthy and honest and having high levels of integrity
… building governments based on fairness
… respect for others and tolerance
… their intolerance of non-Christians and other religions
… their high level of integrity, their moral character
… their homophobic views toward anything remotely gay
… their gratitude and thankfulness
… their hatred, not the good and love they claim to practice
… what they are against, not what they are for
… denying birth control to families in the so called ‘third world', resulting in hungry, unwanted babies … replacing science with superstitions in the schools
… looking for trouble in the hopes of controlling others
… their love of others and towards God
If you think about that list you will see some things that are quite contradictory. You will see items that are fortunately true, unfortunately true, and items that are false. What I hope you see is that the simple question of: “what are Christians known for” is not an easy question to answer.
So I wondered if this had always been the case. What about the first Christians? How did they let people know about their faith and their identity in Christ? Our answer actually comes from a non-Christian source.
ILLUSTRATION… Emperor Julian on Christians (www.onenewsnow.com)
In the earliest days of Christianity, the Roman emperor Julian was contemptuous of Jesus' first followers. But he recognized that their generosity to the poor was making converts of many. He is quoted as saying: “Nothing has contributed to the progress of the superstition of the Christians as their charity to strangers...the impious Galileans provide not only for their own poor, but for ours as well.”
This makes sense. The Bible in the Old Testament is pretty clear about providing for the poor and focusing on those in need. Deuteronomy 10:17-18 says, “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.” And from Psalm 146:7-9: “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, 8 the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. 9 The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” Many other passages in the Old Testament describe God in the same manner so we get the feeling that we should care about those who need help because God does.
What does the New Testament say? What was Jesus’ example? Jesus was always helping those in need. In fact, in Matthew 11:3-4, Jesus describes what He is doing to John the Baptist’s disciples, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” The Bible is full of passages that tell us what we should be known for and how we should act. The Bible is full of passages that command us to do good and be good and look after those around us. We are part of a “Good Works Army” and we are going to look at such a passage today.
Titus is a book in the New Testament written by the Apostle Paul to one of his dear followers and fellow workers named Titus. Titus’ job at the time the letter was written was to strengthen the churches and believers on the island of Crete. Crete was not known for being a Mediterranean island paradise, but was known as a home of “liars, evil brutes, and lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). And that was just how they described themselves! It was into this interesting field of people that Paul had sent Titus and was now sending a letter. The letter of Titus is 3 chapters long and we will look at the third chapter where Paul describes, among other things, this “Good Works Army.”
I. THE GOOD WORKS ARMY: IDENTITY OF THE SOLDIERS (VERSES 1-7)
READ TITUS 3:1-7
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. 3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.