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January 1, 2013

Grace Speaks

Studies in Titus

          For the first study of the New Year and continuing the series on Grace, our focus will be based on three passages in Paul's epistle to Titus. In these three passages, the reader will learn that the "Grace" Paul talks about in his salutary remarks is greater in dimension than what is held in common concepts today. He greatly refines his reader's understanding in the second and third passages of this discussion. Incorporating all the aspects addressed in Chapters 2 and 3, his opening lines about "grace, mercy and peace" take on a broader field.

          This epistle was directed to the Greek island of Crete, which was notorious for its population of liars. Paul, knowing this, strung together his teaching, making each link inseparable from the other in order to avoid any deceptive rendering of his words. This process needs explaining to audiences accustomed to hearing "short vignette's of Scripture" connected loosely to other "short vignettes" and used to weave an unsavory theology closely akin to Cretan lies. "Out of context" passages are favorites among those who wish to avoid the truth.
Titus 1:1-4
Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness,
2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;
4 To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
Verses 1-3 address the authority by which Paul writes and ministers. His entire ministry is founded on the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgement of truth which aligns (accords) with godliness. Throughout ages, the elect of God have stood in faith and propelled God's message to future generations of which Paul was the recipient. The "eternal truth message" (which aligns itself with godliness) had now come to him, and he was compelled to deliver it as sovereignly as those in the past would expect. Dead center, right in the middle of his opening discourse, he flatly declares to a people known for their lies, "God cannot lie."

This "lineage of truth" has blazed through millenniums past and will continue through to eternity. Its message was commissioned by God and now committed to Paul. That is how truth operates, link upon link through time. It is changeless, dependable and challenging. It was commissioned by Jesus to the early church and their progeny. A cloud of witnesses surround the elect of God in all ages, challenging them to keep them from dying in vain. Their lives are indelibly linked with ours, throughout history. The year 2013 must see its "elect" rise up to face a generation of cultural and intellectual Cretans. Unless the people of God stand against the lies of this present age, there will be hell to pay on the Day of Judgment! God's elect are commissioned to do no less. Even though they are a small group, they must be a group committed to broadcasting the way to Holiness.

          Paul stood as a standard against the deception of his day. The elect must again rise to the occasion, for this day is filled with misinformation, half truths, lies, deception and propaganda. The greatest message born by the church today should be, "God cannot lie and this is what He says!"

          Every promise in His word is valid and dependable! Not one jot or tittle will pass away. Pressure can be applied to any Scripture and it will hold steady. Alas, "thus saith the Lord," has been lost in the mire of "we have determined." The God, who cannot lie, will have a people who cannot either. God's elect will hold to His standard.
(A godly grandmother phoned to ask prayer for her grandson. She learned over the holidays he was living with his girlfriend [a common practice]. She queried, "What should I do? I don't condone this behavior, especially since he claims to be 'born again.' Neither do I wish to make a scene and be castigated by my family.)
Her dilemma is that of every politician and elected official in government today. Truth may not lead to re-election. Truth may not guarantee personal safety. Truth may not wield a name in history. Truth will always, however, have her God! (Isaiah 59:15)

In order to have mercy and peace in the lives of believers, they must re-arrange their Grace parameters. They must return to God's definition, which is: "Grace" is His mercy to get us from where we are--over into His Divine Order. Grace has something to say, as well as something to do, in salvation.
Titus 2:11-15
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
Grace is not silent. It demands to be heard. Paul personified Grace in the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, all that Jesus taught and said is constantly speaking to us through His Word. According to this passage, Paul emphasized the "grace" which generates salvation through faith is a "teaching" grace. This "grace" has much to say about the life it regenerates. Verse 12 begins an extensive lesson in Grace Pedagogy. What Paul teaches here is not found in the list of priorities for sermonic materials in today's pulpit ... but it should be!

First, Grace teaches that the redeemed must deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. This is strong language in a universe of people (Cretans) who constantly explained away their behavior with lies and half truths. Titus's work in Crete might have been easier had Paul not been so forthright. (Perhaps this observation could be applied to "why holiness evangelists are not invited to local pulpits.") Scripture, nevertheless, is forthright. No one can dodge around the true use of the word, "denying."
Denying: NT:720 arneomai (ar-neh'-om-ahee); to contradict, i.e. disavow, reject, abnegate: KJV - deny, refuse.

The aorist [arneesamenoi (NT:720)], 'denying once for all.' We deny them when we withhold our consent from them, refuse the delight they suggest, and the act to which they solicit; nay, tear them up by the roots out of our soul (Bernard, 'Sermon' 11).
Arneomai is an action word. It does not offer a "suggested" menu or "some broad spiritual diet," where making this or that choice is good for one's spiritual health (but has room for indulgence with additional choices with substitutes for what is acceptable or allowed). This word in its greater sense means, "To pull ungodliness and worldly lusts out by the roots." This is serious gardening regarding the "Garden of the Heart." Grace teaches "what is acceptable planting in our hearts" and what must be "taken out completely."

Grace points to "how we are to live." Grace defines the redeemed life. Grace orders the regimen of our spirit. Grace declares, "This is what a grace-redeemed person will look like." Three little words characterize Grace's work in the believer: sober, righteous and godly."
Sober: NT: 4996 sophronos (so-fron'-oce); adverb from NT: 4998; "with sound mind," ( i.e. moderately:KJV - soberly).
Sober doesn't mean the absence of alcohol or drugs; it is a description of how someone in "their right mind" would behave. The elect are not given the spirit of fear, but of power and a "sound mind." A crazed society has produced what Hawley and Fischer (two early psychiatrists) predicted. They felt society was being populated by the "crazed," so the "people in their right mind" would be hospitalized or institutionalized or imprisoned and incarcerated as "abnormal."

Grace teaches that being in our right mind, we must be righteous.

Noah, Job and Daniel took away the nebulous abstract definitions of RIGHTEOUS. "Grace righteousness" is both imputed and implanted. It is practiced righteousness.
Ezekiel 14:19-20
19 "Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, 20 even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness."
Those of the Old Testament held a righteousness standard higher than the modern church demands, but not higher than Grace demands. Grace teaches righteousness from a definition more restrictive than moderns wish to embrace. It is past time to measure our lives against this trilogy of fame: sober, righteous and godly.

Godliness incorporates the attributes of the "Grace-Giver," Jesus. Fellowship with Jesus brings "godly" into perspective. The Son prayed in John 17 for the redeemed to "enter in" to what He had already prepared as the "Door of Grace." From His viewpoint at the hour of reckoning His greatest desire was the incorporation of the disciples into what He enjoyed with the Father. They would walk as He walked and become as He is, "Godly." This is what Grace teaches. And this is what saints are to teach (Titus 2:15).
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
These "special people" are to speak what Grace speaks. They are to speak it to one another in exhortation (through encouragement and through preaching and through interaction), and they are to REBUKE those who do not exhibit what Grace teaches. Jesus went through hell to redeem us from lawless deeds, while determining to PURIFY His own "special people." The "special people" ARE zealous for good works. They are "speaker uppers." These are they who keep alive every aspect of what was paid for at Calvary. These are they who take the Lord's Supper with enhanced meaning. These are they who move with authority and will not give ground to deception. Paul gave no slack to Cretan lies and neither must His "special people."

Although Paul addressed other subjects, he returned to the work of Grace in chapter three. He brought summary to what had been said before and gave re-emphasis to the work of Calvary. Within this framework, he showed how Grace justifies the lives of the "peculiar" ones.
Titus 3:3-8
3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,
5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
Common to every believer is the description found in verses 3, 4. Further, we can testify to our washing and renewing and the abundance of Grace poured upon us, but do we truly own verses 7, 8?

Can we prove to the world that, "Having been justified" we are the finished work of Grace? Can we attest that by Grace we have an heirship?" Can we testify about Grace's continuous work in us?

Along with "teaching" what Grace teaches, we are to "affirm constantly" the work of Grace, both in us through good works and outward to the world needing to receive this message. Constant affirming is repetitive and is much like the responsibility placed on the elders in the Old Testament. They were to write scripture on their door posts and through celebrations remind and teach the younger generation where they came from and where they were going.

The Grace Life is always by example, for Paul knew that such is irrefutable. His parting words resounded this principle.
Titus 3:14
And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.
Graces teaches us there is no such thing as living an 'alternative" lifestyle!

To mimic a recent automobile advertisement, "It is Jesus or Nothing."

Until Next Month,

Dr. C. R. Oliver, PhD

From the Mailbag:

J.C. from Canada: Led by the Spirit
"While praying and interceding, the Spirit gave me four letters ZK,BK. I knew immediately that BK meant book, but I needed more understanding as the meaning of ZK. After more prayer in seeking from the Lord, He responded with "Ezekiel." I read the book and ascertained that ZK meant Zadok. After hearing no more from the Spirit, I began my search for a book on Zadok and Found your website. He also gave me "Holiness and Righteousness" as further instruction as I was seeking Him in prayer. I found both books on your site and being obedient to the Spirit, I am ordering them." (Summary from phone conversation with our publications office.)

Ed. M, Pennsylvania, Writing about the Nov. Newsletter on Grace in Philippians.
Wow, Thank You Dr. Oliver for that refreshing drink. Peace be within from within, Ed

Paul P., Texas, Commenting on the Nov. Newsletter.
Dear brother CR, Thank you for your study of Philippians.
I noticed you did not address Phil 2:5-6. These are two of the most powerful verses in the good book. They are about you (albeit very controversial).
(My reply: Dear One, the omission was not by intent. Unfortunately, I summarized the very in-depth passage as I point out below. I wrestle constantly with what to touch on and what to include or not include in these pages. I would proffer a couple of things to note: Grace should be shaping in us the mind of Christ and the character of Christ so like in Solomon's Secret, the bride can stand beside Him and be equal to him in power, having shared His death and undertaken His tasks. I am glad you read the work. I do welcome your feedback. A matter that I am more and more convinced about in these passages is that Paul was prevented going to Asia because the northern ten tribes of Israel were scattered across Europe after the Assyrian persecution and the Spirit was keeping Paul on their track. He even went to Spain. Well, this is another story too. My love and appreciation. Cro)
Paul's Reply:
That is right on. Grace has already made us equal by the blood of Christ. The problem is we don't believe it.

Missions Report:

From the Philippines: Carmen Geeck is reporting from the three churches OEA established under her apostleship: She summarizes as follows:
Currently, we have children feeding every Sunday, Bible studies three times a week,and youth fellowship on Saturday. Church membership in the main city, Calbayog, is between 80-100. The other two churches are in Baras, which is in the island with 6-8 families attending, and Hiragaan, which is about 40 minutes away from the city with 25 attendees.
Membership in the Philippines is different than attendance. One might have 500 in attendance and 80 members. They require a very strict model for membership.

The main Church at airport road, Calbayog, Philippines.

We are receiving a large number of persons inquiring about how they can participate in mission activities, and for this we are grateful. We accept directed funds to particular or specified fields and we take no administrative costs out of these offerings, but pass them directly to their respective mission fields. Most recent requests have been Mexico, Peru and Thailand. We are seeking to connect people with the missionaries for these and other locales. Much of our ministry lately has been cross connecting persons with others who are in these fields; we appreciate your prayers as we continue to be servants to these causes. Missions comprise most of our financial and informational activities.

Gospel Outreach:
We continue to work with the Stoltenberg's and their projector ministry. Recently, we delivered a second unit to Guatemala through Missionaries Larry and Marla Johnson. (They reported glowing reports as to God's hand in their work.)

Soon there will be work in Peru with contacts through Don and Beverly Davis of Kerrville.

Ministry contact information!

          Zadok Publications
          P.O. Box 132874
          The Woodlands, Texas 77393

          (936) 230-3543

          On The Web:

Zadok Publications● P. O. Box 132874● The Woodlands, Texas 77393
Phone: (936)
230-3543 ●

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