Lighthouse Leader Study Guide
Date: November 27, 2016
Series: Church 101
This Week’s Printable Resources:
- Study Notes for Titus 2:15-3:15 (pdf)
- Lighthouse Discussion Guide (pdf)
- Lighthouse Leader Study Guide (pdf)
Overview of this Lesson
In this week’s lesson we bring to a conclusion our study of Paul’s Epistle to Titus. Chapter 3 of Titus is Paul’s admonishment to Titus and the Cretan Christians to live a life that demonstrates good works. To help demonstrate, Paul draws a distinction between the life of a godly Christian and a man or woman enslaved to worldly passions and pleasures.
Part of this distinction is how we relate to our government and those in authority over us. Paul speaks very clearly in Titus 3:1-2 about how Christians should respond to their governing authorities. This text answers perfectly a question our elders have received at many of the Fireside Chats this month: “How should Christians respond to the election of Donald Trump?” This is a good question, and Paul gives us a very clear answer.
The truth is, there is more at play in our nation today than a simple response to the election of Donald Trump. How should Christians respond to the divisiveness and vitriol that characterizes our times? What about the protestors who fill the streets of our bigger cities shouting, “not my president!” What about students who are encouraged to protest during school hours, again shouting “not my president!” What about some of the crass and immoral statements expressed by the president-elect during the campaign?
We will try and build a foundation of biblical principle in this lesson that will help guide our answers and our response to these difficult questions. Paul makes it clear throughout this epistle that actions (deeds/works) speak louder than words.
Memory Verse for This Week
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. — Titus 3:8 (ESV)
This Week’s Core Practice
Authenticity (John 13:33-34): I know and understand biblical truths and transfer these truths into everyday life. Who I am on the inside and outside is a pure reflection of Christ and His Word.
This Week’s Take Home Truth
“Our inward transformation by the Holy Spirit insists that we live godly lives within society and the church.”
- How would you describe a good person?
- What is the difference between a good person and a good, godly person?
- Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.
Read the Text (Titus 2:15-3:15)
In the third chapter of Titus we have the Christian’s relationship to the world outside. He must not plead heavenly citizenship in order to free himself from his responsibilities as an earthly citizen. The same apostle who wrote to the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven,” declared himself a Roman citizen on more than one occasion, and claimed rights thereby. Read Titus 2:15-3:15.
Titus 2:15-3:15 (ESV)
15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Be Ready for Every Good Work
1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
Final Instructions and Greetings
12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. 14 And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.
15 All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.
In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.
4. How should Christians interact with and relate to their government and elected officials?
Titus 3:1-2 (ESV)
1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
The New Testament is clear in its teaching that Christians are to be submissive and obedient to our government and those in authority. As we were preparing to teach this text, Carlos noted correctly how difficult this passage is for Americans to follow. The concept of submissiveness is not part of our vocabulary.
We often associate submissiveness with weakness, even degradation. This is not the biblical concept of submissiveness. Paul gives us the biblical definition of submissiveness in verse 1—to be obedient. It is a person’s willful act of obedience to a higher authority. The word translated submissive is hupotasso (#5293) which implies a military order and ranking under authority.
No where do we see a better example of biblical obedience and submission that from our Lord Jesus in Gethsemane when he stated, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
5. Does this impact how Christians should respond in our current political environment?
Absolutely. One of the questions we have heard over and over again during this election cycle is “How should Christians respond to Donald Trump?” This election cycle has brought out the worst in people from all walks of life. Students are being encouraged to protest the election of Donald Trump while agitators are being bussed in to cities to riot and bring destruction. Meanwhile, we have witnessed crass and even immoral comments from the president-elect himself.
Let me say this simply and clearly: Americans may have the right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, but Christians have a greater responsibility in how they use this freedom of speech. Apply Paul’s admonition found in Titus 3:1-2 to the scenes we see on American streets today:
- “speak evil of no one”
- “avoid quarreling”
- “be gentle”
- “show perfect courtesy toward all people”
Christians do not respond with mob riots, obscene signs, and chants of anarchy.
Now, I can hear some of you arguing, yes, Chris, but you’re saying this to defend Donald Trump. Not so. Paul’s admonition to us here applies to how we as Christians relate to government in general, not just governments we agree with. My thinking and teaching has been consistent on this principle since the mid-1990s when the Lord really began to challenge my views on political advocacy verses the reality of being a gospel light and influence in our culture and to advocate for real, lasting cultural change, which only happens through the grace of God and the revival of His people, and not through political maneuvering.
6. Should Christians avoid political involvement?
Not at all! We need Christians who will serve as a voice of reason and a godly influence in our representative government, but it does mean that the primary purpose of the church is not to advocate for a political solution to our society’s problems. This is not the role of the church. Our commission is clear: “Go into all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
That is the distinction: Christians should be involved in political process, but the church must not become a tool of political advocacy.
7. Should Christians and pastors speak to issues and legislation that the Bible speaks for or against?
The answer is yes, but, in our current culture, this can be a tricky balance. We have reached a place where speaking for or against something is immediately labeled as “hateful” or “racist” or “bigoted” by those advocating for or against something Christians are taking a stand on.
A popular proverb of our time is we are to “hate the sin, love the sinner.” In many cases, this is no longer possible. Our culture has reached a point where to suggest an absolute truth, in this case, a biblical truth, is considered hateful.
A perfect illustration of a biblical response to the immorality of government leaders and laws is found in Mark 6:16-28. Herod, the king of the Jews, had taken his brother’s wife as his own, which was a violation of the Law (Lev. 18:16). John the Baptist held the King to account and publicly spoke against his immorality. This cost John the Baptist his life.
Christians find themselves in similar positions today. We see gross immorality and sin in all corners of our society. Today, not only do men lust after their brother’s wife, but they also want the right to marry and be their brother’s wife!
8. How can Christians find the right balance between when it comes to politics and gospel influence?
This is obviously a difficult question, and it’s impossible to provide a simple 2+2 = 4 answer that we can apply in all situations. Instead, we must build our answer upon principles taught in Scripture.
I believe Paul gives us the first guiding principle in Titus 2:14 when he states that Jesus “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” This concept of a people “zealous for good deeds” (or works) is repeated throughout chapter 3:
- “be ready for every good deed” (v. 1)
- “so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds” (v. 8)
- “our people must learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful” (v. 14)
I believe what Paul is describing for Titus can be summarized as the distinction Christians must display through their life’s testimony between godliness and worldliness. Godliness can be defined as a “respect for God that affects the way a person lives.”
These can be difficult to put into concrete terms, but if we consider the various lists Paul gives in the Epistle to Titus, we get a clear picture:
In short, our lives are to serve as a living example and testimony of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, who saved us from the kind of worldliness we see in our culture.
9. How can Christians live as a godly influence in our world today?
As we have seen in our study of Titus, Christians are called to be a special people purified by our Lord Jesus Christ as His own possession (1:14).
The King James uses the word “peculiar” to describe a “special people”. While the word “special” is a good translation, I believe the word “peculiar” places the right emphasis on what Paul is teaching. Christians are to be a “peculiar people” with a clear line of distinction between Godliness and Worldliness.
Peter summarizes this same concept in his first epistle when he states, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:14-16).
This is our calling and this is our objective in life–to be a holy people, separated unto God, and set apart from the worldliness that is all around us. What does this mean to you? That is the question each of us must wrestle with as we walk this journey of faith. We need to be people of The Book, not just people of “A List,” but within the book are the qualities God is seeking in His people, and the Holy Spirit is the power to live these qualities.
Chuck Swindoll, a man recognized for his ability to speak and communicate God’s truth in a simple yet elegant manner states, “While I find speaking, exhorting, and correcting to be challenging work, living the truth through my actions is far more difficult— yet far more effective. Let’s face it; the world has no lack of convincing talk and noteworthy spokespeople. But people need to see results.”
Let us conclude with these quick suggestions.
- Our faith should affect the way we do our work. In the Moore Memorial Church in Shanghai China, church members are specially honored at places of employment because of their honesty. Do the people you work with know you are a Christian? Does it cause them to honor you?
- Our faith should affect the way we live our lives. George Barna, the Christian pollster, said in one of his books: “Survey data shows that most Americans believe that you cannot tell a born-again Christian from nonbelievers because there is no difference in the way they live.” Is there a difference in your life?
- Our faith should affect our citizenship. The angry, defiant, rebellious attitude toward the government is not the dominant note of Scripture. According to the New Testament, Christians are
- to obey their leaders,
- to pray for their leaders, and
- to support their leaders.
If every Christian in the United States would be a good citizen and a good neighbor, most of the problems we are confronted with today would disappear. It is more comfortable to stay in the protective cocoon of the church, but that is not what God has called us to do. He wants us to go into the world and to win the world for Him.
These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.
10. Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?
11. One of the believer’s greatest challenges is to stay focused on what really matters. In a world that offers a multitude of distractions, you need to discipline your mind. And if you are successful in doing this, you will be a winner in your commitment to God. How?
- By focusing upon the coming grace and salvation of God.
- By focusing upon obedience.
- By focusing upon holiness.
Pray and ask the Lord to help you exhibit the qualities of a godly Christian in your home, your workplace, and in our community.