Why Meadowlands Baptist Church is So Legalistic 😉
Truth Produces Godliness
Introduction: “You are such a bunch of legalists! You do this and you do not do that. You think this way and you do not think that way. You go here and you do not go there. You wear this and you do not wear that.
What are you trying to do, earn favor with God? What do you think, that godliness is just a list of do’s and don’ts? Don’t you know that the gospel of Christ is a religion of the heart, that it’s designed to change you on the inside first? I refuse to go to your church, Meadowlands Baptist Church, because you are made up of a bunch of legalists and I’m sick of it!”
Has anyone ever told you that? Perhaps you’re sitting here tonight and have been thinking the same way about this church. And maybe you’ve been coming to Meadowlands Baptist Church and you’re wondering why we live such strict lives and why the pastors insist on you doing certain things and not doing certain things, wearing this, not that; going here, not there; listening to this, not that; watching this, not that. It seems so external, like it’s merely a checklist in order to be godly…but is it? Is being like Jesus a matter of what you do and don’t do?
So, I’d like to preach to you tonight, answering this one question, “Why Meadowlands Baptist Church is So Legalistic ;-)” Of course, in part the answer will be that we are not legalistic.
First, then what I want to do, is give to us an explanatory reading of verses one through three of Titus chapter 1. So what we’ll do is we will read the verses phrase by phrase and at appropriate times I will comment on the explanation of that particular phrase. So a lot of your attention right now will be less upon looking up here and more upon looking straight at the biblical text. This will help us as we then transition to the focus of the message as it’s found at the end of verse one look at it, “the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness.” So the primary topic of the message tonight will be an exercise of unpacking of that phrase by observing other texts in the book of Titus. So when we get to this phrase of the explanatory reading of the first three verses, be sure to pay special attention to the meaning of this phrase.
So here we go, Titus 1:1,
[This epistle is from,] Paul [who has two roles describing his gospel ministry. He is, first of all], a bond-servant of God and [second,] an apostle of Jesus Christ[. Now the purposes of his gospel ministry are to bring about 2 spiritual effects in people: Paul’s first purpose in gospel ministry is, look at it,] according to [or better “to bring about” So the first purpose of gospel ministry is therefore… keep reading… to “bring about”] the faith of God’s elect [so that’s salvation, that’s the first purpose of gospel ministry. And the second purpose of gospel ministry is …keep reading…to bring about…] the acknowledgment of [i.e., the experiential knowledge of] …the truth [and that’s the gospel. And this gospel truth is one, keep reading] which accords with godliness [i.e., gospel truth, itself, produces godliness in us. And that’s sanctification, becoming more godly].
[But why? What are the reasons or motivations for why Paul seeks to fulfill his gospel ministry of salvation and sanctification? Three different reasons motivate Paul in gospel ministry and each one of these reasons relates to a single doctrine, the doctrine of eternal life. Paul gives 3 reasons or motivations beginning in verse 2 for fulfilling, for pressing on in gospel ministry. They are, first of all v.2, ] in hope of eternal life [or “because of the assurance of eternal life.” Paul is motivated in gospel ministry, first then, because of the concrete hope, or confidence Christians have of eternal life. Secondly we see Paul is motivated in gospel ministry because of God’s faithfulness, notice how Paul puts it…keep reading v.2 this eternal life is one in], which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began [but has now, v.3, demonstrated his faithfulness …but how? This way…keeping going], in due time [at the proper time], [he] manifested His word [see, God was faithful; He delivered on his promise and revealed His word of eternal life, which of course is found in the gospel. But what did he use to deliver on His promise? Keep reading v.3, He delivered on his promise…] through preaching [So you see Paul is motivated in gospel ministry first, because of the assurance Christians have of eternal life and b/c secondly, God was faithful to make good on his promise by manifesting the way to eternal life, and now thirdly Paul is motivated to press on in his preaching of eternal life, this gospel ministry, because keep reading v.3] it was [Paul writes] committed to me according to [i.e., by…it was committed to me by] the commandment of God our Savior [i.e., Paul is motivated in gospel ministry because God commanded him, or we would say God called him to preach.].
So, we can see then that Paul’s gospel ministry, v.1, consists of him being a bond-servant and apostle and that his purposes for his gospel ministry include first, salvation (where it says in verse 1, “according to the faith of God’s elect”) and second, sanctification (v.1, “the experiential knowledge of the truth which accords with” or perhaps better, “truth which produces godliness”). So you see then that knowledge of truth, because of the very nature of truth produces godliness.
And verse 2 remember gives us the 3 reasons or motivations for Paul fulfilling gospel ministry, it’s eternal life, that God promised, v.2, it’s eternal life that God manifested through preaching v.3, and (end of v.3) it’s eternal life that God commanded Paul to preach. These are all motivations for Paul to press on in Gospel ministry.
So that’s how the first 3 verses fit together. What we’ll focus on tonight is Paul’s second description of gospel ministry, end of v.1, the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness.
So we’ll be focusing tonight on how experiential knowledge of gospel truth produces godliness. And we’ll do this by developing it throughout Paul’s letter to Titus.
As you may have expected, this phrase at the end of verse 1 is not the only way Paul describes this concept of truth producing godliness in our lives.
So we will take this concept of truth producing godliness and see how Paul develops it in the book of Titus and apply it to our understanding of legalism. We will also see how Paul is insistent on godliness in this letter. So truth produces godliness. Godliness, even external behaviors springs out of an experiential knowledge of the truth. A personal apprehension of the truth is the soil out of which grows the beautiful desires of godly living, both internal and external.
Two Roles of Gospel Ministry: Bondservant and Apostle (1:1)
Qualifications of apostleship
No apostles today
The Purposes of Gospel Ministry: Salvation and Sanctification (1:1)
Count it a privilege to be ministering in a church where both benefits dominate in a balanced way: People getting saved and ample opp. for growth (preaching,SS,church institute, college).
Motivations in Gospel Ministry (1:2-3)
Press on in Gospel ministry because of the assurance of eternal life.
Answering the question, “Why is assurance of eternal life a motivation in gospel ministry?” could take us to other portions of Scripture (like in Titus itself!! Salvation, sanctification, eternal life, do they appear in each section? 2:11-14; 3:3-7See, just don’t slide over the greeting sections, they influence/summarize other ports of the letter) and scriptural reasoning. Some reasons may include: fruit for eternity is all the matters, so press on in gospel ministry. Another might be based on sobriety: eternity is a long time, so you better be satisfied. Another has to do with God’s goodness, “God is so good to you to give eternal life, what are you doing for him?”
TRANS: How do we have assurance? Because God is faithful!
Press on in Gospel ministry because God, in the past, has been faithful concerning this doctrine of eternal life: He both promised it and revealed the path to us!
He promised it
Examples of promises concerning the path to eternal life
He revealed it
Examples of fulfilled Messianic promises
Ro.: just and justifier
Press on in Gospel ministry because God has commanded it.
God commanded Paul uniquely.
Am I called into full time Christian ministry?
We’re all called to fulfill the Great Commission.
Are you receiving your Gospel minister’s ministry?