The Truth Which is According to Godliness
Paul's letter to Titus begins:
"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..."
Paul describes himself as "a bondservant of God." These days if you talk about slavery or servitude, you have brought up something unfavorable, unpopular and revolting. We have these images of slave labor - being bought and sold; to be owned and used by another - and these images are offensive.
But servitude should be judged on the basis of WHO THE MASTER IS !! If I am owned and used by another human being simply for his economic profit, and without regard to my needs, that is offensive; it is oppressive and immoral.
But if I am owned by the Creator; if the Lord is my Master, my needs and provisions are met and in this servitude, there is the guidance I need, the fellowship I was made for, and the hope I need! Paul was happy to be a servant of God; a bondservant or slave.
And, an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul was a Christian but he was called to fill a unique place as ONE AUTHORIZED AND SENT BY JESUS CHRIST; an inspired messenger, who performed miracles as confirmation of his role and the truth of his message. From accounts in the book of Acts and the letters he wrote it is apparent, Paul lived as a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ.
Notice two phrases which identify Paul's purpose: "according to the faith of God's elect" and "the acknowledgment of the truth which is accordingto godliness."
His work was related to and for God's elect - that is, Christians. It says here, "the faith of God's elect." Now what did Paul have to do with the faith of God's elect? Keep Reading - you'll see that through Him and the other apostles, God revealed and acknowledged the truth which is according to godliness. Instead of "acknowledgment," the NIV and NAS says: KNOWLEDGE. Based on this verse and others there can be little doubt of the connection between the knowledge of the truth and faith -- I cannot have faith, apart from the knowledge of the truth.
Well, Paul - as a servant of God and apostle of Jesus Christ - was used by God for the revelation of the truth; the truth that leads to faith and godliness in good and honest hearts.
In the very first verse of this little epistle we observe this emphasis on sound doctrine - referred to here as "the truth which is according to godliness." We cannot be godly without the truth! We cannot be men and women of faith without the truth revealed through the apostles.
"In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began."
The apostles revealed the truth. We believe it and live by it, to be godly and we do all this "in hope of eternal life." Truth and godliness affords us great benefits here on earth as we apply the wisdom of God to our decisions, plans, relationships and character. But there is more that lies ahead - we believe and obey the truth; we pursue godliness "in hope of eternal life." God promised eternal life before time began, and He cannot lie!
God didn't just throw a plan together at the last minute. God formed a plan in His perfect man, for us "before time began!" 2 Tim. 1:9 is one place where this is affirmed --> God "saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." If you believe God cannot lie this is what you believe! You have responded to the truth which is according to godliness. You think and behave based on the truth which is according to godliness.
"...But has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior." (Vss. 3,4).
The truth which is according to godliness - the truth from the mind of God, who cannot lie - THIS TRUTH WAS MANIFESTED THROUGH PREACHING. Jesus sent men out to preach. Paul found and trained men like Timothy and Titus. They were told to speak "the things which are proper for sound doctrine" or in 2 Tim. 4 -- PREACH THE WORD. Today, if we want people to become a part of God's elect; if we want to see people living by the truth which is according to godliness, in hope of eternal life - We must preach the same message Paul preached!!
If we are servants of God, and we want others to become servants of God
If we are God's elect, and we want others to make that choice
If we have eternal life, and we want others to have that gift
WE MUST PREACH THE SAME MESSAGE PAUL PREACHED.
And we must firmly fix in our minds, and in the minds of others that God cannot lie! This book (Titus) is about the sound, right message that produces faith and enables men and women to be godly -- the protection of sound doctrine; the preaching of sound doctrine & the practice of sound doctrine. It is all in this epistle Paul wrote to Titus.
This is the way Paul began his letter to Titus, his true son in the faith, and he greeted him with these good wishes: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 6.5; May 1999