“Trouble-Shooting With Titus”
“The Great Commission” 1:1-4
The first chapter deals really with the pastoral mandate, not only what Titus must fulfil, but what every leader must fulfil and attain. The standards are high. Again Paul refers to himself as a servant as well as an apostle of God and Christ (v1; Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1). He is the slave (doulos) of God, that is, one whose will is entirely that of his Master. But of course Paul points to the position really of every Christian that ever there was, together, we are all servants, slaves of Jesus Christ. Why? Because of the enormous price he paid for us on the cross. He became not only a man, but a servant himself, in order to meet the demands of God’s justice, to buy us back from sin (Philippians 2:5-11). We are his, lock, stock and barrel. No will but God’s in all things. Of course it is very easy to piously say that, but the struggle to attain that servant-hood, that place of lying quietly under the will of God, is part of our struggle to be holy, as he is (1Peter 1:15-16). It is our life-long business of interacting with God’s word and with the help of God’s Spirit working out God’s will for our lives (Colossians 1:29). It is constantly putting off the world’s patterns and putting on God’s (Romans 12:1-3), being renewed in our minds daily. Paul, in referring to himself as a slave here, associates himself with other Christians, including the Cretans.
The difference between Paul, between an apostle and them? Well he has a commission from God, and has been sent by God. Remember that’s what the word apostle means. But of course there is a sense in which this true of every minister of the gospel, or rather should be. He is a man who has been sent, laid hold upon by God to do the work of the gospel, he has a commission. How sad it is to hear people say that ‘they have decided’ to take up the ministry, and how different that is from the mighty men of the Scriptures. Think of Amos, “the Lord took me” (Amos 7:15), or of Jeremiah, “the word of the Lord came unto me….”Before I formed thee….I ordained thee a prophet” (Jeremiah 1:4-5), or even the Apostle Paul himself, “God, who separated me from my mother’s womb…..that I might preach him” (Gal.1.15-16). God in his sovereign will chose in eternity, and called in these men in time into his Kingdom, gifted and equipped them to preach. And so help them they could do no other. I recall a man saying to me on one occasion that he was to take a year out of the ministry, and then he would perhaps consider another place in ministry, but during this time he would do no preaching at all. Now I suggest to you that neither Amos, Jeremiah or Paul could have been silenced in this way for one month never mind one year. The word of God was burned into their souls. It has to be preached by the man called of God. Deprive him of his Church, or pulpit, he’ll do it on the streets, on the doors, he will find somewhere to do it, you will not stop him. Pray God to call, and raise up men such as this in our day.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1998)