1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
Through this chapter and the next the great emphasis is on practical, personal holiness of life, and dedication and service to God, and against getting side-tracked into theoretical questions and contentions and genealogies and strivings. The thought and contrast is carried forward from Tit. 1:16-
"They PROFESS to know God."
They make a big show of talk and argumentation and threadbare "foolish questions"-"but in works they deny Him."
When it comes to their OWN daily activities and service and self-sacrifice, they deny God by living for themselves and their own desires and pleasures. The questions they bandy about are just a hobby and a conscience-salver.
Talking and arguing and making regulations for others is so easy: disciplining ourselves, giving up our own natural desires, bringing our own lives into full service to God, is so hard.
To keep talking about the Truth, and then to follow the flesh in what we do with our time and money (actually God's time and money) is just hypocrisy.
Our big concern must be how we ourselves live our daily life-what we do with our time and money and strength-and whether we manifest the spiritual character of the mind of Christ: purity, Patience, gravity, goodness, kindness, love.
Apparently the Cretians especially manifested a fondness for hair-splitting and arguing and a constant going round and round on the same old worn and threadbare crotchets, instead of getting down to practical day-to-day holiness and self-sacrifice.
Bro Growcott - Zealous of Good works
4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Trained to usefulness, of cultivated intellect, and with moral sentiments purified and ennobled by the nurture and admonition of the Lord's truth, women are "helps meet" for the Elohim, and much too good for men of ordinary stamp. The sex is susceptible of this exaltation; though I despair of witnessing it in many instances till "the age to come."
...Christian women should not copy after the God-aspiring Eve, but after Sarah, the faithful mother of Israel, who submitted herself in all things to Abraham, "calling him lord" (Gen. 18:12). Nor should their obedience be restricted to Christian husbands only. They should also obey them "without the word;" that is, those who have not submitted to it, in order that they may be won over to the faith when they behold the chaste and respectful behaviour of their wives, produced by a belief of the truth (1 Pet. 3:1-6).
Elpis Israel 1.4.
7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
...the proper use of Scripture is continual SELF-enlightenment and development.
How many families assemble around the fireside in the evening to hear the Scriptures read in these days? Few indeed. There are far too many other, lighter, flesh-pleasing attractions.
David prayed that the "meditation of his heart" might be acceptable (Psa. 19:14). Do we realize that we meditate over the impressions made from without upon our minds, whatever they may be, and if these impressions are of a foolish, worldly nature, it means that our minds and characters are surely (though perhaps imperceptibly to us) being molded like those we meet in the evil world, instead of being patterned after the likeness of him who is the "Way of Life"?
Let us be as careful against putting corruption and poison into our minds as we are apt to be against putting it into our bodies.
If we occasionally meet brethren and sisters who seem to possess a "naturally" kind and loving disposition, let us remember that (if it is sincere) it is not merely a hereditary tendency, nor are these attributes acquired by chance, but by slow, patient adjusting to the patterns of good works exhibited in the Holy Oracles, and they demonstrate the wisdom and value of choosing the meditation of God's commandments when trials have to be endured.
Bro HA Sommerville
In Doctrine Showing Uncorruptness
WE note a strange, and sad, but age-old phenomenon in current periodicals. The ones who have been most active and diligent in breaking down the sound teaching of brother Thomas, and in agitating and fracturing the cohesion and stability and habits of sound Bible study founded upon those teachings, are the very ones who are now bemoaning the results of their own termite activities.
They have sown the wind in their speculations and attempts to undermine respect for the works and teachings of brethren Thomas and Roberts - especially in relation to
1) sound fellowship,
2) the importance of doctrine, and
3) the Revelation
-and now they are wringing their hands at the whirlwind that has inevitably followed.
They express anguish that the ubiquitous and iniquitous TV and the general tinseled Disneyland of this empty, shallow modern world are taking the place of the Word of God in the interests of the flock. They profess distress that "doctrine" is being neglected and belittled, and that those in responsible positions are incompetent to conduct sound baptismal examinations.
They seem utterly oblivious to their own responsibility for these conditions. It is not for us to gloat-far from it!-but rather to be deeply saddened, and to fear and tremble and examine ourselves, for we have no automatic guarantee of immunity from similar folly.
We are reminded of the "Reunion" debacle, when all those who were the most active and prominent in promoting it were the first to realize the tragic unwisdom of what they had set in downward motion. Some of them stayed with the movement, perpetually torn with remorse for what they had gotten the flock into. Some soon withdrew from it, but could not summon the ability to face the embarrassment of a direct public reversal, so found obscuring refuge in a further new group.
And some-very few-had the courage and wisdom to publicly and frankly retrace their steps, and return to the position they had left. We tend to insufficiently value and acclaim these latter. Could we ourselves rise to do the same? Few indeed could summon the fortitude and moral integrity to take such a clear course of self-correction after such fanfare in the other direction. Most would rather seek a face-saving alternative.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God.
8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
Here is the power of godliness, for which there is no substitute. The Truth is not so much a matter of presentation and reasoning and logic, as of manifestation in beauty and power. If we do not manifest the beauty of the Truth in ourselves, then we cannot teach it in any living way to others.
We can pass on doctrines as such, but there will be no transforming power of godliness. We must SHOW the way of life and holiness, that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed.
The way of God, truly and joyfully lived, is the greatest persuasive power on earth. But it must be lived joyfully-not as a burden but as a glorious privilege. Jesus Christ single-handedly changed the course of this evil world by the sheer impact of perfect holiness. The Proverbs say-
"The wicked flee when no man pursueth; but the righteous are bold as a lion" (Prov. 28:1).
There is far more depth to this than we realise. Holiness IS power. We read of occasions when Christ's opponents were ashamed before the pure brilliance of his sinless perfection. They could not stand up to him as he probed the depths of their hearts and motives.
Bro Growcott - Zealous of Good works
9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;
It should be, as in the New Revised Version "slaves." Why tell slaves to obey their masters? Is not holding a man in bondage manifestly unjust and contrary to the spirit of Christ?
Yes, but so is everything else in this evil world. Paul here takes direct issue with the reformers and philosophers of this fleshly order of things, who do not get to the root of evil; and we must stand squarely with him for he represents the wisdom of God-they of the flesh.
The Scriptures tell us that "The whole world lieth in wickedness," and God's present purpose is not to change it, but first to develop, by means of the discipline and trials of that evil background, a purified and spiritually-minded people for His Name and glory.
If, in God's wisdom, slavery helps prepare a man for God's Kingdom, then slavery for him is a blessing from God. The way and theories of men are right in their own eyes, but only God knows what is best.
To the mind of the flesh, this is foolishness. Paul says the natural mind cannot comprehend these things-only those whom God enlightens.
Truly we should not seek handicaps and disabilities and tribulations. "If thou mayest be free, use it rather," is Paul's counsel.
But we must see-in everything that comes upon us-God's hand and God's wisdom. We must never regret or resent anything that happens-but always seek to learn and benefit from it.
Whatever we do, even in slavery, can, and must, be done unto God and for God, and God will gloriously accept it as such, and so we patiently and joyfully work out our salvation.
We must, like Moses, "see Him Who is invisible." We must, in our mind's eye, eliminate all the non-essentials, and boil the picture down to just God and ourselves. That is the only reality for us. Everything else is merely a passing background that God has provided to test and develop us.
All people and events in this background-real though they may seem-are but temporary experiences of our consciousness in the great eternal relationship of ourselves and God.
Where are all the people of 100 years ago? Completely gone from existence and reality-and most of them gone eternally. They seemed so real in their day, but time proved that they were but briefly passing shapes and manifestations that the transient vapour called human flesh took temporarily.
Bro Growcott - Zealous of Good works
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
The Anointing Spirit -- bringing the "Word of Truth", "Light", "Life", "Grace" and "Glory", which Jesus received from the Father; had been the theme of the prophets' testimony, and had animated their utterance...
"Grace" is one of the elements of the Spirit-name. It signifies the free, unmerited favour and love of God, and of Christ...
"For, the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men" (Tit. 2:11)...
Grace abounds in the character of Christ. It is one of the attributes of the Deity, so fully manifested through him: and so beautifully exemplified in the acts of his life. The apostle Paul, speaking concerning it, says to the believers:
"Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2 Cor. 8:9).
Sis Lasius - Yahweh Elohim Ch 3.
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
This new mode of thinking and feeling created in a true believer by the divine law and testimony, is variously designated in Scripture. It is styled, "a clean heart and a right spirit" (Psalm 51:10), "a new spirit" and "a heart of flesh" (Ezek. 11:19), the "inward man" (2 Cor. 4:16; Rom. 7:22), "new creature" (2 Cor. 1:17), "the new man created in righteousness and true holiness," and "renewed by knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), the "hidden man of the heart" (1 Pet. 3:4), and so forth.
This new and hidden man is manifested in the life, which is virtuous as becomes the gospel. He delights in the law of the Lord, and speaks often of His testimonies. He denies himself of all ungodliness, and worldly lusts; walks soberly, righteously and godly in the world. His hope is the glorious manifestation of Jesus Christ, with the crown of righteousness, even glory, honour, and immortality, promised to all who look for Him, and "love His appearing," and desire His kingdom (Titus 2:11-14; 2 Tim. 4:1-8; Heb. 9:28).
Nevertheless, the law of sin, through the weakness of the flesh, fails not to remind him of imperfection. Being delivered from the fear of death, he looks forward to it as to the period of his change; knowing that when he falls asleep in the dust he will afterwards be delivered from the principle of evil by a resurrection to incorruptibility and unalloyed existence in the Paradise of God
Elpis Israel 1.4.
Christ and His apostles did not promulge a civil and ecclesiastical code for the nations, when they preached the gospel of the kingdom. Their object was not to give them laws and constitutions; but to separate a peculiar people from the nations who should afterwards rule them justly and in the fear of the Lord, when the dispensation of the fulness of times should be introduced (Acts 15:14; 1 Cor. 6:3; 2 Sam. 23:3-4; Titus 2:11 ).
To be able to do this, these peculiars were required to be "holy, unblameable, and unreprovable before God" (Col. 1:22, 23; 1 Thess. 2:19 ; 3:13). To this end instructions were delivered to them, that under the divine tuition "they might be renewed in the spirit of their mind; and put on the new man which after God's image, is created in righteousness and true holiness."
As for "those without " "who receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, God sent them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (2 Thess. 2:10-12) as a punishment. They are left to govern themselves by their own laws until the time arrives for Christ to take away their dominion and assume the sovereignty over them conjointly with "the people of the saints."
Elpis Israel 1.2.
The Truth is a call to self-denial
It is the discipline of self-denial that hews men into that noble shape that fits them for divine use in the Age to come. You know how odious, even to men, is the man who never denies himself, but gives in to every passing freak of desire. How much more odious it must be to God.
"The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world."
So says Paul (Titus 2:11). So also Peter:
"Be sober and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance, but, as He who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation."
Here is one source of the affliction that belongs to the high calling to which men are called in Christ Jesus. Another is to be found in the aversions that the Truth creates towards those who obey the Truth.
Ungodly men do most keenly resent the reflection implied in the separateness for Christ that the Truth imposes.
"Come out from among them;"
you could not hurt them more. They "reproach you," as Jesus says, and "cast out your name as evil." What are we to do? If we are weak-eyed in the things of the Spirit, we shall fear men and try to propitiate them, and be neither one thing nor another.
This will be a mistake. You cannot propitiate them except by being out-and-out one of themselves. If you are this you cannot belong to Christ. If you are half-and-half, you please neither him nor them. It is best to be thorough, but with all courtesy. Even the enemies of Christ will respect you more if you are thorough than if you mince and trim and try to appear to belong to them when you don't.
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Everyone is zealous about something-usually about their own interests and affairs. Some are zealous about talking about the Truth. But the important thing is to be "zealous of good WORKS"-this is enough to keep anyone both happy and busy.
The ideal presented in this epistle is of a society living and working together in the calm beauty and joy of spiritual self-control, with all the selfish, evil motions of the flesh recognised and restrained.
Bro Growcott - Zealous of Good Works
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
A correspondent solicits Bro Thomas' ...
When will people learn that man's animal feelings are to be subordinate in all respects to the word?
How difficult to obey, indeed impossible, so long as a disposition is indulged in meddling, modifying, altering, and with a restless spirit parrying off, lowering down, variously graduating, and tempering a seeming severity to please their testy and unsanctified humours.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Oct 1853.
17 And they shall be mine, saith Yahweh of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
If a man know God, that man is purified and sanctified. "Gravity and sincerity", become habit of speech with him. The truth has brought us out of a world not only of cant and ignorance, but of levity and corruption. Light talk and foul is the order of the day. From this the truth calls upon us to purify ourselves. Even "jesting and foolish talking" are among the things Paul says are not to be
"named among the brethren as becometh saints."