So, I’m reading Titus this morning and the Holy Spirit caught my attention at these verses in chapter one: “Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. 10 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”
True, in context, St Paul is writing specifically about overseers – ‘bishops’, as the Greek is often translated. BUT don’t you think his instructions also apply to the laity as well? Of course, they do. What person in the pew is not commanded to hold forth, to hold fast, to hold firm “the faithful word, which is in accordance with the teaching” of the apostles and the historic teaching of the church?
And why are those in the pews and the pulpits commanded to hold God's word firmly in their hearts and on their tongues? Paul tells us why in verse nine: “To exhort in sound doctrine, and to refute those who contradict.”
And why must we all be prepared to exhort and refute? Again, Paul answers that question, even as it applies to 2023: Because of the “many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers” in both the pulpits and the pews.
Listen to what Jude tells us in his short epistle: “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4)
In St Paul’s second letter to the Christians at Corinth, Paul also talks about deceivers in the pulpits AND in the seminaries: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 12:13-15)
Returning now to Titus: Clergy as well as laity must hold fast, hold firm, hold forth the faithful word, the word of God. THAT is why it is so NECESSARY for the laity, as well as the clergy, to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Christian, PLEASE hear me: One verse a week. Will you commit yourself to memorize one verse a week? I find it easier to memorize verses in context, sometimes two or three verses at a time. But even if you do only one verse a week, that will result in memorizing 52 verses in a year.
The book of Titus has only 46 verses. You could memorize entire book in less than a year. The book of Jude has only 25 verses. You could memorize that entire book, one verse at a time, in a few months. Second Thessalonians has only 47 verses. And there are dozens of individual chapters that have far less than 52 verses.
I think you get my point.
Laity and clergy, please pay attention: The Holy Spirit calls all of us to hold “fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that [we] will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”
Our time is limited and growing shorter. Health and safety can change in a moment. Please, let us ALL use our time wisely.