Normal Glory

Normal Glory (Titus 3:12-15)

Sermon Recap

Paul closes his letter to Titus in the same way he began: normally! But in the midst of the normal of this letter—and the Christian life—we see the glory of God revealed in Christ and in his church. 

1. God’s Glory in Us Is Personal

We may think of Titus 3:12-15 as the Nebraska of the Bible—flyover country. But Paul lists names of saints for whom Christ died in this passage. It is deeply personal material that reflects God’s glory because:

  1. God is (tri-)personal.

  2. God made us personal to bear his image.

  3. The church is beautifully personal… and therefore glorious.

  4. The church is most gloriously personal when built through relationships

2. God’s Glory Is Devoted, Fruitful, and in Process

God’s glory comes through in us when we are devoted—totally given over to worshipping and serving him. That devotion will make us fruitful and enable us to serve the needs of others. And yet, God knows we are in process, that we haven’t arrived, that we are still learning to follow Christ. This should both humble and encourage us at the same time.

3. God’s Glory in Us Is Normal

Paul closes his letter with something normal—greetings. But for the Christian, even this most normal of things should be shot through with the glory of God. God’s glory is normal. It’s normal because it dwells in the heart of your neighbor. It’s normal because, if you are in Christ, it dwells in you. C.S. Lewis said it well in his sermon, “The Weight of Glory,”

The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and godesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.… Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ… the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

Reflection & Application Questions 

  1. Why is it significant that God is personal? What does this mean for Christian theology?

  2. Why is our personhood of great significance to God? 

  3. How should our personhood as image bearers shape how we engage the church? How should it inform the way we build relationships?

  4. In what way should you grow in devotion to good works? How have you been fruitful lately? How have you failed to be fruitful? 

  5. Why is it humbling that we are still in process? How is it encouraging?

  6. Do you believe that God’s glory in us is normal? Why is this difficult to believe? Why is it so important for us to believe? 

  7. What is one person God has placed on your heart that you want to grow in relationship with?

Proclaiming Glory (Titus 2:15-3:11)

Sermon Recap

God’s desire is for us to proclaim His greatness and glory as we go about our everyday lives. To bring us to that place, we must understand where we come from, how God changes and transforms us,  and how He wants us to make Him famous in the places He has us.

1. Know Where You Come From

We often have a hard time confronting our pasts but to come to God means reckoning with our history. We need to see how disobedient, foolish, and broken we were so we may know how great a salvation we have and have empathy toward those who do not believe in Christ yet.

2. Own What You Now Have

In the midst of our sinfulness, God met us with goodness, mercy, and loving kindness in Jesus Christ. By pouring out His Spirit upon us, we become a new creation, redeemed, regenerated, renewed as well as heirs to an eternal life gifted to us by God. None of this is ours to claim by our own power but granted by His grace alone.

3. Show Who the Church Is

God changes us so we might witness to a world that desperately needs Him. We do this by deed and by declaration. Good deeds are not for God but for our neighbors, ways in which we love those who aren’t like us and lay down groundwork to engage in conversations about Jesus. We also declare Jesus to this world because people need to know who Jesus is and what He has won for those who believe.

Reflection & Application Questions 

  1. Are there things in your past that you have a hard time discussing or thinking about? Why? What does it take for you to be able to talk to someone else about it?

  2. When you think about a time when you didn’t know God or walked away from faith, what was your life like? What were your desires like? How did Jesus change them?

  3. In what ways has your life changed because of the gospel? What would it look like to live by the Spirit in your everyday life?

  4. What does it look like to do good works for your neighbors rooted in our Savior’s grace? Why is it different from the good works your neighbor does?

  5. How do we grow in declaring the gospel in a world that needs to hear it? Who are the people in your life that you long to talk to about Jesus? Take time and pray for those opportunities!

Revealing Glory (Titus 2:11-14)

Sermon Recap

Paul uses the word “appear” twice in Titus 2:11-14, the word that we get “epiphany” from. There are two epiphanies, revelations of Christ and his grace in this passage. They point to God’s glorious grace being revealed to us and through us to the world. 

1. Grace Revealed to Us in Christ

Titus 2:11 and 2:14 show us the glory of God’s grace in Christ. It is a grace that is without borders, a grace in which God gives himself, a grace that redeems us, and a grace by which Christ cleanses us and makes us his

2. Grace Revealed Through Us to the World

Paul says we need to be trained, disciplined to live for Christ, because his grace is revealed through us to the world around us (Titus 2:12). We need to put off ungodliness and worldly passions and put on self-control, righteousness and godliness. We need to do all that so that we can give faithful witness to Christ and his grace! We have beautiful feet (Romans 10:14-15)! We have been sent to this place to reveal God’s grace.

3. The Hope of Grace to Be Revealed

We can only be part of revealing God’s grace if we put our hope in Christ (Titus 2:13). Without hope, we can’t reveal God’s grace. With hope, we can go with courage into our neighborhoods with the gospel of God’s borderless, self-giving, redeeming, cleansing grace.

Reflection & Application Questions 

  1. Why is it significant that God’s grace is without borders (Titus 2:11)? What is the alternative?

  2. What does it mean to you that God gave himself in Christ? Do you take this for granted?

  3. From what have you been redeemed? What lawlessness do you need deliverance from? 

  4. Do you believe that you are cleansed and belong to God? What shows you this?

  5. In what ways is God using you to reveal his grace to others right now? Name some people that he has put in your life and wants to show his grace to through you!

  6. What sin, selfishness or desires do you need to put off in order to put on Christ and display his grace to others? What does repentance look like for you today?

  7. How does our hope in Christ’s return strengthen us to do good works and share the gospel with neighbors? How can you put on hope today?

Walking in Glory (Titus 2:1-10)

Sermon Recap

In Titus 2:1-10, Paul teaches that our daily existence should fit with the gospel. Titus should teach “what accords with sound doctrine.” Our lives should fall in line with the gospel. The Christian walk should shine with the glory of gospel as its transforming power is worked into the church by the Holy Spirit.

1. Healthy Teaching

This is true because faith in Christ produces love in our lives (see Galatians 5:6). This is the case because our faith in Christ puts us under his authority as Redeeming King and under the Father’s authority as Creator. Healthy teaching leads me to recognize that the earth and everything in it belong to God (Psalm 24:1), and by faith I submit gladly to him. 

2. Life on Life Discipleship Makes a Healthy Body

From the instructions of Paul to Titus regarding the life of the church, there are 6 ideas we should apply to ourselves and our life together as a church:

  1. Healthy members are particular and local, not abstract and universal.

  2. Healthy members learn from each other.

  3. Healthy members live in love for weaker brothers and sisters.

  4. Healthy members aren’t obsessed with their rights.

  5. Healthy members recognize their unique responsibilities and callings in God’s kingdom. 

  6. Healthy members beautify the gospel.

Reflection & Application Questions 

  1. Why is there such a biblical emphasis on faith producing love (Gal. 5:6; 1 Tim. 1:5)? 

  2. Do you know the Apostle’s Creed? Have you memorized it? Meditated on it? Take a few moments and read it over. Consider memorizing it and making it part of your devotional life. See New City Catechism Q31

  3. The Christian faith says that we are under authority. Do you live as under authority? In what ways is this normal for you? In what ways do you need to grow in submission to God? 

  4. Life on life discipleship requires relationships with others. What discipling relationships are in your life? How have these helped you or others to grow?

  5. Do you willingly live in love and give up your rights for the sake of others? What’s one way you should grow in this?

  6. What are your responsibilities and callings in God’s kingdom? Do you gladly embrace these? 

  7. Does your life beautify the gospel? In what ways does it? In what ways does it fall short? 

Protecting Glory (Titus 1:10-16)

Sermon Recap

Paul uses strong language to attack the false teachers—legalists—in the church in Crete. He teaches Titus in this section how to protect the church from legalism: by preaching the gospel of God’s grace in Christ

1. Legalism vs. the Gospel

There are many ways Paul opposes legalism to the gospel in this passage. There are 6 ways we see Paul oppose them:

  1. Legalism rebels against grace. It is fundamentally opposed to the gospel (Eph. 2:4-9).

  2. Legalism centers on self, not Christ. It is about us, what we get and what we can do (Tit. 1:11).

  3. Legalism puts human rules in God’s place. See Titus 1:14 and Colossians 2:17.

  4. Legalism lies about God’s truth. Paul appeals to Crete’s reputation in Tit. 1:12-13 to show these legalists are opposed to gospel truth. 

  5. Legalism destroys the church. It overturns whole churches (Tit. 1:11) by undermining the foundation of the church—the gospel of Christ.

  6. Legalism is plausible to broken people; the gospel makes no sense. See 1 Cor. 1:18. 

2. Protecting Glory by Preaching the Gospel

Advice is a form of law—do this and you will live (better!). As a church, we want to give Christ before advice. To protect God’s glory in the church, we need to preach the gospel. This means we should:

  1. Know the gospel.

  2. Preach the gospel to yourself.

  3. Preach the gospel to each other.

Reflection & Application Questions 

1. Why is legalism so attractive to us? 

2. Why is legalism so destructive to the church?

3. What is one way you see a tendency toward legalism in your life?

4. Do you know the gospel? Is it YOUR story? Does it define everything about you and direct all that you do in your life? 

5. What does it mean to preach the gospel to yourself? If you want to better understand this, watch this great teaching from Jerry Bridges:

6. What does it mean to preach the gospel to each other in the church? What are some ways you can do this? What should you avoid when you try to do this?

Fostering Glory (Titus 1:5-9)

Sermon Recap

Paul writes to Titus that he should “put what remained [in the church in Crete] into order” (Titus 1:5). The church is like a broken nose that needs to be set right again in order to heal. Titus isn’t supposed to set it right himself. He should appoint elders in the church to do the hard work of helping the church become healthy and holy. The glory of God is the health and holiness of the church. And elders are called to foster glory in the church through humble servant leadership.

1. Healthy Life

Elders can’t help the church pursue spiritual health if they don’t have healthy lives themselves. Paul teaches that elders should be:

  1. The chief repenters in the church - Jesus said, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:44-45)

  2. Leaders of a healthy household - If they can’t run their own households well, why would God trust them to run his?

  3. Healthy in holiness - Elders model to the church what it means to walk in holiness.

2. Healthy Teaching

The one skill Paul says that elders need to have is how to teach God’s Word. Because the way the church knows Christ is through the teaching of Scripture!

In light of this passage, we should:

  1. Learn from our elders

  2. Submit to our elders

  3. Hold our elders accountable

  4. Recommend elders

  5. Thank God for our elders

Reflection & Application Questions 

  1. Why are elders supposed to be the chief repenters in the church? 

  2. Based on the standard that Paul describes, how healthy is your spiritual life? 

  3. How open are you to being rebuked by others when you need it? Why or why not?

  4. How should you learn from and submit to the elders of the church? How does this honor God?

  5. If you saw something that was crooked in an elder’s life, would you be willing to hold them accountable? Why or why not?

  6. Is there anyone in our church that you think would make a good elder? Who and why?

Full of Glory (Titus 1:1-4)

Sermon Recap

Normal life isn’t typically full of mystery. It isn’t shot through with wonder or brimming with glory. It’s average. Ordinary. Hum drum. Normal. Church life can especially feel that way. But Paul shows us in Titus 1:1-4 that, in Christ, our normal is full of glory. 

1. Glorious Identity

Paul begins his letter by speaking of his (and our) glorious identity in Christ. He is a slave of God (just like Jesus; Phil. 2:5-8), sent by Christ to people like us. And we have been chosen by God to know and be like him. Our identity in Christ is glorious!

2. Glorious Calling

God has called us to make Christ visible (manifest) through the proclamation of his Word (see also 1 John 1:1-3). When we preach Christ, we put him on display for the world to see! Our mission as God’s people is to make the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ himself manifest here and now. 

3. Glorious Family 

Paul calls Titus “my true child in the faith” (v.4). Paul has poured into Titus in a discipling relationship that has brought Titus to a place of maturity from which he can pour into others—disciples, making disciples, making disciples. This is who we are and the glorious family God has made us part of by his grace.

Reflection & Application Questions 

  1. Who are you? How would you define your identity? Why?

  2. How does Paul define our identity in Christ? What is glorious about this identity? Why is it so difficult to remember how glorious it is?

  3. Are you a willing slave of Christ? What stops you from submitting fully to his will?

  4. We have the glorious calling of putting the Son of God on display for all those around us. How confident do you feel in your ability to pursue that calling? How can you grow to do it?

  5. We are part of a glorious family of disciples making disciples. Who is pouring into you? Who are you pouring into? How are you participating in this discipling-making family that is the church?