Saturday, 9 July 2022

Doctrine and Deeds

Christ is our Saviour and two things follow from that: sound doctrine and good deeds. They go together.
I have been reading the letter of Paul to Titus and have found it so relevant to our times. Paul describes himself as a slave and as an ambassador. A slave is someone who is bought, owned by another, at the beck and call of the owner. And that's what Paul said he was, a slave of God. In the Roman Empire, the lowest of the low in the social scale was the slave. And in Crete, the people to whom Paul was writing, the highest in that scale was the ambassador, the envoy of the emperor. And Paul describes himself as both slave of God and an ambassador or apostle of Jesus Christ. So as believers we relate to the whole range of society. In the Body of Christ there is no distinction and no hierarchy.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. (Titus 3:3-8)

Paul applies the word "Saviour" to both the Father and to the Son. Godhead teamwork, Father, Son and Holy Spirit involved. Christ is our Saviour and two things follow from that: sound doctrine and good deeds. They go together. Once we know God and Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we concern ourselves with sound doctrine and good deeds. These two things must be connected because if our beliefs aren't sound our behaviour won't ultimately be good. Doctrine directs belief, and belief affects behaviour.

When we hear and learn sound doctrine the objective is to adorn it with good deeds the rest of the week. If we don't then we are hypocrites and people won't listen to the sound doctrine.

This is the concern of the whole letter to Titus. Sound doctrine leading to good deeds, in the church, the home, and the community at our daily work.
Bondservants[a] are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour. 
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  Titus 2:9-14

We will never lead a soul to Christ if we only witness with our lives. Nor will we ever do it by mere preaching sound doctrine. When our lips and life are at the disposal of the Lord, both giving the same message of the grace and mercy of God, we'll witness the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

God called us to be light and salt. Not salt as a flavour or preservative as we use it today but as disinfectant and fertiliser; stopping harmful things from growing and encouraging good things to thrive. That's what God called us to be in our communities.  

The world rejects sound doctrine expressed in the life of Jesus on earth and recorded in the Bible for our benefit. Doctrine is not a set of rules but a way of life. It nurtures us and allows us to be transformed into the likeness of our Saviour. We, the Body of Christ, are His witnesses in both word and in action.

Author: Betty Plumb

May God bless and enrich your life

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