Paulâ€™s main admonition in his short letter to Titus was that he should both teach and speak the things that accompany soundness and steadfastness â€“ and so that admonition follows to us as believers. We also are to speak and to do the same things, the type of things that, if followed, might end up getting us known for being â€œrock solid.â€ To do otherwise would net nothing with God, and certainly wouldnâ€™t work towards improving anything here. And if we go on thinking that, as Christians, we can continue to do the same selfish and contrary things we have always done and that we will somehow manage to be useful and acceptable before God, then we are seriously deluded.
So, then this is how we are to bear fruit, and in the working of these characteristics within daily living we will become an example of God’s goodness and mercy, and as they become evidenced in our lives we offer good works for the glory of God.
Jesus said, “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7: 17 — 19)
In a similar fashion he later said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.” (Matthew 15: 13). The late Marshall Keeble was fond of calling the Judgment Day “Rootin’ Day” for obvious reasons.
If we do not develop these characteristics, and do not develop into “trees bearing good fruit,” but remain in the business of bearing bad fruit, likened to one that is blind, we then become as those who can’t see the very steps set in front of us. We will surely stumble, and if we stumble friends, then we also will fall – lost from the reality and truth of Christ. This is the same mistake always made by the godless, as was noted in Psalms 36, of whom David said — “There the workers of iniquity have fallen; They have been cast down and are not able to rise.” This sort, Peter says, have forgotten that they were forgiven of the hideousness of their sins and have forgotten that they had been purged and cleansed. So the past comes to the present and the present waits to become the only future.
Peter continued by saying as these things are so, that we should also give due diligence to make our own calling and election sure.
What calling is that, I wonder? Some say we are called before we came to this earth, before we were either a thought or mere zygotes. That they are called in the earliest days of eternity to be saved and that nothing can alter the course.
But, I don’t see that in this at all. He is talking about our lives, our total person — what we center ourselves on and how we direct our daily business. That is the calling mentioned – not some distant and hollow call from an ungodly doctrine. This calling must be clearly understood so that we know that we are on the right high road and not on some rutted pig trail to nowhere.
It is not just some arrogance and notion that we develop ourselves that fills us with this idea that we are called – no guesswork is involved. But we know from the word of God that the office of saint is our desire and where we must reside and the calling of Christ is our guide and reward. We must be sure and we must be grounded in the truth. The opposite of this is that your calling is from some other place, and in some other voice, and that will also guarantee that you will fall, and so says the apostle in this very place.
Notice that if we are responsive and do what the apostle suggested he states that such a person, one who is a Christian that embodies these characteristics — he or she will never fall.
He didn’t say we would never fail, but that we will not fall. They will not stumble. And the opposite of this would be that if we fail to put on these behaviors that then we would most surely fall. I think the stumbling and falling mentioned here might land us squarely in Hell? How do you read it? What do you think?
But, we have these things to seek to possess and to put on and to exhibit in abundance, so that others may see our examples and our pattern of works and that they may glorify God.
By the way, we don’t do the choosing of the good works either. As we are under the God of Heaven and Earth and under our Lord the Christ — they do the choosing of what constitutes “good.” These good works are those works that have been chosen and identified by God for our doing (as is mentioned in Ephesians 2 and10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”). A Christian that is striving to add these characteristics will never be without. By possession of these we become the examples — we become the patterns, we become Godly. Others without them become trees without fruit.
In the examples we have and in the history of the church, the spread of the gospel of God did not depend alone upon some class of preachers. And it is a shame and is probably not useful for us either to defend such things or to rely too much upon them. If done correctly and scripturally it does not depend on them alone or just upon the overseers and teachers, but the spread of the word of God depends upon each member of the body of Christ. All have a part to play.
The spread of the gospel relies upon Christians who would add to their own faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and then temperance, patience, brotherly kindness and finally natural commitment and seamless love. These are the things that build up those living stones, and those who possess these things in abundance shall never fear nor fall — these are the examples worthy of following.
Wouldn’t you want to follow this glorious and righteous path? Wouldn’t you want to go in this direction of goodness and might? Won’t you make diligent application so that you might have the reward of so great a salvation, and the blessing to know that you stand with the righteous of God?
If you are a Christian the challenge is given to you to embody the very characteristics that our own Lord richly exampled in his walk here. I still have much work to do. How about you?
If you are not a Christian, why friend would you hesitate when goodness and mercy along with salvation is freely offered?