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The Rev. Jonathan Pryke: "Silencing the Rebellious"
Prydain ^ | 7/23/2006 | Will

Posted on 07/23/2006 3:56:47 PM PDT by sionnsar

In another sermon from the Rev. Jonathan Pryke of Jesmond Parish Church in the United Kingdom from Paul's Epistle to Titus, we have a message on Silencing the Rebellious--and this message is one we all may need to hear from time to time: how to avoid wasting our lives. Specifically, Rev. Pryke focuses on Titus 1:16: They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. As he says, this is "a picture of people whose lives are wasted – whose lives, far from helping anyone, cause great harm." And Rev. Pryke lays out three main points we need to understand in order to avoid being like that: First, knowing the truth leads to godly living. Secondly, listening to lies leads to ungodly living. And thirdly, lies must be stopped by telling the truth. This is what he says about knowing the truth leading to godly living:


We’ve got to understand this before we can make sense of Paul’s broadside in verses 10-16. Verse 10 begins with the word ‘For’ – in other words, ‘because’.

For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach…

In other words, he’s saying that Titus has got to take on board and put into practice all that he’s said up to then in this letter, because Crete, where he is, and indeed the church in Crete, is riddled with rebels who are causing havoc and wrecking peoples lives.

What, then, has Paul been saying up to this point? Well, in verses 5-9, as we saw last Sunday evening, he tells Titus to make sure that he appoints elders for the churches in every town who know the truth, live the truth and teach the truth. The crucial thing is that the Christians in Crete learn and stick to the truth. The task of the elders is to teach them the truth.

And of course these Cretan Christians are not going to take on board anything these elders say if they don’t see it reflected in the lives the elders lead. If someone’s going to teach you to believe, you’ve got to see them trusting God. If they going to teach you to repent, you’ve got see that they’re repentant. If they’re going to teach you to do good, you’ve got to see them doing good. So the good example of our teachers helps us to be open to learning the truth. But it’s not seeing the good example that’s the crucial thing we need. It’s learning the truth. That’s because the antidote to wasted lives is for people to know the truth. Why is that?

Well, that is what Paul makes clear in the opening verses of the letter, before he gets on to instructing Titus on the kind of men he needs to look out for to appoint as elders.

Let’s just remind ourselves of what he says there. Take a look at 1.1-2:

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness – a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life…

What is it, then, that leads to godliness? What is it that makes someone’s life godly – in other words, God-centred and good? Or to put it yet another way round: what is it that enables someone not to waste their life from the perspective of eternity? It is knowledge of the truth. Knowledge of the truth leads to godliness.

Now this isn’t any old truth, of course. This is not the truth about how to repair a puncture on your bike, or the truth about the latest test match score. That kind of truth might have its uses, or be entertaining – but it’s not going to restore your relationship with God and it’s not going to change your character or inspire you to lay down your life in the service of others.

The truth that Paul is talking about is the truth of the gospel. That’s what he means when he says that this truth rests “on the hope of eternal life”. And that’s not wishful thinking hope. That’s the solid, certain hope that only the gospel can give. As Paul says here, this hope originates with God. God communicated to Paul. Paul preaches it. Those who God has his hand on believe it. And that includes us when we believe. We don’t hear Paul live – but we do hear him in the pages of the New Testament, and not least in this letter.

To know the gospel of Christ is to know the truth that leads to godliness. But you cannot know the gospel without also believing it. It is possible, of course, for someone to know what the claims of the gospel are, and to reject them. But if you deny that Jesus is Lord and saviour, then you don’t know that Jesus is Lord and saviour, do you? And even if you say you know it, but below the surface of your mind you deny it so that you carry on as if it wasn’t true – that is not knowledge. That’s just a more subtle way of denying the truth and demonstrating that you don’t really know the truth at all. Verse 16 again:

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.

This is important. If you really know the truth – which means knowledge in your head will be accompanied by faith in your heart – then you will grow in godliness. God by his Spirit will make that happen in your life. That is inevitable. That is what knowledge does to someone’s life. Knowing the truth leads to godly living.
As we have mentioned previously several times on this blog, this is what we mean when we say a saving faith will always produce fruit; Rev. Pryke says this very well, I think; the whole sermon is worth reading.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 07/23/2006 3:56:48 PM PDT by sionnsar
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2 posted on 07/23/2006 3:57:13 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d, N0t Y0urs | NYT:Jihadi Journal)
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