To Titus, Mine Own Son
December 14th, 1958 @ 7:30 PM
TO TITUS, MINE OWN SON
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-14-58 7:30 p.m.
We turn in our Bibles to Paul’s letter to Titus, and we read the first five verses. The epistle of Paul "To Titus, Mine Own Son after the common faith" [Titus 1:4]. Titus the first chapter and the text is the fourth verse. We read it now together. Titus, almost to the end of your Bible, Titus the first chapter – now we’ll read the first five verses together:
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which is after godliness,
In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began,
But has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Savior;
To Titus, mine own son having a common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city as I appointed thee –
And the text: "To Titus, Mine Own Son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior" [Titus 1:4].
Titus was one of the helpers and friends of the apostle Paul, and a stalwart man he must have been. He was a Greek [Galatians 2:3], a full-blooded Greek. He was brought up in idolatry. And the first time we meet him is in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Acts. He’s not called by name there.
It is only when we read the second chapter of the Book of Galatians that we learn what Paul did in the Jerusalem conference in Acts 15. What happened was this. After Paul and Barnabas had preached the gospel to the people in Antioch – to heathen, idolatrous Greeks – they became Christians. For the first time, that had ever happened. Heretofore, people who were won to Christ were won out of a Jewish circle. Either they were "proselytes of the gate" or they were "proselytes of the temple."
A proselyte of the gate would be one like Cornelius [Acts 10:1-48]. He hadn’t become a full-fledged Jew, but he also had given up his idolatrous worship [Acts 10:1-2, 22]. He had followed the moral law and code of Moses. He was a "proselyte of the gate."
A "proselyte of the temple" would be the Ethiopian eunuch [Acts 8:26-39]. He had become afull-fledged Jew, and he had gone up to Jerusalem for to worship [Acts 8:27].
Now the first time that the gospel was ever preached to an out-and-out heathen, a pagan, an idol worshiper, was at Antioch. And those people who heard the gospel without any contact with Judaism at all, without having ever kept the Law of Moses at all, those people out of their idolatry and out of their heathenism became Christians [Acts 11:20-21]. And it was an astonishing thing so much so that the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas down to Antioch to see this strange, spiritual phenomenon that had come to pass [Acts 11:22-24].
Well, as the days multiplied, they fell into a bitter altercation in the church there at Antioch for some of the brethren came down self-appointed and self-sent [Acts 15:24]. They came down from Jerusalem, and they said to that great group of converted Greeks, and Scythians, and barbarians, and Cappadocians, and Medians, and Bithynians, and Mesopotamians, and Cilicians, and all the rest of them – they said to them, "You can’t be a Christian just by trusting Christ. You have to keep the Law of Moses. You’ve got to be circumcised, or else you can never become a Christian" [Acts 15:1].
And Barnabas and Paul stood up and said, "That’s not so! You can become a Christian just by trusting Jesus. You don’t have to keep the Law of Moses. You don’t have to enter the Jewish congregation. You can become a Christian just by trusting Jesus and be saved" [Acts 15:2].
These others said, "Not so." So it was decided that they would have a conference with all the brethren in Jerusalem for to settle that question [Acts 15:2]. How is it that a man is saved? Does he have to keep the Law and become a Jew first in addition to accepting Christ, or can a man be a Christian – be saved, be converted – by the power of the Holy Spirit, through accepting Jesus as Savior?
Now, when Paul went to Jerusalem, he took an exhibit with him [Galatians 2:1]. And when they were in the discussion with Peter and James – the Lord’s brother, pastor of the church – and John the apostle with the rest of the apostles and the brethren there, and they came to words about whether or not you had to become a Jew before you could become a Christian – when Paul stood up and avowed the liberty we have in Christ without the yoke of the Law, Paul pointed to his number one exhibit: Titus. "Look at him," said the apostle Paul. "There is a Greek, a heathen idol worshiper, and out of his idolatry and out of his heathenism, he accepted Christ as his Savior. And look at him! Examine him, talk to him, ask him any question, and see if he is not a true, born-again child of God."
Well that’s Titus. I would judge from that he must have been a fine-looking fellow. I judge from that he must have been a very intelligent Greek. I judge from that that he must have been able to give a reason for the faith that was in him [1 Peter 3:15] – that he was trained in the Greek rhetorical schools of his day. I would guess from that that he had a tremendous commitment to Christ because for Paul to present to James, the Lord’s brother and the pastor of the church at Jerusalem, and to Simon Peter, the chief apostle, and to John the sainted writer of the fourth Gospel – for Paul to present an exhibit, a man – to them, he’d have to be a man of a superlative order. And that is Titus.
Now there’s a strange thing about Titus. He is mentioned in the epistles of Paul again and again. Eight times you’ll find his name, for example, in the second Corinthian letter [2 Corinthians 2:13, 7:6, 7:13, 7:14, 8:6, 8:16, 8:23, 12:18]. He writes in a letter here, "the epistle of Paul to Titus" [from Titus 1:4]. And he took him, as I say, to Jerusalem in that pivotal and all-important conference [Galatians 2:1]. Yet, you never find his name in the Book of Acts. This man, this tower of strength who was such a great helper to Paul, never referred to in the Book of Acts. Then why?
I think I know why. In the second Corinthian letter, Paul speaks of Titus and "the brother whose praise is in all the churches." I think "the brother whose praise is in all the churches" [2 Corinthians 8:16-18] is Luke the beloved physician [Colossians 4:14]. I think Paul refers to Luke there [2 Corinthians 8:18], and I think Luke’s brother is Titus. And when Luke wrote the story of the beginning of the spreading abroad of the Christian faith and the organization of the churches around the Mediterranean empire [Book of Acts], out of delicacy of feeling, out of modesty and self-effacement, he never told the story of the great contribution that his own brother made to the founding of those churches and to the dissemination of the gospel; and for other reasons, I think that. Titus is the brother of Dr. Luke: full-blooded Greeks, educated in the finest tradition of the rhetorical, philosophical schools of their day.
Now may I contrast Titus and Timothy? They were as opposite as day and night. Timothy was a meditative sort of a man. He would have been a good recluse. He would have been a good hermit. Timothy was sort of a sickly kind of a man [1 Timothy 5:23]. I would think he was very pale; he was very thin. I’d think when you looked at him, you thought of the study, and the books, and the quiet, contemplative life. He was not strong, and he was very, very sensitive [1 Corinthians 16:10; 2 Timothy 1:7-8], and people easily took advantage of him.
When they had a great difficulty in the church at Corinth, Paul first sent Timothy there [1 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Corinthians 1:19], and they insulted Timothy! They rebuffed Timothy, and Timothy came back heartbroken and cast down: that’s Timothy. But when Timothy returned to Paul and recounted how the recalcitrantand refractory – a splinter and schism – in the church at Corinth had insulted and rebuffed him, then whom did Paul send? He sent Titus over there to Corinth [2 Corinthians 7:13, 8:6, 12:18]. And when Titus got through knocking their heads together, the church was all of one mind, and of one heart, and of one soul. He was a tremendous man. And when you read all of those troubles over there in Corinthin the first Corinthian letter, Titus put a quietus, and a solution, and an end, and a finis to every one of them. And Timothy could not begin to deal with the situation.
I know another thing about Titus. Titus must have been a tremendously capable, practical sort of a man because the great collection that Paul was taking up for the saints in Jerusalem, in Macedonia, in Achaia, in the Peloponnesus – all of that was under the direction of Titus [2 Corinthians 8:1-6]. He knew how to raise money. He was a fundraiser of the highest order. He was a man of great practical ability and an unusual genius in getting people who are refractory and schismatic together in a great common cause.
Now, he is assigned here – and that is why the letter – he is assigned here another very difficult task. "For this cause left I thee in Crete – in Crete – that thou should have set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders – pastors – in all the churches as I had appointed thee" [Titus 1:5].
Now, why do I say that that was a difficult task? Because Paul says here:
Those people there in Crete, theirmouths must be stopped. They subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, "The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies."
This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.
I wonder today if we would like apostolic preaching? Why, I can even encourage you to get over your lethargy and to get up and do something for the Lord, and you’d get mad at me. "Preacher’s fussing at us! Preacher’s hard on us!" Brother, what if I got up here and said, "You’re liars, evil beasts, and slow bellies? What if I talked to you like they did in the apostolic day? I’d get fired, I know what. "Yes, sir,our preacher – our preacher, how he talks to us. You’d think we were heathen. You’d think we were sinners!"
That’s what’s the matter with us. We are so palliated in our lethargy and our indifference and our worldliness. We need an apostolic message. That’s one of them.
And that’s a strange thing: "one of themselves, a prophet of their own said . . ." [Titus 1:12]. That’s an ingenious way of speaking of it.
Who was that prophet? His name was Epimenides [c. 600-500 BCE]. He lived about six hundred years before Christ, and he was looked upon by the Cretans as a prophet and a sage. Oh, Plato [c. 428-423 BCE], and Cicero [107-44 BCE], and others of those men spoke of his inspiration. Plutarch [45-120 CE] said that he was"dear to the gods, "this man Epimenides that Paul here is quoting. And what Epimenides says here, "the Cretans are liars, evil beasts" – he means by that they are rude, and cunning, and conniving, and slow bellies.
A better translation there – that’s kind of, I don’t know what that is. In 1609, that might have been something else – but anyway what Paul meant there was they were idle gluttons. All they were interested in was to sit around and eat and be lazy. Now you have an ample corroboration of that witness that Paul quotes here: from Livy [59 BCE-17CE], and Polybius [200-118 BCE], and Plutarch [46-120 CE], and Strabo [64 BCE-24 CE], and other of those ancient writers.
So that’s why Titus was sent to Crete. They were a hard group. By the way, I ran across in my study: to "Cretize" is a Greek word meaning "to lie, to deceive." And it was current among the people in that day, so famous – infamous – were the Cretans for being liars and evil beasts and idle gluttons. So Paul sends, leaves, Titus there to help them get right with God and with one another [Titus 1:5].
Now, with our introduction to Titus, in this moment, let’s see what Paul says to him: "To Titus, mine own son after the common faith" [Titus 1:4]. Now you could preach a whole sermon on that: "Mine own son" – Tito gnes iotekno. Don’t you think those words are pretty?Tito gnes iotekno – "To Titus, my true child; to Titus, mine own son."
Now what he means is, he is a son after the common faith. He’s a son in the grace of the Lord. They are kin in Christ. They were not kin actually because Paul was a Jew, a Pharisee of the Pharisees [Philippians 3:5], and Titus was a full-blooded Greek [Galatians 2:3]. But did you know that the real kinship and the real relationship in life is never literal and actual, but it always is spiritualor it is nothing at all?
Let me show you. There are, say, two brothers who are literal brothers. They are family brothers. They’re brothers in the blood, born of the same father and born of the same womb. They are brothers. One of them is a born-again believer:one of them is a child of God; one of them is converted and saved and on the pilgrim road to heaven. And the other brother is a worldly: he’s a blasphemer; he’s an unbeliever. And they are as different as the night and the day and as far apart as the east is from the west.They have nothing in common. Their tastes are not alike; their loves are not alike. Their lives are not alike; their character is not alike. Their habits are not alike. They don’t think alike; they don’t do alike. One is a child of God, and the other is a child of the world. And God puts a difference between a man who is a Christian and a man who is of the world [2 Corinthians 6:14].
Andthat division is forever and eternal. They are separated here. They are separated forever and forever in the eternity that is to come when God puts the sheep on the right and the goats on the left [Matthew 25:31-46], when God burns up the tares with unquenchable fire and gathers the wheat into the garner [Matthew 13:24-30]. When God separates the good from the bad, these who are in God’s love and God’s grace are forever with Him, and they who have rejected God’s grace and God’s mercy are forever sent away [Luke 6:19-31]. They may be brothers of the blood, literal in the same family, but there is no kinship that is real and actual except of the heart and of the spirit, of the love, of the grace, of the life, and of God [Mark 3:31-35].
And here are two men: Paul and Titus. Their blood is not the same at all. They come from a different race, from a different background, from a different history, from a different people, from a different family. But they were dear to each other in this life, and they are even more dear to each other in the life that is to come: "To Titus, mine own son after the common faith" [Titus 1:4].
May I pause here to exegete just a second? When you read in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew:
I say unto thee that thou art Petros –
a stone –
And upon this petra –
this great foundation of the confession of the faith, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" –
Upon this petra I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
[from Matthew 16:16, 18]
All of us think of the gate-storming. Ah, there’s nothing in it like that.
I’ll build My church and the gates of Hades shall not hold it down –
And the gates of Hades –
and Hadesis the Greek word for "death," referring to death, the abode of the dead –
And the gates of the grave of death shall not hold it down –
Now what Jesus was saying is this: that every relationship we make in life is dissolved in death, every one of them. If you’re president of a bank, you won’t be president of a bank when you die. If you are married, you won’t be married when you die. If you have a family relationship, you do not have any of those sexual relationships: a father, a mother, a male, a female, a boy, or girl. They neither marry nor are given in marriage in the world that is to come [Matthew 22:30].If you are rich, if you are poor, when you dieall of that is passed away.
The only relationship that abides the ravages of time and the eons of eternity are the relationships that we have in Christ; that’s all. And the gates of death shall not hold down God’s church and God’s people [Matthew 16:18]. But the relationships that we make in Him are forever, and time cannot loose them and death cannot dissolve them.
"To Titus, mine own son" [Titus 1:4]. They were dear to each other in this life and they were even more dear to each other in the life that is to come. Any hope we ever have for being together lies in Jesus, in the relationship that we have in Him: "To Titus, mine own son after the common faith" [Titus 1:4]. That’s the only faith worth having, and Paul described it in the first verse: "according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledging of the truth in Him" [Titus 1:1]. The faith that a man has by reasoning, without the aid of the Holy Spirit, is not worth the time to think it out!
Some of these intellectuals – they teach, they lecture, they talk, they walk around, they make money for their effortslike the Sophists in Socrates’ days. They think by their astuteness and by their reasoning and by their intellectual ferreting-out, they’re going to come to the great knowledge of the truth of God.They’ll never do it! No man by searching shall find out God. It is a revelation of the Holy Spirit to the human heart: "The natural man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they’re foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" [1 Corinthians 2:14].
The only faith that is worth having is a God-revealed and a God-given faith. It is to God’s elect, and it comes to us by our acknowledging of it.
May I go back to Matthew 16? "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" [Matthew 16:16]. And so Jesus said, "Wonderful! You learned that by reading, didn’t you? You learned that by philosophy, didn’t you? You learned that by cognitive processes and cerebral cogitation, didn’t you? You learned that by going out in the desert and coming to the great truth of it, didn’t you? You learned that by going to school."
No, sir. Jesus said, "Simon, flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee but My Father which is in heaven" [Matthew 16:17]. We come to a knowledge of spiritual truth in the elective gift of God. And for a man to know God, he must bow in His presence and become like a little child, as Jesus says, and learn it from the Father [Matthew 18:3].
You don’t get into the kingdom because you are astute, or because you’re smart, or because you’ve been to school, or because you’re educated, or because you read a book on psychology, or because you know something about Immanuel Kant [1724-1804] and Schopenhauer [Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788-1860] and Spinoza [Baruch Spinoza, 1632-1677]. You know God through an elective faith [Ephesians 1:4-6] and the acknowledging of Jesus as Christ, as Lord, as Savior! [Hebrews 10:9-10]. That’s the "common faith" [Titus 1:4].
May I say a word about that before we leave it: "to Titus, mine own son after the common faith"? [Titus 1:4] That’s what makes us all alikeis receiving the truth from the hands of God: one Lord – a common faith – one Lord. Not one mediator, and then another mediator, and then maybe another, and another, and another; and we got a virgin, we got a saint – no, sir! We’ve got one Lord, one mediator – just one! [1 Timothy 2:5] We’ve got one Lord; we have one faith; and we have one baptism [Ephesians 4:5].
I did my best to explain to a precious young wife why it is that our people, when they join this church, all come the same way. All of us are baptized. If there wasn’t any other reason for it at all, this is a great reason: it makes for the homogeneousness, the homogeneity, of our congregation and our people.
Every man, and woman, and child that belongs to this church confesses a like faith and a like commitment of their lives with us in this ministry and in this work.There are not some of you that are Methodist, and some of you that are Lutherans, and some of you that are Episcopalians, and some of you that are Catholics, and some of you that are Congregationalists, and some of you that are Disciples. Every last one of you in this congregation has been baptized into the body of Christ – a spiritual baptism into the elective, holy, great church of God that shall sit down at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:7-9]. "By one Spirit are we baptized into the body of Christ" [from 1 Corinthians 12:13] – become Christians. And by one Spirit are we baptized – a figure of it – into the body of Christ, His church that you see here in the earth. Both of them are entered by the baptism: one of the Spirit into the kingdom of God; one by water baptisminto the fellowship of the church. Baptized into the body of Christ, and all of us have come alike and all of us are one in that – one Lord, one faith, one baptism [Ephesians 4:5].
If you believe in sprinkling and belong to this church, you ought to get out of it. If you believe in baptizing babies and belong to this church, you ought to get out of it. You don’t belong in it. There is one Lord, and one faith, and one baptism [Ephesians 4:5], and that baptism is upon a confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ when we are buried with the Lord and raised with the Lord [Romans 6:4].
"See, here is water. What doth hinder me to be baptized?"
"Thou mayest if thou believest."
And on that confession of faith, not as an unconscious infant, upon that confession of faith –
"I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
They went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
And when they were come up out of the water . . . he went on his way rejoicing.
One Lord, one faith, one baptism [Ephesians 4:5]: "To Titus, mine own son after the common faith" [Titus 1:4].
Now I want to quit, but I’m just halfway through: "Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior" [Titus 1:4]. Now, may I just summarize the rest?
Paul says that the benedictory blessings of our lives – grace, mercy, and peace – come from God our Father through the channel, the medium, "our Lord Jesus Christ our Savior" [Titus 1:4]. So he says that our blessings come, all of them, from God our Father – all of them. The bread that we eat is all baked in the same oven [John 6:35]. The water of life that we drink all flows from the same smitten rock [Numbers 20:11; Exodus 17:6; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4]. The robes that we wear all come out of the same wardrobe [Revelation 7:14, 22:14]. The shoes that we wear were all made by the same Maker [Ephesians 6:15]. They all are given to us – passed to us, every covenant blessing – from the hands of God our Father.
Over there in Embree Hall in the symbolism of those beautiful windows, you’ll have our Savior represented by a lamb. The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, is represented by a dove; and our Father is represented by a hand. You’ll see it over there. When the Ten Commandments are given, there is a hand above them, outstretched and open, as though He were handing down the written commandments of the Lord. And that hand represents God, our Father. And all of our blessings are passed to us from that gracious hand of God [James 1:17].
I could not help – though it was ridiculous to me – I could not help but think of that and the symbolism of it when I went to see "Father Divine" at his "Central Heaven." And all of his "angels," all of his "angels," were gathered round at that festive board. And way beyond him was a big sign: "Father Divine: he is God." And he took his place at the head of the table there, and all the victuals – all the food, all the water, all the drinks, all the feasting, everything – was given to him and he passed it out to the right, to the left, to the people as they ate together.
Now the whole thing is silly and ridiculous, and if I had another hour, I’d tell you about my experience that night as I spent the night with dear "Father Divine who is God." But as I looked at it, I could not help but be impressed with the symbolism of the occasion. All the food was passed to him. All the things that were part of the festive board first were given to him, and then he’d pass them out.
And that’s exactly the way it is with us: all of our blessings come from God our Father, and they are given to us through the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. He’s the medium. Every covenant blessing has a blood mark upon it. Just like paper that you buy and when you hold it up to the light, if it’s good paper, it’ll always have a watermark in it, and you can’t take the watermark out of it. It is always in it, always there.
So it is with the blessings that come to us. They all have a blood mark upon them. They come to us through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord, our Jehovah God, Jesus, our Savior: Christ, the anointed of God.
Now one other thing in it: ". . . our Savior" [Titus 1:4]. When the angel made the announcement at Bethlehem, the angel said, "For there is born unto you in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord" [Luke 2:11].
Nowdo you remember Mary in her Magnificat? "My soul doth rejoice in God my Savior" [Luke 1:47].
And here Paul says, "The Lord Jesus Christ our Savior" [Titus 1:4].
A Savior born in Bethlehem: "My soul doth rejoice in God my Savior" [Luke 1:47].
And here:" . . . the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior" [Titus 1:4] – your Savior, my Savior, our Savior in "a common faith."
I copied a song that I have heard us sing ever since I was a little boy, but I never did look at the words, really, until I prepared this message. Listen to it:
I have a Savior, He’s pleading in glory,
A dear, loving Savior though earthfriends be few;
And now He is watching in tenderness o’er me;
Oh, that my Savior were your Savior, too.
I have a Father; to me He has given
A hope for eternity, blessed and true;
And soon He will call me to meet Him in heaven,
But, oh, that He’d let me bring you with me, too!
I have a robe; ’tis resplendent in whiteness,
Awaiting in glory my wondering view;
Oh, when I receive it all shining in brightness,
Dear friend, could I see you receiving one, too!
When Christ has found you, tell others the story,
That my loving Savior is your Savior, too;
Then pray that your Savior may bring them to glory,
And prayer shall be answered – ’twas answered for you!
["I am Praying for You" by Samuel O. Cluff, 1860]
Our Savior, your Savior, my Savior, our Savior. "To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior" [Titus 1:4] – yours and mine. May God bless the message. We try. May God bless it, and the seal upon it is the reward, the harvest, that comes from His gracious hands. May God bless it tonight to you.
Somebody you, to trust Jesus as Savior; somebody you, to put your life in the church; a family you, or just one, while we sing our song, while we make our appeal, if you’re in this balcony around, would you come? Down this stairwell at the front or at the back, come. If you’re on the lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front, come. “Pastor, I give you my hand. I give my heart to God. He shall be my Savior too,” or, “We’re putting our lives in the fellowship of the church.” As the Spirit shall speak, as God shall open the door, will you make it now while we stand and while we sing?