Acts 20: 28-35
Psalm 71: 1-14
Titus 1: 1-9
St. Luke 10: 1-9
St. Titus, like Timothy with whom he is often associated, was a friend and co-worker of St, Paul. Titus was a Gentile, perhaps a native of Antioch, who accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem when they brought assistance to the Christians in Judea during a famine (Acts 11:29-30; Galatians 2:1). It is not known if he accompanied Paul on his first or second missionary journeys, but Titus was with him on the third one, when he helped reconcile the Corinthians to Paul (2 Corinthians 7:6-7) and assisted with the collection for the Church in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:3-6). It was probably on the return to Jerusalem that Paul left Titus in Crete (Titus 1:4-5). Afterward he is found working in Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10). According to tradition, Titus returned to Crete, where he served as bishop until he died about AD 96.
(From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)
1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;
4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Note: I was on a 24 hour overnight retreat, the 26th and 27th, and the worship leader, ans was not able post this article in time- Pr. Schroeder
This past Friday was the Feast Day of St. Timothy, yesterday, January 25th, the Conversion of St. Paul, today St. Titus and tomorrow the Commemoration of St. John Chrysostom, Preacher. When I began at my third congregation, the first one in the south, I went to see a homebound man, in a wheelchair, at his home and when I came in, in a Southern accent said, “The preacher man is here!” These four days of feasts and a commemoration are all about preacher men.
The Apostle Paul tells his brother Pastor Titus that through the preaching of Word that the fulness of the truth was “manifested”. The Greek word is very much akin to the name of this liturgical season: epiphany. God makes manifest His will of salvation by grace alone through the preaching of the Word which means the Lord calls faithful preachers. This is a good day to give thanks to the Lord for faithful preachers especially the men you have known, bringing the Word to pulpit Sunday after Sunday, at the hospital, in a home bound member’s home, in a school, in classes, at the grave. As you give thanks to the Lord let your thanks be known to your pastor as well.
In The Large Catechism by Martin Luther, in his explanation of the 4th Commandment, Honor Your Father and Your Mother, Luther taught about fathers that the commandment is expansive:
“…we have three kinds of fathers presented in this commandment: fathers by blood, fathers of a household, and fathers of the nation. Besides these, there are also spiritual fathers—not like those in the papacy who applied this title to themselves but performed no fatherly office. For the name spiritual father belongs only to those who govern and guide us by the Word of God. St. Paul boasts that he is a father in I Cor. 4:15, where he says, “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.”
The two words in the good work of being a father, or a mother, are the authority of “no” and “yes”. You can’t do this, you should not do that, be careful and the like. Yes, come, let us worship the Lord, Yes,the Lord has forgiven you, Yes, I love you and will care for you. “Fathers of a nation”, that is government, usually only use the word “No”, the political use of the Law for restraining evil (cf. Romans 13:4) . “Fathers of a household” meant for Luther the household with staff, that is, maids and servants. Since many of us do not have such (!), and watch Downton Abbey wishing we did (!), this portion of the catechism seems irrelevant, but some have suggested that the modern equivalent is our places of work and our superiors at work. The boss must also apply with wisdom “no” and “yes”. It is clear mothers and fathers do as well, and so do pastors.
In Paul’s short epistle to Titus, describing the work of the elder/overseer, that is pastor, Paul uses the word rebuke three times, as in the first time in the Epistle reading above:
He (the pastor) must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine (yes) and also to rebuke those who contradict it (no).
But in our forever affirming, self-esteeming, always should feel good culture and society, the role of pastor actually rebuking, saying “no” to false doctrine spoken by the baptized, is even actively despised. This means that the reality of sound doctrine, that Christ saves sinners, is also blunted. Some pastors like to think of themselves as “coaches”, constantly cheering on the team…but that’s a cheerleader and an actual sports’ coach has plenty of rebukes! Pastors are not to relish in rebuking, and they do not, because it is not pleasant to receive discipline or to discipline, but for the sake of the “sound doctrine”, it needs to be done at the right time. The pastor is also “disciplined” in his comportment according the humility of knowing that the Lord loves me a sinner as well, but when that sinfulness is not acknowledged and confessed (cf.1 John 1:7-9), and false doctrines are sought to justify sinfulness, something has to be said. Pray for your pastor or priest and minister as he teaches you God’s Word of No and Yes, Law and Promise for you to love and know Jesus Christ!
In addition to today’s sermon, I am going to preach three more sermons in less than a minute, right now:
First sermon is from Jonah, second from St. Mark’s Gospel, third from 1 Corinthians. Today is the day of preachers: Jonah, Jesus and Paul. Yesterday the feast of St. Timothy and tomorrow St. Titus, both companions and fellow preachers and pastors with the Apostle.
The word sermon is from the Latin sermo, word or speech, and a certus sermo is sure Word. Certus Sermo can also be rendered, sure thing. There is no sure thing in Vegas or Wall Street. It is a sure thing from God’s Word the Lord effected our change, our repentance, showing us our sin and putting forth the Savior The first we can not count on sin because sin counts us out, that’s a sure thing, you can count on God’s just judgment. We can count on the Lord because He paid the price of our salvation, His blood, He has counted as one of His own, by faith through His grace, the sure thing and you can count on His grace. The rule and reign of God is at hand, repent and believe in the Good News.
In the first sermon, Jonah preached 5 words in Hebrew. He does not mention God at all, it was not an eloquent sermon at all, especially in regards that the Lord has to pursue His prophet to the ends of the earth to get him to preach to that great city Ninevah. He preached God’s judgment. His Word is first strong to condemn and ever stronger to save. The King of Ninevah did not at first repent, but first, according to the Word of God, they, “believed God”. They believed God’s just judgment. They did not at first obey God. They first believed and faith is the basis of obedience. Repentance without faith will lead a man to the arms of indifference, or a therapist, and it’s lonely…because repentance without faith leads away from the Lord to a man’s own nostrums for the pain inflicted by his own wrong. Repentance without faith leads a person to his own self. It will lead a man to his own reason and religious opinions, a dead end greater than even the sin itself for it compounds the transgression. Repentance with faith leads a man to the arms of His Savior with all the saints for the Lord wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Repentance in faith has led us and leads us ever to God’s Word that began the repentance and salvation in the first place. Repentance with faith leads us to His Word of grace alone which saves us from the depths, fishing us out of the tempestuous seas of chaos. I will make you fishers of men, said the Lord.
God’s judgment of sinners means the end of the world, spiritually and physically. The second sermon, the central sermon, the Word of God from the very Word made flesh. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
The rule and reign of God is at hand. This means the beginning of the end of the world. The time is fulfilled. It’s the right time, today is day of salvation. The world can not save, nor can frail flesh, nor the spirit of man, only by the Holy Spirit is the Word taught into our ears then into our hearts and souls.
I read this past week that the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists are in control of the Doomsday Clock which they invented in 1947. These atomic scientists have just this past week moved the hands of the doomsday clock closer to midnight, three minutes to midnight, because of global warming and the nuclear arms race closest than anytime since 1947. The only problem is they are not in charge of the clock. The Lord is. In fact, in a sense, it was not atomic scientists who invented the doomsday clock, the Lord did, maybe right after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of good and evil. Man’s arrogance is that we can control our doom and our salvation, at least, temporal, since from this atheistic framework, there is no eternal salvation. Yet, even the use of the word “doom” means that all of this, life and everything has meaning and substance, that it’s inevitable end means doom, something bad, which means there is good. We only know doom because of love, even misplaced and errant love. Sadly, these unnamed atomic scientists do not know from whom comes meaning and meaning is eternal as the Lord and His Word are eternal and forms the meaning of our lives. They think they can move the second hands closer to midnight based upon their own observations. It’s a fool’s errand.
Between the sermons by Jonah and Jesus there are similarities and differences:
I think here is where the similarities end, as Jesus said, “…behold, somethinggreater than Jonah is here.” (St. Matthew 12: 41)
The third sermon: We preach Christ and Him crucified. This is not exactly Paul’s sermon but it was the way Paul summed up for the Corinthians the apostolic preaching. St. Paul’s life-changing experience on the road to Damascus is related three times in the Book of Acts (9:1-9; 22:6-11; 26:12-18). As an archenemy of Christians, Saul of Tarsus set out for Damascus to arrest and bring believers to Jerusalem for trial. While on the way, he saw a blinding light and heard the words: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” In Damascus, where Saul was brought after being blinded, a disciple named Ananias was directed by the Lord in a vision to go to Saul to restore his sight: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). After receiving his sight, Saul was baptized and went on to become known as Paul, the great apostle. It is into a world of atomic scientists the foolishness of the Cross is preached. But the foolishness of God is stronger than man’s wisdom. His Cross draws us to Himself and His Word because of His eternal love flowing from His all availing sacrifice. Paul wrote to his brother Pastor, Timothy, The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance that Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost. Paul till the end of his days knew he was a sinner forgiven in Jesus Christ. Christ is the present tense Savior for present tense sinners so that we are devoted to the Lord and His Word in our lives and for our neighbors.
Bio: St. Timothy had Christian believers in his family. His mother, Eunice, was a Christian woman and was the daughter of a Christian woman named Lois (2 Timothy 1:5). Acts records that St. Paul met Timothy on his second missionary journey and wanted Timothy to continue on with him (16:1-3). Over time, Timothy became a dear friend and close associate of Paul to whom Paul entrusted mission work in Greece and Asia Minor. Timothy was also with Paul in Rome. According to tradition, after Paul’s death, Timothy went to Ephesus, where he served as bishop and was martyred around AD 97. Timothy is best remembered as a faithful companion of Paul, one who rendered great service among the Gentile churches.
Reflection by Fr. Valerius Herberger (21 April 1562-18 May 1627, German Lutheran preacher and theologian):
Dearly beloved, today we celebrate the commemoration of St. Timothy. He was born in Lystra (Acts 16:2); his father was a pagan, but his mother, Eunice, born an Israelite, had accepted the Christian faith and had committed her son, Timothy, to be raised by her mother, Lois, who was also a Christian. So Timothy learned the catechism from his grandmother. See, dear parents, what the diligent training of children can do! Now since he was a good, excellent thinker, St. Paul accepted him as his colleague or chaplain, and since he improved himself daily, Paul eventually ordained him as bishop of Ephesus, where he was also killed by the raging pagans. St. Paul loved him dearly, which we can see from both epistles that he wrote to him. In 1 Timothy 1:2, he calls him his true son in the faith. From these two epistles, many passages shine forth like the stars of heaven:
- 1 Timothy 1:5: “The aim of the commandment is love from a pure heart and from a good conscience and from a faith unfeigned.”
- 1 Timothy 1:15: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
- 2 Timothy 3:12: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
Since St. Paul and St. Timothy were dear friends, they were put beside each other in the calendar, and also on the day of St. Timothy, the Gospel of John 15:9-16 is read, which speaks of pure love and friendship.
(Source for the above: The Treasury of Daily Prayer)
Paul’s two letters to Timothy are pastoral correspondence, that is, from Apostle to fellow pastor. The two letters are about pastoral formation in these areas:
The Apostle Paul encouraged his son in faith and fellow Pastor of that same Faith: “Fight the good fight of the faith”. The Apostle was preeminently qualified in both the Word and experience of what pastors were up against in the fighting the good fight of faith. Read for yourselves, for the first time, or for hundredth time, the catechetical and authoritative teaching of the manual of the Christian soldier in 1 and 2 Timothy. In these days, we need this manual more than ever as the world, and church bodies, turn vociferously against the Word of God with itching ears.
As the old saying has it, “What’s good the goose is good for the gander”: Paul’s counsel and exhortation to his dear brother and fellow pastor, is also for every brother and sister in Christ being formed in His school of the Holy Spirit. Paul not only wrote to Timothy but also to us. As the Lord inspired clearly the Apostle, this is the Lord’s Word to you.