Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Titus' Gospel Frame 1

Don't you love being in the space where the eternal and the temporal collide? That big wave surfer gets pulled into that mega-wave to ride that ultimate face of pure, raw power. The storm chaser, who designs a vehicle that can face the awesome confrontation with that tornado as it sweeps all vestiges of life in its wake, knows that sense of reverent fear.

We live in that space. We are not psychologists who only deal with the soul. We are not just philosophers who only deal with the mind. We are not just healers who only deal with the body or sociologists who only deal with the world of relationships. We are all of these. But we are also storm chasers. We live in that space where the weight of the eternal omnipotent God breaks into the affairs of temporal fragile man. Paul says it this way to the Colossians: "For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me" Col 1:29.

Paul inspires Titus in handling the Cretan challenge towards the gospel. We have no solution if we do not start with God [Gen 1] go through the creation and fall of man [Gen 3] then engage in the proto-evangelium - the beginning of the redemption narrative.

There are two major gospel pointers in Titus. The first appears in vs 2:11 - 14, the second is in 3:4 - 8. These are the dual natures of the gospel which transforms believers and communities. The redemption story is so glorious, with so many words, pictures and metaphors, that I am always intrigued by which ones are emphasized in any given context.

With the Cretans being called "liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons... detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work..." Paul shapes the gospel to be presented to both the Cretan Jesus lover as well as raw rebel with : 3:4 - 8.

When the goodness and kindness of God - isn't it amazing that Paul does not suggest a good ole fire 'n brimstone approach? Rather he wants these desperate folks to discover true theology - the wonder of a kind and good Father, even though he could come in swinging with the wrath of God,
Our saviour appeared - There are never too many moments to reflect on Christ's incarnation. This hypostatic union of fully God and fully man is such a pivotal piece of our scriptural, historical and apostolic reality,
He saved us - Notice the short sweet language - it is already done, it is fully achieved, it has an out of and in to edge, it is finished,
Not because of works done by us in righteousness - there simply is no pretense that we can add to our salvation story. It is all about Him who died and rose again for us. Believers must simply be delivered from any notion that we are players in our salvation encounter. It does not matter how 'good' or how 'bad' we have been, our own righteousness is as filthy rags,
According to his mercy - this is part of the great redemption mystery... God only saves because of his mercy - none of us have earned salvation nor deserve salvation. It is simply because God is merciful. We have nothing to boast about, nor any deeds to be proud in, it is simply because he offers mercy,
By the washing of regeneration - Moving from the work of the Father [kindness, goodness, mercy] and the Son [appeared, saved] Paul now brings in the third person of the Trinity as salvation is a trinitarian partnership. Regeneration [rebirth] is a work of the Spirit - sins are washed away - both in actuality as well as in the symbolism of baptism,
And renewal of the Holy Spirit - indicates that God isn't doing a patch job on us - a little improvements here and there. Rather he is making all things new. He takes up residency in our hearts and through rebirth, renews all parts of our lives - a truly glorious journey has begun,
Whom he poured out richly through Jesus Christ our saviour - there simply is no other saviour, no other redemption, no other way to the Father, no other way to find meaning, reality, truth or purpose,
So that being justified by his grace - to ensure that the whole event is not purely seen as an emotional temporary encounter he introduces forensic language. By the eternal court of law as a proclamation of a legal decree of grace - salvation is ours!
We might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life - and finally Paul, with apostolic genius, traps the conversation in the biggest picture of all - eternity. I can hear him say to Titus: "Remind them often of eternity... so much of life has a temporal 'now' factor... however we who have been captivated by a perfect lover, live lives that eagerly anticipate his return, and that makes all the difference".

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