I started preaching through the book of Titus this week in a series we are calling “Healthy Church”. To help aid in understanding and application I thought I would give a little more practical application regarding some of the things I spoke about on Sunday.
The series, like the book of Titus, is all about building a healthy church and a healthy church is comprised of Healthy People (You can download the sermon here). Getting healthy means becoming who God made you to be in Christ. It’s being fully human; whole and complete as God intended in creation and begins in us at conversion. So we begin by saying that being Healthy spiritually means knowing and loving Jesus. Being forgiven of sin, saved from judgment and born again through faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross. Having been saved by grace, we begin to be sanctified by grace.
Just like getting healthy physically, getting healthy spiritually will requires some determination and diligence. It doesn’t just happen. So lets unpack some of the points Paul makes in Titus 1:1-4 concerning areas of health in the lives of Christ Followers and give some practical steps for getting healthy.
Strengthening Your Faith
We’ve already said spiritual health begins with faith in Christ, but what are some things we can pursue to strengthen our faith?
1. Give Generously – The most basic thing a Christian can do to grow their faith is practice radical, God trusting generosity. In the book of Malachi The Lord actually tells us to test him in this. Tithe to learn trust.
2. Take Responsibility – By this I mean, don’t leave ministry and mission to others. Take ownership of your church, take on leadership in your church and community and invest in the lives of people. Until it depends on you, you wont depend on God.
3. Pray Fervently – This should go without saying, but honestly it’s the area we all overlook most. We are quick to think we can do it without God, and even quicker to give up when we can’t. Prayer is seeking the Lord’s help, but most importantly it’s also reminding ourselves we need it.
4. Obey Expectantly – Stop using uncertainty about the future and seeking “God’s will” as an excuse. Yes, there are things we don’t know, but there is plenty that we do know. Obey Jesus’ commands. It will transform you. I know this because in my sin I resist obedience, so each step of submission changes me and each time my faith in God’s love and power increases.
5. Share Faithfully – When it comes to strengthening my assurance in God over the years nothing, and I mean nothing, has fortified my faith like sharing the gospel with people. Each time I tell people God’s story and extend his invitation of grace, I’m made to “re-believe”. Not only that, but when the Lord moves to save people in the hearing of the good news, whether in that moment or over time, I am left starring in astonishment. If you want to see the Holy Spirit perform miracles, share the gospel. It will fill your sails.
Building Your Knowledge
The Truth will set you free. Truth about God and the gospel builds our faith and grows us in godliness. Transformation of the mind motivates transformation of our lives. Learning more about Jesus leads to loving Jesus more.
1. Study the Bible – Take your readying of the bible to the next level, begin to study it. If you don’t own a study bible get one. I would highly recommend the ESV Study bible. Learn how to use the notes in your bible. Look up the cross references, read the annotations at the bottom and read those introductions at the start of each book. Knowing the setting, author, themes and looking up connecting texts goes a long way toward enriching your experience in God’s word.
2. Read Theology – You don’t need to rush out and get a several volume systematic theology set. While having a goal of getting deeper into theological study is a great aspiration, start simple and work your way up, otherwise you can get overwhelmed and burned out. There are some great resources for this such as Wayne Grudem’s “Christian Beliefs”. This is a small, readable and understandable intro to his extended theological works. You could then move onto his “Bible Doctrine” and then to his fuller “Systematic Theology” as you feel led. The point is start somewhere and stick with it.
3. Cut out Sweets – We all consume something. In our physical lives we all eat and if we aren’t eating healthy, chances are pretty good we are eating poorly. Same goes with our spiritual lives as well. The time I would spent studying the bible or reading theology is probably time given to consuming something else. Any nutritionist will tell you that its not just putting good in, its also getting the bad out. Going to the gym is great, but until you cut out some of the junk it can be counterproductive. What “sweets” do you consume that cut into a healthy diet of time with the Lord, in the Word and in study? Is it less TV? Is it unbeneficial books or other entertainment? Spend some prayerful time analyzing where your time goes and what goes into your time.
4. Ask for Increase – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God.” Those are the words of James chapter one. When it comes to growing in truth about God why not ask God? Go to the source. Pray for an increase of wisdom and understanding. Ask the Lord for help retaining what you learn, and a deepening of desire to.
5. Do what you learn – As you learn you must apply. They say one of the best ways to learn is to teach. As Jesus reveals truth, respond in trust. Applying what you learn in Gods word through obedient action is what will move information into transformation. Learn, live then repeat. Wisdom is knowledge applied.
To Be Continued…
*Here is a link to a reading list our church put together.