Tying to our last lesson about the Jerusalem church and the basis it provides for us in terms of conduct and unity, we’re going to give consideration to our being New Testament Christians that God would have us to be. Titus 2:7 tells us to be an example of good works in all things, and Titus 3:14 reinforces this life of good works. If we are individually the Christians we should be, then we will be more likely to make of the church God wants.
Our Good Works
In Ephesians 2, Paul is speaking primarily to Gentiles and he speaks to being made alive from our death in sin, and verse 10 tells us we are created for the purpose of good works. Good works are prepared for us to pursue. What areas do we usually focus on as “good works,” and how can we pursue these better?
We see countless examples in the book of Acts of Christians spreading God’s word. Teaching other people is something we should pursue, but we might become discouraged in doing so. We might not feel well-suited to the task.
In Luke 2, we are introduced to some shepherds working through the night who, according to verses 17-18, told others of what they had seen. These were unlikely teachers, but they shared what they knew because of the impact it had on them. Staying in Luke 2, we are introduced to an 84-year-old prophetess named Anna in verse 36 who tells people about Jesus. In John 1:40, we begin to be introduced to the first apostles, and these individuals first went to those they knew best – family. Matthew 9, Mark 1, and Mark 8 tell the stories of healed individuals who tell about their experience with Jesus.
Can I do what the shepherds did? Can I do what Anna did? Can I do what these common individuals who made up Jesus’ disciples did? These were not individuals who were necessarily good speakers or well-studied. We are equally capable of telling others about Christ.
In Acts 14:21-22, Paul and Barnabas are recorded as passing through new congregations and encouraging them to stay faithful to God’s word. We know what edification is, but it is something we have to think about in our conduct. See I Corinthians 10:23 and 14:4 – what edifies me may not edify others. Ephesians 4:12-16 talks about the building up of Christ’s body, and it is emphasized that this is a responsibility of every individual.
Each individual should be contributing to encouraging and building up others, and the result of edification is peace. Romans 14:19 reminds us to follow after peace and edification. Unfortunately, at times we forget that what edifies me may not edifies others. Conversely, we may fail to see that something that does not edify me may be an encouragement to others. Edification cannot work if it is self-centered. The principle of edification is to put others before self and acting on the knowledge we have of each other’s needs.
In Acts 2:42-47, the new Christians are described as so generous with each other that they basically treated possessions as communal. These were not all individuals who necessarily had much to give, but they gave anyway. Acts 11:27 records Christians trying to make sure others are provided for in the face of famine. Romans 16:1-2 tells of a woman named Phoebe who is described as a helper of many.
Acts 9:36, we read of a charitable woman named Tabitha who dies. At her wake, many were present who were showing Paul the clothes she had provided for them. She saw that the needs of others were met. In Matthew 25, Jesus depicts the judgment between verses 31 and 46, and, when sentence is passed, benevolence is cited as a driving factor.
Returning to Titus, we are told four times to pursue good works in this book. We have to take the initiative in doing those good things God wants us to accomplish. When every individual is concerned with evangelism, edification, and benevolence, then we will see a church that is pure and united as God intends.
lesson by Tim Smelser