Roadmap for the Christian Life
Around this time last year, I took a mission team to Asheville, NC to help a church that had just launched in the area. Though I still remember the days of looking at maps in the car, or eventually printing out directions from the internet before leaving for a trip, I have deeply entrusted my traveling instructions to listening to the voice on my app tell me when my next turn is getting close. The app works so well, that I rarely plot my course in advance, and never end up lost.
However, this trip particular trip was different. We left in the afternoon and stopped at one point to eat dinner. By the time dinner was finished, it was dark outside. As we continued to proceed to the location we would be staying for the weekend, the change in elevation became noticeable – we were no longer near the flat Charleston coast and had made it to the mountainous territory so well known in the western Carolinas.
For those of you that utilize a navigation application for your travel needs, you are aware that you can either select the fastest route possible or the shortest route possible. For this trip, I chose the fastest route possible. That route placed us right on a mountain, weaving around turn after turn. Eventually the phone lost service and the application no longer knew where we were or how to navigate us to our desired location.
I was in the lead car of a team of missionaries all driving to a weekend of serving the Lord, and I had no idea where our next turn would be. I was in unfamiliar territory, in the dark, with no way of knowing what was in front of me. I was leading blind.
In an age of technology where most people in America should have access to a Bible at all times within their reach in only a matter of seconds, sometimes what matters more is what knowledge is stored within rather than what information may be quickly accessible.
Sound doctrine is God’s roadmap for the Christian life. The teaching must be both faithful to the Bible and useful for life. Sound doctrine helps us to understand what the Bible teaches. Have you ever tried to define a word, only to realize the only way you know how to define that word is by using the actual word in the definition? Sound doctrine helps the Christian to put a particular Bible teaching on a particular topic in our own words.
Sound doctrine is essential for life and is practical. It is also essential for the individual Christian’s life and for the life of the church, as it produces lives that are shaped how a healthy local church should appear. Each individual Christian must understand – what churchgoers do together defines the life of a church. Therefore it is imperative that we spend time learning sound doctrine so that we can know what God is trying to teach us from His Word.
Live Differently From the World
In Titus 2:1-10, Paul is instructing Titus to teach the church in Crete to walk in the path that sound doctrine marks out.
Sound doctrine exists because (1) we must live differently from this world, and (2) we will not naturally want to live the right way on our own.
The church must not be shaped more by modern culture than by Scripture. Herein lays the current dilemma that plagues the modern church. The majority of a Christian’s time is spent away from engaging in Christian fellowship and the studying of God’s Word. In a sense, that creates a lot of individual Christians that are living completely separate from one another except for a few hours each week on a Sunday morning.
In Donald Whitney’s book Family Worship, he identifies the main reason people hesitate to live life together more consistently than just two hours a week is because they are afraid of being exposed. Christians avoid spending more than two hours a week together because it is easier to act like a perfect Christian around other Christians for two hours a week and live the rest of the week struggling, than it is to open up your life to other Christians and potentially be exposed as a fraud.
However, with that mentality, it is important to remember that God knows everything that we do, desires to watch us grow in our relationship with Him, and has designed us to live in community with one another to grow in our relationship with Him, with one another, and to equip us to live our lives on mission.
We see in Paul’s writings, as the author of the letter to Titus, that living differently from the world was a priority and had a purpose in his ministry teaching. In Tim Chester’s commentary on Titus, he writes, “Paul does not simply want Christians who believe the right things. He did not travel round the Roman world totaling the number of decisions for Christ he had seen in his ministry. His goal was not simply people coming to the front of a meeting to give their lives to Christ. His goal was people whose faith bore fruit in godly living. His goal was not converts, but disciples. For any ministry we are involved in or praying for, that should be our goal, too” (Chester, Titus For You, p. 19).
Christians must find a way to do more than just gather head knowledge for a few hours each week and then sit on that knowledge for the rest of the week without using it for the sake of the Kingdom.
As we close, may I write you encouragement from the words of Paul in his second letter to Timothy, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17). In this, the Word is designed to inform the head, transform the heart, and get our hands busy doing the work of the Lord.