In this sermon, I preached from Titus 2 on the subject, “The Local Church is Ground-Zero for Discipleship.” I trust you will be encouraged as you think about the fact that Paul left Titus in Crete to strengthen local churches rather than build conventions, associations, or conferences.
Why Some People Aren’t Christians — Tim Challies thinks through evangelism encounters and asks, “With all of this evangelism and all these opportunities for salvation, why don’t people become Christians? Here are a few reasons I’ve observed in recent interactions.”
The Moment of Truth: Its Reality — “Your eternal destiny is determined by the truth. Your relationship to the truth will determine where you will spend all eternity. Your relationship to the truth will determine whether you are in heaven or in hell forever.”
My Little Daughter: A Father’s Glimpse into the Heart of God — “When God made two sexes, he put into place four distinct kinds of parent-child relationships: father-son, mother-daughter, mother-son, and father-daughter. Because men and women are not the same (but complementary), and boys and girls are different, we find distinct, often subtle, always powerful aspects to the love shared in these four kinds of relationships.”
A Humble Soul Overlooks His Own Righteousness — “Men may do much, hear much, pray much, fast much, and give much, &c., and yet be as proud as Lucifer, as you may see in the Scribes, Pharisees, Mat. 23, and those in Isa, 58:3, who in the pride of their hearts made an idol of their own righteousness: ‘Wherefore have we fasted,’ say they, ‘and thou seest it not? wherefore have we afflicted our souls, and thou takest no knowledge?’”
If you live life long enough as a Christian, conflict in inevitable. The New Testament is filled with words that address the subject—often because apostles were correcting local churches or providing counsel on how to pursue resolution and unity. Broken relationships are hurtful within the context of the local church—and they certainly don’t promote the gospel to a lost world outside the church in the local community. Therefore, it’s essential that we know how to deal with conflict within the family of faith in order to honor Christ and avoid hypocrisy.
Humility is Necessary
If you approach a situation of conflict, humility is required to achieve healthy and biblical results. If two parties who are in disagreement simply enter the conversation by throwing defensive bombs toward one another—the parties involved will spend their time talking past one another rather than talking to one another. The art of listening is key to conflict resolution. The humility to admit fault is also key to defusing conflicts that would serve as barriers to joyful friendships and Christian unity.
In Psalm 147:6, the Psalmist declares, “The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.” In Matthew 23:12, we find the following warning, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” It is God’s will for God’s people to pursue peace in a humble and gentle fashion. The one who is haughty and arrogant will never achieve reconciliation and will consistently find himself or herself in the midst of broken relationships. This pattern is not only damaging to the individual—but to the entire church. This is a sinful trap to avoid as a Christian.
Pursue Reconciliation and Unity
Jesus, in his famous sermon, stated the following, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). We want to be called the sons of God rather than children of wrath—like the rest of mankind. It’s essential to pursue peace in order to be called the sons and daughters of God. Richard Baxter once said:
He that is not a son of Peace is not a son of God. All other sins destroy the Church consequentially; but Division and Separation demolish it directly. 
We must likewise remember that reconciliation and unity do not rest upon the shoulders of one party alone. Each party involved in a conflict must value reconciliation more than their own pride. It may be that one individual pursues reconciliation while another individual remains in a state of bitterness and disunity. Paul addressed this issue in Romans 12:18 as he provided the following instruction to the church in Rome:
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:18–21).
We must likewise recall Paul’s words prior to this paragraph as he instructed the Christians in Rome to be genuine in their love and to outdo one another in brotherly affection (Rom. 12:9-13). Winning the argument is not always the way to reconciliation. Remember that as we gaze at the cross of Jesus Christ and see how Christ saved us through his brutal crucifixion, we will find that reconciliation is not only a workable solution but it’s mandated by God (Phil 2:5-11; Eph. 4:32).
Do Not Change Churches
Is there ever a time to leave a local church? Sure, there are biblical reasons, but if I’m perfectly honest, I believe far too often people leave their local church for unbiblical reasons. I’ve written on this subject in another article titled, “When Should I Leave My Church?“—but we can be quite certain that it’s never wise to leave under conflict. If you believe that changing addresses of where you worship will solve your conflict with fellow believers—you’re simply wrong. You will only change the address of your problems. So long as you never learn to do the hard work of conflict resolution as a Christian—you will find yourself walking a broken road of loneliness and isolation within your local church. Conflict builds walls and the devil is really clever at isolating people in local churches until they become so unfulfilled that they simply change churches. Until a person learns to work through conflict in a biblical manner that honors Christ—this pattern will continue in perpetuity. Ray Ortlund writes the following:
The gospel being what it is and always will be, “the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19), our churches should be the most reconciling, peaceable, relaxed, happy places in town. We are so open to enemies, so meek in the face of insults and injuries, so forgiving toward the undeserving — if we do make people angry, let this be the reason. We refuse to join in their selfish battles. We’re following a higher call. We are the peacemakers, the true sons of God (Matthew 5:9). 
Have you ever had to provide advice to your child after he had a scuffle on the playground with another child? What advice did you provide him? Did you instruct him to work through his problems and pursue peace and salvage his friendship or did you move him to another school the next day? We must remember that the children and immature believers (as well as the mature believers) are watching how we all deal with conflict. We should not disciple others in our local church to change churches when they experience conflict. The local church is family and what do family members do when faced with conflict? The family works through it together. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. The end result is worth it and Christ will be glorified through a proper and healthy conflict resolution.
Richard Baxter, The Practical Works of Richard Baxter: Selected Treatises, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010), 4.
The Friday afternoon questions and answers session from the 2018 G3 Conference included a great conversation between several of the speakers within the conference—on various topics related to discipleship, preaching, and other important issues.
Why Is the Abortion Industry Run by Women? — “We can’t debate our way out of this madness because self-destructive frenzy can only be dealt with by prayer and fasting. Rational arguments and reasoned discourse don’t work on insanity. But we can look to Christ who is certainly capable of taking us by the hand and lifting us up.”
Does James 2:24 Deny Justification by Faith Alone? — “I’m convinced that we don’t really have a conflict here. What James is saying is this: If a person says he has faith, but he gives no outward evidence of that faith through righteous works, his faith will not justify him.”
How Can We Know That the Bible is from God? — “All those who desire to obey God will know by the very words of the Bible that it is indeed from God himself. There is no lack of proof for the truthfulness of the Bible, rather the problem lies in the sinful blindness of all those who willfully continue in their rebellion against God.”
Does your typical day have an eschatological focus? Do you long for the return of Jesus? As we go about daily routines, too often our lives become routine. It seems as if there is a missing purpose at times to simple conversations in the community and other less-than-glorious responsibilities like changing diapers or mopping the kitchen floor. Are you anxiously anticipating the return of King Jesus or do you find yourself reading your Bible and doing life disconnected from the precious promise that Jesus will return? Consider these four reasons why you should anticipate the return of the King of the Universe.
Anticipating the Return of Jesus Impacts How We Worship
As John the apostle worshipped God on the Island of Patmos, he longed for the return of Jesus. In the second to last verse in the Bible, we find these words, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20). As we look back at the promises of God’s redemptive plan and consider our place in that timeline of history—the thought of Jesus’ return should shape our worship.
When we sing songs in public worship that include phrases about Jesus’ return, it should cause our worship to be heightened. The thought that Christ could return today is a humbling thought, and to be singing and worshipping him and contemplating his return should make our worship of God more rich and meaningful. Charles Wesley penned the words to his carol titled, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”—we see that we are to consider the Old Testament saint who was longing for the coming of their Deliverer. However, by the end of the short hymn, we see that there is an eschatological focus for us today:
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
What about the Lord’s Supper, is your focus when you remember the body and blood of Jesus merely focused on what Jesus did in the past or do you also long for his return? Remember what Jesus said about observing the Lord’s Supper? He commanded that his followers would remember his sacrifice and anticipate his return (1 Cor. 11:26).
Anticipating the Return of Jesus Increases Our Confidence That the Righteous Judge Will Judge Sin
All through the Psalms, we see the Psalmist pleading with God to judge sinners and law breakers. Notice the language of the Psalmist as recorded in Psalm 69:3, “I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.” This is a common pattern that we see repeated all through the Psalms as we have before us the raw emotions of desperate people who long for God to bring judgment upon the wicked.
As we live in this broken world filled with sin—we too long for the day when Christ will return and judge with perfect and precise justice. On that day, the eternal Judge will judge judge everyone rightly and sin will be no more. When this judgment takes place, the celebration of sin and all of the ripple effects of sin will be brought to a sudden halt. There will be no mistrials, no mistakes, and no person who can make an accusation against the sovereign Judge who judges in perfect righteousness. Every ounce of injustice that we endure in this life will be completely satisfied in Jesus. For that reason, we should join John the apostle by saying, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Anticipating the Return of Jesus Provides Renewed Zeal in the Area of Missions and Evangelism
Do you often consider the simple conversations that you have on a daily basis? What about that person that you talked with on the subway this week? What about the Uber driver that you talked with last week? What about the person in the coffee shop who talked with you as you waited on your Frappuccino to be served? The God who rules the Universe also directs the steps of us all—and there is no “chance” conversation that we have in a single day.
If we anticipate the return of Jesus—it will change how we look at such conversations, friendships, family connections, and work relationships. We will look at people through an eschatological lens and our conversations will suddenly have a much deeper purpose. We should not look at people as “projects” or opportunities for notches in our evangelistic belts, but a proper anticipation of Jesus’ return will cause us to engage in disciple-making at a much deeper level.
Furthermore, as we anticipate the return of Christ it will often redirect our priorities to be less self-focused and more Kingdom-focused. Why would we pile up resources to use for our own pleasure and temporal joys when the world needs to know the true joy of Jesus Christ? Longing for the return of Christ doesn’t make you hate taking vacations, but it will certainly prevent you from wasting your resources without any care for the lost world that is perishing around you.
Anticipating the Return of Jesus Causes Us to Long for the Day When All Things Will Be Made New
Life is full of broken roads. We have all walked difficult paths and experienced the effects of sin. We all stand before caskets of friends and loved ones with tears streaming down our faces. We know what it’s like to say good-bye to people we love. Have you experienced the feeling of loneliness and pain when the doctor provides you with a troubling health report? Such broken roads are difficult to walk—and yet we must endure as we anticipate the return of Jesus.
We live in-between the already and the not-yet reality of the rule of Jesus. While Jesus has defeated death and paid for the sins of all of his people, we still live in the world of brokenness and sin. Such reality is heavy and burdensome at times. But, we live with hope of a Christian that Jesus rules today from heaven’s throne and that he will one day return in visible victory for the whole world to see. When Christ returns—all things will be made new.
At the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis depicts the lion (Aslan) walking off into the sunset. Lucy runs to the balcony and sees him walking away and with a sad countenance, she is comforted by Tumnus who says, “We’ll see him again.” Lucy responds, “When?” Tumnus reassures her, “In time…you mustn’t press him, he isn’t a tame lion.” Lucy responds, “No, but he’s good.”
We can live each day with the reality that Jesus is not a tame Lion—but he is good. When the Lion of the tribe of Judah returns he will make all things new. There will be no more death, no more tears, and no more pain for the former things will have passed away. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Yesterday morning, I was able to preach the second of two sermons on Romans 1:16—focused primarily upon the power of the gospel to save sinners. Although Paul could have phrased his joy in the gospel in a positive manner, he used a negative construction to point out that while the whole world views the gospel as utter foolishness—Paul views and understands it to be the power of God unto salvation.
When was the last time you paused to consider how weak we are in the flesh? The best human effort will fall far short of what God requires for salvation. There is nothing that we can bring to God that will impress him and cause him to take away our sin. On our very best day as a human being, we would earn eternal hell rather than the glory of heaven. Paul points to the gospel as our need and as God’s means to bring about the ends of salvation among the nations.
God will never be satisfied with human effort and the human will is incapable of desiring God in the natural state. Apart from God’s grace that comes through the power of the gospel—sinners would never repent and believe the gospel. Man cannot work his way to God, will his way to God, or worship his way to God. R.C. Sproul once said, “Perhaps the most difficult task for us to perform is to rely on God’s grace and God’s grace alone for our salvation.” John the apostle makes this abundantly clear in the early pages of his Gospel account as he writes, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
When Paul speaks about the “power” of God—he is not referencing the omnipotence or specific attribute of God. Rather, Paul is referencing the power of the gospel itself which God uses to bring dead sinners to life spiritually. That’s why Paul did not depend on his own power when preaching the gospel, but the power of the gospel and he made this quite clear as he wrote to the church at Corinth (see 1 Cor. 2:4-5). It was not the power of Paul’s words or his cleverly constructed cliches that brought about the conversion of people in various cities. It was the power of the gospel as God’s design to bring about the salvation of all of God’s elect for the eternal glory of God.
Charles Spurgeon understood this point as well. He would ascend his lofty pulpit repeating to himself each step of the way, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in tihe Holy Spirit.” In fact, Spurgeon went on to say:
If we had the Spirit sealing our ministry with power, it would signify very little about talent. Men might be poor and uneducated, their words might be broken and ungrammatical; but if the might of the Spirit attended them, the humblest evangelist would be more successful than the most learned divine, or the most eloquent of preachers.
Paul goes on to make a very powerful statement at the end of Romans 1:16 regarding the fact that God brings people to faith through the power of the gospel and it’s for both the Jew and the Greek. Everyone who believes—implying that there is no person who is more or less “saveable” when it comes to the power of the gospel. God can apply the gospel to any heart of stone and cause the person to be born again. We must have this bold confidence as we minister in our communities each week.
Furthermore, the gospel is not only good news for the Jews, but also for the non-Jew. The gospel is God’s means in the mission to save sinners from every tongue, tribe, people and nation. It’s critical that we see God’s plan to save people beyond the borders of our context and our city. The eternal plan of God is to bring sinners to faith in Christ and to bring about their worship of God that begins at the new birth and culminates in the heavenly worship as we will glorify God and bow to King Jesus among a sea of the redeemed from every imaginable culture, context, and people group on planet earth. John Piper has stated it accurately as he remarked, “The reason missions exists is because worship doesn’t.”
You may or may not have read Paul Tripp’s book titled, “Parenting.” In the 2018 G3 Conference, Paul Tripp preached on that very subject and it’s a sermon that you will want to take-in with much prayer.
What Is the Covenant of Redemption? — “The Bible has much to say about God’s activity “before” the world was made. The Bible speaks often of God’s eternal counsel, of His plan of salvation and the like.”
C. J. Mahaney Withdraws from T4G — “Following Rachael Denhollander’s Sovereign Grace claims, the former SGM president once again says he wants to avoid distracting from the biennial conference.”
I Believe! — “Belief is the gateway to the Christian life but it is far more than that. I believed in the day I put my faith in Jesus—a once-for-all belief that can never be removed or revoked. But belief is also a decision I need to make day by day and circumstance by circumstance. The longer I live as a Christian, the more I find myself declaring to myself, ‘I believe.’ Especially in moments of sorrow, loss, or confusion: ‘I believe.'”