The If & Then of Faith

010-born-again-christian-bumper-sticker-vinyl-decalIn the Pastoral Letters one will find sundry of expected Christian living based on the Character and redemptive work of God. The author uses if-then statements to control the flow of his intentions. More specifically, Paul uses “Since” and “They Must”. This could be said to be true of all of Christian living. A general example of this literary device is Colossians 3:1-2Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. It shows cause and effect. Because we have been raised with Christ, then we set our minds on things from above.

The audience of the Pastoral Epistles is given moral ideals from Scripture because its moral perspective is not relativistic. Sins, such as murder, idolatry, fornication are not only wrong in certain geographical locations; but, are universally sinful. Yet it is the technique of the PE’s to make statements about their relationship to their Lord that gives the basis for his charge to them of their redeemed conversations. Take Titus 3:1-7 for an example of what we can also call “gift-task” language. The instruction that Christians “be subject to” the civil government indicates that such authorities are part of God’s overall order for human society. A proper Christian attitude toward the state requires the Christians “to be obedient”.This idea is a practical outworking of Jesus’ teaching concerning being “the salt of the earth … and the light of the world … that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:13–16). Paul then presents the theological basis for the charge presented to them in vs.1&2. Paul described the degenerate condition of the pagan society in which Christians had to live. Interestingly, his comments focus on the human condition within the society.The verb “were,” placed at the beginning of this sentence, emphatically contrasts the Christian’s former degenerate condition (“at one time,”), which is described in v. 3, with the present regenerate condition (“but when,”), which is described in vv. 4–7.

This expression of humanity’s depraved condition marks the beginning of the third outstanding theological statement in this brief letter. Having initiated a contrast at the beginning of v. 3 with the words “At one time we too were,” Paul completed it in vv. 4–7, beginning with the words “But when.” “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,” Because kindness and love are noted in their usual application to God, being noted as the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22) the fact that Paul expressly stated that man does not naturally possess this attribute makes the case of this argument all the more forceful.

Paul then follows with, “he saved us,” in v. 5 which constitutes the main verb in this lengthy sentence (vv. 4–7). It is the fact of God’s saving action in Jesus Christ that is amplified and explained by each additional clause and phrase. It is his saving grace that enables the believer to live above the human depravity of the past and of that around them. In this passage of Scripture, coincidently is the most explicit reference of the regenerate life.

One of the many reasons for the writing of the Pastorals is to encourage the readers / listeners to be reminded that because their lives had been radically crucified with Jesus, then their words, thoughts and deeds would display the life and resurrection of their Risen Lord.

Craig Layton is pursuing a BA in Christian Studies with a Great Commission Minor.  He is a conference speaker and Revivalist who speaks to issues from Christian Worldview issues to how to prepare for genuine revival within a body of believers.  He is senior pastor of Leary Baptist Church in Leary Georgia; which is presently experiencing a protracted season of true God sent revival..  Married for 6 years to his wife Kimberly, they have two children and two grandchildren.  You can follow Craig on Twitter at twitter.com/Pastor_COLayton. And on Facebook  at facebook.com/craig.layton72

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