08 July 2009

What's obvious

by Frank Turk

To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
After our brief interlude to the non-pastors among our readers (and we can see how well that went, so dear pastor reader, your work is obviously cut out for you), we back to seeing how Paul told Timothy to engage in the ministry -- and we have come to a simply phrase: "teach what accords with sound doctrine".

I was tempted to go on from there today and roll out the bulk of Titus 2 for you, but this phrase has some particular interest. First of all, it does say "teach" -- as in "to use words in order to declare one's mind and disclose one's thoughts". It's not a subtle word, really: it's sort of a clear command word -- sort of a present active imperative: teach it. Preach it. Declare it. Use words. Now.

And in case one doesn't see it, Paul does say "YOU teach". Don't just see to it that it's taught: YOU teach.

And Paul is not exhorting Titus teach just anything. He says to teach "the things that stand out or are conspicuous" -- which is an interesting thing when one is taking a sentence apart word for word. But Paul wants Titus to teach not the minutiae or the sub-subtle lexical nuances: he wants Titus to go after what's obvious -- get the big rocks in, as they say in 7 Habits class.

But here's the thing: it's not what's obvious to the world, or what's obvious to the Cretans: it's what's obvious about healthy doctrine.

You know: while we believe in some really interesting and deep stuff, how about the obvious stuff that is healthy doctrine as opposed to (for example) what is "detestable, disobedient, unfit".

Because here's the thing: often, we overlook the obvious. The problem in the Christian life is that it's loaded with obvious stuff, and we get caught up in endless genealogies and stupid myths. What if we stuck to the obvious stuff, like somehow being grateful for the forgiveness of our great debt, and generous because we have been given so much we do not deserve, and loving because we have been loved in a rather lavish way?

Because I think that's what Paul means here by "adorns": that which is just hangin' right off sound doctrine.

Dear pastor reader: pick the low-hanging fruit. Use words in order to declare one's mind and disclose one's thoughts. Preach it. You.







12 comments:

deekdubberly said...

This is good and helpful stuff. Thanks.

I appreciate how well you get to the point.

Strong Tower said...

What? I don't see no stinkin' elephant.

Gary said...

Good word.

I'm reminded of Phil 3:1 where Paul says "Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you."

This last phrase is interesting --Paul has no problem teaching something obvious (Rejoice in the Lord!) that he has likely said many many times. It is not trouble for him to teach the basics and it is a safeguard for his hearers to hear the basics.

Interestingly, Phil 3:1 is also in the context of sound doctrine (see 3:2).

Jude said...

"...so dear pastor reader, your work is obviously cut out for you."

Drat.

Good thoughts, Frank.

Happy Calvinist said...

"What if we stuck to the obvious stuff, like somehow being grateful for the forgiveness of our great debt, and generous because we have been given so much we do not deserve, and loving because we have been loved in a rather lavish way?"

Whoa! Very nice, Frank. The path to impervious joy is right here: let's take it.

Brad

The Blainemonster said...

Well done. I like the minutia as much as the next person, but it really is the "big rocks" that are my foundation, and the things that bring the deepest joy and satisfaction in my salvation - and the very truths that folks need to hear so that faith can come. . .

The Blainemonster said...

Speaking of details . . . that should be "minutiae" since I meant it as a plural noun ;)

Alexander M. Jordan said...

Yes, and probably we NEED the obvious to be stated to us more often than we'd like to think we do.

Thanks, Frank.

James said...

Good word. Thanks!

David said...

Terrible job of stirring up controversy today, Frank. You disappoint me.

*sigh*

Doug Hibbard said...

Wait a minute---did you call me a low-hanging fruit? Why you...

Oh, wait. If one actually reads the post, it makes sense.

Sorry. Having become increasingly frustrated in several face-to-face discussions, it had to come out somewhere. Read, listen, then decide to pitch a fit. Or realize that perhaps your fit is unnecessary.

Doug

CAUGHTNOTTAUGHT said...

That thought came to me too, a while back when I blogged about this bit. http://caughtnottaught.blogspot.com/2008/10/titus-21.html
Hmm.