Adorning the Doctrine
A lack of manifested evangelistic outreach can easily depress us. We often see a severe lack of interest in the word of God in our community. We see souls who need the Gospel, and we wonder how we can effectively present it to them. Some will simply refuse to be saved, according to their words and actions. They lack a spiritual appetite. We must remember that Jesus and His apostles could not reach everyone. Still, God has not given us an impossible task.
If someone is saved, they will be saved by the Gospel. Romans 1:16 speaks of the Gospel as the “power of God”; Luke 8:11 shows us that the Word is seed; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 proves that some will not obey.
In the face of what is perceived as an ongoing evangelistic problem, many seek alternate methods to attract people. Ostensibly, their aim is to attract them to come to church services, then teach them the Gospel while they are there. However, in practice, it becomes all about the programs and gimmicks. They might build large and elaborate church buildings, concoct expensive recreation programs, or invite famous entertainers or sports figures. These are not legitimate means of garnering attention to the Word of God; the simple reason being that they are not scriptural in approach. These methods, instead of promoting or supporting the spread of the Gospel message, actually get in the way.
In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 we learn that Paul avoided worldly skill and oratory. He could have used Man’s wisdom to impress people with his level of knowledge, but he didn’t. In the same way, we must never “sugar coat” our approach to the Gospel. It robs the Gospel of its power, and practically, it never works. Truth cannot compete with error with the general population. Men will never adequately search for truth without the urge to seek it.
The Roman Colosseum of the 1st Century was the “super bowl” of the day, where slaves were pitted against each other to the death, or fed to hungry animals. This was what the people wanted, and in some respects it is no different today. Many will be satisfied with the elaborate building and recreational programs. Even as we see today, many are leaving the denominations for “community churches”, places built up as supposedly serving the community, rather than serving the Lord. While leaving divisive groups is often a good thing, the question must be raised as to whether they are truly “leaving”. Many community churches, even while claiming a status of being “nondenominational”, nonetheless ascribe to (primarily) Southern Baptist creeds. The same things are being done and said, perhaps with some of the concepts and ideas shifted slightly, but ultimately there is no difference.
In many similar ways, Christians can get in the way of the Gospel even without these unscriptural activities. When we use too many examples about ourselves when teaching or exhorting, our appeal can become, “look at me!” rather than “look at Jesus!” When we seek the approval or appreciation of others instead of the glory of God, we can pride ourselves as being right rather than knowing and teaching that God is right. When we ridicule the beliefs or positions of others, we disparage our own cause and give no real reason for outsiders to become interested in the Bible. When someone hungers after the truth about life and seeks knowledge in the Word of God, honestly and intently, nothing will stand in their way, but let the Christian resolve to work hard to NEVER be a stumbling block. John writes, “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:6). When it comes to understanding and practicing the truth, we are our own worst enemies. Thus, in seeking to tell others about Jesus, we must be proper adherents of what we claim to believe. We must “adorn the doctrine” (Titus 2:10).
Put simply, others must see Christ in us. The term “adorn” comes from the greek kosmeō, which means “to put in proper order; to garnish”. Thus, adorning is not adding or taking from the content; only enhancing it to others so it becomes more attractive. Some might think that “adorning the doctrine” means doctoring it up with a bunch of things that it doesn’t need. Others might assume that “adorning the doctrine” means taking out anything that might offend the hearer. We know that Jesus never did either of these things, and neither did any of the Apostles. “[adorning] the doctrine”, especially in the context of Titus 2, means that we are doing our best to live the life that we espouse to be the best way to live, as taught by God’s Word - His “doctrine”.
Anyone can “adorn the doctrine” The context of Titus 2:10 is toward “bondservants” (2:9), but there is much in the idea that we can all appreciate. The most important place to “adorn the doctrine” might be the home. 1 Peter 3:1-4 tells us that the wife is to be adorned not especially in the outward way, but the inward way, the “Hidden person of the heart”. The same could be said of the husband. Many have been saved through their spouse “adorning the doctrine”. 1 Corinthians 7:16 shows us a situation where the believing wife, in her action and character, can help save the unbelieving husband. Similarly, neighbors, friends, sons or daughters can be led to Christ through our “[adorning] the doctrine”.
To “adorn the doctrine” is to live a Godly life. We need to consider our habits (1 Peter 2:11-16). If our attitude is Godly, we will point others to God. Even in persecution, we can adorn the doctrine (1 Peter 3:14-17). Further, to “adorn the doctrine” requires true joy in our hearts. No one will be truly converted only because of how nice or happy we are. In fact, many can see through a fake smile. And even if the smile is genuine, just being happy will not by itself make a difference in the lives of many. If we read about the early Christians in Acts 2:47,5:41,16:34; Mat. 5:16, we learn how to be joyful despite a wicked world.
To “adorn the doctrine”, we require consistency. Ofte, the relationships we enter into in life suffer because of a lack of consistency in belief and practice. Ultimately, we should erect healthy boundaries in our relationships in order to work toward God’s pleasure. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 tells us that “whether we are awake or asleep” we must seek God’s pleasure. If we fail to “adorn the doctrine”, we become the stumbling block by which others will falter. Our community must see Christians as people who are pure in lifestyle and speech, who are good parents, generous with others, loving, and kind. Read Matthew 18:1-5 and consider how we can have a consistent and genuine love for a broken world.
While this world is broken, WE ARE NOT, and we should never live in such a way. God has lifted us up to something better! May we all reach for that Godly goal. Are you adorning the doctrine of Christ? -Steven McCrary
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