Adorning The Doctrine

A Word to Young Christians

"Adorn the Doctrine of God our Saviour, in all things" (Titus 2:10).

The doctrine of God our Saviour is THE GOSPEL. It tells us that God is good and does good. How glad we are that we ever heard it; without it we had lived without God, without Christ and without hope in the world; and what would such a life have been to us?

"A walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more … a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

So much for a life lived without the knowledge of God, but when such a life is done, what then? "After this the judgment," when account must be given to God for it all. But the gospel has brought light and substance into our lives, we have something to live for now, as we shall see, and we have a glorious hope for the future. Let us thank God and rejoice that we ever heard the gospel. Now we are called upon to adorn the gospel, and how can we do that? Is not the gospel perfect in its beauty? Yes, so we thought it to be when first the light of it dispelled the darkness in which we groped, and we were right, and if it is already perfect, what can we do to adorn it? Truly, we cannot add anything to it, we might as well try

"To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish."

But we can bring out in lives that have been renewed by it, the beauty that is in it. The world does not see any beauty in it, and we cannot wonder at that, for when He who is the theme of it was here He was despised and rejected of men, He was without form or comeliness to them, and when they saw Him there was no beauty in Him that they should desire Him, but "to you who believe He is precious, the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely One." What Jesus was the gospel is.

Take a hyacinth bulb. A parcel of them was once left in a kitchen, and the cook, who mistook them for onions, said, "They had neither taste nor smell, so I threw them out." But plant that dry looking root, with neither taste nor smell, in a bowl; give it water and light, and then behold it sending up its glorious spike of flowers and filling the whole house with its fragrance. But all the beauty that cultivation brings into evidence was there in the bulb before it was disclosed. So it is with the gospel. We who have believed it must live out its blessedness before the eyes of our fellow-men, to whom it has neither taste nor smell, and so adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. What a responsibility, yet what a privilege lies within the reach of us all! In this world that reeks with uncleanly savours and the stench of sin we may produce and shed abroad the sweetness of the grace of God, we may be imitators of God, going about doing good.

The exhortation was first addressed to servants, slaves who had been sold and bought in the public markets. And four ways in which they might do good was set before them. They were to be obedient to their own masters; and meek in their behaviour towards them, not answering again; and honest, not purloining their master's goods; and faithful, showing all good fidelity. OBEDIENCE, MEEKNESS, HONESTY, FAITHFULNESS! Practical qualities these, and how good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, and what a contrast to the spirit and ways of the world as we know it.

Young men and women who have professed the Name of the Lord, see that you do not come behind in these things; it is up to you all to show what the grace of God can do in lives like yours. You do not need to go to the mission field for this; do it in the house where you live and in the place where you work.

Have you got your Bibles open at Titus 2? If so notice that verse 11 begins with "For," and proceeds to give the cause which only can produce this desired effect, and it is this that we must now consider, "FOR THE GRACE OF GOD THAT BRINGETH SALVATION HATH APPEARED UNTO ALL MEN." The grace of God is the activity of His love towards those who deserved His wrath, and it subsists for us in our Lord Jesus Christ. We shall understand it better if we see it in Him, and we have not got it at all if we dissociate it from Him, for grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, and He dwelt among us full of grace. The grace of God which is salvation was not sent to us but brought to us. It was not sent by an angelic messenger, it was brought by God's beloved Son. Many people look upon this blessing as they do upon a present sent to them by parcel post. There it is, they have got it, and are glad to have it, for is it not a token of the love of the distant friend? But he is not there; how different it would have been if he had brought it. And along with this mistake these same people spell salvation, IT; that is the wrong way to spell it, surely; it should be spelt HIM, for if you have Him, the Saviour, then you have salvation. Moses understood it when He sang, "The Lord is my strength and my song, and He become my salvation."

Is not this what the Lord meant when He said to the publican in the tree, "Zaccheus, make haste and come down, for today I MUST ABIDE at thy house." And as He crossed the threshold of that happy man's home, He said, "This day SALVATION come to this house." Why? Because He had come to it, Jesus Himself was salvation. When He brings salvation to us, He comes to stay with us. It is as though He said, I love you so well, and I have sought you so long, I will never be parted from you. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." We have the blessing, but we have the Blesser, too. The grace of God has given to us the desire to adorn the doctrine, and the nature and power that can do it. What we need now is instruction as to how to do it.

As the sun arises in the morning for all, so the Lord Jesus appeared for all men. Alas that so few appreciate the grace that He brought. But we are glad, are we not, that our hearts have been opened to give Him a welcome? may we treat Him well who has come to us and show all good fidelity to Him. He has blessed us, He has saved us, we are His. But that is the beginning of the ways of grace with us. Grace saves us, and also teaches and instructs us in the way of righteousness, as we read, "TEACHING US THAT DENYING UNGODLINESS AND WORLDLY LUSTS, WE SHOULD LIVE SOBERLY, RIGHTEOUSLY, AND GODLY IN THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD." We are now in the school of grace. Does the thought of school bring back memories of hard tasks and stern teachers? Those things belong to the old school and school master whose name is LAW; the school of grace is different, for the saviour is the Teacher there. It was He who said, "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light." If He is our Teacher how attractive the lessons must be, and He teaches not only by His words but by His ways. He is our pattern and guide, and we are to be imitators of Him. We entered His school on the day that He saved us; we shall be in it until the end of our days on earth; then and not until then shall we graduate; may we all do it with honours for His joy.

The teaching is not theoretical but practical. We must know the doctrine, of course, if we are to adorn it, but in this school of grace we are taught to walk rather than to talk. We must learn how to behave ourselves in three spheres of life: in the inner, personal sphere we are to live soberly, in our relations with others we are to live righteously, and in our relations with God we are to live godly. Christ has set us an example that we should walk in His steps, and all this was lived out perfectly by Him when He was here.

Do you know the beautiful hymn, some verses of which are

"O Lord! when we the path retrace
  Which Thou on earth hast trod,
To man Thy wondrous love and grace,
  Thy faithfulness to God.

Faithful amidst unfaithfulness
  'Mid darkness only light,
Thou didst Thy Father's name confess,
  And in His will delight"?

As we sit at His feet and consider Him, we admire and adore and sing:

"We wonder at Thy lowly mind,
  And fain would like Thee be,
And all our rest and pleasure find
  In learning, Lord, of Thee."

It all becomes so real, so wonderful, that we are glad to turn our backs upon our former life; we deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. These two things make up the life of the world; they mean, "We won't have God, and we will please ourselves." But for us, God has become so attractive through the gospel that we cannot live without Him, and His light has revealed to us how pernicious our own way was so that we now choose His way instead of ours.

And grace has made us expectant, the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost has given us a hope of which we are not ashamed. We are "LOOKING FOR THAT BLESSED HOPE, AND GLORIOUS APPEARING OF OUR GREAT GOD AND OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST." The blessed hope is the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ, to fulfil His own word, "I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am there ye may be also." There are those who teach, that only those who are faithful and watching, will be taken when the Lord fulfils this word; they insist on what is called a "partial rapture" which will be a reward for faithfulness and labour. If that were so—which, thank God, it is not—this hope would no longer be A BLESSED HOPE; for who of us would care to lay his hand upon his heart and say, "I am one of the faithful"? If we have a true sense of our own frailty we confess that we are unprofitable servants, but this hope does not depend upon what we are but upon what God is; it has been given to us by the grace of God, IT IS ALL GRACE; but "to him that works the reward is not reckoned of grace but of debt." is a blessed hope, not because it is acquired by fulfilled responsibility but because it has been set before us by sovereign grace.

The glorious appearing will follow that blessed hope; indeed, it is part of it. The glory of our Saviour shall fill the world in that day. It does not fill the world yet; this is the night in which we have to shine as lights and be witnesses to the blessedness of the gospel, but the morning is coming when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings. The world will not rejoice when He appears; all nations of the earth shall wail because of Him, but we shall rejoice in that day. And what is it that has made the difference? The next verse tells us, "WHO GAVE HIMSELF FOR US." Such was His love, and His glory will not change this, and because He loved us and gave Himself for us, we shall not be afraid when He comes in His glory, and because we love Him we shall rejoice to see Him exalted where once He was dishonoured.

He gave Himself TO REDEEM US FROM ALL INIQUITY. We were slaves, but He has set us free, and the price of our redemption was His blood. He gave Himself to deliver us from the bondage of sin and to lead us in the paths of righteousness, and "THAT HE MIGHT PURIFY UNTO HIMSELF A PECULIAR PEOPLE." He wanted us entirely for Himself, His own peculiar treasure, and for this He would separate us from every evil thing and from every rival and from every yoke.

It is blessed to be able to sing,

"Lord Jesus, Thine,
  For ever to recline
On love eternal fixed and sure.
Yes, I am Thine for evermore,
  Lord Jesus, Thine."

But there is more than that, we are to be ZEALOUS OF GOOD WORKS. We learn in secret, but we show our progress before the eyes of others. The Christian is not called to be a monk, wasting his days behind monastery walls, but as Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good for God was with Him, so are we called to follow in His steps, and to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour by good works. In this matter we must not be slothful. Our spiritual force and progress are not gauged by our intellectual knowledge of the doctrines of the epistles but by the way we carry out the exhortations in them.

I would press upon you that the schooling is in secret. Cultivate secret intercourse with the Lord; sit at His feet when no eye but His can see you, and He that sees in secret shall reward you openly. You will gain wisdom and strength in secret, you will learn there what resources you have to draw upon when the test comes; then come forth, to love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven [characteristically so]: for He makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. So blessed and good is He!