Titus 1:1-4

I’m going to be posting some of the sermons I’ve delivered over the past few months. This was delivered at the Austin Stone Intern & Residents Chapel last month.

Good morning. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Travis Whitehead. I’m one of the church-planting residents here, and I serve at the West campus doing connections ministry because it fits into my incredibly bubbly, outgoing personality.

I’m excited to be with you this morning, and for this interns and residents chapel to become a regular part of the rhythms here at the Stone. And my prayer is that this time is a blessing to you. I pray that during this time, God draws you to Himself, and molds and shapes your heart with the truth of the gospel.

The other CPRs will be preaching through the next few months that we are doing this chapel, and we’re going to be going through the book of Titus. What I want to do today is introduce this book, introduce the author, and a couple of main ideas and give you a general direction for where we are going during this time together.

The letter was written by Paul to Titus after Paul has spent years of his life, traveling around the Roman empire, preaching the gospel to the gentiles. We don’t know a whole lot about Titus, other than the times he is mentioned in Galatians and the letter to the Corinthians, but he has been sent to Crete with the task of organizing the churches there. Specifically, he is going to be appointing elders for these churches, dealing with false teachers, and instructing the Christians in Crete as to how they should live in relation to each other and those outside of the Church.

The dominant theme of this letter that we will see again and again is do good works, in response to the saving work of Christ, and for the sake of outsiders.

Today, by way of introduction, we’re going to look at Titus 1:1-4, where Paul introduces himself, and his purpose for writing to Titus. What we will see is this: The hope of the gospel is our motivation and assurance to obediently follow our calling. Continue reading

Dying to Preach, Reflections

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“It was not Paul’s ambition for the Corinthians to know how much he knew. That was beside the point. His ambition was for them to know Christ alone.”

  – Steven W. Smith, Dying to Preach

The first book I ever read on preaching is considered, by many in seminaries across the country, to be a seminal work on the subject. It started with a chapter bemoaning the place of today’s preacher. “In the past,” it had said, “the preacher was seen as a learned man, and treated as such.” (I’m paraphrasing, but this is actually pretty close to exactly what was written.) The premise of that first chapter was that in the past the preacher was respected, trusted, believed. Today, however, that preacher is seen more as a senile grandpa – a person with a big heart and neither foot in reality. After that first chapter, the book was very helpful in how to craft sermon outlines and manuscripts and so on, but that first chapter always confused me.

Dying to Preach, by Steven W. Smith is an entirely different book. And while Smith doesn’t deal with the actual process of crafting a sermon, he speaks in direct, passionate language about the purpose and means of preaching.

“For the Word of God to live in people, the preacher must die to his right to be thought of as a great preacher. He must embrace the reality that what people need the most will not always be what they want to hear.”

– Smith

For a preacher to effectively preach the Word, he must commit to preach Christ alone. This means he must die. The preacher must die to himself – his name, his axe to grind, his popularity; to the text – he must be faithful to preach only what is in the text, being careful not to use the text to push an agenda or message by placing anything onto the text; and finally to his people – he must put their need to hear Christ at the forefront.

Continue reading