14 March 2016

May Our Sole Aim Be Sound Doctrine

John Calvin
John Calvin's exposition of the book of Titus is an important read for all Christians, not just pastors. Though Titus is known as one of the pastoral epistles, written by the Apostle Paul to Titus as he ministered in Crete, it nevertheless is part of God's holy and inspired Word, and thus contains truths and treasures for all believers.

In his treatment of the text, Calvin is thorough and blunt. He exhorts, encourages, and challenges. Most importantly, his teaching of this epistle strives to cause one to love and honor Christ and His Word more.

When we read the words below, we realize that the softening of the gospel in order to make it more palatable to sinful ears is nothing new. It was prevalent in Calvin's day and it was present in the early days of the church. Let us remember, then, the truth bestowed on us by the Reformer as he says, "When we read God's word and when we come to church, may our sole aim be to be taught sound doctrine." Indeed, may we desire to be inundated with this sound doctrine each time we open our Bibles and each time we enter the church's doors, and may the explanation of these truths bring us to a greater place of praise of our great and holy God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many evil people therefore look for preachers who suit their taste. We see this happening both now and in the past. Would to God that such things were not so common! More than anything, then, we need to heed Paul's warning, so that we may have people who are competent to teach and who faithfully do their duty. And when they have preached as they are meant to do, let their life match their preaching; let it confirm the doctrine which they proclaim and give visible proof of it. Moreover, we see many today whose ears are so delicate that as soon as a raw nerve is touched, they fret and fume and demand a complete change when the preaching is not to their liking. Scarcely one in a hundred is willing calmly to obey sound teaching. Think of folk who loudly claim to be true believers. If someone tries to instruct them but does not allow them to keep on sinning, they immediately turn nasty or else they go from bad to worse and end up losing even the taste and savor of God's truth. Others get hot under the collar and challenge everything, happy for things to go to rack and ruin provided they are left free to do their mischief. 
So when we see these things, be sure that the Holy Spirit has rightly made provision for such ills and has supplied us with a remedy, so that each of us may quietly and in all humility obey God's word. And when we see dissenters and scoffers rise up, intent on needling and tormenting us, let us shun them as we would the plague, and let that be an end to it. If we want God to help us retain possession of the treasure of his gospel, let us for our part not side with those who wish to see everything undone, Christ's flock scattered and God's house destroyed. Lastly, because people today are as much consumed by stupid curiosity as ever they were, let us be careful to recall what Paul teaches us here: when we read God's word and when we come to church, may our sole aim be to be taught sound doctrine—doctrine, that is, which advances our salvation so that we may continually grow in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, being certain of the salvation which he has won for us and trusting in the grace which he has brought us. May we be able to call upon God purely and without pretense, and look always to the heavenly inheritance; may we know God's will so that we do not drift or doubt but continue on, since we are approved by God and since we cling purely to his word.
—John Calvin, John Calvin's Sermons on Titus, trans. Robert White, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 

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