True faith lives. Yes, faith does begin with thinking the right things—“knowledge of the truth.” But true thinking will transform us. Truth transforms. Knowledge of the truth, the book of Titus tells us, “accords with godliness.” The harmony we expect to hear when someone tells us they know the truth is the joyous noise of their godly life.
The knowledge we learn through the Holy Spirit as he teaches us God’s Word won’t puff us up, it will make us loving (1 Corinthians 8:1). Knowledge of the truth will spill out of us in loving actions.
Every person who personally knows the truth—Jesus Christ—will have a living faith.
What are your expectations for what a living faith would look like?
We may tend to think of it as radical self-denial, boldness to stand up in a crowd, religious rhythms and activities done dutifully, fire-in-the-eyes passion and probably flying somewhere overseas. But I realized my vision of living faith is incomplete when I compare it to the Bible’s picture of living faith.
The book of Titus helps us here. Paul writes to empower a pastor named Titus. Titus leads churches in Crete, and they’re in need of a family meeting. People don’t know how to live life in accordance with their faith. Myths are circulating, foolish controversies are raging (Titus 3:9), they’re receiving “do-this, do-that” from every angle (Titus 1:14), and families who follow Jesus are generally upset by all the cultural noise and religious talk (Titus 1:11). Can you resonate?
The Holy Spirit answered these believers’ angst and ours too through the wonderful straightforward instruction from Paul to Titus. Before we see what living faith looks like, let’s consider where it comes from.
First, living faith comes from “the hope of eternal life”—which we are reminded of and refreshed by through the preaching of God’s Word (Titus 1:2-3). As we hear God’s Word, we are reminded that our faith isn’t composed of right answers, genealogies, law, and rituals (Titus 3:9). Our faith is in a Person, Jesus, and all that he has done for us through his death on the cross that paid for our sins, and his resurrection, which won for us new life (John 17:3). Our faith is complete dependence on a Person in whom we find hope that “springs eternal.” We trust wholeheartedly in a Person who has loved us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). We get to know that Person through his Word, the Bible (2 Corinthians 4:5-6). Through God’s Word we encounter God’s Son, our Savior and Lord.
So, what will your life look like when you have true faith in Jesus, when you have been loved by God? I love God’s answer given to us through the book of Titus.
He answers us with a picture, painted through instruction, and I hope to help you see its beauty. (Please, after you read this article read Titus). Here’s the point in sum: A life of faith will look ordinary, joyful, at ease, content, and marked by good works.
If you listen to the book of Titus, you will hear the happy hum of ordinary life.
Were you to play it on film, you’d see a collection of small towns. In each of those small towns you’d see a small gathering of people—men and women, girls, and boys. These people call themselves “believers” because they believed that Jesus is the Son of God come to save them from their sin. They trust that believing in him has restored their relationship to God. On one day of the week, you see them gather in a home or church and hear one of the men speak encouragement authoritatively to them from God’s Word. You watch them sing together and talk to God.
If you followed this little community through their week, this is what you’d see.
You’d see a dad teaching his children about Jesus when he comes home from work (Titus 1:6). You’d see a mailman who does his job well and can’t have a bad word said about him (Titus 1:7). You’d see families opening their doors to neighbors at dinner time and sharing a meal (Titus 1:8). You’d see an older retired man reading his Bible and preparing to share some hope at a sporting event for young men the next day (Titus 2:2). You’d see an older woman showing up to babysit for a young mom who needs a date with her husband (Titus 2:4). You would hear laundry machines, and dishes, as young moms prepare to welcome dad home to a happy environment (Titus 2:5). You’d see a young man in a factory doing his work with vigor and joy, aiming to get a little extra work done for his stressed boss (Titus 2:9-10). You’d see a young woman reporting on the team she leads with integrity, speaking winsomely of her coworkers.
Then if you looked at the young ones in the church, you’d see a young man walk away from some friends going out for lusty evening entertainment (Titus 2:12). You’d see a young girl unwilling to gossip with her friends, showing gentleness to the girl left out at school (Titus 2:2). You’d see a young boy surprise a shop owner by his respectful tone (Titus 3:2).
A life of faith will look ordinary, joyful, at ease, content, and marked by good works.
And if you followed their pastor into the public square, in the heat of competing ideas, here is what you would find. He may not have a Bible under his arm, for the Words are his heart. He would be a good citizen, willing to comply with authorities, offering a friendly “hello” to the mayor of the town, whether he agreed with his policies or not (Titus 3:1). He would avoid argument, and somehow leave contentious conversations in peace (Titus 3:2).
But, oh friend! If you caught him in that little gathering on Sunday, you’d see a different man. That Bible would be in his hand and held high. With boldness and clarity, he would discern truth from error for his people, he would proclaim with vigor, and sharply rebuke the deceptions of the age. He would passionately proclaim the truth about Jesus, encouraging his people towards love and good deeds.
Off they’d go, young and old, back to the mill, the dishes, the kids, the writing, the driving, the school, and the shop. Each content in his or her task, they would live with love.
And when one of the townsfolk who didn’t go to that church observed, they may be puzzled, or the worst may be irked by the uncanny kindness, but none could speak ill of the God these people served.
He must be Peace, the onlooker would think, for none of them fret. He must be good, for they’re better after being with him. He must be love, for none of them are insecure. He must be humble, for none of them look after themselves like they care for one another. And so the people of God would look as though clothed in Christ himself.
This is the picture the book of Titus paints for us. Do you want to be part of it?
Living faith isn’t faith on fire or faith on a stage.
Living faith is the living Christ living day-to-day in you. Living faith is just living. Living with Jesus, like Jesus, and for Jesus. And you can do that wherever you are.
People who trust in Jesus will recognize that they have a pre-ordained role to fill in his kingdom and will joyfully take up the role he has given them. Paul directly instructs men, women, teens, servants, and leaders with ways that they uniquely glorify God and serve others. If you want to know the specifics of how to live obediently to Jesus, read Titus, and hear what God has to say to leaders, employees, young women, young men, older women, and older men.
And friend, if you give yourself to Jesus, accepting his death for your sins, and accepting his righteousness as your only hope to stand before a holy God, if you accept his love for you (John 3:16; Romans 5:8)—You will find yourself not in a little town, but in the great big kingdom of God—a kingdom of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 4:17).
The more you learn of the eternal life revealed to us in the Scriptures, the more you will be able to see the kingdom of God, and the more others will be able to see that kingdom too.
So trust Jesus, day by day, keep listening to his Word, and go live your life, your everyday life, full of joy and peace, knowing your righteousness comes from him.