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A couple of big ideas have been swimming around in my head lately - both to do with our (my!) maturity as followers of Jesus.

 

Here's one idea. Titus 1:1 opens with "Paul a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness..." Here is Paul's summary of what his ministry is about: it is to further the faith of God's people. It is to grow, it is to enhance their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness. Knowledge of the truth produces godliness. The word here for knowledge is more than just 'knowing facts'; it carries the sense of truth that is taken on board for yourself, truth whose implications are known and lived. There is both comprehension and apprehension of the truth. The 'penny has dropped'. The 'a-ha' moment has happened. And Paul says it is this sort of knowledge of the truth that produces godliness.

 

But I wonder if we've got a problem. We've got plenty of 'truth' but are we seeing enough growth in godliness? We've got Bibles freely available, we've got Bible study groups, we've got online resources, there are churches that faithfully teach God's word. So we've got plenty of the truth of God's word. But what is it producing? Is it producing godliness? I wonder if we've got a blockage and if we need some 'spiritual All Bran' to help unlock things?

 

If knowledge of the truth leads to godliness and we've got plenty of truth, I wonder if that means the blockage is in the 'knowledge'? More particularly, is our blockage a lack of application of God's word to our circumstances? We've got the truth, but do we always apply it to ourselves? Let me give you a couple of examples of where this may not be happening.

 

As I listen to what is going on around me, it seems many people are feeling anxious. Because of the situations people are dealing with, their anxiety is high. And my guess is, many of these believers will know this truth: "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want" (Ps 23:1). That is a great truth to apply as people feel anxious in their circumstances.  In the midst of anxiety, we need to apprehend that the Lord is our shepherd. He cares for us, he watches over us. That is taking God's truth, the truth we already have, and applying it to our circumstances. And it will produce godliness as it grows your trust in who God is.

 

What about people struggling with temptation? It's easy to feel in the midst of it, that my brand of temptation is unique. Nobody else would understand the pressures I'm under, the situation I'm in, the way I am. This temptation is mine. But as they think these things, believers probably also know the truth from I Cor 10:13 that "No temptation has seized you except what is common to mankind." God's word says, all people, throughout all the ages have faced the temptation we're facing. We're not unique, we're not alone in our temptation. People in the past have said no to temptation in God's strength, and so can we. So whether it's the temptation to be proud or greedy or a grumbler, we are not alone. We can say 'no'. That is taking God's truth, the truth we already have, and applying it to your circumstances. And it produces godliness.

 

If my hunch is right and we have a blockage in the application of the truth to ourselves, what might it look like to work past the blockage? It might look like:

 

- In our dinner time conversations, someone saying "I've been reading this in the Bible, has anybody got a suggestion about how I live it out?"

 

- In our Bible study groups, not just understanding the meaning of the passage and then closing it up, but talking about what difference it makes.

 

- For preachers (myself included) to work hard at the applicatiodn, giving plenty of time to showing people how the sermon passage helps us live.

 

- In our private time alone with God, reading the Bible and chewing over the passage we've read with the specific questions, "What does this mean for me?" and "How do I need to change?"

 

Knowledge of the truth leads to godliness. To unblock ourselves, we need to be applying God's word to ourselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    David Wright, Practical Ministry Leccturer & Dean of Students