Tag Archives: Titus

Epiphany

Today, January 6, is the holiday of Epiphany. It is a date commemorated in both the eastern and western Christian churches, though many western Christian denominations do not celebrate it in any way today. I remember mentioning it once to a friend who is Seventh Day Adventist, and she didn’t even know what Epiphany was.

Epiphany falls 12 days after Christmas, and is the source of the 12 Days of Christmas (which contrary to popular belief are not the 12 days prior to Christmas). Epiphany, based on the Greek word epiphaneia (ἐπιφάνεια), which means “appearance,” is the celebration of the appearance or incarnation of God to the Gentiles or non-Jews. In the western church, the focus is on the visit of the Magi to honor Jesus as the newborn King. In the eastern church, the focus is on the baptism of Christ, when He first appeared to the whole world as the Son of God when the Dove came to rest upon Him. In either case, the focus is not on His birth, which is the focus of Christmas, but rather on the fact that He is the incarnation of God for all people.

The primary way I have personally commemorated Epiphany (though I didn’t do it this year) is that when I set up my Nativity sets for Christmas I place the Magi somewhere different from the rest of the Nativity scene. This is because the Magi were still traveling at Christmas and traditionally it is thought that they arrived some time after the actual birth of Jesus. One year I even moved them closer and closer to the Nativity scene throughout Advent and the days following Christmas until they finally “arrived” to honor the baby Jesus on January 6.

In the New Testament, the Greek word for Epiphany more often refers to the prophecy of Christ’s Second Coming rather than His first appearance in the manger. Paul uses the Greek word epiphaneia six times. 2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 1:10, 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13. All but one of these verses refer to the time when Jesus will appear once again. Only 2 Timothy 1:10 refers to His birth, and says, “And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.”

If you have wondered why my blog header had the Nativity scenes after Christmas was over, my anticipate of this holiday was the reason. But tomorrow I will be changing the header; I will be taking down the Nativity scenes with the Magi and putting up something different. But for today, I wish you all a blessed Epiphany!

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Unity on the Foundation of Christ

I feel like I am on top of the mountain with God! I just got home from a Beth Moore simulcast and it was awesome. I know I have to come down from the mountain eventually, and probably sooner than I’d like, but before I do I want to share what I learned.

The live event that was simulcast was held in Chicago, but it was simulcast to 596 different locations, in 11 countries, at host sites comprising 30 different Christian denominations. In all there were 125,000 women and “a few brave men” attending this event, which consisted of worship time and Bible study led by Beth Moore. The topic of the day was Proverbs 31:25 and the “law of kindness.” But I don’t want to write about the eight points about kindness that Beth talked about. You’ll just need to take one of her courses to hear about that, or maybe I’ll write about it in another blog post. It was really good stuff, so I probably will.

What I wanted to share was what God showed me about the unity of His Church through this event. As I’ve mentioned before, I am working through a Bible-in-a-year reading schedule, and right now I am in 1 Corinthians. Something I read the other day really bothered me.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) `For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.

The reason this bothered me is because there are so many denominations and divisions in the world. In addition, the church I attend recently split from another church and it has been very difficult for everyone involved. I wondered what God must think of all these divisions and denominations.

But today, women from 30 different denominations were united in worshipping our Lord and in learning from God’s Word about kindness. We were all united in our faith in Jesus as our Savior, as the appearance of God’s kindness and love on earth. Beth Moore mentioned Titus 3:3-8, which shows God as the first and greatest philanthropist because He gave more to the cause of mankind than any other when in Christ Jesus He died for us on the cross. Paul wrote in Titus:

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. Titus 3:3-8.

This is what unites us — our trust in the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus and our recognition that we can do nothing on our own. As Beth Moore said, “This [life] is a war and we have to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the truth that Jesus is Lord!” Paul continued in Titus to talk again about division.

 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. Titus 3:9-11.

None of us is capable of keeping the law on our own, but can do so only by the power of the Holy Spirit. As Christians, we must stand united on the truth that the good works we do are God working in and through us. The kindness we show is a fruit of the Holy Spirit living in us. Christians may be made up of many denominations who have different ideas about how they want to worship or differ on some minor aspects of the law. But as long as we all stand firm on Christ as our foundation, we remain one body of Christ in opposition only to the world and the evil one. Today, I saw that in action as 125,000 women from 30 different denominations in 11 countries worshipped together in peace and love.

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