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Chinese6/19/2006English
經文:提多書一章
鑰節:「他們說是認識上帝,行事卻和祂相背,本是可憎惡的、是悖逆的,在各樣善事上是可廢棄的。」(1:16)
提要

        正如在導論中所指出的,教牧書信的目的是要在小亞細亞教會的發展過程中,建立及解釋正統派的基督教教義。當基督教快速向各地發展時,異端(假教訓)也隨之快速傳佈,就像野草快速侵佔剛犁過的田一樣。在本章中,使徒保羅鼓勵提多要「堵住」假教師的口(第11節)。

        促使假教訓侵入革哩底教會的一個重要因素就是將受造之物分成屬靈與屬世的兩個層次──靈被視為聖潔的,物質則被視為邪惡的。對假教師而言,任何物質的東西都是不潔的。因此,他們鄙視受造之物,認為每一種物質都會敗壞──那就是為什麼保羅指責他們那些人(他們是敗壞的),而且對他們而言,「什麼都是不潔的」(第15節下)。不過,保羅的話明白指出:「在潔淨的人,凡物都潔淨」(第15節上):也就是說,潔淨是指思想與良心的功能。物質在道德上是中立的。換句話說,一根火柴本身並沒有什麼不好──那要看你用它做什麼。你可以用它在壁爐裡起火,享受它的溫暖,你也可以用它點火,燒燬一幢公寓,使無辜的人葬身火窟。

        這就是為什麼保羅要說,祇說不做的基督教一定是空虛的。一個人的行為可以顯示出他是信上帝,或是不信上帝(第16節)。上帝不需要我們的「選票」(如果上帝願意,祂可以使樹木和石頭向祂歡呼讚美)。祂所看重的是我們順服遵從基督愛的律法的行為。

禱告

父啊,我們今天衷心地想不僅口裡承認您,而且還要以行為來承認您。當我們每天以坦白與順服的心閱讀您的話語時,我們就會讚美您,因為我們越來越認識您對我們的絕對的良善與慈愛。奉主耶穌基督聖名,阿們!

English

Scriptures:Read Titus 1
Key Verse:"They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work."(Titus 1:16)
Overview

        As pointed out in the introduction, the Pastoral Epistles were concerned about establishing and defending a sound Christian orthodoxy in the developing churches of Asia Minor. Even as Christianity spread, heresies (or false teachings) were spreading, just like weeds encroaching on a freshly ploughed and planted garden. In this chapter, Paul encourages Titus to "silence" the false teachers (v.ll).

        A significant factor in the false teaching encroaching upon the Cretan church was the division of creation into spirit and matter — with spirit seen as pure, and matter seen as evil. To these teachers, anything material was evil. Thus they had a low view of creation, everything material being corrupt — that's why Paul refers to them as "those who [themselves] are corrupted" and to whom "nothing is pure" (v.lSb). But Paul sets the record straight: "to the pure, all things are pure" (v.l5a); that is, purity is a function of mind and conscience. Material things are morally neutral. In other words, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with a match — it's what you do with it. You can start a fire in your fireplace and enjoy its soothing heat, or you can torch an apartment building and destroy human lives. Darkness is the domain of the soul.

        This is why Paul says that verbal Christianity is essentially hollow. It's what you do that tells the story of faith or unfaith (v.16). God doesn't need our "vote" (He can, after all, make the trees and rocks cry out His praise). What He does honour is our obedient action as we submit to the law of Christ's love.

Prayer

        Father, we long to profess You this day, not only in our words but in our every action. As we look daily into Your Word with open and obedient hearts, bless us with an ever-increasing knowledge of Your absolute goodness and love towards us.


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