Principal's New Year Message

Titus 2:11–14 is an unexpected passage. My guess is that there are not many people who have committed it to memory. Nevertheless, it’s worth doing so. It might even be worth having as a ‘motto’ for ETCAsia as it trains people for ministry.

Perhaps we should have it etched in the minds of our graduates as they go about their gospel ministries in whatever roles God gives them. The passage talks about two great ‘appearances’ that shape Christian existence. The first appearing is God’s great past act of grace in Jesus (verse 11), when Jesus appeared to bring salvation for all.

That appearing had a clear purpose which was to train us ‘to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age.’

In other words, in the first appearing, Jesus acted in gracious love and gave himself to buy us back from the wicked lives that we were living and purify us for a more godly way of living (see also verse 14).

The second appearing is the great and blessed hope of all Christians that wait and look forward to. It is a future act of glory yet to come: ‘the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (verse 13b).

Elsewhere in the New Testament, this second appearing is associated with a number of themes, principally the vindication, judgment, and perfection of the salvation he won for us on the cross. This is the hope of all Christians. The time when the world will see that this Christ is indeed our great God and Saviour.

These two appearing—God’s appearing in Christ in a past act of grace and God’s future appearing of Christ in glory—shape the lives of Christians in ‘this present age’ (verse 12). His past act of grace in Christ trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.

His coming future act of grace in Christ reminds us that his purpose was to redeem us from all lawlessness (verse 14a) and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (verse 14b).

This dual focus explains the ethical injunctions to various people that follow from this passage. The point being made is very clear. Doctrine and ethics are bound together. The Christian manner of life is to adorn, decorate, illustrate and vindicate the teaching of the doctrines of God our Saviour in every area of life.

To put it a little more plainly, at ETCAsia we seek to produce good Biblical pastors and teachers. We aim at training up a new generation of pastors and teachers who who not only explain what God has done in the past and will do in the future but also to explain its implications for living.

We do not want pastors who teach doctrine without godliness or who teach godliness without doctrine.

Rather, we want to train people to teach true doctrine derived from Scripture so that God’s people are adequately and well prepared for the second appearing of our great God and Saviour, the Lord Jesus the Christ.

We want to equip them so that they train up Gods’ people to be zealous for good works (verse 14). I do hope that you will join us in this noble goal and support and pray for us and our students as we go about it.

Andrew Reid

January 2021