But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.
Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.
Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.
I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man's wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.
The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.
(Ecclesiastes 9 ESV)
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;
To Titus, my true child in a common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
(Titus 1 ESV)
Titus 1: In order to be protected from culture’s attacks against our faith, we need a firmly established gospel-centered perspective by which we view the world. We need a shepherd who is willing and able to lead us in the gospel way of life.
In examining our own lives, do we currently find ourselves under the guidance and care of a spiritual shepherd? Or are we wandering around through life on our own? Many of us have bought into our Western individualism that preaches “You can make it on your own.” However, what if God never intended for you to make it on your own? What if He even warns us against such an idea?
Think about this: If you’ve ever watched a nature documentary, how do lions usually seek to attack their prey? Usually, they attack by first attempting to isolate their prey from the rest of the herd. And then once they’ve got their victim out on its own they can outnumber it, overpower it and eventually kill it.
Attempting to walk through this life alone will leave us vulnerable to the world’s attacks on our faith and knowledge of God. And if given the opportunity, the world will seek to kill your confidence in the God you claim to believe.
And perhaps some of you have experienced this. Life and circumstances are crushing your confidence in God. Examine and ask, are you trying to make it on your own? Or are you faithfully facing the trials of life with someone leading you through the valleys and into the still waters of spiritual refreshment?
Perhaps it would benefit us to understand that faith and our knowledge of the gospel go hand in hand and are utterly inseparable. There’s no real faith without accurate knowledge and understanding of the gospel. A correct and sincere knowledge of God and what He has done for us delivers us from errors and misconceptions about God that can be confusing and cause us to stumble. For example, if we fail to understand why and how Christ was willing to suffer the wrath of God that we were meant to suffer then we’ll likely be more susceptible to question God’s love in the midst of suffering.
If we don’t understand God’s love for us in the midst of His suffering then we’ll have a hard time understanding His love for us in the midst of our own suffering. A faith without knowledge and reason has no power to transform anybody. Only a faith firmly rooted in a solid understanding of the gospel will begin to transform us into faithful people who fully trust the love of God.
So, if we’re serious about growing in our faith then we'll seek out a shepherd to help nurture us in that faith.