Let's go back to Titus and let's go to chapter one as we continue with this very practical book that's written to a young pastor named Titus whom Paul has left in Crete. Most likely a lot of Cretan Jews were at Pentecost and heard Peter's preaching on the day of Pentecost and with many thousands of others was converted and returned back to their homes on the island of Crete and formed little churches all over the island in every city. In addition, Paul ministered there and probably many more were converted and the churches were starting to be organized but yet they're in a very disorganized state. And so Paul leaves Titus in Crete to quote, set things in order. God is a God of structure and God is a God of order and he wants his church as he exhorted the Corinthian believers that everything is to be done decently and in order.
In other words, get your act together. And so we have a brilliant and beautiful and divine outline in the pastoral epistles and particularly this one, the epistle to Titus of how we're to structure, order and function as a local church. And these are God's absolutes for every church of every age.
Now thankfully all of us do not have the challenge that Titus had. These are particularly crusty people. He's coming up against a lot of a harsh Jewish legalism and Jewish superstitions.
You know, observe this day, observe that day, you've got these rights and these wrongs and boy if you miss one of them, gotcha, you're out, you know. They had little understanding of grace so there was that false teaching that was in the hearts and minds of many new believers, not to mention the false believers and false teachers who always try to creep in on early church plant work. And then of course the Cretans with their Greek and Jewish backgrounds were rough, vile, woolly, unruly kind of people. Liars Paul calls them, gluttons Paul calls them. So far from being politically correct when Paul saw a group of people that were disgusting he called them disgusting. That's the kind of people though that Titus is working with. And you got to understand something, when a person is converted and received into the church, they're just beginning their sanctification.
They're just beginning their maturation in Christ and baby Christians coming out of such a culture are going to make a lot of messes. So in the flow of Paul instructing Titus on what to do, he comes to the all-important role of leadership in the church. And we talked about this some last week and we're going to continue on today. But I've entitled this section of the exposition, competent leadership. And the point being whatever else must be established. And by the way this goes for any organization, for any athletic team, for any structure out there. Basically things rise and fall on the leadership. And so Paul is telling Titus to make sure you get some good competent men to be the elders, overseers, pastors of the churches.
So because that's what's going to be necessary to get these churches in shape. Now look down in verses 7 through 9 for our section we'll cover today. He says, for the overseer, now just another word for pastor, must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict.
Competent leadership. Roman numeral one, to have competent leadership you need men who are above reproach as is fitting for God's steward. Now we talked about that phrase above reproach last time because it was in the earlier verses and the concept of being above reproach means that no accusation sticks. It doesn't mean you're perfect.
It doesn't mean you haven't failed. But as God's steward, because of the lofty importance, the one you represent when you call yourself God's steward, because of that position and the one you represent, you must be a man who is above reproach. Now he uses the word in verse 7 for overseer. He says, for the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward. Now the overseer again is just another word for the same office that you might use the word elder for or you might use the word pastor for. For example, up in verse 5 he uses the word elder. Down here in verse 7 where we are now he uses the word overseer.
Same office, different names. The word overseer is the word episcopas. We of course get the word episcopasian from it and it simply has the idea of a superintendent or a Christian officer. Historically in the culture of the day, the overseer was a man who was charged with the duty of seeing that things are done for others rightly.
He was overseeing something for someone else and of course that's the idea of the steward also. Now the word elder, another word for the pastor of the church, comes from presbyteros. We get the word presbyterian from it. It emphasizes not the overseeing element but more the maturity and the wisdom. It has the idea of a senior person. So it doesn't mean just maturity and chronological age but the man who has this office in the church must have mature wisdom and the kind of character that a man of seasoned experienced and proper seasoned experience would have. And then the third word that we see in the New Testament for the same office is the word shepherd or pastor, poimin, and that word simply has the idea of care and control of others property.
And so in various places like in our text, Paul used one of the terms and he'll turn around use another one because he's just using different terms to describe the overall work and responsibilities of this office in the church. Generally here we use the word elder. I'm an elder but however I'm the pastor teacher of the church and we hold that there's always a leader among equals. I'm an equal elder. When we have an elders meeting I have one vote and contrary to what some people may think I don't always get my way because I've got some crusty old elders and they sometimes have strong feelings.
But we do deeply love each other and it's a great balance and a great sharpening and a great accountability we have together. But when it comes to leadership and casting the vision that's the job of the senior pastor teacher. And we see this throughout the Old Testament and we see the example in the New Testament and we see the example in church history that there would typically be one among the group that God is gifted and called to be the senior leader and cast the vision for the church. However, you could call any of us overseers, you could call any of us elders, you could call any of us pastors.
Three different titles that are interchangeable for the same office. Now let me go on a little bit further to denote the fact that we were somewhat fond of the word shepherd because we all function as under shepherds under the chief shepherd. And that's something every pastor, every shepherd has to constantly bear in mind this is not my work and these are not my sheep. Now even good and godly pastors have used that phrase my sheep or my church but they don't mean it possessively they mean it affectionately because we are the under shepherds under Christ who is the chief shepherd. We are responsible to shepherd another person's flock and therefore we must always shepherd pastor either word means the same thing these sheep according to the dictates of the one true chief shepherd. A couple of cross references here 1st Peter I think it's 5 3 and 4 is that what it is?
Yes. Yet nor yet as lording it over those in your charge but proving to be examples to the flock and when the definite article chief shepherd appears you will receive the unfading crown of glory. So Peter is exhorting those pastors to make sure you're an example to the flock and you're not leading like some sort of roman overlord of them but you're an example you're in the fight with them for the truths of the gospel and for the health of the church and then one day you'll give an account how you shepherd or shepherded the chief shepherd's flock. That's the one thing that church members need to remember and I think you have a good concept of that and that is one reason why you the bible tells you to honor your pastors to submit to your pastors to love your pastors and to obey your pastors because they have an accountability to the chief shepherd you do not have. You will give an accountability did you follow and honor your under shepherd but your under shepherd will give an accountability for how he led you and oversaw you when he sees the chief shepherd and I want to tell you I take that very seriously very seriously it's amusing now it's not amusing it's tragic to me how many men claim to be pastors and they play loose and fast with the things of God. Acts 20 verses 28 or verse 28 Paul writing to the are speaking to the Ephesian elder says be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the church of God which he purchased with his own blood the point being it's not your church pastor it's not your church elders it's not your church brother deacons it's not your church women's missionary union members it's not your church ladies auxiliary it is Christ church and we are all instructed to take our proper roles and oversee i.e shepherd the church according to the will of God because he purchased it with his own blood now he uses the word here in the same vein of understanding of steward look at it again in verse seven for the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward now again in this day that was a common word in the culture and it was a word used for a house manager often they had slaves and they would have one who would have more authority than the others and he would oversee all the house that would include properly the business of this person all the household structures in the order and these people did this and these people did that and he saw too that everything was managed well for his master the owner of the house well that's what we are as pastors we are the stewards of another man's house Ephesians 2 19 says that the church is God's household and God said i've set up some stewards to oversee my household until i get you all home with me so he says those stewards because of the loftiness the dignity of the office the seriousness the importance of that office those men must be above reproach there's no pattern of wrongdoing in their life where the community and the church family would all say well man you don't have enough credibility to be the overseer of God's church not that you don't see in it that's one thing i'd like to point out when you're dealing with these what's often called the qualifications for elders in the church this isn't done in the the harsh brash legalism of the Jews of the day where you know they'd have their list of dues and list of daunts and they go about 15 years ago you didn't do that one just right gotcha you're out that's not the spirit of the text and it's not worded that way again if you have that spirit none of us could be elders and none of us would qualify as small group leaders or even as church members i guess you could say in a week's time we just discipline all of us and quit if you had to go by harsh dictates of crude legalism so it is god who owns the house and we are his stewards his quote house managers and we should be holy as he is holy and all christians the bible says are stewards of the manifold grace of god first peter one four so let's be real careful as we go through here to say well there's a standard for elders but the rest of us well we don't have to really worry about walking according to these standards that's not what the text is teaching absolutely not what the text is teaching but you'll have a brother or sister and a brother or sister a brother and a sister and and i've told you this before brothers and sisters we have some folks who are saved out of very horrible backgrounds and all that they've known is sin and and immoralities and and crudeness and even vileness i remember a dear lady in our church years ago who who said pastor my earliest childhood ministry is sitting on the floor and seeing my my parents with who knows what the other people were passed out from drugs and alcohol all over my den that was my earliest memory well brothers and sisters you can't bring a a blessed person like that into god's household and say all right now you just like the the the girls in our church who grew up with strong disciplined moral indecent households amen can i get amen there we're different places and so even when you come to things like the qualifications for elder uh a city like carrent and it's probably very true of the island of crete it's very likely that every man in the church had practiced having a different wife every year he'd cash in his wife every year and get another one and so when you say well you've got to be the husband of one wife if you take that in its strictest interpretation you wouldn't have any elders in that church so there is a relative element to being above reproach now certainly some things are always uh out of range or out of limits for any person to be in membership of the church or to be a an elder in the church body but generally speaking some things are quite relative for example uh when we installed elders 30 plus years ago here what those elders had to know and grasp and understand is nothing compared to what an elder who comes on today would have to know and grasp and understand it's been an amazing amount of things and i'm going to hit on those at the end of my message that we've installed in reforming the church to be more biblically healthy that we could it would be wrong to bring an elder in who didn't grasp much of that so it's relative the the standard grows as the church's maturity grows all right roman one is he's got to be above reproach if he's a competent leader for god's church because that's feeding for god's steward god's house manager and that's what he is now roman number two a competent leader is above reproach or he has to be above reproach concerning the lifestyle patterns of behavior in his life lifestyle patterns of behavior now he mentions five negatives first and then he goes down to six positives so let's begin on the five negatives and knock these out one at a time here so he says the overseer verse seven again must be above reproach that's god's steward not self-willed now that is that his guiding drive in life must not be all about himself uh he this is a man who would have the pattern of running over others neglecting others to a significant degree as he is full of self-will in other words his guiding drive must be god and god's glory and not about himself you should not be an elder in the church unless you've resolved in your heart it may cost me everything but i'm going to be faithful to christ there's just got to be there and i didn't mean that god's going to ask you to do that but it might happen see in christianity we're not about these outward works because those can be mimicked and those can be faked it's more about the inward heart and the convictions of the heart jesus should be lord of his life he should have maintained a pattern in his life where people would say that man's not consumed with self-will could you find probably a point here a point there where some self-will popped up yes you could but it's not the pattern of his behavior he doesn't walk in that as a purpose of his life i use the phrase a lot when i talk about uh how the bible um defines how believers deal with sin and based on the balance of new testament teaching and certainly the verb tense is involved what i like to say is when you're a christian you don't quit sinning completely you do quit some sinning and certainly the amount of sinning but you're not squeaky clean now until you get to heaven unless you breathe in john wesley's second blessing where boom something happens and zap you quit sinning but you are going along this way as the purpose and pattern of your life like our text self-willed conversion happens and you turn and now there's a new purpose and pattern of your life to please christ and honor his truth though there is some stumbling along the path but you don't like it when you stumble and you don't want to be around people that help you stumble you want to be around people that help pick you back up and get you back on the path the new purpose and pattern path of serving jesus all right let's hurry on not self-willed the next negative that must not be a marked pattern in this man's life is not quick tempered not quick tempered you know what that means quick to anger our people on the edge around this man basically all the time because they fear he might snap and chop their heads off to show you how god is gracious and and allows us time to maybe get to where he could use us was it not none other than than the apostle peter who pulled out a sword and said tell you what i'll do i'll just cut your head off and he missed and cut the guy's ear off well i would say that's kind of quick tempered but peter was growing and he was greatly humbled through that event and god the lord jesus after his resurrection called him back on the team so could have been at that time peter didn't quite qualify as an elder people could say now wait a minute we've watched him and well he can snap off want to cut somebody's head off well it doesn't mean he's a bad guy he just needs to keep growing in christ give him another week with jesus and he all of a sudden qualifies as a church elder now when we say not quick tempered i always want to say this because this is not talking about righteous indignation brothers and sisters there is a time and we are living in a time when there needs to be firm bold men who have righteous indignation about the wickedness and the ungodliness that is all around us we're not talking about effeminate weak men we need strong men but men who are meek in that they know how to discipline that strength and only use it when it's a proper and righteous way to use it well the third negative he says we that must not be a marked pattern in a man who's going to be an elder is not addicted to wine literally the greek means not staying near wine now wine was drunk in the new testament era primarily because water was so often um hard to get at least water that was pure and clean and would not make you sick and the fermentation processes in wine would would kill the bacterias and so it was a safer drink but but there should have been disciplines in their lives so that they are not using the wine as an intoxicant they're not using the wine or the alcoholic beverage as a as a social thing it's not something they are seeking after they are not known to be at cocktail hour they are not known as social drinkers they are not known to give the impression that they are under the influence of the intoxicate that's not something you see in their lives and surely in today's world we ought to conclude that it's just not wise as christians to use alcoholic beverages in a social way i know there's some medicinal elements and those kind of things that people keep private i'm not running an fbi agency to look in your cabinet at home or what your special homebrew cough medicine is but you're not to be long over wine you're not to be a seeker of alcohol if a man is marked by that he's not qualified for the office now we come to the next one the next negative that must not be marked our man's life must not be marked by and that's not pugnacious that's real close to not being quick tempered actually scholars could use that word in either place but i think this is a little more the idea of just quarrelsome contentious uh maybe it's the next logical step after being quick tempered but nevertheless i think you get the idea if a man's marked by boy he's always bringing up some antagonistic thing he's always playing the devil's advocate always kind of stirring things now look some guys just have fun but i mean if guys do that and they're serious and that's a pattern these ain't not ready to be a church elder well the last negative that must not be common are marked as a pattern in a man's life if he's elder material he must not be fond of sorted gain the text says you could say shameful gain it's greediness that bends the corners on morals and ethics and propriety just to gain more money if a person has a pattern of that and they're known in the community for that they should not be considered as a church elder now we move to be the positives he gives six positives that must be in a person's life first of all he says verse eight hospitable but he must be hospitable literally the word there means a lover of strangers a lover of strangers he's fond of guests now this does not mean an elder has to be known as one in the church who gives grace house part great house parties that's not what it's saying the context is that christians in this day sometimes if not often found themselves homeless and wondering because of persecution and when one of those wandered into your city and they claimed christ and they needed lodging the point is take care of them now in today's world we'd give them a hotel room or even rent them a house and whatever our finances are better well in this day the hotels were not safe and not decent places and so it was necessary because of the persecution that there'd be a hospitable spirit a lover of those who know christ even though they're strangers to us and not a member of our church um i think there's a great parallel here i think this idea includes how they took care of traveling missionary church planters it was god's will that as these preachers of the gospel these traveling missionary church planters would come through that the church should take them in and house them and love them and encourage them give them some money and send them out on their way for example philemon 122 paul writes to philemon who had a church in his house and says at the same time also prepare me a lodging for i hope that through your prayers i will be given to you so paul literally after he got so many churches established would hobnob around the country and stay with those established churches and they would house him show hospitality and then also help him to go on his way and minister in other places another example romans 15 24 whenever i go to spain for i hope to see you in passing notice when he says and to be helped on my way there by you in other words i'll stay there and you'll help me financially to keep me going on in my church planning work when i've enjoyed your company for a while uh saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of christ i'm sorry that's the wrong phrase that doesn't go with romans 15 24 nevertheless paul is saying as i come through show me hospitality so i think there's a strong emphasis here that this hospitality is centered on or at least includes the traveling missionary church planters and how every local church should get in on helping these guys as they come through then he gives the next positive here that must mark a man's life if he is elder material loving what is good verse 8 loving what is good uh let's see yeah that's verse 8 the idea here is to be a promoter of virtue loving that which is good in god's eyes he's a man who is wise in this way he loves what is wholesome and upright you do not see him as a pattern taking part in things that are contrary to christian values christian virtue and christian goodness and then we have the word sensible another positive that must mark his life interesting word the word sensible comes from two words it means literally to save the mind to save the mind or sound in mind or save in mind in other words his thinking is sound his thinking is sober his his thinking is balanced he he does not fall into these ever contradictory positions because he follows his emotions let me use paul's phrase like a silly woman would remember there's a difference between silly women and principled women women are emotional beings and satan knows that and that's what we're seeing in our culture today we're following all these dictates of silly women in our culture that's why we're having these constantly changing definitions of what moral is and what marriage is and what sex is and it's just right it's just like they move through that goalpost every time you think you got it figured out he says well a man that's qualified for the office of elder cannot be marked by that kind of silliness following one thing he's he's sound in mind he's balanced in his thinking and self-controlled the next one he has to be just the idea here is keeping the commands of god he's equitable in character and in actions the next one devout the idea is being undefiled by sin he he's free from the indulgences and wallowings in wickedness he's observing the dictates of true religion i would say this would include things like he's faithful to church he's faithful to small groups he ministers in the body he's faithful to care and work during the the missions conferences he he's committed to the things a devout man would be committed to and then you come down to the last part there self-control last part of verse eight the idea is he has power over himself he understands that there can be too much of a good thing if satan can't get you doing bad things he'll get you doing too much of good things which becomes a bad thing so prone to impulsiveness and being unbalanced in his life now if you review the last two ones devout and then self-controlled you have the idea that devout means he avoids that which is evil self-control means he's moderate even the things that are good what is the proverb that says about honey if you find honey eat it but don't eat too much be balanced in that have some self control well again i would guess every elder in this church needs to resign if you're going to come at this with a harsh legalistic interpretation because somebody can point to something a month ago six months ago six years ago 15 years ago aha you lost your temper that day or whatever it was but that's not the spirit of the text spirit of the text is do these things mark a person are these the patterns of their behavior all right roman numeral three and and we're getting now to why these character qualifications are so important roman number three a proven conviction concerning biblical authority a proven conviction concerning biblical authority look at it there in verse nine holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching holding fast now i agree with the scholars who say this verse really links up to verse seven when he says he must be above reproaches god's steward then there's a parentheses of these character qualities which are important by the way but they're important to the end that he's the one verse nine who's holding fast the faithful word in accordance with the teaching he's god's steward you gotta have all these character traits who's holding fast to the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching so those list of character traits in between the phrase god's steward in verse 7 and holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching verse 9 those character traits can be viewed as a parentheses i'm not saying they're unimportant i'm saying they serve another end than just being uh important in themselves the point is if he's the man who handles the word there must not be the distractions of unchristian character that mark his life are you with me that's the point i think paul's making in this text so the character traits are vital importance to the end that the elder supreme task is preaching the word and there does not need to be the distractions of unseemly character and behavior in his life the phrase there in verse 9 holding fast the faithful word holding fast is the middle voice it means he's a man who holds himself to it he he lashes himself to this task he lashes himself to the conviction of biblical authority he does not let himself be moved from thus saith the scriptures every argument every debate every issue is what does the scripture teach he lashes himself to that he didn't kind of float off here a little bit and float off there a little bit my goodness what would our country be today if every man in the pulpit this sunday was lashing himself with a conviction concerning the authority of the scriptures my how much better off we'd be as a people his preaching ministry is marked by resoluteness seriousness conviction resolve he holds that the holy word is the final authority for all doctrine and practice and it is the final authority in every dispute now he continues with that phrase and so we're going to do something i did last time and not as long as i did last time but he continues and he says not just holding fast the faithful word he continues which is in accordance with definite article the teaching in other words paul's saying we know there's been the doctrines of christianity that have been handed down to us the teaching teaching and doctrine same word though there's been the doctrines of the faith that have been given to us and the man who fulfills the office of overseer elder pastor use the title you want must be a man who goes back to the original dictates of what is the christian faith by the way the christian faith is not and has not been evolving the christian faith does not have to catch up with the times it was once for all delivered to the saints and that's in it by the way it's not well it's going to take some courage we'll get to that in just a moment though in accordance with the teaching again goes back to the apostles doctrine god revealed these things to the apostles they primarily were the agents that he used to pin the new testament and thus we have the finished word of god on what is christianity and he's got to be a man who holds to that fast uh jude 1 3 again i love this verse because it just lays it down so concisely beloved while i was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation we're all saved the exact same way not two three four five different ways of salvation i felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly same idea as holding fast here contend earnestly for definite article the faith that's not your saving faith that's not an individual personal saving faith that means the body of teaching which is christianity hold to it do not veer off from it it was once for all handed down to the saints ephesians 4 11 and 12 so once it was handed down to the saints through the apostles pinned to sacred scripture now what do we do ephesians 4 11 and 12 he gave some as apostles that's passed away some as prophets that's passed away some as evangelists i believe that's primarily church planners and then pastor teachers pastor teachers now are responsible to use to strongly hold to the authority of that body of teaching that was once for all handed down to the church all right so we come to roman numeral four if he's going to be a competent leader for the church he has to also have a courageous devotion to biblical preaching so he's got to have a a bold conviction about the faith once for all handed down to the saints and that's why it's just uh beyond comprehension the things you can see on the the internet concerning well this preacher saying this and this preacher saying that we got andy stanley charles stanley's son who's who has become an out and out heretic absolutely and and when while andy's expressing his new view i'm like christianity's been around been around 2 000 years and we had to wait for andy standy to tell us the old faith is not what we need to follow anymore he's got some new twists some new insight and on and on and on we could go with guys one day i'm going to make a list of the people you don't need to listen to it's just astonishing that it's not hard my grandchildren could listen to them and say that's not the doctrine once for all given to the saints they're floating off in all kinds here's what i'm gonna say what are they gonna do when they're old right now they all dress like they're going to a chicken fight and they get in the pulpit and they try to act cool and clever and trendy and up to date what are you gonna do when you're 70 it don't look good to have cut off shorts and flip-flops when you're 70 it just don't look good you look like an idiot that'll look like a man of god because if you give people the faith once for all delivered to the saints that's good yesterday that's good today that's good tomorrow that's good next year and if somebody stumbles upon your sermon 100 years from now it's still good then too it's not trendy it doesn't fade away am i making myself clear he's going to have to be roman for courageous in his devotion to biblical preaching that is context he's holding faith to that faithful word which was given handed over to the saints not coming up with new stuff if it's new it ain't true well two two parts to this he gives us in verse nine we're about done two parts a building up the sheep he says first of all so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine verse he's got to exhort the sheep in sound doctrine now again that's why the character qualities are so important because the sheep are probably not going to want to listen to a guy whose lifestyle clearly doesn't look like a christian all right building up the sheep his words exhorting in sound doctrine you can't build up the sheep if you're sentimental and following your emotional whims about what truth is or is not because then if you teach from sentimentalities and man's feelings you just become a person teaching man-centered sentimental mush there must be a doctrinal integrity and the courage of conviction to be able to exhort in sound doctrine now the word exhort parakletos is the same words used of the holy spirit parakletos he's one who comes alongside it's the idea of the pastor preaching the word so that he's taking the sheep and saying brothers and sisters we're all in this together and he exhorts and he guides them from the word of god because they want to hear it they they want to understand it they want to grasp it they want to march in lock step with their pastor as we go forward for the glory of god and you have done that so very very well here as i was the human instrument god used to change a lot of things in this church and it was not an easy journey but so many of you were so willing to say pastor we don't understand it all this is pretty new to us too but we sit in the word of god and we're going to come alongside you and that's the picture of exhortation coming alongside exhorting and guiding and marching on together he uses the word sound here holding fast the faithful word i'm sorry i've got to go to a different text here oh first timothy three two um no i'm sorry it's in our text verse nine he'll be able to exhort in sound doctrine hygiano hygiano is a word we get our word hygiene from it literally means healthy or clean what a powerful picture if you're preaching sound doctrine you're preaching healthy things and it's building healthy souls in your church if you're preaching unsound doctrine you're preaching sickly things and you'll produce sickly souls that's a powerful picture there that that brings out the teaching of false teachers is sick it leads to anemia and soul sickness but the teaching of true teachers and sound doctrine produces healthy souls and healthy human flourishing and all to the glory of god so that's the that's the exhortation that's one side of what he's got to be committed to doing and have shown some gifts at doing and that is holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching nothing new now the established teaching of christian the christian faith so that he can exhort the sheep build up the sheep with sound doctrine here's the other part b putting down the contenders here's the way you words it and to refute those who contradict to refute those who contradict now i'm going to tell you what abraham lincoln used to say that he loved to see his preacher preach like he was fighting a swarm of bees well titus is about to walk into a swarm of bees and a swarm of hornets a lot of rats and mice and all kind of vermin and so he's going to have to be manly as he refutes those who would contradict what god says a church ought to be what it ought to believe how to be structured and how to opt to function the word contradict he says titus you're going to have to take the word of god and these elders going to take the word of god and they're going to have to refute those who contradict that means those who speak against your sound doctrine the scholars tell us this word refute is a really strong word and it has more than the idea of reproof which is just shine the light it includes reproof but it actually has the idea of convincing and putting to shame you convince people you expose the air of the argument and then you tell them to hush don't do that in the church anymore you you put them down and these are not my words but i think they apply here one scholar said you expose their arguments as baseless and then you beat them down wait a minute no preacher ought to be beaten down anybody if they're trying as an intentionality of their hearts and minds to bring in air into the church and hurt the church they must be beat down exposed and beat now maybe sometimes they're exposed and they repent that's okay praise the lord that's what we hope will happen but sometimes they're just naysayers and troublemakers and factious people and they've got to be rooted out and put in their place so because there are strong sinners in crete paul tells titus the church elders must be strong rebukers in the churches of crete this speaks to the authority that paul is telling the pastor he must possess particularly in this kind of context in this kind of setting so in effect the pastor must have two voices he preaches the word that was once for all given to the saints i.e what he says in verse 9 that is the faithful word which is according to definite article the teaching and that is to bring the sheep along and build up the sheep that's one of his voices the other voice he has is to drive out the contenders you know a faithful shepherd in the old world and well by the way there's a lot of shepherds today who do this very thing pam and i've seen them we've seen them in idaho we saw them overseas again we were in greece and a lot of times they'll have a big old stick and they'll use that stick to exhort the sheep and guide them along to the water to the grass or where they need to be to be safe but if a wolf comes in at dawn or dusk rather they'll take that same rod and they'll break that wolf down he didn't belong in there with sheep he'd act sheepish he might be allowed to but he's wolfy and he cannot be allowed so we see that god's word is powerful it is sufficient to build up the church that's god's sheep and to break down stubborn opposition now for the pastor elders of a church nothing is more refreshing and nothing is more joy producing than seeing god's sheep glad to receive the exhortations of the word of god and for the pastor elder of the church nothing is more grievous to the spirit and nothing more troubles your soul than to have than rather to have to strongly refute those who contradict in fact i'm convinced i'd deal with maladies in my emotional and physical constitution today that's due to the rigors of two plus decades of warfare refuting those who contend against sound doctrine and so i say a lot of this because while we're not in this stage as a church a lot of pastors are and i remember how there were so very very few almost nobody to help me in those early days and i want us to be a voice to help young pastors who are doing what paul told titus the elders must do exhort the sheep but refute those who contradict so i'm going to close by just briefly mentioning seven points of doctrine and practice where we in effect built up the sheep and had to put down the contenders number one would be a healthy understanding of biblical theology that is what is god's main purpose that unfolds in the scriptures it's not man-centered it's not about just keeping people out of hell as important as that is god's main message is i'm going to save for myself a people who will love me and enjoy me and i'm going to love them and enjoy them and i'm going to keep them for all eternity and it's all going to glorify me that's biblical theology and so you've got to get that down you've got to have that in your heart of hearts that's a foundation stone and then everything else fits under that god is about saving for itself a people that he can love and enjoy them and they will love enjoy him and that will glorify him for all eternity number two a healthy understanding of the doctrines of grace and by the way my would have pushed back by my how many contenders my how many naysayers my how many criticisms we received for holding to the doctrines of grace sometimes it's nicknamed calvinism but it shouldn't be because paul wrote it before calvin ever lived and father augustin wrote it before before um all the the modern reformers took off with it but we were able to establish that number three a healthy understanding of the gospel conversion and church membership how much contention how much naysing how much pushback how much accusation we had to walk through and for more than a few months many years when we begin to tell people that just repeating a prayer is not enough assurance to get you into heaven our children are too important to ask them to repeat a prayer when they're five or six and then say you're done i'm sorry there's just not enough bible to do that we've got to know are the biblical evidences of repentance and faith there and so we begin to teach and try to learn and try to do a better job i don't know what could be wrong with making extra sure our children know christ versus some silly hoop jump some going through the motions thing that the bible does not teach anything about and by the way our forefathers our baptist forefathers didn't practice a lot of these shenanigans so many of these evangelist manipulations that just got people to move and uh you remember that um we had we had revival meetings where up to 100 people got saved well at least we thought they got saved and then a year two years later we couldn't find over 90 percent of them and so we thought something's wrong and my i mean i went into an excessive study mode trying to figure out what is wrong am i doing something is my belief wrong is what are we doing wrong and just reading church history and studying the text and god would just keep bringing back nope this is the right track stay on it but it wasn't easy refuting that teaching and those who would contradict the solid teaching concerning the gospel conversion and membership so much i could say don't have time to say it number four a healthy understanding of the centrality of the local church i remember so distinctly for years and years uh people would come into our church and they said we want to join your church but here's our ministry we have this ministry we have this ministry not that those were all wrong but the point is the church had a lot of ministry that needed to go on and they didn't have much heart for that they had a lot of heart for that stuff out there well i didn't find any bible foundation for all those other ministries and again not that they're all evil but it's the it's the the propriety the priority of what is right and good exhaust yourself in solid biblical local church ministry then do the other things when you get married you take a spouse you exhaust yourself and your duties to your spouse in your home and then you help others amen the centrality of the local church to the totality of god's purposes to work in the world my how we got pushbacks on that number five a healthy understanding of missions as we went to a personalized strategic approach to world missions a thousand and one times i would hear the cry that's not southern baptist that's not southern baptist well yippie-yay who cares it's biblical and it's right and by the way you may remember this but the head of the southern baptist conventions international mission board came here and brought 65 missions leaders from around the world to study how we do missions because he is the best missions example that he had ever seen so god vindicates you if you stay with what's right but later he found out the other churches weren't willing to do what we do so it didn't go all that far but that's what he did and that's what he said number six a healthy understanding of church discipline my did we not get the cries of you're a cult he's jim jones strife factiousness contentions on and on and on we could go can i just say something about church discipline now listen i'm gonna tell you we have never never never removed a person under church discipline for sin we've never ever removed anybody in this church because of sin we've only removed people when they refuse to repent of sin there's a big difference we're all sinners but we ought to be humble repenting sinners and anywhere at any time brother or sister is in a quagmire of sin we go with a loving compassion considering ourselves amen and say brother if you're willing to try we're for you okay but i'm gonna tell you in the early years it was like leave me alone you're not gonna tell me what to do i'll sin how i want to sin they didn't really say that that's what they meant and i've asked jesus save me and i'm going to heaven i don't even have to come to church just another the errors were error on top of air on top of error that we had to refute and walk through to get where we are today got one more healthy competent leadership we realized when we first started together years ago that pretty much the deacons were the only leadership structure we had in the church and uh you just kind of were we put list of names out there and whoever whatever men got the most check marks he became a deacon well that's not necessarily totally wrong but we found out there were a lot of deacons there's some wonderful and godly deacons by the way but there are a lot of people on the deacon body that had no biblical qualifications to be on the deacon body much less elders and it took eight years to install elders and what a what a journey that was i've had people get red in the face and scream in my face about you're gonna ruin this church nada here's what i'm saying if you're going to be elder material you have to be a man who holds fast to the teaching that's established once for all given to the saints and be able to refute those who contradict and god will bless and god will glorify his own name competent leadership in the church pray for us who are in leadership i've never felt more that we are what we are by the grace of god and i'm even more amazed that and see here's the thing when you start changing these things even the good brothers and sisters who are with you have never seen it before so even though they're not against you they almost don't know how to be with you because it's new to them because it's new to them too and so you feel extremely alone so when you're on the island of crete and there's every abomination in the world's getting into the church and you take the old book and you begin to refute the stuff that's coming in the church that's not of god it's going to be hard because even those who might be with you have never seen it and they're hesitant themselves that's kind of changed today if i were to reverse course on any of these things y'all'd be calling me in a week and saying what are you doing so you've become fanatics you've become radical you've become a cult um one of our elders he texted me i guess it was yesterday and he talked about uh the grace of god in his life in his family's life through grace life church of the shows and i said well hopefully we're just normal that's we're not this is not exceptional this is normal christianity and if you read church history you'll find out what we're doing today used to be common among baptists we've just drifted away from it well anyway if you're on the island of crete or if you're in mussel shells alabama you're gonna have to have some resolve when it comes time to take the settled truth of god's word and refute those who contradict
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