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Blueprint for a Young Church #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
July 13, 2023 12:00 am

Blueprint for a Young Church #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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July 13, 2023 12:00 am

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Paul, writing to Titus, is going to show us what a church should be, and I'm going to give you five really fundamental priorities for a young church.

Every building requires a blueprint. The Bible compares the church to a building with Christ as its cornerstone. So what's our blueprint? God's Word, of course. Welcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hello, I'm Bill Wright, and today Don begins a series in the book of Titus titled God's Glorious Plan of Grace. This first message provides a blueprint for a young church. And Don, this epistle really was a catalyst for your own church, wasn't it? You know, my friend, the book of Titus is always going to have a special place in my heart because we taught it so very early on in the formation of Truth Community Church. It really laid a foundation for everything that came later in the life of our body. And so we're going to share these things with you in the coming weeks, a verse-by-verse study of Titus.

I'm excited about it. And I think that you'll really get an idea for what the church is supposed to be, according to our Lord Jesus Christ. Join us today and in the future days as we go through Titus, God's glorious plan of grace laid out for us in His Word.

Get ready for a great study in God's Word as we join Don Green now in The Truth Pulpit. First of all, we're just going to go through verse-by-verse from beginning to end in the book of Titus. What's the blueprint for a young church?

Well, point number one is this. A church builds on biblical authority. A church builds on biblical authority. It all starts with the Scripture. Look at the first four verses of Titus. Paul, there's your author.

We looked at him. We saw his testimony. The one who was bought out of his own hostility toward early Christianity and became the apostle to the Gentiles. The apostle to us, in a sense, you might say. Verse 1, Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God in the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested even His Word in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment 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. What's Paul doing here in this opening paragraph here? Well, he's laying forth, he's setting forth what his authority is to address and to instruct on the building of the church of Jesus Christ.

He says, I'm a bond-servant, I'm a slave of God, and I'm an apostle of Jesus Christ. You see, Paul was uniquely commissioned directly and personally by the Lord Jesus Christ to be the instrument of building the church and laying the foundation for the church. And so Paul is setting forth, as he writes to Titus in this embryonic stage of development of the church in Crete, he's laying forth his apostolic credentials to show that he has the authority to instruct on what a church should be like. And listen, Paul is unique in that way, unlike any other pastor since apostolic times, unlike modern church gurus who try to tell the church what to do by conducting polls and things like that. Paul had true authority. Paul had direct instruction from Jesus Christ that he communicated to the church as being the authoritative way that Jesus wants his church built. And as you read through this, you see that the church is built on the truth of God. It's built on the promise of God who cannot lie.

God has revealed his truth in his word and we proclaim that. And I love how Paul says, I was entrusted with this. Paul felt a sense of personal stewardship, of high accountability. I was entrusted with this and therefore I must act upon it. I must be true to the trust that was given to me.

And Titus, here's what that trust means for a young church. Well, look, we're in the same kind of position now in that we have received a stewardship. God has providentially given us a stewardship in this place to be faithful to, to be faithful to the truth that's been laid down in Scripture, to be faithful to the truth that faithful godly men through the centuries have taught and reinforced and been burned at the stake for and have given their lives to and given their study to. We're the inheritors. We've received that heritage over the past 2,000 years and we have a high responsibility to be faithful to it and to get it right. Well, the only way we can get it right is by sticking close to the Scriptures.

I don't care at all what a modern church guru says about what the church should be like to the extent that it varies from, that it differs from what the Bible says. This is our authority. This is what we build on. We take this word and individually and collectively, corporately, we say we trust this foundation. This is the Word of God and everything that we build comes as we build on the four corners of this Scripture as we build it up, however high and however far God lets us to go.

That's all we care about. It's the authority of the Bible because the Bible is the word of the living God and the Bible is the word of the living Christ who gave his life to redeem us and to purify for himself people of his own possession. Christ has made his word known through the apostles and including the apostle Paul and this is what we build on.

It's nothing else. Paul, as he's writing to Titus saying this is what the church is like, points to his apostolic authority, points to the promise and the truth of God which he promised long ages ago and said this is where you build the church and it's from that position of apostolic authority that he declares what the church is to be. I don't intend all of that more. All of this, remember, is just a little bird's eye overview.

I don't intend any of these comments to be comprehensive. But a church builds on biblical authority. Secondly, here you go, a church establishes godly leadership. A church establishes godly leadership. There's got to be leadership in the church of Christ and Paul immediately goes to this point in verse 5 of chapter 1 with Titus. He says, for this reason I left you in Crete that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you. Paul says, look, the first order of business here is to establish leadership who can oversee this work and advance it.

And so that's where he starts with Titus. He says, I want you to establish elders. Now, as you read the scriptural teaching on biblical leadership, you realize that God does not intend for every man to be an elder in the church. The church is not a great experiment in democracy in that sense where everyone has the same position everywhere. No, Paul makes it clear that the people who lead for Christ in the church of Christ must somehow resemble Christ in their character. It's not just about what an elder does, what Paul points to.

Oh, this is so very important. What Paul points to is, Titus, look for men of this kind of character as you're looking for who to appoint. Look at verses 6 through 9 here. Paul said, I want you to appoint elders, namely, verse 6.

Namely, here's the kind of man, Paul says, Titus, that I want to be installed as an elder. It's a man who is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. He goes on in verse 7. For the overseer 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. It's interesting how he lists out a bunch of negatives there and says, this kind of character stays out. And then in verse 8, he puts in the positive character that we're looking for, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled.

Verse 9, this is really good, really important. Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching so that he will be both able to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. Now, that's a mouthful of character to be looking for in spiritual leadership.

And we'll study these qualifications more closely as the weeks go by. But for now, all I want you to see is this, is that Paul says there should be leadership in the church, and there are character qualifications for that. It's not the guy who has the most experience in the world. It's not the guy who's attained the highest status in the world. You look for this character which may correspond to earthly prominence.

Sometimes, many times, it won't. But the character is the non-negotiable feature of this. And what I want you to see as we consider this is the character. We said that the first point was that a church builds on biblical authority. We'll notice that that biblical authority is assumed and built into the qualifications for an elder as well. Look at the end of verse 9 again.

Paul says, actually go to the beginning of verse 9. Paul says, these elders, these leaders, must be ones who hold fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching. What teaching? The apostolic teaching. These elders need to be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. There is an element of the nobility to teach, of love and loyalty and fidelity to the word of God that manifests itself in the ability to teach so God's people understand and respond and grow under it. And also that when opponents and those who contradict come along, those same elders, those same leaders are able to say, no, that's wrong and here's why from God's word. And so to be an elder is a place of great privilege, it's a place of great responsibility, and the character and the qualifications for that office are high. And we don't lightly appoint people as elders. Elsewhere in Scripture it says that you want men like that to be proven over time. Let them show that they're faithful in little things before you put them in charge of big things. But for now just notice the character of an elder and his responsibility to teach. He must have proven character and the capacity to instruct people in biblical truth and in sound theology.

That is a non-negotiable requirement for leadership. Now, as Paul goes on as he's dealing with the immediate problem or the immediate situation in Crete from 2,000 years ago, you'll see that there was a place for immediate application for Titus to put this into practice. There was an immediate pressing need right then when Paul wrote this sometime probably in the decade of the 60s, the early 60s, there was a problem right then that required elder oversight and elder intervention.

That's why Titus needed to get the men going. And before we look at verse 10, let me just say this. Not knowing really the fullness of the backgrounds that you're all from, I know that some churches, they just feel a sense that we've got to preserve our numbers. We never want to have a confrontation because we might lose families over the confrontation. Look, that's not a biblical way to lead a church.

You can't do it that way. Sometimes exercising godly leadership means that you have to confront and refute those who contradict. You have to engage the conflict because there's going to be conflict. And when you remember, beloved, when you remember the precious nature of that which we're trying to protect, the truth of Christ, the purity of his body, the purpose for which he died is to have a people of his own possession that love his truth, then you realize that there's something precious there to protect.

And sometimes protection means you're going to have to deal with those who try to contradict what's happening. Look at verse 10. Titus faced a problem with Jewish influences, and Paul says you've got to silence these disruptive men. Look at verses 10 through 14 of chapter 1. This is all flowing out of what biblical leadership looks like and what it does and what its responsibility is.

Verse 10, Paul says, There are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, the Jews, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons. That's a quote from a Cretan poet from earlier years before Paul wrote this. And Paul says, verse 13, he says, This testimony is true. That Cretan poet got it right. He says, This is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. Now, beloved, here's what I want you to see in that.

Here's all I want you to see about this for today, as we just do this little bit of an overview. It is a sober and a serious responsibility, but church leadership must protect the flock of Christ. He doesn't put people in leadership so that they can enjoy perks and privileges. He puts them there as under-shepherds, those who care for the flock and those who protect the flock. A biblical shepherd in those days carried a staff and a club, a staff to care for the sheep and to bring them back when the sheep started to stray off the path. I'm talking about a literal shepherd here. It's a metaphor for church leadership.

But he also carried a rod, a club, that when another animal or something attacked the sheep, he would go after and he would beat it off in order to protect the sheep and preserve its life. Church leadership has a serious sober responsibility not to let threats go unaddressed, but to address them for the sake of protecting the flock that looks to those leaders for spiritual guidance and protection. Now, with that said, one of the aspects of leadership, and I've been around just long enough in other places to see this, is that the flock doesn't always perceive the threat. The flock isn't always aware of what the danger might be. And so, the flock doesn't always realize that there are men with agendas, men with personal or theological agendas, who will try to hijack a church to achieve and further their own ends. Well, you know, leadership has to be mindful of that and has to act and has to protect even when maybe the flock doesn't fully understand why they're doing what they're doing. Part of being a spiritual leader is that you're out front. That means you get the conflict. A church leader doesn't necessarily enjoy that.

I don't know anyone that enjoys it in that sense. But is willing to engage it for the sake of fulfilling the purpose of Christ in protecting the flock. And days will come. Those of you that stay with us, days will come where you'll see leadership engaging this. And let me tell you, the most precious thing that you can do at a time like that is to come alongside your elders and say, look, I appreciate what you're doing. I don't understand all the details. I know you can't tell them all to me. But I appreciate what you're doing.

I love you and I'm praying for you and I'm with you. How can I serve you? Serve your elders that way and strengthen them for the task, because it's not easy sometimes. Look, we've got to understand that a church is not a town hall meeting where every opinion is valid and entitled to expression.

Paul says that these empty talkers were to be silenced. And so we recognize that there are times where the church has to assert its prerogative to be the pillar of truth, not a form for theological contradiction. That's part of the responsibility of an elder, to uphold the truth of God. Now, even as I'm standing here talking to you, the weight of that is just hitting me fresh again, saying, wow, this is important.

This is serious. As you consider your own future in the church, maybe you thought, I'd like to be a church leader someday. I'd love to see church leaders grow up right out of the men right here. That'd be great.

I want that. I expect that. But as you think along those lines, you have to think beyond it's cool to be up front in time for people to think that you're an elder. You have to realize on the front end and deal with the sober responsibility that it is to be responsible, to protect the truth of God, and to protect the flock of God.

This is really sober. We're not playing games here. And Paul goes further and says, our struggle isn't even with flesh and blood, but it's with the principalities and the demonic forces. We're struggling with real issues here. Now look, biblical elders embrace that, and they're conscious.

You know what? Christ is with me. The Holy Spirit is with me.

There is a supernatural power and energy in a biblical church that it doesn't depend purely on the native abilities of the pastor. But I tell you, you feel the weight of it. Sometimes when you're engaged in these conflicts, you just feel the physical effects of the contradiction that people bring against what you're trying to do. You feel it, and it weighs on you, and sometimes you lose a little sleep over it.

Am I doing this right? Lord, I need to pray some more about this, Lord. Look, that's not a call for men to shy away from the office who are called to it, but it is a call to recognize that it's a high calling to be a leader in the church. It's a high calling because we serve a high God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. It's a high calling because we serve as church leaders.

We serve that which was so precious to Christ that He laid His life down for you. And so the last thing that a guy who's thinking rightly in church leadership can do is say, these people are here to advance my agenda. Oh no, no, God forbid that there'd be a shepherd who would stand before Christ and give an account for handling a church like that. No, no, we're put in leadership, you men that are going to be elders one day in this place. We're put in leadership for the design of serving and protecting that for which Christ died. That's a high and holy calling. It's a place of blessed privilege, it's a place of responsibility. And so leaders must exercise discernment, they must silence bad teaching to protect the flock.

Sometimes that is a thankless task. But leadership gladly does it in service to Christ. So look at verse 15 and 16. Just continuing on this idea of the leadership and what leadership does and the discernment that leadership exercises.

To the purer all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. Church leaders understand that not everything that glitters is gold, not everyone that professes to know Christ really does, not everyone that comes and says, I want to serve here is doing so with the best of intentions. And so church leaders take their responsibility seriously.

We look for men who meet these character qualifications and then we release them to do their work because a biblical church establishes godly leadership. That brings us to a third point. On this third point we bring everybody in. This third point covers every one of us here. Third point, a church cultivates private godliness.

A church cultivates private godliness. And this is where we all come under the umbrella of this. A church establishes growing disciples through sound teaching. Every one of us have a responsibility to pursue here.

Every one of us is covered by this. In terms of where do I play my part? How do I fit into the church? It starts by you cultivating and taking seriously your personal pursuit of holiness and your personal pursuit of godliness. You realize that your godliness is part of the outworking of the purposes of Christ in a local church. Look at chapter 2 verse 1.

And notice that teaching is right at the center of it. Chapter 2 verse 1. But as for you, Titus, now that I've dealt with those negative influences, let me come back to you, Titus, chapter 2 verse 1.

But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. And Paul goes on to show the various places of impact on our private lives. I'm going to give you three. So point number three here, a church cultivates private godliness. Now I'm going to give you three areas in which you examine yourselves and take this seriously.

We'll pause right there for today. But Pastor Don Green will have the second part of his message from Titus, Blueprint for a Young Church, next time on The Truth Pulpit. Don will add to the three points we've learned today. A godly church builds on biblical authority, establishes godly leadership, and cultivates private godliness. Right now, Don's here with a special invitation. Well, friend, if you are anywhere near the Cincinnati area and you don't have a good church home, I invite you to visit us at Truth Community Church. I'm in the pulpit almost every Sunday, and we have a loving congregation that would simply be thrilled to meet you and welcome you to our body.

We are striving to manifest the principles that you heard taught today. Why not come and see us? Bill will help you find us on our website. Just visit thetruthpulpit.com for directions and service times. There you'll also find out how to get free CDs of Don's messages. Once more, that's thetruthpulpit.com, and thanks for your support of this ministry. Now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time when Don presents more from The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-13 05:17:02 / 2023-07-13 05:26:38 / 10

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