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April 16, 2020 1:00 am
The apostle Paul laid out several qualifications for elders of the church including this one is to be a one woman myth not only speaks of his status, but it speaks to his attitude and his perspective and you immediately know then that this idea of that kind of commitment to one woman for life as long as, until death do us part would be just as radical in the first century as it has become in the 21st century comes to patients for church elders controversy. What is that me can a single man be an elder or must have a wife how about a divorced man is Paul saying that divorce disqualifies an elder. What about a man who has a wife, but hasn't been faithful to her no matter what our culture says we want to know what God says and that's what will explore today.
This is wisdom for the heart are Bible teacher Stephen Devi will help bring clarity to this passage from Titus one here. Steve that a pattern continues and it begins to get specific giving us this categorical statement. Having given that to us. He now adds these things that are attached these qualities that are all attached in the first one is this in verse six, if any man is above reproach that is in relation to he is the husband of one wife, you can understand this, then, to mean the elder is to provide a pattern for living as relates to his commitment to his wife.
He is the husband of one wife. Now, does this mean that a single man or a widow cannot be an elder that does not mean that fact you might notice that Paul doesn't say here that an elder has to have a wife.
Paul writes, he is to have one wife.
So that is if he is married and the word if appears in English text well if then this if he's married, then he must be literally translated, a one woman man.
The wooden translation of this phrase a one woman man sound like a country and western song, doesn't it a one woman man. The truth is, not many people in the first century would've been singing the tune had been written first century immorality was acceptable among married men. It was literally part of the DNA of that culture to whom Paul was writing man in the Roman world.
If you study the history of the first century you know that a man kept a legal wife for inheritance issues and for the bearing of children that is heirs of the estate, but then he also was openly involved that any apology with Mr. Susan and slaves in temple prostitutes as religious practices allowed. I spend more time he probably wanted in our last session talking about the religious practices of Dionysus. Totally corrupt and immoral.
So Paul is writing a radical statement to his culture. Divorce was also rampant in the first century, I believe even more so than today. One man in Rome lived in the first century love documentation really. He had been legally married and divorced 27 times Roman women were said with dated the years with the names of their husband. Roman women were said to have been married so many times they wore out their bridal veil so I don't believe as we understand this phrase that Paul is meaning to write here that an elder is to be married to one woman at a time, but the one woman he is to be a one woman myth not only speaks of his status, but it but it speaks to his attitude and his perspective and you would immediately know then that this idea of that kind of commitment to one woman for life as long as, until death do us part so to speak, would be just as radical in the first century as it has become in the 21st century being a one woman man is really no longer the part of the DNA of our culture we have in the lives I researched this week for the study. We live in a culture where one article said 24 million Americans will have been involved with someone other than their wife or husband this past week 24 million in a week. One article I read recently highlighted a particular website design for people willing and I quote to kick their valves to the curb for least a brief period of time like this website released a cell phone version of the site so no one would leave a trail of evidence on her computer at home or work and in just one month, one month, 679,000 men and women use that one website to start an affair that one site that the CEO was interviewed and I read some of the interview, he shrugged off any criticism during that interview saying I quoted were just a platform people. People live like this because our lives aren't working out for them. In other words, there's a good reason, and then he made this chilling comment that I've actually heard twice in the last couple of months he said and I quote, humans are not meant to be monogamous is at calling wrong writer. What is at turning everything upside down. What humans are not meant to be monogamous back is watching one interview of a young woman and she said this. And in that clip she said monogamy is on natural now I say that to you and you know as well as I do that if you got on the street. More people are buying into that than ever before. Monogamy is unnatural and what is that the result of it's a result of generations of evolutionism were just animals were just animals and were just animals will look at the nature world of nature know my wife and I are are are watching this one website were an eagle was laying eggs and sitting on the fastening of the watch and and it was interesting because that one male legal he was, he had three eagles I joke. He was Mormon to my wife that he had had free and finally I just made a decision based on who had the first day that's nature. My dog is no conception of fidelity. Monogamy. She's unconverted anyway, but but you know what I mean. No idea, no conception of that at all. That's the world of nature for for animals.
We just evolved a little further then why not monogamy is unnatural and the more I thought about that fact. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about her and what she said. It struck me that in sort of a twisted way, in a very real way, she's right committed, faithful covenant love to one person goes against our sinful what nature it runs contrary to selfishness and pride faithful commitment to loving your spouse requires dying to self and self does not naturally lie down and die doesn't it stands up it demands it requires. It commands when Paul wrote to the Ephesians that husband's word all of their wives to be one woman man, as it were.
He writes that to the entire church and then he adds that caveat as Christ loved the church. Are you kidding Jesus Christ died for the church Jesus sacrificed his personal comforts for the church. He loved her.
Jesus suffered humiliation for the church. He gave up his future for the church. He took on the sufferings and sin of the church and made them his own. He intercedes faithfully for the church.
He loves the church regardless of response or affection or understanding. In return he longs to be in the presence of the church as she finds her final satisfaction, and glory in his kingdom. That's how he loves us. Now you go live your life like that were then called to die for wives to sacrifice ourselves for her to take on her sufferings is around to remain faithfully committed, regardless of affection or understanding return to suffered humiliation for her to give up our personal comforts and rights for her to maintain faithful intercession for her benefit, and beyond her own and then ultimately the long for her final glory and satisfaction in the coming kingdom. When you effectively hand her over to her Lord and Savior. And that is convicting 1100 men were just this. This is for you to get the women later in chapter 2.
This is for us here. If that isn't convicting. It appears the amazing thing here is that Jesus Christ loves the church, even while we were sinners, Christ died for you want to raise the bar you want to go even further than the list that I read and corresponding to the nature and sacrifice of Jesus Christ loving your spouse is not loving them as saying it is loving them as sinners is exactly how Jesus loves us. Aren't you glad aren't you glad his love for you didn't wasn't measured out by virtue of your response. Aren't you glad his love for you is covenant faithful fidelity you don't wake up in the morning and wonder if you love you.
That's exactly how Jesus loves us and only tell you this that is not natural.
The elders should be leading the way in this regard is one of the qualities that is listed first in first Timothy and Titus. Could that be.
Could this be one of the reasons why the marriages of pastors and elders are such a target of the enemy. In my research I came across like I can believe it, but then again I can't review survey the divorce rates in the United States by occupation. Occupation you discover that pastors have the third highest divorce rate exceeded only by that of medical doctors and policeman.
None of the calls all of us to pray for one another, certainly for the leaders in more than ever it's a reason to understand why this is the qualification that is becoming harder and harder and harder to find right reason we've applied this qualification as we believe Paul delivers it to require that an elder cannot be divorced but actively and presently demonstrating commitment to his wife is simply because his relationship with hers intended to illustrate the faithful foul of Christ to his bride, the church, we believe that God is called the leaders of the church to live out the union of Christ and his church with an unbroken vow to love their wives. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, to love and to cherish until what death do us part. For those of you have experienced the agony and pain of divorce. Perhaps you are the innocent party in your abandoned branch.
You are away from the Lord, and you left your wife or husband since repented you of all people know how and why the pray for the leaders of the church to stay true and many dear friends in this church who can't meet this qualification. They understand that while they can fill this particular role. There are many other ministry roles and they filled them with joy and faithful praise God for them and they perhaps know better than anybody that the bar must not be lowered. The pattern must be demonstrated. It must be modeled for this generation is growing more and more confused. I lied one more, before we go on the issue of monogamy is becoming all the more confusing, not just the attitude which I think Paul is addressing the state of monogamy, the state of fidelity. One woman man that minutes becoming that a debatable issue now is there being rewritten now within mainline denominationalism. It does Paul really mean that an elder must be a one woman man did he really mean a one woman man could not just be a reference to some kind of commitment some kind of covenant that could refer now to a one man man or a one woman woman is hard to believe that I'm having to stand here and address this issue. This is really live. Shirley Paul is just referring to heterosexual marriage.
That's exactly what is referring to even time magazine caught on to the irony of the debate within the church when reported, and I quote time magazine denominations that once would not have tolerated a divorced minister are now debating whether or not to accept lesbian ministers. How do we get from there to here by lowering the bar by defining the standards according to political correctness and our culture as we shove away and show the face value, meaning of simple words from God. Frankly, more than ever it's time to raise the bar and you're doing that, by the way you're doing that to one marriage at a time, one self-sacrificing spousal act at a time. One praying wife for the time one committed spouse to the word of God to the time one couple at a time. Committed to expressing their love and their commitment to one another, carving out time and that the challenge demonstrating Christ's love and service and ever ready presence in intercession for the bride. Since I'm dealing with a man I thought it through this and remove him, but I wanted to tell you this. Of those kind of funny and confuse wonderful little book.
The disciplines of a godly man is encouraging Mende spend time with her wives and to not take that for granted.
He wrote years ago in the Midwest, a farmer and his wife were lying in bed during the storm.
When the funnel of a tornado suddenly lifted the roof right off the house and sucked their bed away with them still in it and they just sort of floated around Elysée circle.
The wife began to cry. The farmer called Dr. that this was no time to cry. She called back. She couldn't help but she was so happy. It was the first time they'd been out together in 25 years. I'm sure that didn't happen okay blog is on the end of verse six by adding that an elder must have children who believe that accused of dissipation or rebellion.
Spend a few minutes here to finish off this verse the phrase having children who believe has created quite a bit of debate over the centuries. As you can well imagine the verb having children implies, these children are under his authority in any culture that can change around it could be for life for us.
It might be at the age of 18 or 19. Whatever they move away having children that is literally having them in your and under your authority that a problem lies in this adjective, the stock, which can be translated actively as believing or passively, as in obedient or faithful, effectively collect all the translations and have some would say obedient, faithful, and others would say believing is mind. The word is actually used both ways. In the pastoral epistles, which sort of adds to the conundrum. The word certainly refers to a believer or a Christian. In fact, Paul uses it that way. In first Timothy chapter 6 verse 24 Masters who are believers. They are Christian Masters. Paul also uses the word refer to faithful men who will find other faithful men to teach them the word that they can teach others also. Second Timothy chapter 2 verse two outside the pastoral epistles, the gospel of Matthew uses it the same way to refer to an obedient servant who does the will of his master. Matthew chapter 24 verse 45.
So which is it is Paul saying that an elder's children have to be Christians or that an elder's children have to be under control. The only way to determine the meaning of this adjective is either passively interpreted or actively interpreted is the context that happens often in the New Testament. As you know, I believe, without any hesitation that the context here is one of submission, not salvation. In fact, throughout this entire list of qualifications. Every one of them is under the power of the elder candidate to pursue and at some point in some way, though not perfectly to achieve the salvation of his children is not under his power that is in under his ability even though every leader in the church would desperately long for and pray for the salvation of his children that ultimately rests in the sovereign grace of God, no matter how godly like godly Samuel in the Old Testament's sons grew up to abandon or an elder in the New Testament who cannot make his children Christians you can't command it that no matter how good an example. You said you can't guarantee it. So the issue at stake here as a relates to an elder's qualification is not the belief of his children, but their behavior that fits perfectly the context of these qualification funnel here Titus, but in first Timothy, where the elder is to manage his household well keeping his children under control. You might right into the margin of your Bible. As I've done next to the phrase having children who believe I've written having children who behave only at a point here. If if Paul is referring to an elder's children as to those being genuine Christian if that was the qualification Paul had in mind shifts away from the role of the elder and he talks about the state of the children if they have to be Christians and they are indeed than genuine Christians. The next phrase that Paul clarifies would be absolutely unnecessary notice for sex again. They're not accused of dissipation or rebellion that explanatory clause would be unnecessary if they are genuine Christian all you have to do is dig a little bit into the meaning of these words dissipation was a word used of drunken revelry at pagan festivals. If Paul means to say here that an elder's children have to be Christians.
That's all he needs to say he can put it. There to go on to say on. By the way, they can have is a pattern of their lives being involved in pagan ritualistic drunkenness would be unnecessary. That would be like saying that your children must be nice to people and they can't be cannibals.
You would need to say that if the enemy nice to be with her. I believe anybody right in other words, this clarifying phrase of the universe six further explains the Paul has conduct in my not conversion whether or not they are saved does not eliminate the father's responsibility to maintain order for those children still under his authority. By the way, did you notice that the text implies that these children are old enough to go to a drunken they are old enough to now resist their father's authority, even though there still in the home and discredit him in so doing, they can't be as a pattern accused of dissipation, not lower the bar and say doesn't matter, does matter further notice. Paul writes these children can't be accused of rebellion rebellion that word Paul uses here for rebellion is used for someone entirely unable, unwilling to be ruled. You reach that point. While the child was still under your authority where you lay down the guidelines and rules and they throw them back in your face and go live the way they want to live that man is lost his credibility and his ability than to lead in the larger home or house known as the church at the word used of someone who refuses to submit to the to the law of God is not a brief period of rebellion by the way, because children aren't perfect either. They fall to they sin to this is a reference to a pattern where they are, as a pattern openly rebelling against the standards of morality and civility represented by either father before he could close, here are members serving part-time in a church while in Bible College. My senior year.
This is after my jumpoff Baptist Church days since my last year of college I was leaving the choir and is Baptist Church and working with young people, and I remember not long after taking the job that I would hold only for a few months before marrying my bride and heading off to seminary I found out that one of the young women in the choir was openly involved with a married man in the community.
To make matters worse, I found out she was the daughter of one of the leaders of the church.
It had scandalized the choir.
It was a scandal in the congregation. I just walked in the middle of it and and even though at the time I was in my early 20s I believe something will be done about it.
And the pastor didn't want to doing about it and neither did the leaders when this man was eventually confronted.
He not only refused to confront his daughter, but he got angry and berated the other leaders for exposing the issue and it nearly destroyed the church. It also fell apart when I left that summer. In the words of Paul, the Titus that man would been unqualified to lead. He refused to exercise his authority over one needed most to deal with sin to set a pattern of dealing with sin would become a pattern for those who followed him in dealing with her own sin is and gentlemen it's time to raise the bar again. It's time for the church to represent holy living in a non-holy ungodly world. May we all are marriages in our homes.
If you're single in your pursuit of these qualities as well of those who would resist the natural pull of the flesh in our culture to lower the bar instead keep it Jesus Christ is deserving of nothing last right. Nothing church is deserving of nothing less.
We believe that his love, which is so amazing to man my soul, my life, say with my all in a culture where it seems that the standard or leadership its lower and lower with each passing year, the standard for leadership in the church remains unchanged. God has given us that standard and we must follow it. Thanks for joining us today here on wisdom for the hearts are Bible teacher Stephen Devi is in a series from Titus chapter 1 looking at the qualifications of church leaders. The lesson you heard today is entitled raising the bar if you'd like to listen to today's lesson in its entirety. It's posted on our website which is wisdom online.org. I also encourage you to share the ministry of wisdom for the heart, with others. That's one of the most significant ways that you can support what we do.
Our goal is to encourage and equip believers with the truth of God's word. If you have friends and loved ones who could benefit from this teaching ministry. Be sure and tell them about will return to our series on Monday. Tomorrow we take a break so that Stephen can answer some questions that have come in from listeners.
Be sure and join us for that tomorrow. At this same time right here on wisdom for the heart