Titus 1 vv 9 -16

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These slides accompany the sermon to be found at http://youtu.be/RD8QMmSTOeQ
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  • This week there’s been quite a fuss as Steve Chalke has done it again.I remember his making a big go of a church replant in a community to the south of us when we were in South East London where he set up the Oasis Trust.Tribally, he is a big cheese in English Evangelicalism, but he’s come out with another shocking pronouncement … we’ve had him come out in support of gay marriage, we’ve had him cast doubt on the morality of the Biblical view of the atonement and now we’ve had him ‘call for an open discussion of Biblical infallibility and inerrancy’ … which he rejects.And he claims to be doing this under a strange guise … the article is called ‘restoring confidence in the Bible’!That’s not shocking.We are warned in Scripture that false prophets will come like wolves in sheep’s clothing, leading astray (if that were possible) even the elect.That ISN’T what’s shocking.What’s shocking is when you read by far the majority of Evangelical responses, you find this man and his heretical teaching being treated with deference and respect by those who claim to be teachers of the Bible.Ah – but – you see – you mustn’t cause DIVISION.I won’t.I promise.And by the end, you will have seen (Biblically) how.Titus has been left behind on Crete, by Paul, for a particular purpose.He is to straighten out what had been left unfinished and to appoint elders in every town as commanded by the departing Paul.We’ve seen previously that Titus is a sound, solid, spiritual battle hardened character that Paul has trusted to deal with a range of difficult and contentious issues in the churches they’ve planted in the past.Titus is a solid guy – a safe pair of hands.Paul is writing to him with the troubled church on the godless and fractious island of Crete shoulder-surfing him as Titus reads out this letter …‘Appoint elders’, says Paul, because sustainable sound Bible ministry is what is needed to establish these people in the Word of God and to cure their ills … appoint men like THESE, Paul has said, and described the character of an elder in vv. 5 ff.All the characteristics relate to the sort of practical Christian a man needs to be, in with and under the metaphor of the father who is head of his home and the overseer or steward who runs the home in the place of another … until you get to v. 9
  • Finally Paul gets past the qualifications contemporary evangelicalism makes little of to the qualification that seems to be pre-eminent in modern Western Evangelical thinking …An elder must hold firmly to the trustworthy MESSAGE, as it has been taught.Paul uses the verb ἀντέχωμαι … cling to, hold fast to, be devoted to, calling for the overseer’s firm grasp on, acceptance of and insistence upon ‘οπιστόςλόγος… the faithful word or message, but MORE than that.It must NOT be the faithful word as re-defined.It must not be the faithful word as re-contextualised in a different direction.It must be the faithful word as it has been taught … by whom?It must be the faithful word as it has been taught in that Apostolic period by those who were the eye-witnesses of His majesty and the people HE discipled and taught to walk in the Way.See?The message was the map to the Way, and those whose testimony to it we accept learned it from the Master Whose Way it was … IS.Now this is important because the church wanders away from that from time to time and needs to be committed to the process of Reforming to keep getting back to it, so rediscovery is required but development is illegitimate.The elder or overseer has to be sound in the faith because the elder’s role (as distinct from the deacon’s role) has been to serve not the church’s material but her spiritual needs in the service not ‘of the church’ (like a deacon) but ‘of the Word of God and Prayer’ … that is an elder.He has to KNOW this message … which involves learning.He has to hold to it tenaciously.And it must be the AUTHENTIC message.He is not to be at all interested in playing with ideas that are ‘edgey’ … as if being edgey is cool … there is a LOT of that about.He must prioritise the MESSAGE.He must hold the AUTHENTIC message.He must hold to it AS THE APOSTLES HAVE TAUGHT IT … hard to see how he’s doing that if he’s denigrating preaching and the various forms of Word ministry that the Apostles and the early church’s leaders indulged in.In fact, there is a strong argument that all that has gone before about the way a man qualified to be appointed to eldership runs his home and family get summed up here … THAT is the effect of a life lived out holding firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, because that reflects the Lord’s reasserted headship over His family, the church.WHY is this so important a qualification for eldership, the key ministry that needs to be established properly and on Biblical lines in order to restore a chaotic, wayward and DAMAGED church?It is important …
  • … for two particular reasons.It’s not an ‘either … or’, it’s a ‘και … και’ construction meaning ‘both … and’.You can’t pick and chose according to preference or temperament.The elder’s role in relation to the Word of God he lives to serve is not one- but two-fold.He must hold faithfully to the authentic, as-it-has-been-taught faith for these reasons … to encourage and to refute.In such a damaged church, healing and restoration do NOT take place as the wayward are tolerated, discussed with and accommodated.To the contrary, it takes place as two particular functions are fearlessly engaged in …Encourage by sound doctrine.Refute those who oppose sound doctrine … as it has just been defined.
  • Where churches have erred,there’s a price that exacts and there is often a great need for encouragement.Let’s be absolutely clear.Heresy – errant belief – leads to sin – errant behaviour.That’s how it had been on Crete and that’s how it has been right throughout human history.And, guess what?Heresy is not a matter of varying opinion, debate and discussion.Heresy is harmful, and it HURTS!People damaged by it need strong encouragement.It’s not just the false belief heresy teaches that matters, it’s that erroneous beliefs DO get acted upon … and provide an uncomfortable basis for disorderly life, damaged life … Paul will detail it for us … destroyed life.How is the elder to encourage?He is NOT to go around telling folks how good they are.Too much of what passes for ‘encouragement’ in 21st century Evangelicalism would be better described as ‘deception’!What Paul KNOWS will encourage the genuine people of God, is teaching them the truth about Jesus.Παρακαλέωis to encourage in the sense of calling someone to something.Not encouraging in some vain way to make someone feel better about themselves, but stiffening their resolve in faith and action!Stirring people up to faith and good deeds … things that bring JOY to believers in action, not some stagnant, smug, sordid, self-satisfaction!First thing he needs to do with this faithful message as received that he clings to is to stir up & encourage – to get damaged people going again in the WaySecond thing he needs to do with it is to refute those who oppose the faithful message.
  • Who is he talking about?Where would you find these people who need to be refuted that Paul in this passage is talking about?You’ll find them sitting in churches on Sundays.Paul isn’t dealing in this letter with problems in the market place with the unbelieving populace on Crete.He’s dealing with the harmful teaching and practice of people in prominent roles in congregations.That’s why the answer to the problem on Crete’s not evangelists, but elders teaching churches the Bible.There are Christ-denying people in prominent positions in Crete’s congregations, respectably setting doctrines and teachings that seem holy before people to their lasting perdition.Isn’t that SHOCKING?Are you SHOCKED?Then look around you at Wales today, and WEEP.Where are the men in the ministry we’re producing who’ll put their salaries and their pensions and their manses on the line, and do with backslidden church leaders what Paul says in this passage?Fail to do that and it says something about your grip on the faithful message as it was taught and casts doubt on your qualification for eldership.Why?Because that is what elders are there for!The biggest problem I have in leading Welshmen to Jesus is the mess that ‘elders’ have allowed in the churches.If you think this is a minor thing, if you think I am being contentious here … my friend, just LOOK at why Paul says this is important …
  • There are many rebellious people.That’s why.In fact, I think Paul is probably understating it here, isn’t he?‘Many’?Only ‘many’?We’re talking CHURCH people here.What percentage of our church/ your church do you reckon can live with Hebrews 13:17?‘Obey your leaders and submit to them … ?’There are many whose instinct is to be rebellious (in fact, such is the nature of sin that everyone’s inclination is to be rebellious, but Paul’s saying there are MANY whose inclination is to follow that instinct).Here the idea seems to be that these people are rebelling against the faithful message … here’s what characterises them:
  • So here are the trouble-makers … there is no detailed description of these people, just a stark enough characterisation!They are ‘those of the circumcision’ (v. 10) and they are ‘those who pay attention to Jewish myths’ … whether this is the sort of apocalyptic stuff going around in the Essene communities down by the Dead Sea now being capitalised on amongst the diaspora or in the Gentile mission, or whether it is a reference to the uselessness of the oral tradition in the Pharisaism once so familiar to the Apostle himself, we simply aren’t told.George Knight reckons them to be described so similarly to the false teachers at Ephesus described in 1 & 2 Timothy.- ‘Windbags’ is ματαιολόγοι– a NT hapax but pretty clearlly means ‘those whose talk is empty or hollow’.Big talkers.Loud noise.No substance.I do worry about the way good PR gets a following in our circles … Paul is very clear about what sets a value on and accredits a ministry.Matt Svoboda recently blogged on this … particularly with reference to the use of ‘Entrepreneurial’ as a ‘hooray’ word about ministry:“Here are some examples of what I mean by “dangers”:There is a constant “make it happen” mentality that exists in entrepreneurs and it is sneaking its way into pastors hearts, minds, and strategies. Pastors are not called to “make it happen.” We are called to plow, pray, and watch God do what only he can do.The comparison game. I fear this new spirit of entrepreneurship amongst pastors has been breeding more “beating out the competition” and less, “We are called men.” Pastors ought to be quite satisfied in putting their head down for the work of the ministry. The temptation is to look around and see if we are as “successful” and “good” as those around us. We tie our identity as pastor closer to how we compare than how we are called.Pastors constantly jumping to the next “bigger, better” opportunity that will give them more “influence and impact.” Pastors lack of satisfaction in investing in the smaller community in which their church will never grow beyond 250, 150, 100 people. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Put yourself in position to have what you perceive to be the “biggest impact” at all costs.” Yet, that appears to be what many in pastoral ministry are doing.The way pastors relate to one another… “Where are you guys at? What are you running? What awesome stuff are you doing?” I’m not saying these are invalid questions. I am saying it is telling that these are the questions most often asked and written about. I think many pastors leave the ministry because they perceive themselves to be failures in the face of entrepreneurship, but according to the Bible they are doing just fine.Pastors can have a tendency to see people as a means to their work and not as the work. My church has a leadership axiom that I love: We don’t use people to get ministry done, we use ministry to get people done. I think this nails the true nature of pastoral ministry. Entrepreneurship can tempt us to see our people as the tools for what we think God wants to accomplish through us. We need to see our people as the very thing God wants to accomplish through us.We have put on extra-biblical expectations to what makes a good, successful pastor. Listen, I am a pastor at an Acts 29 church. The A29 network was one of the first to see, promote, and utilize the positive aspects of a spirit and skill of entrepreneurship in pastors. With that, we also need to be the first to warn of the dangers of entrepreneurial spirit. In many cases we have added “entrepreneur skill” to the “requirements for pastoral ministry” list. This is extra-biblical add on that can be very unhealthy. The Bible tells us what is needed for eldership and pastoral ministry- entrepreneurship doesn’t make the list.”It’s wind-baggery.It’s style not substance, and where style triumphs over substance Paul is saying here, things go wrong.This is something that has got to be refuted by any faithful elder … in fact you are showing you are NOT a faithful elder if you don’t.Then there’s resorting to deception to control or to manage the situation.- Deceivers - φρεναπάτης – the verbal form gets used in Galatians 6:3 “If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else …”Those of the circumcision … Paul says that the MAIN cause of the problem lies with a bunch of Judaisers that has turned up on Crete to try to get the new believers to add Jewish legal obligations to the Gospel of Grace Paul had brought them … Paul is adamant in Romans and in Galatians that adding rules you must obey to the Gospel of Grace negated it and put you outside it.No wonder Paul is content to pick these out here: “especially those of the circumcision group” … μάλιστα οἱ ἐκ περιτομῆςNot EXCLUSIVELY … the situation is chaotic … but especially those.So let us be clear … the faithful elder is going to be just the man to take on windbags and deceivers trying to manipulate things THEIR way and to root out any legalism in the congregation which – however godly these things are made out to be – resists exacting any obligation from believers that does not arise from the authentic message as they received it.Give me some examples of THAT one in Wales?!It is of the essence of the sort of faithful eldership the church on Crete (and everywhere needs) to be active in doing this.Says who?Says the Apostle.But when these people are so scary (and often they are) just exactly how is this to be done?
  • Two things are to be done to prove faithful in eldership …These people must be silenced, and that is to be achieved by rebuking them sharply.Sufficient reason to silence them is supplied – on account of the effects of what they are doingSufficient reason to rebuke them sharply is supplied in terms of the objective that is being aimed at … an objective that is nonetheless NOT guaranteed.- The awful effect of the trouble makersThese people are disrupting whole householdsThey are doing it for dishonest gainThey are doing it in sheer reflection of society around themRob Bell – flirting with universalism and now advocating same sex relationshipsBrian Maclaren – ‘a generous orthodoxy’ … meaning it’s OK to be Hindu, tooDon Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz) – doesn’t go to church very often, just talks to God where he is … says “it’s a blast”And then there’s Steve Chalke from ‘Oasis Trust’ … well, the Oasis is getting poisoned so it’s sure to dry up!How should we deal with these guys who are soaking in the spirit of the age and trying to make it look like they’re still thoroughly Biblical Christians?They aren’t.Paul says that they must be silenced because of the harm that heresy does, and it’s the responsibility of an elder to do that.Are you sure you still want to be part of this?Don’t follow an elder who won’t, because that man isn’t the answer he’s the problem!Paul quotes Epimenides (not Callimachus as some commentaries have it … Callimachus quotes part of Epimenides comment which is the one Paul cites here in full!) to characterise the spirit of the age there on Crete with the ‘authority’ of one they thought was a prophet (an accolade Cretans had given to Epimenides).And he does that to demonstrate that these heretics on Crete were just replicating the spirit of their age.Be very, very cautious about doing that!We are NOT called to conformity, but to transformation.What to do about them and those who do this?Silence them.This is what Knight calls: ‘the essential demand placed on Titus and the leaders.’The word is ἐπιστομίζω– to bridle, to stop the mouth, to silence.It means putting something across the top of their noise-pipe.They have to be made to put a plug in it.That’s what those charged with leading the church by ministering the Word are to be appointed (not elected, and you can see why!) to do.Why?Because they are teaching things they shouldn’t … out aloud, you see, so they need to be shut up?And the effect of the things they are teaching are horribly real … whole households are being disrupted.The fundamental building block of human society … Mam, Dad & (potentially) the kids, along with granny, grandad and any others of the extended family who need to come either inside or alongside for shelter … the FAMILY is being DISRUPTED by the errors they are teaching … read THAT into our experience in the 21st century church!These folks must be silenced.How to achieve it.Rebuke them sharply.But surely (and I’m thinking of the examples that are set in our own day and age), we must concede, show respect, speak kindly of those who hold differing viewpoints?Well, if THAT’s what we’re dealing with, MAYBE!But we’re not.We’re dealing with people who disrupt whole families, for the sake of dishonest (error teaching) gain!They really are in it for the money!It was a common objection to the travelling philosophers and logic choppers that provided guidance to the first century world.Paul is picking up on a contemporary social critique … ‘tell them’, Paul says!Rebuke this worldliness that’s crept into the church, with devastating consequences for the people!ReBUKE them!(You don’t get lessons on doing THAT in Bible College!)How?On the basis of the Word, the message that you are there to serve.The desirable outcome for the troublemakersSo that they will be HEALTHY in the faith.THAT’s the thing that occupies the attention of an elder.THAT’s what the man exists there to do!
  • Sound (healthy) in the faithPaying no ATTENTION to end time speculation and esoteric speculative ‘wisdom’Unmoved by and disinterested in religion and religiosity… ‘human commands’Pushed at them by those who enhance the truth?No.They are not doing what they pretend to do, enhancing and improving your Christianity.Their importation of the thought and the ethics of the godless society they live in is in fact a rejection the truth of God’s message.Conclusion coming … but first a quick aside that gets us to the end of the section here.Why does Paul straight away get off on this bit about purity?
  • Here’s something desperately important to grasp.Paul is saying that the level of danger of these people on Crete who pose such a threat to the church by their commands and the obligations they are adding to the burdens of the people lies here:The wolf has been to the costume hire shop, and is coming to church in sheep’s clothing.“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.”Their behaviour doesn’t speak of their holding firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, but of accommodation to the spirit of the age.Let it get its own motel rom, we are not HERE to accommodate the spirit of the age.We are not here to look hip, cool and trendy.We are here to hold firmly to the trustworthy message – an elder stands to bring the authentic message of Christ to His people.Many will hate him for doing so.Will you?Many will want him to kow-tow to the fancy dress sheep.Paul has nothing to do with it.He doesn’t flatter these people and sets a very clear example here: They clearly do not believe because they don’t act like they do so they are NOT pure, they are corrupted, they are deceiving hypocrites because they claim to know God but by their actions deny Him …And that makes them NOT a good brother, not even on the side of the angels, but detestable, disobedient and UNFIT for doing anything good.These are the words of one who holds fast to the faithful message as it was received … THIS is what’s godly – not the other thing!But of course many won’t want to live with the consequences of having Biblically motivated elders who do this, and will want their ministers to be bland and accommodating, unchallenging of backsliding in leadership.A man worthy to be an elder, though, will take this duty seriously (says Paul) and only THESE guys are to be appointed as elders … to encourage God’s people with sound doctrine and refute all of those who oppose it.But surely this will have the opposite effect of all the things Paul has said elsewhere about the course of the eternal plan and purpose of God in Christ?Surely we’re to strive to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?Sure!That’s a really major theme of Ephesians!But the Spirit has nothing to do with these guys, and they have really got nothing to do with Him.This is utterly radical because we’re so taken up with style over substance … they claim to know God but by their actions they deny Him … they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for doing anything good.Cool Christianity needs a re-think.Our ideas about respectability and religion and eldership need reforming.We value things that count for dust and for ashes.
  • Paul is clear that where the message isn’t faithfully held there’s NO unity, and pretending there is disqualifies from eldership.And now it’s a LONG time since I promised you a conclusion.
  • So, he who desires the office of an elder desires a good thing.Are you sure you want it?!You need to be a CERTAIN sort of guy … and that will sometimes NOT be a popular or prestigious man to be.You may need to put necessities on the line to be that man.You may need to put your body on the line to be that man.It involves sacrifice, loneliness, unpopularity and uncertainty … and the courage that is born only of faith.Pray that God will give Wales MANY such men, because we have far too many with us of the other sort of men that also figure in this passage, and God’s cause here is paying a terrible price for it.We’ve not quite finished.Is there any danger that you may have been sitting there this last half hour, switched off because you are sure you are never going to be an elder?That would be a mistake.Two reasons … firstly there ARE people who think ‘I’ll never be an elder’ and they are wrong about that.(OK – there may be more in that category that are right about it than wrong about it … but for some this possibility must be allowed!)And then secondly … this is BIBLICAL eldership, and it is crucial for the health of a church to have it, and whether it’s you that IS it or not, you need for your spiritual health and the spiritual health of your church to support BIBLICAL eldership which protects the health of the church by protecting its ministry and you need to reject any parody of eldership which may be in place that quite simply is not as Paul has described it.Titus is to appoint eldership on Crete that will DO this.Authentic Christians ear-wigging over his shoulder on Crete as he reads this must joyfully accept and support the exercise of this service of Biblically authentic eldership to the Church.An elder is NOT to be criticised or marginalised or ostracised for taking seriously this responsibility that’s been placed upon him.At the end of the day, this church will not have the leadership it deserves … it is going to have the sort of leadership it supports.
  • Titus 1 vv 9 -16

    1. 1. Welcome to Grace! Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9 gossip girls by densetsu-no-akira
    2. 2. Titus 1:9-16 • Introduction
    3. 3. Titus 1:9-16 • Introduction • The elder’s faith, v. 9a “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught”
    4. 4. Titus 1:9-16 • Introduction • The elder’s faith, v. 9a • The elder’s ministry, vv. 9b-16 “so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
    5. 5. Titus 1:9-16 • Introduction • The elder’s faith, v. 9a • The elder’s ministry, vv. 9b-16 – Encouraging, v. 9b “so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine …”
    6. 6. Titus 1:9-16 • Introduction • The elder’s faith, v. 9a • The elder’s ministry, vv. 9b-16 – Encouraging, v. 9b – Refuting, v. 9c “so that he can … refute those who oppose it.”
    7. 7. Titus 1:9-16 • Introduction • The elder’s faith, v. 9a • The elder’s ministry, vv. 9b-16 – Encouraging, v. 9b – Refuting, v. 9c • Why that’s important, v. 10 “For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group.”
    8. 8. Titus 1:10 • Windbags: “full of meaningless talk” • Liars “and deception” • Legalists “especially those of the circumcision group”
    9. 9. Titus 1:9-16 • Introduction • The elder’s faith, v. 9a • The elder’s ministry, vv. 9b-16 – Encouraging, v. 9b – Refuting, v. 9c • Why that’s important, v. 10 • How that’s to be done, vv. 11-13a “They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” 13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke faith.” them sharply, so that they will be sound in the
    10. 10. Titus 1:9-16 • Introduction • The elder’s faith, v. 9a • The elder’s ministry, vv. 9b-16 – Encouraging, v. 9b – Refuting, v. 9c • Why that’s important, v. 10 • How that’s to be done, vv. 11-13a • The acceptable outcome, vv. 13b-14 “so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth.”
    11. 11. Titus 1:15-16 “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”
    12. 12. Titus 1:9-16 • Introduction • The elder’s faith, v. 9a • The elder’s ministry, vv. 9b-16 – Encouraging, v. 9b – Refuting, v. 9c • Why that’s important, v. 10 • How that’s to be done, vv. 11-13a • The acceptable outcome, vv. 13b-14 – Anticipated objection: ‘that’s divisive!’, vv. 15-16
    13. 13. Titus 1:9-16 • Introduction • The elder’s faith, v. 9a • The elder’s ministry, vv. 9b-16 – Encouraging, v. 9b – Refuting, v. 9c • Why that’s important, v. 10 • How that’s to be done, vv. 11-13a • The acceptable outcome, vv. 13b-14 – Anticipated objection: ‘that’s divisive!’, vv. 15-16 • Conclusion

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