Today we start a short study — 3 days — on Paul’s letter to Titus. Titus is mentioned a lot in Paul’s letters. He was a Greek believer, but he was also a pastor, church planter and a missionary leader. Titus was traveling with Paul on one of Paul’s missionary journeys when they were shipwrecked in Crete. There they found some believers, but there was no church organization. So, Paul left Titus there. In this letter, Paul gives Titus instructions on how to form a church with strong leaders. I’m reading today from the NIV (New International Version).
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,
4 To Titus, my true son in our common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Notice that Paul refers to himself as a servant of Christ before he says “apostle”. Some versions use the word “slave”, but it’s a “bond slave”, who wasn’t bought or sold, but was a paid employee of the household or business. This type of servant had the choice whether to stay working for his or her master. So, this shows Paul’s dedication to the work that Christ commissioned him to do. He’s doing Christ’s will for his life.
He also states that his purpose is to “further the faith” and “knowledge of the truth”. That’s Paul’s purpose in life — to preach the hope of eternal life and the promise of God. He also trains preachers and church planters, of which Titus is one.
Appointing Elders Who Love What Is Good
5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Here Paul is describing the traits of a good church elder:
- Faithful to his wife. Only 1 wife. That means it’s OK to be married.
- Is a good parent with children who behave.
- Above reproach
- Not pursuing dishonest gain
- Holds firm to the trustworthy message — the Gospel Truth
He mentions 2 positions — elder and overseer. Are they different? Maybe. An elder governs, is a leader, shepherd of the flock, teacher. An overseer, could also be called a bishop, or deacon, was a servant, also a leader, like ushers or organizers.
What does a good church leader do?
- Provides sound teaching — teaches the Gospel Truth and doesn’t veer from it. Doesn’t water it down or twist it to mean something else just to make people feel good.
- Encourages people. Especially during tough times.
- Rebukes — refutes, corrects and convicts church members who go wrong or question the teachings.
Rebuking Those Who Fail to Do Good
10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 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 them sharply, 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. 15 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. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.Titus 1 NIV
Here’s were we get the derogatory term “cretan”. But Cretans are just people from the island of Crete which is just off the coast of Greece and Turkey.
Good, strong church leaders should be able to recognize when members of the flock go astray. They need to keep them “sound in the faith.” Many false teachers will come around. There will be unbelievers who are drawn to the crowd. They are corrupt. This happens to all types of churches. You hear of stories of deacons who steal money from the collection plates, treasurers who’ll invest church funds in get-rich-quick schemes or go to casinos. It happened back then and it still happens today.
Now that you know what a good church leader is supposed to look like, take a look at your church leadership.
- Do they preach the Gospel Truth? Or does what they say sound funky?
- What’s their story? Their “witness”? Are they true born-again believers? Or are they legalistic leaders who trade Jesus for rites, rituals and regulations?
- Are they capable of transforming not just the church, but the whole culture of an area?
You can’t recognize the truth until you know the truth. Moreover, you can’t know the truth without the Holy Spirit and Jesus in your heart.
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…