Sunday, August 24, 2008

Titus 1:9 (1)

(the first half of my script from last wednesday night)

Paul tells Titus to find men who can preach. Verse nine says ‘holding fast to the faithful word as taught’. The Elder must hold fast, he must grab hold of something with all his heart and never ever let it go. The Elder must never be enticed away by fads or programmes; he must never rely on man’s wisdom over Gods. He must hold fast. Paul choice of words here suggests it might not be easy; sometimes it will be like a shipwrecked sailor might hold fast to a rescue rope in a storm. But this simply must be done.

What is he to hold fast to? The middle of verse nine tells us ‘the faithful word as has been taught’ The Elder must hold fast to and preach the Gospel. The Gospel is the greatest news there is, so being able to preach it must be the greatest endeavor there is. The Elder is not a story teller or a speech maker, but a preacher. In his letters to Timothy that come immediately before this letter Paul makes it clear that preaching is to be the main activity in the Elder’s life. He is to work at this more than anything else.

The Church has to, has to continue preaching the Gospel, we must hold fast through the storm. So the Church must look to its leaders to do that as well. To stand in the pulpit every chance they get and preach the Gospel, because nothing less than the faithful word will do.

Galatians 1:8 says: but if we or an angel from Heaven preach any other Gospel unto to you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. It’s easy to pass over what Paul is really saying here. An angel? Can you imagine that? If an angel, in all his blinding glory and finement was to stand where I am standing now and preach to you something other than the Biblical Gospel, we’d have to stand up, grab him, which would probably both blind us and burn us, and throw him out of the window. That’s how serious the Gospel is. What happens here is sacred.

An Elder must be able to know, understand, handle and apply scripture rightly. ‘as he hath been taught’ as Paul says at the end of this verse. Elders don’t come from nowhere. Even Paul had a time of being taught before his first mission trip. We can see how highly he valued this practice by his letters to Timothy and Titus.

We can see from the end of verse nine that he is to exhort the believers and convince the gainsayers. The Elder is to enlighten the congregation of his church in sound doctrine. This is so important. As we’ve already seen, what is taught matters. Some of the biggest churches in the world are built on false ‘gospels’.

Preachers who tell their people that if they have enough faith they’ll be rich, that if they send in money they’ll be happy. Preachers who turn the Gospel into a psychological comfort by ignoring the exclusive claims that Jesus has on every life, and thereby denying that He is the only way to escape the horrors of Hell. From my young, inexperienced perspective, this seems like madness because when we add to the Gospel we only ever take away from it.

So the faithful Elder is to exhort by sound doctrine. He is to protect and prosper the spiritual life of his people. To preach that Jesus is the point of creation, the lovely, glorious, champion of every single page of the Bible. To stir up love for Him from them by preaching.

Doctrine is for joy. Doctrine is not a dull, old fashioned, divisive thing that should be kept inside the class room. The most glorious, joy giving, sweet tasting, promises exist in this book, and they come to us if the form of doctrine. And Elders of the church are to exhort those in the church with it. Given the fearful warnings found in scripture, no one would presume to teach without a clear call from God, and no one in their right mind should preach anything other than what’s in this book. 

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