The Introduction

I want to look at these letters from Paul to Timothy and Titus and to a bigger extend, to the churches in Ephesus and in Crete within the both the grace and pastoral leadership of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul makes the dire plea to both pastors to put intentional, willing, qualified elders to care for the church. Why is that? It is both to protect, love, and care for the sheep (John 21) and to be on an offensive front against those who would oppose the church.

Here are big facts: not every church is elder led. Not every church under the leadership of Christ has qualified people in those overseer positions. We could think the worst and say, “Well, it must be false teachers trying to deceive and led his sheep astray."–which can be true. But also, consider this: we have what God provides. In other words, in certain missional settings throughout the United States and throughout the world, you might get overseers who were begged to serve. Some stepped up because leadership of the local church has either fallen or passed away. And who steps up to care for the church is who God has placed there because he ordained it to be so.

Acts 17:26-27 (CSB) From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

Now all of that said: why elders? Why overseers?

Because those who are charged by God to care for the flock is in a situation of spiritual warfare.

Paul tells Timothy what is coming ahead:

1 Timothy 4:1-5 (CSB) Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer.

Paul to Titus details a little bit more with these words:

The Text

Titus 1:10–16 (CSB)
10 For there are many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from the circumcision party.

11 It is necessary to silence them; they are ruining entire households by teaching what they shouldn’t in order to get money dishonestly.

12 One of their very own prophets said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”

13 This testimony is true. For this reason, rebuke them sharply, so that they may be sound in the faith

14 and may not pay attention to Jewish myths and the commands of people who reject the truth.

15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled.

16 They claim to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work.

The Meditation

10 For there are many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from the circumcision party.

Fear God: you are facing the anti-gospel

Galatians 1:6-9 (CSB) I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!

All throughout the Bible and Christian history, we are going to be faced with people who intentionally twist Scriptures to those who want to dog pile the gospel with more laws. Good or intentions aside, they are bringing the worst news possible. They are going to end up sounding like the rest of the world. And the world has nothing for us. It promises something that will fill the hole in your heart, but if it isn’t God, it will fail in doing so.

That is why we are charged by God to preach the word and proclaim the good news. That we are not dead in our sins and trespasses. Christ is risen and he has conquered sin, death, fear, Satan and demons. Fear not but God. Christ is alive!

11 It is necessary to silence them; they are ruining entire households by teaching what they shouldn’t in order to get money dishonestly.

Fear God: you are facing wolves who seek only to devour the sheep

Wolves literally “eat the meat and spit out the bones.” Left unprotected and not care for, this is exactly what wolves do to your sheep. Spiritually, mentally, emotionally, financially, and physically.

And if you halfway pay attention to church today, that is exactly what is happened. Many people call the current departure “deconstruction” as many sheep are being led astray. What I am seeing is so many wolves devour the sheep and leaving them for dead. And other sheep leave because they don’t want to be devoured either.

We see that these wolves are literally trying to bankrupt the people of God by “they are ruining entire households by teaching what they shouldn’t in order to get money dishonestly.” (v11) And when the people of God make noise that they are being hurt, these wolves will turn around and attempt to discredit them:

12 One of their very own prophets said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”

Sounds familiar? Someone is abused by clergy. Instead of rallying around and caring for the victim, too many church organizations rally around the leadership and protect the organization at all cost–even it means to outright destroy the victim.

When a “church” protects the leaders, that “church” nothing more than a den of wolves.

The Gospel

13 This testimony is true. For this reason, rebuke them sharply, so that they may be sound in the faith 14 and may not pay attention to Jewish myths and the commands of people who reject the truth.

Fear God: love his lambs

John 21:15-19 (CSB) When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? ” “Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.”

“Feed my lambs,” he told him. A second time he asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me? ”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.”

“Shepherd my sheep,” he told him.

He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me? ”

Peter was grieved that he asked him the third time, “Do you love me? ” He said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

“Feed my sheep,” Jesus said. “Truly I tell you, when you were younger, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to indicate by what kind of death Peter would glorify God. After saying this, he told him, “Follow me.”

I love how the Lord gives three commands to Peter:

Feed my lambs
Shepherd my sheep
Feed my sheep

… if only if you love the Lord.

Those who are called to oversee and shepherd his flock are called to rebuke those who reject the gospel.

Now that is all well and good but let us bring this command into modern times. Now more than ever, the world has countless ways of speaking and influencing the hearts of the people of God. And the people of God will get hooked on these words in the privacy of our smartphones.

And here’s one of the things that hurts the most and what makes us the sheep of His flock: we are continuously being influenced by what we see on screens and we are not quick to share that with our pastors or other people until that influence has had an impression on our hearts. In other words, more often than not, we let the world impress our hearts. We don’t speak up. Our hearts are bent in a certain way not God and we give into what we see sexually, politically, financially, socially or any of the above. And the real deception is that because we are Christian and what we decide is right must be right by God–sexually, politically, financially, socially or any of the above. We are not to judge. God is judge. We don’t take what we think and filter it through the Bible. That is cherry picking and making the Bible say what we want it to say. But the Bible is the word of God–God who has spoken and is speaking to us for all of our days. We let the Lord speak to us and guide us and His Spirit will lead us where he wants us to go.

To that end, however, let us never forget the massive grace of God. We are sheep. In other words, we are not that wise, not that smart, and not that bright. We are the children of God. We are weak and only God is strong. We are easily led astray. And God has great grace for us. We can make decisions sexually, politically, financially, socially or any of the above, and none of that will separate us from the love of God that is only found in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Not despite but within that great grace of God, elders are charged to feed his lambs. Feed us.

15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled.

16 They claim to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work.

Fear God: dwell instead on these things

Philippians 4:8-9 (CSB) Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy — dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Life is not easy. I would suggest when God opens the eyes of his people to the actual realities of this world, life becomes a whole lot more difficult. God is good and he is good towards us. Our circumstances do not define us–they may not even go away. But God is still good and good towards us. Dwell on these things, not the world.

The Discussion

1. Despite all the voices in the world influencing us, should Christians lose hope?
2. How is our hope so secure?
3. If your loved one is led astray, what can you do for them?
4. Can anyone snatch us out of the hand of God?

The Prayer

Great Shepherd
We are lost. Come get us, Lord Jesus.

Amen.

The Media

Today’s episode at The Study

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