The Introduction

If you pay too close attention to social media, it is quite popular to love certain parts of the Bible and then dislike certain parts of the Bible. To believe and trust in God, that will happened–especially at the beginning of your faith. But this sort of like/dislike has morphed into a different beast altogether: love and embracing some Scriptures and completely hating other parts.

The most common: loving the Gospels–the defense is “Well, they are about Jesus Christ.” In the same breath, you get to hate the writings of Paul. So much so, you can disregard and ignore all of Paul’s writings.

The unsaved, unbelieving world–when it approaches the Bible–they will approach it on their own terms not on the terms of God. They will approach the living word of God as people dead in their own sins. They will pick and choose because the entire counsel of God is too much for them to bear. And I agree: it is too much but the Bible is the full counsel of God–it is how God speaks to us. Charismatics, don’t tune me out just yet. What does the Bible say we should do when we receive a prophecy? Test it. How do you go about doing that? With the word of God.

What I propose to anyone who will listen: when you read the Bible and it grates against you–that is God at work in you. But you must take that Scripture and read it in light of Scripture.

All the sermons and all the commentaries in the world are a good thing. But all books about God and his word must submit themselves to what the Scriptures say about Scriptures.

We are in Paul’s writing. More precisely, Paul’s writing to Pastor Titus. If we are not reading this letter in light of the Gospels and the rest of Scriptures, we can lose sight of what God is saying to you and me.

Paul talks about elders of the church to Titus. God is the inspiration and the source of this passage. But it is the same God who told Peter in John 21, “Do you love me, Peter? Then, feed my lambs, shepherd my sheep, feed my sheep.”

These qualifications for the shepherds of the church can be wrapped in one statement: you must love the Lord your God and love one another.

The Text

Titus 1:5–9 (CSB)
5 The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town.

6 An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, with faithful children who are not accused of wildness or rebellion.

7 As an overseer of God’s household, he must be blameless, not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for money,

8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled,

9 holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.

The Meditation

5 The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town.

Minister Like This: Love God and Be Under Authority

Every Christian is under the authority of Christ under the power of the Almighty Spirit within the Father’s sovereign grace and mercy. Those are basic facts.

Ephesians 1:22-23 (CSB) And he subjected everything under his feet and appointed him as head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

Ephesians 5:22-23 (CSB) Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.

Colossians 1:18 (CSB) He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.

We know that Christ is the Head Pastor of the Church. We know that he has appointed shepherds to love and care for his lambs. But because we live in a broken, sin-filled world where since Genesis 3, people will blaspheme the name of God by starting what looks to be a church and then deceiving his elect and preying and devouring them for their own twisted hearts. These are false shepherds. They have been with us since God first proclaimed the gospel–people who rose in power here on earth with no fear of the Almighty God of the Universe.

Right now, there are people who are leaving the church. Most of us call it, “deconstruction.” Most of us think that people are deconstructing their faith by falling away from orthodox faith so that they can become little heretics and swim in unrepentant sin.

What I have seen is people stepping away from church because they cannot make sense of a wonderful loving God and yet false shepherds who continue to hurt and try to destroy his little ones.

If church is not even a safe place, where can we go?

And then we end up not being shepherd, not under authority, not care for and not feed.

Christ saw those without shepherds and had compassion.

But Christ is the same Good Shepherd in Jeremiah 23 who saw these false shepherds. He saw them and he removed them. He drew his sheep away for a while and cared for them while he raised up godly qualified shepherds to care for his little ones.

Christ is active not passive in the world. Christ is active and not passive in the Church. You and see him removing unqualified pastors by removing his mercies and letting them fall from grace–for the sake of his people. He will remove these false shepherds who reject the gift of repentance and sometimes he would even close the doors of these churches.

If you know anybody who has been hurt by the church and left the church. Where they are at now is not where they will end up be–by God’s grace. Pray for them. Pray that they know the love of God for them.

If you have ever been hurt by a church, know that God sees your pain and your wounds. He is in the business of making you whole and new. And I know this because He sent his only begotten Son to live and die so that you can be whole and new. God did this because he loves you.

Don’t process this pain alone. Don’t let it drive you into dispair and isolation so that the Devil may come and consume your soul. Reach out to trusted people and if they can’t help you for real, then yall together can find someone who can.

Some call it deconstruction. Others are calling it the elect are being swayed away. I am calling it the promises of God are yes and amen.


6 An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, with faithful children who are not accused of wildness or rebellion.

Minister Like This: Love God and Love Your Family

blameless

Right out the gate, where Paul repeats these same qualifications of God to Pastor Timothy, is that an elder, pastor, overseer must be blameless.

Now, we are talking about possessing the righteousness of God that in Christ alone. Not that kind of blameless but every minister (includes you and me) must be blameless in the sight of God. Are we talking about the legalistic, back-breaking moralism that you must appear perfect on the outside while your heart and soul gets wrecked with indwelling sin? No, not that type of fake blameless.

This type of blameless which some translations call “above reproach.” What is reproach? Blame. God says his elders of his church must be above blame.

You’ve heard the phrase, “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” God is saying you shouldn’t see any smoke. And there is two ways to think about this. One, common sense. “That seems reasonable.”

But the other way is the way of people who have obtain power for themselves and will stop at nothing to hold on that power. They will say things like “What about false accusations?” and “You cannot touch God’s annointed.” That way of thinking is of Satan–all you are doing is twisting Scripture. Don’t go that way.

If in your own church, you are close enough to see the fire and the smoke. In somebody’s elses church across the country on the internet, you are not close enough. Christ has you. You will be taken care of.

the husband of one wife

From my commentary on 1 Timothy 3:2:

I read this not as strictly “must be married” and to wholesale reject any single, divorced, or widowed men.

You know how I would read this in light of the entire Bible?

1 Corinthians 6:18 (CSB) Flee sexual immorality! Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body.

An elder is one who flees from sexual sin. Single. Divorced. Married. Widowed. It matters not. If you are bought with the blood of Christ, we have the power of the Spirit to flee all sin including sexual sin.

If your church wants to restrict the office of elder/overseer to married men only, your church is free to abide by the letter of the law. But in light of the Bible, and I hope I am abiding in the spirit of the law, this would not prohibit qualified men from serving as elders of a church.

Before I leave this subject of male eldership, let us talk about women serving as elders in a church.

What I am going to give you is completely my experience only.

Churches who abide in the strict reading of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 will almost always read in light of this infamous verse in the most strictest sense:

1 Timothy 2:11-15 (CSB) A woman is to learn quietly with full submission. I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. But she will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with good sense.

(I say, “almost always”, I have yet to see an exception to this.)

To that end, the office of elder is frontloaded with many Biblical responsibilities and qualifications–according to the letter of the law.

The counter-argument to male-only eldership is the inclusion of women within eldership for one reason or another.

But here’s where I want to extend grace: again, in my experience, churches who include women within the office of eldership also tend to expand or shrink those same qualifications and responsibilies–I would say, according to the spirit of the law. This can based on the specific mission in the place you are called to or any other myriad of reasons.

When I engage in these secondary and tertiary matters of doctrine–and make no mistake, egalitarian and complementarian views of doctrine are secondary at best–I will not let such matters keep me away from fellowship and loving my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am not speaking from fake unity but an actual unity in Christ according to Ephesians 4:11-16.

This is a hill I am certainly not willing to die upon. I have bigger hills to die on–just not this one.

with faithful children who are not accused of wildness or rebellion.

From my commentary on 1 Timothy 3:4:

Take a walk through your home, budget, and the general “adulting” things that need to get done: are they getting done?

Are we talking about, “Are your adult kids saved by God and faithful to Him alone–never backsliding nor doubting nor deconstructing?” I don’t think so.

I remember sharing a story with my wife about a prominent pastor whose adult son not only was not saved but was quite against Christianity as a whole. This pastor struggled with his qualification as an elder in his church.

To which my wife responded, “Think this through: his adult child rebelled against the Lord and somehow that would disqualified his father from ministry?” We have all gone astray from our Father in heaven. None can stray so far that they would disqualify themselves–let alone, disqualify any of their family members.

But parents with children at home, answer this question: who is in charge at home, the parents or the kids?

And just to be crystal clear, if you think that this God’s call upon your life to “rule your home with an iron fist”, let me ask you this, “What if our Father ruled over you like that?” It would suck, wouldn’t it?

Our Father in heaven loves us, rejoices over us, provides for our every need and takes care of us. We know this for a fact because He sent his only begotten son to live and die for us so that we can be with him whose presence is the fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11) Don’t be that parent! Be like your Father in heaven who is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)


7 As an overseer of God’s household, he must be blameless, not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for money 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled,

Minister Like This: Love God and Bear Fruit

What is the Bible saying here? You have to be absolutely perfect? We cannot. That is why we have Christ.

And this passage even gives grace for wherever we are at. For some Christians–if not most Christians–are saved but still struggle with unbelief. “I am a Christian but I cuss a little.” That’s fine (although we are called tp put away filthy language from our mouths–Colossians 3:8). The point is that the office of the overseer is one who does not struggle with cussing or anger or greed or being a bully or alcohol.

It is really a man marked with the fruit of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:22-23 (CSB) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Which of us would be a mark of kindness or gentleness or joy? Which of us are patient? Have you met someone marked with faithfulness? These men might be make great elders if they desire to serve as one.

The Gospel

9 holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.

Minister Like This: Love God and Believe the Gospel

1 Timothy 3:2 calls the the would-be elder that is “able to teach.” What is does that look like? Here in verse 9.

The elder must hear the gospel and recieves the gospel; believes the gospel and lives out that good news that Christ has saved his people from their sins.

Yet, knowing God and his work in our lives, we know that this is not a one time thing. The gospel elder continues to hear the gospel and is continuously examined and formed by the doctrine and theology. They are continuously being equipped to sthat they can encourage others with sound teaching and be able to counter bad teaching.

How does that training, education, and equipping looks like will look different from minister to minster according to the grace of God.

And it all starts from one single premise:

1 Corinthians 15:1-5 (CSB) Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.

Believe on this and you shall be saved.

The Discussion

1. Why can we not assume that every pastor is saved?
2. How do know for sure that someone else is saved? Can we see the heart like God?
3. On the same thought, can we know when someone is not saved?
4. How many Christians do you know who want to serve as an elder in their local church?

The Prayer

Beckoning of our Souls
Call us to love and minister to one another.

Amen.

The Media

Today’s episode at The Study

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