Series: A Sound Church
Article 1: A Continuing Kingdom
Discover how to build a sound church with our new series on the Book of Titus! In this first article, we delve into the first four verses of Titus 1, where the apostle Paul shares his wisdom on replicating good leadership in the church. Learn how Paul established and guided the church in the face of adversity and discover the importance of humility in leadership. Join us on this journey of faith as we explore the timeless teachings of the Bible and their relevance in today’s world. We start with reading Titus 1,1-4:
Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, 3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; 4 To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
Aiming for a Sound Church
As the leadership, we get together to think and pray about what God is doing here. We seek Him to understand what He wants to do in this place. We have to be a people who are rooted in the foundational teachings of God’s Word concerning the Church, and our job is simply to faithfully follow the commandments of Jesus as we are led by His Spirit in our particular context here in Heidelberg.
I have turned to the book of Titus because it presents a picture of an ideal church, or what we have titled “A Sound Church”. Titus provides a description of what a sound Church looks like, including a sound lifestyle and sound teaching. Ultimately, as leaders, we desire to lead a church that conforms to the mold prescribed by God in the teachings of the Apostles. This is our goal.
I want to start by sharing a conversation I had with someone. This person was praying about future decisions concerning their ministry. During our conversation, I told them that good leadership involves building up those who will come after you, so that they can take the ministry even further than you have. This is an important thing to remember if you’re planning to move on.
Replicating Good Leadership
Good leadership involves replicating itself because we all know that we have an expiration date. The reason for this is that God’s Kingdom doesn’t begin and end with our lives; it continues on after us.
When we look at the ministry and life of the Apostle Paul, it is clear that he understood the importance of replicating good leadership. As he entered his later years, he began to think about the future and the longevity of God’s continuing Kingdom through the Church. That’s why he wrote his letters, to ensure that a strong foundation was laid for all of God’s people, for all generations to come
Paul entrusted a challenging task to Titus, when he was in Crete. As we read Paul’s letters to Titus, we see that his primary concerns were the order, health, and longevity of the Church. Titus was not just a protege but a partner in Paul’s ministry and mission, and he left him in Crete to carry out this important mission.
Establishing and Guiding the Church in Challenging Circumstances
During Paul’s visit to Crete, there is no record of him founding a church there. While it doesn’t take an apostle to found a church, it does require the teachings of an apostle to keep it on the right path. Paul, who had previously worked with Titus in Corinth, brought him along to Crete and left him there to continue the mission. Although this was on a temporary basis, Paul instructed Titus on what the work should entail, and Paul planned to join him later. The letter to Titus outlines Paul’s expectations for the mission in Crete.
Both Paul and Titus were faced with challenging circumstances in difficult cities, with a high calling to ensure that the church functions properly. Crete, in particular, was known for its moral looseness, which was a common issue on many Mediterranean islands. As a result, Paul wrote to Titus, providing guidance on how to deal with these unique challenges. This included establishing order within the church structure, as a church is not just a bunch of wanderers.
Titus was tasked with confronting those who were teaching false doctrines in the church, as well as helping the church to grow in knowledge and love of Christ across generations. Paul understood the importance of maintaining the longevity of the church, and he entrusted Titus with the responsibility of ensuring that the church remained on track. Despite the challenges that Crete presented, Paul was confident that Titus was the right person to carry out this important mission.
In his letter to Titus, Paul doesn’t just offer a brief greeting of “grace, mercy, and peace.” Instead, he provides a long and intricate introduction that spans from verse one through four. As we examine this introduction, we focus on three primary aspects: the author, the audience, and some application.
The author is none other than the Apostle Paul. As we examine this introduction, I would like to highlight three aspects of how Paul describes himself. The first is his humility.
Paul introduces himself as a “bond-servant of God,” meaning that he is a slave under the absolute authority of God. This title, which is often used in the Old Testament, is on the one hand a very honorable title. We see it throughout the Old Testament. Moses is an example of a servant of God, and the honor that comes with it is not in being a servant, but rather in the One you are allowed to serve.
So, on the one hand, it is a prestigious title, but on the other hand, it reminds us that those whom God uses in His service are mere servants. We understand that the entire creation is under God’s authority, and all people, whether they acknowledge it or not, are under His authority. There is no getting around that fact.
Especially as Christians, we understand that Christ is the head of the church. Therefore, we are under His headship and lordship. Those who are called by God to serve in more prominent roles in His kingdom are even more bound to Him as slaves. The servants of God are absolutely under His authority, which is always in Christ and in God. The authority is always in Christ, and God simply uses representatives to do His work.
There’s a man I admire who wears a collar even though he’s not a Roman Catholic. But he said the collar reminds the minister that he is a slave. He says, “I am bound, I am under the authority of Christ and his scriptures.” And “I’m not free to say what I want, and do what I want to do in God’s church.”
We see Paul here with humility and with authority he says: I am a bond servant of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ
An apostle: This brings us to the question of what an apostle is. In the way that Paul uses the term, it is one of those who have seen the risen Christ, whom Christ has personally commissioned and called to build his church.
The group of apostles is closed and unrepeatable, yet still holds authority today. Christ is the cornerstone and the apostles are the foundation of the church. They were called by God to establish and set in order the church. By describing himself as an Apostle, Paul is declaring that he is a unique representative of Jesus Christ with authority. He humbly acknowledges that the authority he possesses is not his own, but is instead derived from Jesus Christ. Thus, the words he writes are not his own, but rather those of Jesus. This underscores the important truth that only God possesses true authority, and that Jesus is building his church through this authority.
Remember what Jesus said to Pilate when he said, “Hey, don’t you know who I am? I have the power to release you. Jesus replied that any power or authority Pilate had was only given to him by his Father in heaven and was not his own. God gives authority to His human servants, but it must be coupled with humility. Paul says that authority is not inherent, and he refers to himself as a servant under authority, representing the authority of the person he serves. Therefore, authority must always be exercised with humility, but that does not mean that it will not be exercised.
Go to next page: The Importance of Continuity in the Church
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