2009-06-24 / Religion

The Gospel Truth

Walk, talk and live in the glory of God
Dr. Charles DeVane Jr. First Baptist Church

The good word "good" appears four times in the second chapter of Titus. Again we are reminded to be good for greatness' sake. Before we can do something great for God, before we can aspire to be a great church, we must grasp hold on some good truths and allow them to transform our lives.

In this chapter Paul speaks to Titus as he would to any of the elders or pastors of a local church. He gives him a good word concerning good things to be and do. He then commands a summary list of good behaviors for men and women, old and young. He concludes the chapter by speaking of the good news which makes good behavior and good deeds truly possible.

While the qualifications for elders or pastors were given in chapter one (1:6-9), the duties of these ordained men are found scattered throughout chapter two. For those of us who aspire to be elders or pastors, here are our ideals. And for the church as a whole, here is what you should expect of good church leaders (verses 1, 8-9, 15).

The story is told of a young preacher who appeared before a committee hiring a new pastor for their church. The chair of the committee asked, "Young man, do you know your Bible?" "Yes," the young man replied, "I know my Bible." "What part do you know best?" the chair asked. The young preacher replied, "Well, I know it all good — the Old Testament and the New Testament." The chairperson said, "Well, why don't you tell us a story. How about the Good Samaritan?" The young preacher replied that would be fine with him, so he began: "There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus who went down to Jericho by night, and fell on stony ground, and the thorns choked him half to death. He said, 'What shall I do? I shall arise and go to my father's house.' And he arose and climbed into a sycamore tree. The next day, Solomon and his wife Gomorrah came by, and they carried him down to the ark for Moses to take care of. As he was going through the Eastern gate of the ark, he caught his hair on a limb, and he hung there for 40 days and 40 nights. And afterwards he was hungered and the ravens came and fed him. The next day the three wise men came and carried him down to Nineveh, and when he got there, he found Delilah sitting on the wall, and he said, 'Chunk her down, boys,' and they said, 'How many times shall we chunk her down, 'til seven times?' And he said, 'Nay, but until 70 times 7.' And they chunked her down 490 times, and she burst asunder in their midst, and they picked up 12 baskets of the fragments that remained, and in the resurrection, whose wife will she be?" After he had finished, the chair of the committee turned to the other members and said, "I don't know about you, but I think we ought to call him. I know he is young, but he sure knows his Bible!"

Some churches don't know how to get them and others don't want them, but God wants his leaders in his church to know his word. While expectations run rampant for the pastors or elders of the church, their basic job description is leadership, prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4). Good church leaders are to be Bible men.

Good church leaders are to be walking Bibles. Twice it is mentioned that they must be "sound" in "doctrine." They must be very familiar with the major teachings of scripture by having spent quality and quantity time in Bible study and prayer. Don't be fooled and don't allow foolish men to lead the church. Good leaders are known for what they know, and what they know is the word of God.

Good church leaders are to be talking Bibles. They must not only know the teachings of scripture, they must be able to teach the scriptures to others. The speaking/teaching gift is an indispensable part of the calling and duty of the elders and pastors and teachers of the church. Eloquence is not that important (Paul himself confessed he was not a polished speaker), but clarity and conviction are a must. Since the leaders' major job is to equip the members for good works, their speech must be clear and clearly based on the word of God (1 Corinthians 14:8; Ephesians 4:12).

Good church leaders are to be illustrated Bibles. They must offer "an example of good deeds." Not for personal pride but in the spirit of our Lord's command in Matthew 5:16, the elders and pastors of the church should be seen not only in the services of the church, but in the service of the community in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and clubs, glorifying God by doing good for our fellow man. Then, when Satan tries to strike the church by slandering the church leaders, their words and works will speak for themselves.

Good church leaders are to be authoritative Bibles. "Authority" is a hard word. It is a weight that is hard for some people to carry and a pill that is hard for some people to swallow. I like the great Margaret Thatcher's advice, "If you have to tell someone that you are in authority, then be assured you are not." Good leaders don't wave a flag and tell everyone they are in charge. They simply walk, talk and live lives based on the authority of the word of God. Good Christian people will ultimately follow, for good churches cannot "disregard" that type of leadership.

Good church leaders lead to having good church members (verses 3-6, 9-10). We will look at this part of the chapter next week.

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