Titus: The Character of False Teachers. Part 2.

15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.” (Titus 1:15–16 (ESV)

The Apostle Paul initially instructed Titus about the character of godly elders (Titus 1:5-9). He then expounded on the characteristics of ungodly false teachers (Titus 1:10-14). Today’s text continues with this examination.

False teachers profess to know God. The word profess (ὁμολογέω; homologeo) means to declare, admit and assert. False believers in Christ maintain they know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Matt. 7:23; 14:7; John 1:20; Acts 7:17; 24:14; Titus 1:16).

However, their behavior belies their declaration. They deny Christ by their works. The Scriptures teach their behavior is inconsistent with a godly life. It indicates that their faith in Christ is suspect (Matt. 7:16-20; James 2:14-16; I John 3:17).

Additionally, false teachers are detestable, disobedient and unfit. More than what they do, the following three adjectives describe what they are by nature (Eph. 2:1-3). The words describe a continual and active disposition and behavior.

To be detestable (βδελυκτός; bdelyktos) means to be abhorrent and abominable. “In some languages ‘detestable’ may be rendered as ‘thought to be extremely bad’ or even ‘that which should never even be seen,” explains one commentator.

False believers are also disobedient (ἀπειθής; apeithes). This literally means to go beyond the bounds of biblical instruction. They do not obey God and His Word.

Finally, they are unfit for any good work. Unfit (ἀδόκιμος; adokimos) is to be worthless, valueless and disqualified. Consequently, whatever good or generous work they do in the church God evaluates as the same.

“The apostle’s teaching points out the irony inherent in the position of the false teachers. Of all people, first-century Jews prided themselves in their knowledge of the one, true creator God. Whether or not the legalists were of Jewish descent, they certainly allied themselves with certain Jewish traditions. Their arguments implied that the Christians who did not follow their particular code of ethics, in addition to believing in the Messiah, lacked a saving relationship with the covenant Lord of Israel (vv. 10–15). Yet the false teachers’ own works proved otherwise, for they were not the good works of love for God and neighbor that demonstrate one’s salvation (Titus 2:7–8; 3:8; Matt. 22:34–40),” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

Let us make every effort in encouraging believers in Christ to confirm their calling and election in Christ (2 Peter 1:3-11). Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: Character of False Teachers.

15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.” (Titus 1:15–16 (ESV)

The Apostle Paul initially instructed Titus about the character of godly elders (Titus 1:5-9). He then expounded on the characteristics of ungodly false teachers (Titus 1:10-14). Today’s text continues with this examination.

False teachers lack purity. To be pure (καθαρός; katharos) means to be “acceptable to God’ or ‘good in God’s eyes’ or ‘good as God thinks’.” Purity belongs to those  who are pure by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone (Matt 5:8). They understand life and God through the insight of faith. All of life is perceived in how God thinks.

1 Corinthians 2:14–16 (ESV) says, 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”  

However for the defiled and unbelieving, no part of life is understood by thinking as God thinks and wanting what God says is acceptable. To be defiled (μιαίνω; miaino) is to be morally filthy or unclean. It is the opposite of purity. This is the spiritual condition of the unbelieving (ἄπιστος; apistos). The unbelieving do not trust in, commit to, depend upon or worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

The defilement of the unbelieving extends to their minds. The word mind (νοῦς; nous) is a way of thinking, a disposition and manner of thought. “It is the facility of understanding, reasoning and deciding (Rom. 7:25; 1 Cor. 14:14),” explains theologian James Swanson in the Dictionary of Biblical Languages.

The defilement of the unbelieving also involves their conscience (συνείδησις; syneidesis). The conscience is an individual’s God given moral sensitivity which distinguishes right from wrong.

In the historical context of today’s text, the perception of right and wrong, distinguishing the godly from the ungodly, extended to what food believers in Christ should eat and drink.

“With Paul’s reference to “the commands of people who turn away from the truth” (Titus 1:14), it becomes clear that whatever the exact nature of the false teaching Titus confronted on Crete, it involved the imposition of manmade laws upon the people. Again we have to infer as best we can from the epistle what these commandments were, but the apostle’s description of things impure in today’s passage means the false teachers likely emphasized some idea of ritual purity, viewing ceremonial cleanliness as the heart of the gospel. If these teachers were like those whom Timothy faced in Ephesus, these purity laws probably included abstention from marriage and certain foods (1 Tim. 4:3), with only the latter having any kind of basis in the Old Testament,” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

“By His work, Jesus made all foods clean (Mark 7:1–23), and every person who has had his conscience purified through faith in Christ and the renewal of the Holy Spirit comes to learn that all things are pure (Titus 1:15) and that nothing God has created “is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4–5). Ritual purity is no longer a concern for those in Christ Jesus, for the kingdom of God has been inaugurated, and this kingdom “is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17),” continues Dr. Sproul.

“In the freedom that Jesus has brought, individuals may choose which foods to eat and which days to celebrate, but they are never allowed to impose their personal choices regarding things “indifferent” on other people (vv. 1–12). Those who would bind the consciences of others where God has left them free reflect a deficient understanding of the gospel at best and at worst a conscience that has not been regenerated to see the true nature of God’s kingdom and its ethics. And those whose hearts remain impure shall by no means ever enjoy the blessed vision of our Creator (Matt. 5:8),” concludes Dr. Sproul.

Have you known such impure and defiled individuals in the church who strive to restrict a believer’s liberty in Christ? They are legalists. They focus on disputable   matters because they are likely unconverted and unrepentant. Believers in Christ must guard their hearts from such morally defiled teachers (Prov. 4:20-27).

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: Courage, Conviction and Commitment.

12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.” (Titus 1:12–14 (ESV)

A popular saying is that old age is not for sissies. A sissy is a cowardly person. With the bodily aches and pains that come with increasing age, an individual needs courage to face their daily, physical challenges.

The saying can also be applied to pastors. Being a pastor dedicated to biblical truth and leading a congregation is not for sissies. It is a responsibility requiring courage, conviction and commitment.

I recently discussed this with another pastor. He is facing a challenging situation that could become a church conflict. He could either pretend the situation did not exist, or prepare himself for an inevitable confrontation. He chose the latter and not the former. He is prayerfully preparing for a possible ministry firestorm.  

The Apostle Paul counseled Titus concerning a situation in Crete. A common saying at that time was “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons.” In other words, the people of Crete were perceived as liars, wicked and lazy.

“Crete had a bad reputation for arrogance, treachery and greed. “Gluttony” was associated with love of pleasure as opposed to love of knowledge,” explains Craig Keener in the IVP Bible Background Commentary of the New Testament.

Epimenides, the highly esteemed sixth-century B.C. Greek poet and native of Crete, had characterized his own people as the dregs of Greek culture. Elsewhere, Paul also quoted pagan sayings (cf. Acts 17:281 Cor. 15:33). This quote is directed at the false teachers’ character,” states Dr. John MacArthur.

These false teachers, of whom Paul spoke to Titus (Titus 1:9-11), behaved in this way. Paul commanded his protégé to rebuke them sharply. To rebuke (ἐλέγχω; elencho) means to refute, to show one’s fault, implying that there is a convincing of that fault (Mt 18:15; John 3:20; 16:8; Eph. 5:11; 1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 1:9; Heb. 12:5; James 2:9; Jude 15; Rev. 3:19). Titus was to do this sharply (ἀποτόμως; apotomos) or severely and rigorously (2Co 13:10; Tit 1:13). There was no room for compromise or accommodation in confronting false teachers in the church.

The goal was for false teachers to become sound in the faith. Sound (ὑγιαίνω; hygiano) means to be presently and actively healthy and accurate in the faith (πίστις; pistis). This refers to trustworthy, biblical doctrine (Titus 1:9). These false teacher were to no longer follow Jewish myths and commands from other people who rejected God’s truth (I Tim. 1:4; 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:4).

“True and pure doctrine was to be required of all who spoke to the church. Any who fell short of that were to be rebuked. Paul reemphasized (see v. 10, “those of the circumcision”) that most of the false teachers were Jewish. They taught the same kind of externalism and unscriptural laws and traditions that both Isaiah and Jesus railed against (Isa. 29:13Matt. 15:1–9Mark 7:5–13),” explains Dr. MacArthur.

This pastoral responsibility to confronting false teachers has not changed. Unfortunately, some pastors follow the path of least resistance. To do so is not to fulfill the responsibilities of pastoral ministry (Titus 1:5-9).

Being a pastor dedicated to biblical truth and leading a congregation is not for sissies. It is a responsibility requiring courage, conviction and commitment. Pray for your pastor that he would be such a man.

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: Silencing False Teachers in the Church.

They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” (Titus 1:11 (ESV)

One of the most important books published in the 20th century was written by theologian J. Gresham Machen. It is entitled Christianity and Liberalism. Machen addressed the issue of false teaching in the church. It was an issue in the Apostle Paul’s lifetime, in Machen’s, and in our own.

“In my little book, Christianity and Liberalism, 1923, I tried to show that the issue in the Church of the present day is not between two varieties of the same religion, but, at bottom, between two essentially different types of thought and life. There is much interlocking of the branches, but the two tendencies, Modernism and Supernaturalism, or (otherwise designated) non-doctrinal religion and historic Christianity, spring from different roots. In particular, I tried to show that Christianity is not a “life,” as distinguished from a doctrine, and not a life that has doctrine as its changing symbolic expression, but that–exactly the other way around–it is a life founded on a doctrine,” explains Machen.

“In the sphere of religion, in particular, the present time is a time of conflict; the great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling against a totally diverse type of religions belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology. This modern non-redemptive religion is called ‘modernism’ or ‘liberalism’.” Machen states.

It is said that doctrine divides but love unites. This perspective results in pastors and religious leaders seeking to avoid giving offense. Doctrine becomes unimportant; relationships are what really matter.

“Doctrine divides, but doctrine also unites. It binds together the hearts of God’s people who celebrate the truth of God together.” – R. C. Sproul

Paul was concerned about false teaching in the churches in Crete (Titus 1:9-10). He instructed Titus to hold firm to the trustworthy Word as taught. This was so he would be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradicted it. The apostle wanted Titus to train and appoint qualified elders in the churches to do the same.

Paul stated that false teachers must be silenced. It was absolutely necessary. The grammar indicates that this discipline was to be continually and actively done. The apostle recognized that false teachers would be a continual threat in the church.

Paul gave this reasoning because of the results of false teaching. Heresy upsets entire families by teaching for money what should not be taught. This problem can occur in many areas of communication, but has especially arisen through the advent and growth of Christian television. It is amazing how false teachers dominate this medium. The issue is also evident on social media.

“These false teachers must be silenced because of the damage they were doing to the families of the congregation (cf. 2 Tim. 3:6). No doubt Titus’ method of silencing was to be the same as Timothy’s: the false teachers were to be instructed not to teach certain things lest they be excommunicated (cf. 1 Tim. 1:3–4; 2 Tim. 3:5). Again Paul condemned the motives of the false teachers—they were interested in dishonest gain,” explains commentator A. Duane Litfin. 

“False teachers are always in it for the money (1 Tim. 6:51 Pet. 5:2),” warns Dr. John MacArthur.

Pray for your pastor(s) to be faithful in confronting and silencing false teachers in your church. Encourage and support them when they do so. This responsibility is not an easy task for them and may result in emotional backlash by friends of those confronted and silenced. Your pastor(s) need your prayers and support.

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: Conservators of Lies.

9He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.” (Titus 1:9–10 (ESV)

Why is it important for pastors and elders to unwaveringly preach the Word of God (2 Tim. 4:1-5 ESV)? It is because there are individuals who do not preach expositional sermons from the Word of God. They are opposed to the Word of God. The Apostle Paul identified them as those who contradict the Scriptures. They are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers.

To contradict (ἀντιλέγω; antilego) means to speak against and to oppose. In the context, Paul was referring to individuals who were against the Bible. Consequently, they were also against those who were for, and who preached,   God’s Word. What is the character of these individuals who were against the Scriptures in Paul’s day and against it today?

First, they are insubordinate (ἀνυπότακτος; anypotaktos). This means they refuse to submit to God’s Word. They are rebellious and un-submissive (I Tim. 1:9; Heb. 2:8).

Second, they are empty talkers (ματαιολόγος; mataiologos). This refers to those who are foolish babblers. They engage in foolish and indecent conversation.

Third, they are deceivers (φρεναπάτης; phrenapates). They are people who mislead while they themselves are being misled. They mislead people concerning the truth. They are individuals who say wrong is right and what is right is wrong.

It is tragic enough when the worldly culture behaves in such a way. However, there are those in evangelical leadership who also live and speak in this manner. They are pastors who refuse to submit to God’s Word. They engage in indecent speech from the pulpit. They deceive their congregations. They are filled with charisma and charm but lack godly character (I Tim. 3:1-8; Titus 1:5-9). Ironically, many are pastoring mega-churches. Their brand is themselves and not the glorification of the LORD who is holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:1-4; I Peter 4:10-11). The Apostle Paul warned of such false teachers (Acts 20:17-38).

The Lowell Sun is a daily newspaper based in Lowell, MA. The following is an excerpt from an article written by Rev. Brian Loiselle. Originally published in 2005, the newspaper republished the editorial in 2019.  

“These times in which we live are filled with uncertainty. Anxiety is high. People seem to be in perpetual confusion. Understandably so, since so many events continue to happen that are out of our control. War and the toll it extracts in human suffering; natural disasters that strike with unimaginable fury, not to mention the ever-volatile economic situation that exists today, leave us feeling uncertain. Gasoline prices and the inevitable rising costs make it a challenge to keep one’s family warm in the coming winter.”

“However sobering these things are, this is not what concerns me most. That rather, is the continual downward spiral of our society and its morality. We must discern these as signs of the times. The writing is on the wall. We live at a time when men call right, wrong and wrong, right. At a time when evil is called good and good is called evil.”

“Politicians and government programs are not the answer. No one, regardless of party affiliation, has the means to stop our societal decay or fix the insurmountable number of problems that exist. Especially when institutional graft and corruption permeates every level of government.”

“I believe that we have reached a point where it is obvious that mankind no longer has the means to solve the problems of our own making. If these truly are the biblical “last days,” the events that are to follow are unstoppable.”

So what can we do?

“The answer for every individual, and for us as a people, is to return to God! I believe that He is calling out to us in His mercy, pleading with us to take heed of the times in which we are living, to take our eyes off of the temporary and focus on the eternal. We all have seen what man tries do to solve our problems and correct the wrongs — and where has that gotten us?”

“The exact center of the Bible is Psalm 118:8. It is also its’ central point: ‘It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man’.”

What was true in 2005 and 2019 remains so today in 2022. Let us we no longer listen to those who are conservators of lies. Pray for your pastor to not only preach the truth but also to live the truth he preaches. Pray for one another to do the same.

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: Expository Preaching.  

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.” (Titus 1:1–4 (ESV)

“He (a pastor or elder) must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9 (ESV)

In his letter to Titus, the Apostle Paul immediately emphasized the priority of preaching and teaching in the church. From today’s texts, Paul gave several reasons for this God directed methodology (2 Tim. 4:1-5).

First, preaching the Word of God is for the sake of the faith of God’s elect. Second, preaching is the means by which God’s Gospel is proclaimed. Third, preaching is a sacred trust. Fourth, God commands preaching. Fifth, preaching provides instruction in sound doctrine. Sixth, preaching rebukes false teachers and heresy.  

Many Christians might say that preaching is preaching. Styles and methodologies may vary but preaching is essentially the same from church to church. It involves an individual giving a talk; usually a long talk.

One of the most familiar styles of preaching is topical. “Topical messages usually combine a series of Bible verses that loosely connect with a theme,” explains Richard L. Mayhue of The Master’s Seminary.

Another form is textual preaching. This occurs when a text is read but never referred to again in the message. “Textual preaching uses a short text or passage that generally serves as a gateway into whatever subject the preacher chooses to address. Neither the topical or textual method represents a serious effort to interpret, understand, explain, or apply God’s truth in the context of the Scripture(s) used,” Mayhue states.

However, the Bible sets forth a particular kind of preaching. It is a discipline focusing on what the biblical text says, what it means, and how it may be applied. It is called expository preaching. Expository means to expose. The word group includes exposition and expositor.

“At its best expository preaching is the presentation of the truth, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, Spirit guided study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit applies first to the life of the preacher and then through him to his congregation,” states Haddon W. Robinson, in his book What is Expository Preaching?

Expository preaching is doctrinal preaching. It addresses particular truths from particular biblical passages. The expositor does not share his truths, but God’s truth from God’s Word. Expository preaching is not about the preacher communicating what he thinks. Rather, he is a herald authoritatively presenting the Word of God to people; the converted and the unconverted.

“Given such a conception, a faithful discharge of the teaching office necessitates the preacher being able to say with Paul, ‘We are not as many, which corrupt the Word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ’ (2 Cor. 2:17),” concludes Mayhue.

May the LORD continue to raise up expository preachers.

Soli deo Gloria!   

Titus: The Priority of Preaching.  

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.” (Titus 1:1–4 (ESV)

“He (a pastor or elder) must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9 (ESV)

In his letter to Titus, the Apostle Paul immediately emphasized the priority of preaching and teaching in the church. Paul gave several reasons for this God directed methodology (2 Tim. 4:1-5).

First, preaching the Word of God is for the sake of the faith of God’s elect. Second, preaching is the means by which God’s Gospel is proclaimed. Third, preaching is a sacred trust. Fourth, God commands preaching.

“Preaching is the proclamation of the word of God to men by men under assignment from God. It is the ordained means for the transmission of the word of God to a lost world; it serves also as an official means of grace for the building up and strengthening of the church of Christ….Preaching is essential, a sine qua non for the church; without it the people of God will languish. Where true biblical, systematic and expository preaching is present the church will thrive,” explains Pastor Paul Mizzi.

“Some preachers, it is true, seek a mode of preaching that avoids any exercise of power, or any exalted theological claims for the content of the sermon. In sermons like these, the preacher comes not proclaiming, declaring, exhorting and rebuking, but sharing, musing, reflecting and imagining. The main problem with preaching in this ‘weak’ style is that it is not weak for any of the same reasons that the apostle Paul judged his own preaching to be weak,” states Pastor Timothy Ward.

“The work of the Spirit, then, is joined to the word of God. But a distinction is made, that we may know that the external word is of no avail by itself, unless animated by the power of the Spirit. All power of action, then, resides in the Spirit himself,” explains John Calvin.

God has not only decreed the message of the Gospel, but also the method by which the Gospel message is to be communicated; preaching (Rom 10:14-17). Preaching is a God called man, equipped by the Holy Spirit, to herald a Christ-centered message from the Word of God; the Bible.

Pray for your pastor that he would continue, or begin, to preach the Word. Remember, the church is not to be audience driven but message driven by the preaching of God’s Word.

Soli deo Gloria!  

Titus: Conservator of the Truth.  

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9 (ESV)

Consider the title of today’s devotional; Conservator of the Truth. A conservator is a person responsible for the repair and preservation of works of art, buildings, or other things of cultural or environmental interest. A conservator is also a guardian or protector of something or someone.

“Under U.S. law, conservatorship is the appointment of a guardian or a protector by a judge to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of another person due to old age or physical or mental limitations,” explains one commentator.

Similarly, a church elder or pastor is a conservator. He is a guardian or protector of the truth. The truth is another title for the Scriptures or the Word of God. In praying to God the Father on behalf of all His disciples, Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Therefore, an elder not only must evidence certain personal qualities but also faithful discipline. He must always be a faithful man of the Word and of God.

The phrase “He must hold firm” (ἀντέχω; antecho) grammatically refers to an elder’s personal and continual devotion to the Lord ((Matt 6:24; Luke 16:13; Titus 1:9). Such devotion is displayed “to the trustworthy word.” A pastor must always be devoted to the dependable, written revelation from God.

What an elder learns from God’s Word he must be dedicated to teach. 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV) says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” What Paul instructed Timothy and Titus is applicable for today’s church elders.

Such dedication and devotion has a purpose. The pastor/elder “may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

This is never an easy task. There are those in the church who want to hear what they want to hear from the pastor and not what they need to hear. 3 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV).  

The faithful man of God must actively give exhortation (παρακαλέω; parakaleo) to the church through sound doctrine (ὑγιαίνω διδασκαλία; hygiaino didaskalia). This refers to correct and healthy instruction from God’s Word.

The pastor must also rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine. To rebuke (ἐλέγχω; elencho) grammatically means to presently, actively and infinitely reprove and expose false teachers. The instruction is not only to oppose false teaching but also false teachers. “This means to show one’s fault, implying that there is a convincing of that fault (Matt. 18:15; John 3:20; 16:8; Eph. 5:11; 1Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 1:9; Heb. 12:5; James 2:9; Jude 15, 22-23; Rev. 3:19),” explains one commentator.

False teachers are those who speak against God’s Word (ἀντιλέγω; antilego). They are not just in error but are in opposition to the Scriptures ((Lk 2:34; 20:27; 21:15; John 19:12; Acts 4:14; Rom. 10:21; Titus 1:9; 2:9). I have discovered these to be angry individuals who do not listen to anyone but themselves.

2 Corinthians 10:1–6 (ESV) says, “I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away! — I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

To teach sound doctrine and to oppose false teaching is the elder’s task. If an individual is not up to this task, then they are not fit to be a church elder.

Pray today for the elders in your local church. Pray that they will be uncompromising in their biblical responsibilities. Have a God-honoring day.

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: The Qualifications of Elders. Part Three.

but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” (Titus 1:8 (ESV)

Today’s text contains six more qualifications for church elders or bishops. Let’s examine each characteristic. Where Titus 1:7 listed negatives to avoid, today’s text lists character traits to pursue and possess.

An elder is to be hospitable. Hospitality (φιλόξενος; philoxenos) means to care for strangers (1Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1Peter 4:9).

“Hospitality meant housing, feeding and treating graciously travelers needing a place to stay. Christian travelers, like Jewish ones, normally carried letters of recommendation attesting that they could be trusted,” explains one commentator.

“All Christians are to practice hospitality (Heb. 13:2). But elders are to be so engaged in this practice that it characterizes them (1 Tim. 3:2Titus 1:8). In so many words, Paul told Timothy and Titus that elders not only need to go and seek God’s sheep; they also need to bring them into the fold of the shepherd’s home,” states Dr. R. C. Sproul.

An elder is also to be a lover of good. This phrase is one word in the Greek (φιλάγαθος; philagathos). It means to be a right minded lover of moral goodness.

Additionally, a church leader is to be self-controlled (σώφρων; sophron). This refers to moderate, prudent and sensible behavior. It is synonymous with being sober-minded and discreet (Titus 2:2, 5).

To be upright (δίκαιος; dikaios) means to be righteous and just. It refers to being in obedience with God’s compelling standards (Matt.1:19).

To be holy (ὅσιος; hosios) means to be a dedicated servant ((1Tim. 2:8; Tit 1:8; Heb. 7:26; Rev 15:4). Holiness refers to moral blamelessness (I Thess. 2:10).

Finally, an elder is to be disciplined (ἐγκρατής; enkrates). This is another word for self-control. This is in contrast to the vices mentioned in Titus 1:7 and 1 Tim. 4:7–8).

“I know, many people’s eyes glaze over with disinterest when the subject of church government comes up. But how churches are to organize and govern themselves is a major theme throughout the New Testament. Church government is an important topic in virtually all the Protestant confessions, and in most of our major systems of theology. Whether the subject piques our interest or not, the biblical writers thought it very important and devoted much time and attention to direct those who would come after them as to how to organize and govern their congregations. Remember, all those who trust in Jesus Christ by faith are part of his spiritual body, and are to be members of a local church. For its part, Christ’s church must ensure that the souls of God’s people are fed and cared for, are protected from heresy, as well as from those who confess faith in Christ but who still behave like pagans. When churches ignore these weighty and numerous biblical texts, God’s people may remain Christ’s, but it is they who are treated by their own shepherds as though they were pagans—duped non-persons who do the leader’s bidding, and open their wallets, and give countless hours at great sacrifice to accomplish the leader’s personal vision,” explains Pastor Kim Riddlebarger.  

It is obvious that not everyone can serve the Lord as a church elder or bishop. It requires unique individuals who God has gifted. It is a hard task to be an elder, but a noble one.

Pray for the elders of your local church. Pray for their families and their ministries. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: The Qualifications of Elders. Part Two.

For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,” (Titus 1:7 (ESV)

The apostle Paul switched from the term “elder” (presbyteros) to overseer (episkopos), or bishop”) in vs. 7. We derive our English word Episcopalian from this Greek word. Yet the two words have the same meaning.

“The two words are plainly interchangeable in the apostle’s thinking, referring to the same church office. The term “overseer” is singular here, but this certainly does not mean that there must be only one episkopos per congregation. Rather the word is used here in a generic sense. Paul was simply affirming that these qualifications are required of all overseers,” explains Dr. Duane Liftin.  

Paul stressed the stewardship nature of an elder. A steward (οἰκονόμος; oikonomos) was the manager of a household. The position refers to one who has authority and responsibility (1Cor. 4:1, 2; Gal. 4:2; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 4:10). Paul adds that a bishop or elder is to be above reproach as a steward.

Additionally, a bishop must not be arrogant. Arrogance (αὐθάδης; authades) refers to being self-willed and stubborn (2 Peter 2:10). It means always wanting your own way.

Being quick tempered (ὀργίλος; orgilos) means to be inclined to anger. In other words, an elder is not to be hot-tempered, short tempered and irritable; either at God or other people.  

Neither is a church leader to a drunkard (πάροινος; paroinos) or addicted to wine (I Tim. 3:3). While the Scriptures do not teach total abstinence from alcohol (I Tim. 5:23), it does declare a person who habitually drinks too much, and thus becomes a drunkard, violates God command against such behavior; therefore forfeiting the opportunity to serve as an elder (Eph. 5:18).

Violence is never to be seen in a church elder or bishop. To be violent (πλήκτης; plektes) means to be a bully (I Tim. 3:3). Unfortunately, many individuals in ministry embody this behavior. It is to their shame.

Finally, an elder is not to be greedy. The phrase greedy for gain (αἰσχροκερδής; aischrokerdes) literally means greedy for dishonest gain (I Tim. 3:3, 8; I Peter 5:2). Shameful greed for money may result in leaders stealing from the church and bringing reproach upon the Gospel. This should never happen.

A survey of godly church leadership from today’s text informs believers in Christ as to the caliber of men called to serve as elders. Not everyone can serve as an elder. Not everyone should. Only those to whom God has called and who evidence holiness of behavior consistent with the call.

Pray that your church’s elders are such a few, good men. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: The Qualifications of Elders.

“If anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.” (Titus 1:6)

I recently received a phone call from a pastor in the eastern United States. He is a leader of a church plant. His congregation is growing in their faith in Christ and in number. He said he needed guidance regarding the need for, and the selection of, elders for this local church. I gave him several suggestions, including the study by that local church of I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.

What did the Apostle Paul say to Titus regarding the selection of elders in the church? What qualifications are there for individuals to serve as church elders?

First, elders are to be anyone above reproach? Paul’s use of the pronoun anyone (τὶς; tis)is in the masculine gender. This infers that elders are men. The phrase above reproach (ἀνέγκλητος; anenkletos) means to be morally blameless and beyond any immoral accusation ((1 Cor. 1:8; Col. 1:22; 1 Tim. 3:10; Titus 1:6, 7). This remains a vital requirement for leaders in the church.

Second, an elder is to be the husband of one wife. This literally means a one wife husband. In other words, a one woman man. An elder is to remain faithful to his wife and to his marriage vows and responsibilities (Prov. 5; 6:20-35; Eph. 5:22-33). An elder is to avoid sexual immorality at all costs. This is an explicit reference to only men being elders.

Third, an elder’s children are to be believers. There is no age limit inferred in the text. An elder’s children must confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord whatever their age. They must also live lives which are not open to any accusation of debauchery or insubordination.

Debauchery (ἀσωτία; asotia) refers to recklessness, senseless living and wildness. Insubordination (ἀνυπότακτος; anypotaktos) means to be rebellious and disobedient. Both words describe a child who is self-willed and independent to the point of being uncontrollable.

“The elder must have his own household under control. This involves not only the matter of discipline (1 Tim. 3:4–5), but also positive spiritual influence as well. His children must be believers who are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient,” explains Dr. Duane Liftin.

Years ago, an elder at a church I pastored approached me and informed me that he was resigning from his position. One of his children had broken the law and been arrested. While the incident was a mischievous misdemeanor punishable by community service, my friend believed it disqualified him from being an elder. While other elders of the church dismissed his decision as taking his teenager’s actions too seriously, I accepted his resignation and respected his decision. I encouraged the other church elders to do the same.

Eldership is not to be filled by someone on the basis of their popularity in the congregation and position in the community. Rather, God has given the requirements and they are to be taken seriously. My friend understood this even though other church elders did not.

Take time today to pray for your church elders. You may consider sending them an email informing them of your prayerful support of their position and ministry. I am sure they would be most appreciative.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: The Need for Elders.  

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you–” (Titus 1:5 (ESV)

Following his doctrinal introduction, the Apostle Paul began to explain the reasons for the epistle to Titus. The primary reason was for Titus to put in place proper church structure and encourage biblical behavior.

Paul began with the importance of church order. The word order (ἐπιδιορθόω; epidiorthoo) means to set right and to correct. In other words, it means to straighten out. The churches in Crete needed biblical order and appointing godly leaders was of first importance.

Titus was to appoint elders. The word appoint (καθίστημι; kathistemi) means to actively put in charge and to designate for a particular task. Titus had the responsibility to appoint elders in the churches. It was not to be a popularity contest but rather a divine mandate.

Elders (πρεσβύτερος; presbyteros) literally meant an elderly man. An individual’s age often harmonized with his leadership ability and maturity.

“Titus was to correct wrong doctrine and practices in the Cretan churches, a task that Paul had been unable to complete. This ministry is mentioned nowhere else. Elders (1 Tim. 3:1–7), mature spiritual leaders of the church, also known as bishops or overseers (Titus 1:7; cf. 1 Tim. 3:2) and pastors (lit., shepherds; see Eph. 4:11), were to care for each city’s congregation,” explains Dr. John MacArthur. See also Acts 20:17, 281 Pet. 5:1–2.

Apparently, Titus had not completed this task that Paul had given him. There was no time to delay. The responsibility was important. The need for elders in the churches was great.

“As with Timothy in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3), Paul had left Titus behind to provide leadership to the fledgling church in Crete. Now the apostle reiterated his previous instructions, both for Titus’ sake and for the congregation’s. The organization of the Cretan church was unfinished due to the brevity of Paul’s visit. Thus Titus was to straighten out (lit., “set in order”) the situation by appointing elders in every town. Titus was now acting as an apostolic agent (cf. Acts 14:23) in Paul’s absence. His authority in the Cretan church was an extension of Paul’s own. Such authority ended with the close of the Apostolic Age,” explains Dr. Duane Liftin.

A seminary student of mine serves as an associate pastor of a fledging church plant. The initial congregation of twenty has grown numerically. He asked what would be the next step in the church’s development. We agreed that the first task was to appoint elders in the church. These would be individuals who, on the basis of biblical qualifications, would assume the responsibility of spiritually leading the church alongside the pastor. What was necessary in Paul and Titus’ day remains so in ours.

Does your church have qualified lay elders who lead the congregation alongside the pastor? Take time today to study the biblical qualifications for elders found in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Pray for those in your church who serve in this leadership position.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!      

Titus: Grace and Peace.  

“To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.” (Titus 1:4 (ESV)

Grace and peace. Before we begin to study what the Apostle Paul had to say to Titus about his ministry in Crete, attention must be given to two Greek words found in vs. 4. Those two words are grace and peace.

To most believers in Christ, grace and peace are familiar words. They are contained in many church hymns and gospel songs. They are the topics of Christian books and slogans found on wall hangings. The words may even be displayed in your church sanctuary or worship center.

Why are these two words so important? Why would Paul use them in each of his thirteen New Testament epistles? Historically, they were part of a common greeting; such as hello or how are you? But is that all they represented?

Grace (χάρις; charis) means favor, good will, and kindness. Grace is more than favor but rather unmerited favor, undeserved good will and kindness to sinners. It is favor, good will and kindness from God wherein He is under no obligation to show favor, good will and kindness.

Peace (εἰρήνη; Eirene) refers to freedom from worry and to have tranquility. Peace is also the absence of enmity or war between two parties. In certain contexts the Greek word for peace is seen in the OT concept of the Shalom, i.e., welfare, health (Matt. 10:34; Mark 5:34; John 14:27; 16:33; 20:19, 21; Rom. 1:7; 5:1; 15:33; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 2:14; Php. 4:7, 9; Col. 3:15).

Notice the word order. Grace always precedes peace in the New Testament epistles. For example, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” (1 Peter 1:1–2 (ESV)  

There can be no peace for the sinner unless God first disposes His grace. This unmerited favor is initiated by the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work (John 3:1-8) whereby God brings the spiritually dead to life (Eph. 2:5-7). This new life in the person and work of Jesus Christ results in peace with God (Rom. 5:1) and the peace of God (Php. 4:6-7).

“Grace, the free favour of God, and acceptance with him. Peace, the positive effect and fruit of grace and mercy. Peace with God through Christ who is our peace, and with the creatures and ourselves; outward and inward peace, comprehending all good whatsoever, that makes for our happiness in time and to eternity,” explains Puritan Matthew Henry.

Do you know God’s peace? Peace is the result of receiving by faith God’s grace of salvation in Jesus Christ. May it be so.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: A True Child.  

“To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.” (Titus 1:4 (ESV)

Following his introductory remarks in Titus 1:1-3, the Apostle Paul then addressed the recipient of his letter; Titus. Titus was pastoring on the island of Crete (1:5).

“Titus was a Gentile believer (Gal. 2:1-3). If the Epistle to the Galatians was written before the council recorded in Acts 15, his conversion was the fruit of Barnabas’ and Paul’s early ministry in Antioch of Syria (Acts 11:19-30). Although Paul addresses this letter to Titus, he intended for it to be read to the whole church (3:15),” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

Titus was also a true child of the faith. He was a true convert to Christianity. True (γνήσιος; genesios) means genuine, real and sincere. Child (τέκνον; teknon) refers to a dear friend. God had chosen Titus to understand the truth of the Gospel unto salvation and evidence this understanding by his godliness (1:1). He became a dear companion to Paul. Titus was not a mere professor of the Gospel but rather a genuine possessor of grace and faith in Christ. This was in contrast to others who served alongside Paul but had deserted the faith (2 Tim. 4:10; I John 2:19).

The word common (κοινός; koinos) means that Paul and Titus has a mutual and shared faith; or trust in, dependence upon, commitment to and worship of the Lord Jesus Christ. Their faith was not only trust in Christ for salvation but also the  doctrines of the Christian faith; “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

“Paul identified Titus as his “true child in a common faith” (Titus 1:4). Blood ties were important to Paul, but for him our true, eternal family in Christ supersedes mere physical relations. Scripture says in many places that our real family is formed not by blood ties but through faith in Christ (Mark 3:31–35). Ultimately, only our relationships with true believers will endure eternally, and so we must look to the church to be our family and allow ourselves to be family to other believers,” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

Do you have close relationships with other believers in your church? Who are these individuals? Let us all do what we can to strengthen the bond of love with other Christians by prayer and encouragement.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: Ten Essentials of Preaching. Part Five.

“…and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;” (Titus 1:3 (ESV)

The following article is an excerpt from the Master’s Seminary Blog, June 23, 2020. It is entitled Ten Essentials of Preaching.

1. Preaching must be Biblically-Centered and Biblically-Grounded.

2. Preaching must be God-Exalting.

3. Preaching must be Christ-ward.

4. Preaching must be Doctrinally and Theologically Accurate.

5. Preaching must be dependent, both before and after the Preaching Event.

6. Preaching must be Well-Prepared.

7. Preaching must be Authoritative.

8. Preaching must demand something.

9. Preaching must be both articulate and imaginative.

10. Preaching must be Passionate and Engaging.

Solid preaching is not monotone or monochromatic. It goes beyond reading the Bible out loud, and it goes beyond reading dryly from a manuscript.

This requires changing vocal patterns (tone of voice, volume, and pace, etc.), making eye contact, and using one’s body (facial expressions, hand gestures, maneuvering around the pulpit) as a means of communication—just as the preacher would in interactions in daily life.

Further, to be passionate in preaching requires a man to believe in what he is preaching. As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it in his landmark lectures titled Preaching and Preachers, the preacher is not serving merely as an advocate, but as a witness! He is not merely reciting facts about God and His Word. Rather, he is testifying to the power of the great God revealed in the Word. Lloyd-Jones would say elsewhere in his Preaching and Preachers lectures that preaching is “theology on fire” — a useful phrase and image that speaks to the passion which must undergird and flow out of any sound preaching. Solid preaching is both passionate and engaging.

A Weighty Task.

The task of preaching is no small matter. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, preaching requires great commitment, precision, and care. Pray for those men in your life (including, if applicable, yourself) who have been entrusted with this weightiest of tasks, that they would always treat Scripture as “what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13), and that in preaching the truths of the Bible, they would “make it clear in the way [we] ought to speak” (Col. 4:4).

Take time today to pray for your pastor and other ministers who preach the Word of God. Pray they never compromise from God’s command to “Preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:1-7).

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: Ten Essentials of Preaching. Part Four.

“…and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;” (Titus 1:3 (ESV)

The following article is an excerpt from the Master’s Seminary Blog, June 23, 2020. It is entitled Ten Essentials of Preaching.

1. Preaching must be Biblically-Centered and Biblically-Grounded.

2. Preaching must be God-Exalting.

3. Preaching must be Christ-ward.

4. Preaching must be Doctrinally and Theologically Accurate.

5. Preaching must be dependent, both before and after the Preaching Event.

6. Preaching must be Well-Prepared.

7. Preaching must be Authoritative.

8. Preaching must Demand Something.

Preaching is not lecturing. While there is a didactic component to any sound preaching, preaching should go beyond teaching in calling on the listener to do so something with the content of the sermon. The preacher is free to suggest specific points of application for the church, but is not required to do so, since it ultimately is the Spirit of God who is going to convict hearts and move Spirit-indwelt individuals to act in response to the preacher’s wielding of the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17).

For believers, the Spirit will take a faithfully-prepared sermon and drive the truth of Scripture into the heart of God’s people (Heb. 4:12), convicting them of sin and fueling them to grow further in holiness and Christlikeness. For unbelievers, the Spirit will take such a sermon and convict him or her of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8), which ultimately will lead to salvation for those who are among God’s elect, or just condemnation for those who remain under God’s wrath. Either way, God’s purposes in sending out His Word through the preacher will be fulfilled (Isa. 55:11).

9. Preaching must be both Articulate and Imaginative.

The best sermons are not merely thrown together. Rather, they are carefully crafted over the course of many hours. They have ample cross-references to Scripture, and if needed, to church history. They are edited, polished, and rolled over in the preacher’s mind, so as to work out any problems with the content or delivery before the preaching event arrives. Routinely preaching “Saturday night specials” is no way to preach!

In addition, solid preaching is imaginative, meaning that, when it would be helpful, it includes illustrations, stories, and hypotheticals to draw out the meaning of the text. Since it is both “living and active” (Heb. 4:12) and “perfect” (Ps. 19:7), the Word of God ultimately needs no illustrations or similar devices to bring it life. The word of Christ itself gives life (John 6:63). However, to carry us along in our fallen condition, illustrations and stories can be helpful in illuminating the meaning of Scripture, which in turn helps us to live upright and godly lives in this age (Titus 2:12).

As with anything, illustrations and stories can be overused! If an illustration or a story showcases a preacher as a gifted illustrator or storyteller – rather than showcasing God and His glory – the preacher has not fulfilled his task.”

Take time today to pray for your pastor and other ministers who preach the Word of God. Pray they never compromise from God’s command to “Preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:1-7).

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: Ten Essentials of Preaching. Part Three.

“…and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;” (Titus 1:3 (ESV)

The following article is an excerpt from the Master’s Seminary Blog, June 23, 2020. It is entitled Ten Essentials of Preaching.

1. Preaching must be Biblically-Centered and Biblically-Grounded.

2. Preaching must be God-Exalting.

3. Preaching must be Christ-ward.

4. Preaching must be Doctrinally and Theologically Accurate.

5. Preaching must be dependent, both before and after the Preaching Event.

6. Preaching must be Well-Prepared.

Being Spirit-led is no excuse for being ill-prepared. A preacher, like any Christian, must be committed to disciplining himself “for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7). He must be committed to communing with God (through the reading of Scripture and prayer), as well as with God’s people.

As it relates to his preaching in particular, he must heed the words of 2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” In short, he must be a disciplined man who is committed to working hard and toiling in his study. He must be committed to studying the text in its original language, applying sound principles of grammar, hermeneutics, and exegesis to extract the main point of the text, studying the Scriptures and key theological treatises for important cross-references, and developing a sound homiletical outline that unearths and shines a spotlight on the main point of the text.

As time goes on, this exegetical process is likely to go faster, but the disciplined preacher must be committed to taking no shortcuts in the exegetical process. As the process goes faster, the preacher has more time to go deeper.

7. Preaching must be Authoritative.

The man who has been appointed to preach is not standing up to share his opinions or suggestions. He is not giving a TED Talk. He is not a life coach or a self-help guru who happens to be holding a Bible. Instead, as did the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament, the preacher must be willing to say, with boldness, “Thus saith the Lord.” He does so precisely because he knows the power rests with God and His Word, not with the preacher himself.

He is not ashamed of the message he has been called to proclaim, nor does he shy away from or minimize the office and responsibility he holds. As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it:

The preacher should never be apologetic. He should never give the impression that he is speaking by their leave as it were. He should not be tentatively putting forward certain suggestions and ideas. That is not to be his attitude at all. He is a man, who is there to “declare” certain things; he is a man under commission and under authority. He is an ambassador, and he should be aware of his authority. He should always know that he comes to the congregation as a sent messenger.

Sound preaching is authoritative preaching.

Take time today to pray for your pastor and other ministers who preach the Word of God. Pray they never compromise from God’s command to “Preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:1-7).

Soli deo Gloria!

Titus: Ten Essentials of Preaching. Part Two.

“…and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;” (Titus 1:3 (ESV)

The following article is an excerpt from the Master’s Seminary Blog, June 23, 2020. It is entitled Ten Essentials of Preaching.

1. Preaching must be Biblically-Centered and Biblically-Grounded.

2. Preaching must be God-Exalting.

3. Preaching must be Christ-ward.

4. Preaching must be Doctrinally and Theologically Accurate.

Preaching should not be driven by theological presuppositions, but instead should be, first and foremost, biblically-centered and biblically-grounded. Every sermon is, to some degree, a theological endeavor, as it promotes and explains the character and Word of God.

So before the sermon is preached, it should be checked against trusted theological resources to ensure the preacher is safely within the guardrails of orthodoxy. To this end, studying systematic theology, biblical theology, historical theology, and practical theology is an essential component of being a faithful and effective preacher of God’s Word. Being a student of theology not only benefits the preacher, it benefits those to whom he is preaching.

As J.I. Packer once put it: “Doctrinal preaching certainly bores the hypocrites; but it is only doctrinal preaching that will save Christ’s sheep.”

5. Preaching must be dependent, both before and after the Preaching Event.

The preacher recognizes that apart from Christ he can do nothing (John 15:5), and so he is a man of prayer, both as a part of his daily walk with the Lord (1 Thess. 5:17) and in particular as he prepares his soul and mind to preach.

He prays as he studies (Ps. 119:18), he prays throughout the week leading up to his preaching, he prays the night before he preaches, he prays the morning he is scheduled to preach, and he prays as he walks up to preach. He is utterly dependent upon the Lord to provide the wisdom, the grace, and the strength to deliver God’s Word that day.

While the preacher is dependent upon prayer that is not the only way he is dependent on God in his preaching. Though he is well-prepared to preach the sermon, he is nevertheless yielded to the Spirit as he delivers the sermon. He is reading the room as he preaches, noting eye contact and other non-verbal cues from the congregation, and as he does so, he is willing to go in directions that he had not planned to, as the Spirit leads, albeit all within a well-crafted and orderly presentation of what God has revealed in His Word.

With his words, the preacher is to shepherd real people who sit before him with real hurts and real questions, not simply recite a memorized speech. So the preacher must depend upon the Spirit to help him to accomplish this task.

Take time today to pray for your pastor and other ministers who preach the Word of God. Pray they never compromise from God’s command to “Preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:1-7).

Soli deo Gloria!