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Faithlife

I don't need a list

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Titus 1:5–16 NIV
The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
We are in the middle of a series called Foundations. We are studying through the book of Titus. Two weeks ago, we left off at verse 5.
Titus 1:5 NIV
The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.
Paul tells Titus, to appoint elders. Elders are the spiritual leadership of the church, or possibly even the spiritual leadership over groups of churches. So Paul says Titus, we need to formally organize these churches on Crete by appointing spiritual leaders.
Paul, in the verses that follow tells Titus it is important that the spiritual leadership of the church actually have the characteristics of Christ followers. As Christ followers their lives ought to demonstrate a Christian lifestyle. Titus, Paul says, when you pick these leaders, make sure that they look like Christians from the outside.
That is fairly obvious, don’t you think? The leader should at least look like a Christian. What is the #1 complaint against Christians? It might be that Christians are hypocritical, right? Non-Christians are almost waiting for a Christian to mess up so they can point it out. In reality we give them plenty of ammo. The world looks at people who are claiming Christ, then watch as someone has an affair, is involved in pornography, or says, something stupid on twitter or facebook. Preachers with private jets ask for money and then are investigated for tax evasion. The world says say look at the Holier than Thou person.... they claim to be better than everyone... but they aren’t.
You don’t even need to be a Christian, to know that if you claim to be a Christian you should at least live a bit like Christ. You don’t even need to have a whole lot of biblical knowledge to know that a Christian ought to correspond to what is good, and right. A Christian leader should appear consistent with what we think Jesus is like. There should be at least some, authenticity. There ought to some humility, some compassion, some generosity
We can define in detail what traits Christian should posses, and we even make lists. Lists of what we think a Christian should be, and lists of what a Christian is not. That’s what Paul does. “Titus’, he says, “appoint leaders that look like Christians and here is a list.”
If you are a person that loves Checklists, get your pens ready, cause here we go.
Titus 1:6 NIV
An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.
Slide-List1
Paul says an Elder should be blameless. That is without stain or without reproach, or guiltless. Or to appear that no impropriety is occuring
In 1948 Billy Graham and his team were growing in popularity. They had finished a Crusade in Modesto California, and they realized, how important it was that they were above being suspected of any wrong doing. Newspapers, even at that time, were always looking for a story, and would love to sink their teeth into an evangelist as popular as Billy Graham. As a result, Billy Graham and his leadership team came up with a plan to keep him and his team from apparent scandal.
This story was actually in the news again recently due to the sexual abuse scandals. A reporter discovered Vice President Mike Pence had adopted one of Billy Graham’s rules. The Charolette Observer published an article titled “Mike Pence follows Billy Graham Rule”.
The Billy Graham leadership team came up with a set of rules in 1948 they called the Modesto Manifesto, named after the crusade they were on at the time. There were 4 rules, all designed to keep the team blameless, or above reproach.
The four rules were, paraphrased, one never be alone with a woman that was not your wife, two be financially accountable, three be honest about crowd size, and four work with local churches not against them.
The author wrote, “Whatever you think of the rules or their application circa 2017, they kept Graham himself largely untainted by scandal his entire career.”
The Billy Graham team did it to be blameless.
The list Paul wrote in verse 6, is largely about managing your family life. We can take that verse and for sake of clarity, condense into a solid family. Your family is the people that are closest to you, they know you best, and as it says in verse 7 if you can’t hold your family together how are you going to manage God’s family.
Titus 1:7 NIV
Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.
Here Paul gives us a list of things not to do.
SLide list2
These are generally emotional responses. Don’t lash out with your emotions. Get a handle on your feelings, don’t let them ruin your walk with Christ.
Today, psychologists refer to it as emotional intelligence. The ability to control your emotions and not react in an unhealthy way. Also, it is a sign of maturity, when you can control your desires. When your flesh, or your desires control you-it is not healthy, If you are reacting emotionally-you are not spiritually mature enough.
Remember that series on the book of 1 Samuel? Saul’s kingdom operated in that negative list. Saul would lose control, become violent and hurl a spear at David. He would purse him to no end for dishonest gain. He was violent impatient vengeful, self seeking. Who would want to live in a kingdom like that anyway?
Imagine a household like that? Perhaps some of you have lived in a household like that. Maybe you grew up with an abusive or alcoholic father. Maybe you know that kingdom first hand. For some of us here, just looking at the list turns our stomach. Those items bring up fear.
How do you live in a kingdom like that? Try to minister to them? Doubtful, it is hard to minister in fear. Just pursuing a normal life is hard enough. Prayer and hope is what gets you through. Hope that someday Jesus will rescue you from the darkness.
One of my past jobs, I had a boss that did not have any self control. He was prone to horrible outbursts of anger. I saw him throw phones through computer screens. That is plural it happened on more than one occasion. He was the boss too, so what do you do? It is horrible. Y walk on egg shells because you never know what and when he is going to go off, so you walk in fear constantly.
That is not of God. If a person is on that list, they are not a Christian. Think about this, how horrible would that be if that happened in the church? What if the leader of the Church was like that? I have read about it it happens. How in the world could God’s purposes for the church ever be lived out. A person in that list has not been transformed by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul tells us that there is a more excellent way. Rather, than being a product of this emotional response, or rather than being someone who responds to the flesh we should be another way.
Titus 1:8 NIV
Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
A new list of positive traits to live by.
Slide List 3
Hospitable-welcoming of people-
one who loves what it is good-You want to pursue goodness
Self-controlled-Not subject to every emotional whim
upright-Holy and disciplined. Being Holy because God is holy, doing what is right and good because you ought to, not because you have to
That sound good, and right. Doesn’t it? That would make a good leader, that is what you want in a leader.
Find a leader who is hospitable, loves what is good, is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
That sounds more like Jesus’s kingdom, rather than Saul’s. I need to live in Jesus’s kingdom, I can’t live in Saul’s, I can’t survive in Saul’s, everything in my soul cries out to belong to THAT kingdom.
Hospitable, loving what is good, self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined, isn’t that where we want to dwell?
Two lists.
You can do a lot with lists, and lists are good. Take the list and hold on to it, laminate it. Carry it in your wallet, better yet, memorize it.
Check off the good- avoid the bad. For you list keepers out this is right in your wheel house. But what if you are not a list keeper?
My wife makes lists when she goes to the grocery store. I do not.I always say to her, I don’t need a list! Truth is I do.I forget things, she does not. Lists can be good. They help you make sure you don’t forget things.
However, sometimes lists can be limiting. Since I do not have a list I often buy things that are not on the list. This may not be a good practice for grocery shopping, because you end up spending more than intended, but for elder qualifications it is another story
When Paul gave this list to Titus, there are some things that are not on the list. For instance we can look at 1 Timothy 3, and find a more comprehensive list, however even if you put both of those lists together there may still be items that are important that are not on either list.
There may still be traits essential to leadership in the church, that are not on either list. The list is not necessarily complete, exhaustive, or exclusive. The list we find here is just the list Paul was communicating to Titus for those churches in Crete, in this letter. There perhaps are other things that Paul communicated at other times, that well in this letter, would go without saying.
It is a good list, and we can use the list but, sometimes when we get all caught up in a list we can get short-sighted and focus on the list. We need to remember, that there is a bigger and broader picture. See Paul is saying Titus, these are important for you in Crete, and here is a list. But Titus, remember there are some things that it goes without saying.
List keepers, hang on to your lists, but remember there are things that it goes without saying, things that aren’t on the list but are nine-the-less important or even essential. So Paul sums it up this way.
Titus 1:9 NIV
He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
He must hold firmly to the message as it has been taught. The Message-the Gospel-the Gospel- and so much more than that.
Remember he didn’t have the New Testament yet, it was still being written, so it would be everything that Paul taught him.
Titus, Paul says, make sure the leader knows the Bible, forward and back. Make sure he doesn’t twist it to suit his needs or his message, but make sure he keeps to sound doctrine.
He can encourage the church with the word of God, and when someone is off base, he can argue with him. He will know right away when something is wrong and he will be able to point it out.
The list is good, but in addition to the list hold firmly to the message, or everything that is not on the list. The origin of the list.
In engineering school a professor would lecture everyday. The lecture would consist of deriving a mathematical formula. When he was done, he would go to erase the board, and inevitably a voice would shout out WAIT! we are not done copying the formula. This would go every class, and the professor would wait impatiently. Finally, one day the professor said, look, you are missing the point. The important part is HOW I got to the equation. You need to understand where the equation comes from. If you understand where it comes from then you don’t need to write it down. The formula is just a tool. A tool to save you work, but it isn’t the work itself it is only the result.
The list is a tool. It is a helpful tool, but it is only the result. What I want you see is the why of the list. The list is handy, keep the list, but know that it isn’t about the list.
Keep your finger or your bulletin in Titus. We will come back to it. But turn with me to the book of Galatians, chapter 5.
Paul here in Galatians chapter 5 is describing 2 things. Our flesh, and our spirit. Our flesh is the part of us that is still part of this world. It is our desires our lusts, it is our base. It s raw and ugly.
The flesh is the way we were before we believed the gospel. It is what we turned from when we turned toward Jesus. It is that part of your heart that is well more like Saul. Anger, pride, jealousy lust greed, you know it the part we don’t talk about to anyone.
Then, Paul says there is this other part. There is the Spirit. It is that part of us that is trying to live in Jesus’s kingdom. it is that part that is filled with The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who enters your heart of stone. He is the one who transforms your mind, he leads in the ways of righteousness. He reminds you of Jesus. We our comforter our helper, he provides the gifts we need in the church.
In Galatians Paul, talks about these two things. He says that they are at war with another.
Galatians 5:16–21 NIV
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Ick, the flesh is a cloud of darkness. sexual immorality jealousy fits of rage dissensions envy factions drunkenness.
If you are in the flesh Paul says, You will not inherit the kingdom of God. The only kingdom you will inherit is Saul’s kingdom.
That is the kingdom of these false teachers. Violent-quick-tempered fits of rage, drunkenness selfish ambition, what else-dissensions, factions envy, hatred, discord.
Again, can you even imagine being in a church like that? Why? Why when you can get that kind of thing in any abusive dysfunctional situation outside of the doors of the church, there are a million places you can go to get that. Yet it happens. It was happening on Crete. It is still happening. Read the papers, it happens all the time. You probably don’t even need to read the papers, there are churches like that all over.
We don’t have to remain in that list. There is another kingdom waiting for us, a better one.
Galatians 5:22–25 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Ahh, that is the kingdom we want to dwell in isn’t it. That is the Kingdom of Jesus! The kingdom ruled by Him, filled with the Holy Spirt. Blood bought-Spirit wrought! Live by the Spirit brothers and Sister, Keep in step with the spirit brothers and sisters! That is the list we want to live in.
Turn back to Titus
But for Titus, the Churches of Crete do not seem to be operating in that fashion, the leadership in place isn’t right, they are not living on that sound doctrine, so Paul tells Titus he has to do something about it.
Titus 1:11 NIV
They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.
These false teachers, are disrupting whole households. That term may refer to house churches. There false teaching is affecting the whole community, and they are doing it for money! Money! How many times have we seen it today! The jets, the mansions, the prosperity gospel all designed to well create-a- flow-of-dollars.....
They teach things they ought not to teach and churches are disrupted for it. Even if we do not have false teachers within these walls, their teachings can have an effect on the whole community.
Unlike in Pauls day, today we have access to thousands of sermons, books , conferences and television programs of false teachers who are good at following lists, and bad at preaching the Gospel.
False teachers you see have gotten crafty, they often know what the lists say. They adopt the list. They go to great lengths to try and appear blameless, by adhering to the list, at least on the outside. Sometimes it catches up with them, and we read about the scandal, other times, the charges are dropped.
Even if they appear blameless, you can always tell by the teaching. Ask yourself what Gospel are they preaching?
The false teachers Paul says are from the circumcision group. This means they are of the group that tells you to enter God’s kingdom, it takes something of your own doing, The Gospel plus circumcision. The false teachers are talking about your work adding to the gospel. This group was adamant, there was something else that the believers needed to do before they could enter into the kingdom, namely circumcision. That exalts man and His works. That says that what Christ did wasn’t quite enough, you have to still do something to add to it.
That is NOT what the true gospel teaches. The true Gospel the Christian will do good works, because that is what a Christian does. But doing good works does not make you a Christian. It is like this, all cars will have wheels, it is part of being a car, but putting wheels on something doesn’t make it a car.
The false teachers exalt man. They will tell you abut yourself. They will tell you ways to improve yourself. Sometimes by giving them money. Sometimes ways to happy, sometimes they will motivate you to overcome your problems.
The Gospel according to 1 Corinthians 15 is That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was dead and was buried, and that he rose again and appeared. The Gospel is that Christ died for you so that you can have eternal life, and live a life now filled with the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 1 verse 8 and 9 Paul wrote
Galatians 1:8–9 NIV
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
Paul says, any other gospel he is cursed. And he says it twice, in the book of Galatians! The book aimed at those of the circumcision group!
I am not saying every sermon, must contain a clear presentation of the Gospel, but every sermon must elevate Christ. Every sermon must point to the majesty, the greatness the love and the mercy of God the Father. The teaching must be consistent with the teaching of the Holy Spirit through God’s word.
Do the false teachers do that?
The preaching of the Gospel should show you that God our Father gave us the lists to show us his holiness, to show us his goodness, to show us his love for us to live in His kingdom. His kingdom his good rules, not a kingdom of this world filled with our fleshly desires.
The Gospel tells us that we cannot come into that kingdom on our own. We cannot muster up enough strength to follow that list on our own. The Gospel tells us that Jesus did. The Gospel tells us that The Lord Jesus Christ because of His great love for us, for the joy set before him endured the cross to pay the price for the us for the rules that we could not keep.
The Gospel tells us that even though He died, He was raised to life by the power of the Holy Spirit to show us that we can live a new life, an eternal life in his kingdom by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When we turn from the desires of our flesh, we repent, and we turn toward Jesus and we then walk with the Spirit living in a a kingdom filled with peace and patience and goodness.
That Gospel has power! That Gospel comes with power, because that power is not our own 2 Cor 4:7 but this all surpassing power is not from us but from God!
That is the power that raise men from the dead! That is the power that can transform a drunkard to a preacher, and it is the say power that will transform us into a Church of authentic Christians.
Keep a list if you want, but to keep to the list, do not rely on yourself but rather rely on the transforming power of the Holy Spirit given to us by God our Father according to your faith in Jesus Christ alone.
For His sake alone, and for His glory,
Amen
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