How would you like to try to solve church problems among perpetual liars, evil beasts, and continuous gluttons? It probably wouldn’t be the first choice that comes to my mind when contemplating future ministry. But let’s face it — God has not called us to simply teach the taught — to gospel the gospel-ed — to train the trained. The task of Titus was daunting discipleship and church organization among a shameful people — his strategy, as delineated to him by Paul, was founded upon a deep trust for God, his Scripture, and the sound doctrine which flows thereafter.
Paul uses the word, “doctrine” at least four times in his short letter to Titus. I would like to highlight the first one in this post.
First usage: 1:9
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
or another translation:
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.
Verse 9 is a continuation of the discussion on pastoral qualifications in the preceding verses; one such qualification is that the man of God must hold to the “faithful word.” Although teaching is a major part of pastoral ministry (exhorting- instructing, παρακαλειν), the pastor must cleave to the Word for a purpose beyond simply feeding the flock.
The passage gives two clear purposes: (1, as alluded to above) so that, by sound doctrine, the pastor can properly instruct and exhort and (2) so he can, by sound doctrine, rebuke those who contradict the Word.
People are going to contradict the Scriptures? Even those who claim the name of Christ? Oh no! What should we do?
We should draw our doctrine from Scripture and consequently use it to exhort some to godly living and to confront others of error.
But who are these people who are in error? Verse 10-11 describe them as empty talkers, deceivers, and those who are guilty of teaching wrong doctrine for shameful gain, i.e, filthy lucre.
In other words, the preacher must be faithful to the Scriptures so that when his flock is exposed to Joel Osteen-type false teachers, that they stand strong in the doctrines of the Word. The pastor must be faithful to the Word so that he can rebuke those who are using empty charisma to sway the innocent, spewing false doctrine upon the simple — all for shameful gain (verse 11). Further, the man of God must be faithful to the Word since these “teachers” will use and confuse biblical terms and cause the naive to fall prey — times will arise when self-promoting intellectuals, called “teachers” will constantly appeal to Jewish myths (verse 14).
Fellow-soldiers in the battle for God’s truth, these times were not unique to the young Titus. Our situations are nearly identical — let us stand strong around the Word of God and the doctrines contained therein!