Are You Following a Biblically Qualified Pastor?
We need to ask ourselves this important question: Are we, as members of the Church, sitting under the teaching of pastors with biblical qualifications? Sadly, there are many unqualified pastors and elders filling our pulpits today. Even more saddening, many churches are full of members that don’t care if their pastor is biblically qualified or not. We see men, and sometimes women, sitting in pulpits and disobeying what the Bible clearly lays out in regards to the qualifications for this position.
The Pastoral Epistle of Titus
Paul’s letter to Titus is one of the shortest books in the New Testament but has incredible content. Known as a pastoral epistle, Paul gave authority to Titus to appoint, ordain, and develop pastors and elders in every town on the island and establish the church government. He was also encouraging Titus in the faith, and Titus was to pass that encouragement down to those he appointed. Paul wrote, not only of the appropriate conduct of elders or pastors but the conduct of believers in the Church. Paul laid the foundation for the church in Crete but had to continue his journey, therefore, leaving Titus to straighten out what Paul had left unfinished. Here’s a little background on Titus:
● Titus was a Greek (Galatians 2:3).
● Paul referred to Titus as his brother (2 Corinthians 2:13), as well as his partner and fellow-worker (2 Corinthians 8:23).
● Titus had an earnest love for the Corinthian church (2 Corinthians 8:16).
● Titus was with Paul during his 3-year stay at Ephesus, Paul’s third missionary journey (Ephesians).
● Paul called Titus his true child in a common faith (Titus 1: 4).
Crete’s inhabitants were native islanders and Jews who had not yet heard the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ. But many were converted when Paul, with the help of Titus, preached the truth to them. Paul gave clear instructions on who would be qualified for the positions that Titus was to appoint. Paul had confidence in Titus’ theological understanding, of course, because he entrusted Titus with staying in Crete and continuing his ministry. There was only a small mention of warning for false teachers and Judaizers who were seeking to add works to grace for salvation, but Titus had a deep commitment to the truth and was very effective in fighting this heresy.
Qualifications for Elders
After Paul’s introduction, he starts laying out the qualifications for elders. They were to be above reproach, or blameless. A qualifying elder must be a husband of one wife, having children as believers, and not rebellious. This elder must not be arrogant, self-willed, hot-tempered, aggressive, or an excessive drinker. He was not to be greedy or covetous. Instead, an elder would need to be hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, righteous, devout, self-controlled, and holding to the faithful message in accordance with the teaching. Elders were to exhort in sound doctrine and be able to refute those who contradicted this doctrine. There were many rebellious men, deceivers teaching families unsound doctrine for dishonest gain, so the traits of a qualifying elder were very specific. These false teachers were defiled and unbelieving, both their minds and consciences.
They professed to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him. ~ Titus 1:1-16
In the second chapter of Titus, we see a continuation of elder qualifications. Elders are to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching. It does make mention of older men in the faith, but this does not mean in age, necessarily, but having been in the faith for some time, not a new or recent convert (1 Timothy 3:6). They are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, love, and perseverance. Do we see these wonderful qualifications in our pastor or elders?
The Conduct of Church Members
Paul goes on to instruct Titus on how others in the church are to conduct themselves. Almost as if he is taking a break from laying the foundation for the office of pastor, he exhorts that not only does a pastor have to conduct himself a certain way, but as members of the Church we are to conduct ourselves a certain way, as well.
Older women are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to too much wine. Older women are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, and subject to their own husbands so the Word of God would not be dishonored. Young women in the faith can learn so much from older women in the faith, and I love the image of discipleship this specific passage of text shows us. Paul goes on to speak about the young men in the Church. They are to be sensible, to show themselves an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach so that the opponent (one is who opposite of these) could be put to shame.
Young women, older women, older men, young men, it didn’t matter, Paul instructed all to deny ungodliness and worldly desires. We are to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in this present age. Sisters, (and brothers in Christ if you are reading this) we have this blessed hope, and the appearing of the glory of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify – for Himself – a people for His own possession!! Praise the Lord for His redemption!
WE HAVE THIS BLESSED HOPE!
Paul ends his letter to Titus reminding all to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, not to defame or slander anyone, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration to all men. I think my favorite part of this book is Paul reminding Titus what we all once were. We were all depraved before Christ.
We were foolish, we were deceivers, we were disobedient, we were enslaved to pleasures and lust, spending our lives in malice, and envy, we were hateful, and hating one another. This is a detailed, graphic picture of our spiritual state before our hearts were drawn to the Father and Christ saved us. We were saved, not because of anything we have done, but according to His wonderful, sweet, precious grace! Being justified by His grace we have been made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Paul confidently said this was a trustworthy statement. It is absolute truth that we were once dead in our sins, depraved, and we were justified by His grace, alone.
Being justified by His grace we have been made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. ~ Titus 3:7
Jesus Christ is the author and source of our salvation. He is full of mercy and grace. God promised a hope of eternal life. We can learn so much in this small book, and though I clearly see laid out the qualifications for elders and pastors, as well guidance in our own conduct in Christian living, most of all I see Christ shining through this short letter from Paul to Titus.