Order in the Church!
Hope In Christ Bible Church 6/23/19
It’s our joy to continue in the series we began last Sunday entitled, “Zealous for Good Deeds.”
Now we must be clear- this passionate pursuit of good deeds has nothing to do with becoming saved but because one is truly saved.
Try as you might, if you don’t belong to Christ, all the good things you try to do are an insult to God.
In fact, Isaiah the prophet declares that in God’s sight, “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” Isa. 64:6
But the moment God captivates a heart with the gospel, what happens? There’s new birth, a whole new life!
And that new Christian, indwelt by the Spirit of God, is called to a life that overflows in good works.
With believers in mind, Paul exclaims, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Eph. 2:10
That tells us exciting news. If you are a Christian, God has prepared you to be a conduit of good deeds. Good deeds that He produces through you.
See, that’s what it means to let your light shine in a dark world.
It’s living for God so those around see good works overflow from your life. And Christ says when others see those good works, they will they do what?
Glorify your Father in heaven! Mat. 5:16
So, mark it well. It’s not that we should be doing all kinds of good things so everybody thinks the world of us. No, it’s so they will come to honor God. That includes some who will glorify God in their salvation!
Well, God’s Spirit through Paul lays out the pathway to get there.
What a joy for us to realize there is so much more God wants to do in our lives and church through deeds that display His greatness.
Remember, the historical situation is that Paul
writes to Titus his “true child in a common faith.”
And now we see the mission to which Paul has
It’s a call to pursue qualified biblical leadership
in the church.
And that friends you will see how this has
massive implications on every one of you here
this morning. Let’s now take in the words of our
Titus 1:5–9 “For this reason I left you in
Crete, that you would set in order what
remains and appoint elders in every city as I
directed you, 6 namely, if any man is above
reproach, the husband of one wife, having
children who believe, not accused of
dissipation or rebellion. 7 For the overseer
must be above reproach as God’s steward,
not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not
addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond
of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what
is good, sensible, just, devout, selfcontrolled,
9 holding fast the faithful word
which is in accordance with the teaching, so
that he will be able both to exhort in sound
doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”
Well, the heart and soul of this passage is all
about spiritual leadership in the church as God
defines it. It shows us the-
Crisis of spiritual leadership 5
Character of spiritual leadership 6
Conduct of spiritual leadership 7-8
Conviction of spiritual leadership 9
Verse 5 shows us how Titus ended up there on
the island of Crete.
Though that’s a large and beautiful island in
Greece, (stretches 160 miles in width and is
about 25 miles tall) Titus didn’t go there as a
tourist or to soak in the sun.
When Paul tells Titus, “I left you in Crete”- that
suggest he would have been there with Titus
Don’t forget. Acts 2:11 mentions that some
Cretans had come to Jerusalem and heard
Peter preach the gospel at Pentecost! They
would have returned back to Crete as
So picture many new believers in young
churches on that island of Crete. You can be
sure, there was lots to be done in what God had
begun. For verse 5 evidences a
1. Crisis of spiritual leadership
Would you note how the apostle Paul clarifies
why he left Titus in Crete?
He tells him two specific reasons: 1st, that you
would set in order what remains, and 2nd: appoint
elders in every city as I directed you.
Children, if your parents walk into your room and
say, “It’s time to bring some order to your room”
what’s the point?
Your room is a mess! There’s disorder, things
are definitely out of place! And those things with
the snap of a finger won’t work there way to
where they should be!
Very interesting, the original term, “set in order”
comes from the root word orthos.
That’s the origin of our word “orthodontist”, one
who straightens teeth.
So too, the young churches in Crete had some
problems that needed to be straightened out.
In other words, Paul is saying, “This is no time
for just treading water and maintaining the
status quo. Titus, you are the man. I have left
you there to fix what is lacking! So roll up your
sleeves and get ready to deal with some areas
where there needs be change.
Now I love what this shows us. The apostle
Paul isn’t preoccupied with how churches looked
on the outside.
He is concerned about what is most importantthe
spiritual vitality of congregations. And so is
You see, it’s not ultimately about how
impressive the church building looks, the
number that attend, the state-of-the-art
technology or the size of the staff but this- is the
church in good order in terms of its spiritual
Lots of people have been ripped off by
churches. Because while many churches look
good on the outside, the spiritual health of the
people is languishing. Why?
Because there is a famine in the land to hear
and obey God’s Word.
So it is, Paul calls Timothy to shore up what’s
lacking in the young churches that had begun on
That need is true for every church including
Hope in Christ Bible Church. And it’s true for
every one of us individually. There’s a need to
fix what is lacking.
For some of you who have come this morning,
God wants you to deal with your prayer life that
Others of you lack daily reading and meditating
on God’s Word to you in the Bible.
And many of us lack courageous commitment to
testify of Christ.
Or you may be hearing these words from the
Bible and yet not truly know the God of the
Bible. That’s means you’ve never been rescued
from your sin.
Well, you need to set that in order. How?
By doing an about face, turning from sin and
trusting in Jesus Christ. For He died and rose
for all who would come to Him in faith!
Closely related to bringing order to the churches
Paul then instructs Titus, “and appoint elders in
every city as I directed you.”
You hear that word “elders” and you may think
of those that are older as in an “elder” brother.
The original Greek word presbuteros (elders)
here did carry that idea.
But with time, that term, elders, in the N.T. came
to designate a group of men chosen to spiritually
lead individual churches.
It was their job as shepherds to guide, guard,
feed, and care for the flock of believers in the
Many of the young churches on Crete lacked
solid teams of elders to provide spiritual
It’s comparable to major league sport’s teams
with quality players but no adequate coaching
staff- they desperately need the right leadership
to fully develop.
What’s Paul’s plan for getting more elders to
lead in the churches?
He doesn’t say “Titus, “Figure it out on your
No, he tells him, “Appoint elders in every city
as I directed you.”
Now we can be certain, he’s not saying Titus,
“Go set up a poll box and tell those people the
churches: We are going to take a vote on this.
Those who get the most votes will be our new
No, he tells Titus to “appoint” elders. The idea is
“Titus, it’s your responsibility to designate, to
select qualified leaders who will spiritually care
for believers in the churches.”
You can be sure, Paul knows what he’s talking
about. For beginning on his first missionary tour
some 15 years before he wrote Titus, he set this
pattern: share the gospel, strengthen the new
Christians, and then select elders to lead those
Luke the traveling companion with Paul
describes it like this in Acts 14:21-23: “After
they had preached the gospel to that city and
had made many disciples, they returned to
Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,
22 strengthening the souls of the disciples,
encouraging them to continue in the faith,
and saying, “Through many tribulations we
must enter the kingdom of God.” 23 When
they had appointed elders for them in every
church, having prayed with fasting, they
commended them to the Lord in whom they
That’s the wonderful apostolic pattern of full
You proclaim the gospel, you build up the new
converts, and you select qualified elders to lead
in the new churches.
How many elders? There’s no perfect number,
but we do know it must be elders, more than I.
There is to be a plurality of qualified men.
And I Peter 5:1 confirms that when Peter
speaks to local churches saying, “I exhort the
elders among you.”
No Peter wasn’t the first Pope. And he wasn’t a
solo elder. Neither were any of the other elders
in the churches to which he wrote.
That tells us God wants his church to be led not
just by one pastor but by a team of qualified
men He calls “elders.”
So put yourself in Titus’ shoes.
He’s just been called to bring order where it
lacked in the churches AND to appoint new
elders in every city.
And you scratch your head thinking, “But what
kind of people should be chosen?”
– influential personalities or those with wealth?
– the most educated individuals?
– those who have entertaining personalities and
are the life of the party?
And what about gender, should I include both men
and women to serve as elders in the churches?
Well, one of the greatest tragedies in the history
of the church is this- people who claim to be
Christians and claim to believe the Word of God
act as if the answer to those questions is up for
grabs, just a matter of preference.
Yes, even in our day, countless churches
throughout our land ignore and disregard what
God spells out for those who are to lead in His
And friends, that tells us that they are in effect
saying to Christ, the Lord of the Church, “No
thank you, we will do it our way!”
As a result, what you have is church after
church ripping itself off and robbing God of His
glory by not submitting to His instructions for
Now what follows in verses 6-9 is more than a
spiritual grocery list for the church.
If a wife forgets to get something on her list, in
many cases she can improvise with something
else or change the meal if necessary.
But not to with the spiritual ingredients God
gives for one who would serve as an elder in His
church. They are all vital for your spiritual wellbeing,
Now let me show you how the God-given elder
requirements are of extreme importance for you,
1. God’s plan for church leadership here shows
us God’s character. It shows us what He loves
and hates. And it shows us how much He loves
the church. That’s why He gives us such a
2. God’s design for leadership here also shows
us how we can be a church that honors and is
blessed by Him. The more we as a church stick
to God’s plan the more we will bring glory to His
3. God’s requirements here before us for elders
call men to aspire to godly leadership.
1 Timothy 3:1 puts it this way, “It is a
trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to
the office of overseer, it is a fine work he
desires to do.”
4. God’s qualifications for elders here shows
what we as a church must look for in praying for
and affirming those who will serve as elders.
5. These divine guidelines for elders also serve
as character commitments every one of us as
Christians is to pursue.
Yes, if you belong to God, though you may
never serve as an elder in this church, you will
be more like Christ as you in the Spirit’s power
pursue this these spiritual commitments.
Alright, hang on tight as we walk through the
2. Character of Spiritual Leadership (v. 6).
First, Paul lays out the overarching general
qualification: above reproach.
An important sidebar: The gender of that
adjective “above reproach” (and all the rest in
this passage) is masculine meaning the elder
must be a male.
That’s not a put-down to women. It’s that God,
whether in the family or church, places on the
shoulders of men the responsibility to lead.
In Paul’s day, “above reproach” was a legal
term. It describes a man who was not even
subject to indictment.
He has no moral blotches, no skeletons in the
closet he’s hiding.
He’s a man of personal integrity.
Job was that kind of man. In Job 2:3 ‘The LORD
said to Satan, “Have you considered My
servant Job? For there is no one like him on
the earth, a blameless and upright man
fearing God and turning away from evil. And
he still holds fast his integrity, although you
incited Me against him to ruin him without
And King David prayed these words to God,
Psalm 101:2 “I will give heed to the blameless
way. When will You come to me? I will walk
within my house in the integrity of my heart.” 6
My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land,
that they may dwell with me; He who walks in a
blameless way is the one who will minister to
David understood that those who minister before
God must be marked by holiness of life!
And Paul had previously urged Timothy, “in
speech, conduct, love, faith and purity show
yourself an example of those who believe” (I
That’s not a call of perfection but of consistent
integrity of life.
You see, God wants men who lead His flock to
lead by godly example.
Elders must therefore have an unstained reputation
in the eyes of the church as well as community. In
that way they can say as Paul did, “Follow me as I
follow Christ” (I Cor. 11:1).
Now, how can you best figure out the true
character of a man?
Well, since we can’t see his heart, we can look
at his home. That the best barometer.
So, Paul starts with his marriage.
He must be “the husband of one wife.”
It’s saying far more than hat a man cannot have
more than one wife in his life.
The big idea is that he must be a one-woman
man or a “one-woman husband.”
In other words, he must have a proven track
record of absolute fidelity to his wife. He is to
live in uncompromised faithfulness to his wife.
And that includes in his actions and in his
For if a man does not show faithfulness in his
own marriage, his telling the church to be faithful
as the bride of Christ will be a mockery.
The apostle Paul realized moral compromise
would disqualify him from ministry.
Men and women, take to heart Paul’s vigilant
safeguard: “but I discipline my body and
make it my slave, so that, after I have
preached to others, I myself will not be
disqualified.” I Cor. 9:27
The second test for an elder in the home, his
relationship with his children.
He must have “children who believe, not
accused of dissipation or rebellion.”
Now the big question here we must deal with.
The original term pistos, can mean either
believing or faithful.
In other words, it can mean a Christian child or a
faithful child. The idea is being reliable and
There are 3 primary reasons I believe it means
That term pistos occurs 67 times in the New
Testament. 87% of the time it means faithful
(rather than believing).
And in the other two places Titus uses the term,
it means faithful.
In Titus 1:9, it’s the faithful word.
And in 3:8 it’s a faithful statement.
This also best harmonizes the parallel
1 Timothy 3:4–5 “He must be one who
manages his own household well, keeping
his children under control with all dignity 5
(but if a man does not know how to manage
his own household, how will he take care of
the church of God?”
Now Paul is not saying an elder’s children must
be perfectly obedient. The point is that an
elder’s child cannot be living in rebellion and
disregard to his father’s authority.
That’s why Paul gives two examples of such
out-of-control children: “not accused of
dissipation or rebellion.”
That to the T describes the prodigal son lived.
Christ said, he “squandered his father’s
estate with loose living” (Luke 15:13).
Before he came to his senses, he hits rock
bottom. For he had the most despicable job as
a Jew- feeding dirty pigs. And he even wished
he could eat the carob pods those pigs were
How did he get there? By refusing to submit to
authority- God and his father’s- that’s what lead to
his disorderly living.
So, God’s standard is clear. Those who would
manage God’s household as elders must first
show competence and consistency in caring for
their own households.
They must have an untarnished commitment to
their wives. And they must demonstrate
consistent character in raising children who
show submission to their leadership.
The character of spiritual leadership flows into
the 3. Conduct of spiritual leadership 7-8
Notice before Paul gets to the specifics in verse
7, he first repeats the bottom-line requirement of
a church elder:
“For the overseer must be above reproach
as God’s steward.”
Paul really drives home that a local church elder
must have a godly reputation that’s untarnished.
He like a Teflon pan in character. No
It’s important to appreciate how the apostle Paul
uses the term “overseer” here. While elder
describes a man’s character (who he is),
overseer points to his capacity (what he does).
So, “overseer” is a functional title.
Owners of large estates in first century Crete
would have managers. Their job was to oversee
the daily operations of the household.
They helped care for family members, oversaw
finances, and managed the raising of crops.
They even cared for medical needs of those in
the master’s house.
While the church is God’s, He has entrusted the
oversight to certain men- church elders.
They are the ones, Heb. 13:17 tells us whom
God has called to watch over the souls of those
in the church.
They, the apostle Peter says, “shepherd the
flock of God among you, exercising
oversight… according to the will of God.”
I Peter 5:2
And their example whom them follow is Jesus
“the great shepherd and overseer of our
souls.” I Peter 2:25
In rapid-fire succession, Paul now gives us 11
areas of conduct that flow from a life of a man
who is above reproach.
The first five in verse 7 are all negative followed
by six in verse 8 that are all positive.
The man fit for the role of elder can’t be selfwilled.
The word literally means one who
Friends, there is no vacancy in church
leadership for those who are arrogant, pushy,
overbearing. There’s no room for a “my way or
the highway” self-seeking leader.
For that goes hand-in hand with what follows
when a self-willed man doesn’t get his wayanger.
Paul say, “no, he can’t be quicktempered.”
This pictures one who carries around grudges,
resentment and is quarrelsome.
Previously Paul had cautioned Timothy, 2 Tim.
2:24 “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be
quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach,
patient when wronged.”
For God has called elders to be examples as
peacemakers not troublemakers in his church!
The next two requirements also form a pair:
“not addicted to wine, not pugnacious.”
We find serious warnings against drunkenness
in the N.T. epistles.
Ephesians 5:18 “And do not get drunk with
wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with
I Cor. 11:21 tells us that some in the church
showing up to celebrate the Lord’s Supper were
The problem is obvious. Drunkenness results in
unclear thinking and sinful behavior.
A man called to lead God’s church must always
be in control of his senses.
So God calls His people (especially elders) to
stay away from anything that would compromise
their example and even create a stumbling block
for other believers (I Cor. 8:9-11).
Romans 14:21 It is good not to eat meat or to
drink wine, or to do anything by which your
“Pugnacious”- that describes one who loves to
fight. It includes bullying others around with
words. God says, “while that may work in the
world, it has no place in leadership in my
The last negative qualification relates to money.
An elder must not be “fond of sordid gain.” In
other words, his motivation can’t be financial
profit. He can’t be greedy.
Those in Crete were notorious for their greed.
Polybius said of them, “They are so given to
making gain in disgraceful…ways that among
the Cretans alone of all men no gain is counted
And Plutarch pictured Cretans as sticking to
money like bees to honey!
Speaking of the elders of local churches, Peter
warns, “and not for sordid gain, but with
eagerness” (I Peter 5:2). Eagerness to please
We all need to guard our hearts against the love
of money and the deceptive lie that more will
make us happier.
Our Lord Jesus warns: “Beware, and be on
your guard against every form of greed; for
not even when one has an abundance does
his life consist of his possessions.” Luke
And Paul warned Timothy about that great
danger: “For the love of money is a root of all
sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have
wandered away from the faith and pierced
themselves with many griefs.” I Tim. 6:10
Of 5 positive character qualities that now follow
for an elder, Paul begins with one that may
seem surprising: hospitable.
The core idea is “a love for strangers.”
The inns of Paul’s day were known for being
dirty, expensive and places of immorality.
So, God’s people are called to have open hearts
and homes to others, particularly believers.
We are given a fascinating motivation to
hospitality in Hebrews 13:2- “Do not neglect to
show hospitality to strangers, for by this
some have entertained angels without
Romans 12:13 puts it like this for all those in
the church: “contributing to the needs of the
saints, practicing hospitality.”
And Peter adds an important qualifier for
hospitality: “Be hospitable to one another
without complaint.” 1 Peter 4:9
That’s the God-pleasing attitude that goes with
hospitality. No complaining but thanking God for
the opportunity! And elders (and of course with
their wives) are to model such a heart.
The following descriptive phrase of verse 8,
“loving what is good” is straightforward.
It’s philagathos- having a strong heart of
affection for those things that are inherently
Like the needle of a magnetic compass that
seeks north, the elder must gravitate in his mind
and words to what is noble and honoring to God.
He doesn’t waste his time or conversation on
what is worthless and inconsequential.
The elder, God says, must also be sensible.
That tells us he is to be marked by a sober and
steady outlook. And that comes from living by
Notice further, the man who would oversee
God’s flock must be “just” and “devout.”
“Just” means he knows and does the right thing
in a given situation.
Paul exemplified that saying, “for we have
regard for what is honorable, not only in the
sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of
men.” II Corinthians 8:21
And devout (hosios) that speaks of a holy life.
It’s showing reverence for what honors God.
It’s hating what God hates (sin) and loving what
He loves (righteousness).
It’s living before God a life of purity.
It was by God’s grace that the apostle Paul lived
that kind of consecrated life to God as he
He told the Thessalonians, “You are
witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and
uprightly and blamelessly we behaved
toward you believers.” 1 Thessalonians 2:10
Last but definitely not least in priority in the
conduct of the elder: self-control.
Self-control speaks of restraint of one’s
appetites and desires. It’s disciplining oneself
for the purpose of godliness.
Here’s why it’s important for an elder: because
that’s a fruit of the Spirit, it’s what God gives as
that man submits His life to the Lord.
And Spirit-driven self-control of an elder benefits
the church- for it frees that man to serve God
and others in love.
The crisis of spiritual leadership, the character
and conduct of spiritual leadership must be
completed with the
4. Conviction of spiritual leadership 9
How can a Christian grow in this high standard
God has placed before us? And to what must an
elder always be directing his attention?
Paul says, it comes down to “holding fast the
The idea is clinging with a bear hug grip to
That “faithful word” is what the prophets
declared, what Christ taught, and what the
And it’s that same message we have given to us
by God in the Bible.
Friends, that’s the make and break of your
spiritual maturity. Do you cling to God’s faithful
That’s the defining conviction that every elder
must possess. It’s God’s Word that gives him
God’s will- to study, understand and teach.
That was Ezra’s conviction as he led God’s
captive people from Babylon to Jerusalem. And
that explains why “the good hand of his God
was upon Him:
“For Ezra had set his heart to study the law
of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach
His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”
Now you need to realize as a church why an
elder must tenaciously cling to God’s truth:
Paul explains, it’s “so that he will be able both
to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute
those who contradict.”
We have seen many times in our studies how
sound doctrine matters immensely. For sound
doctrine leads to sound living. And bad doctrine
leads to bad living.
That word “sound”, there’s vivid imagery in
Paul’s term here of health versus disease.
All forms of false teaching are damaging and
That includes a me-centered Christianity,
teaching that tickles the ear. And that includes a
failure to call sin, sin.
You see, false teachers are dangerous not only
for flat out contradicting God’s Word, but also for
comingling truth with error.
And the danger is found in not only what they
say but what they leave out- like the doctrine of
repentance or a call to obedience of Christ as
So it is, the elder has a God-given double duty.
To build up believers in the truth and refute
opposers to God’s truth.
Paul expected no less of Timothy in Ephesus.
It’s as if we can hear the urgency in Paul’s heart
when he writes,
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of
God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the
living and the dead, and by His appearing
and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be
ready in season and out of season; reprove,
rebuke, exhort, with great patience and
instruction. 3 For the time will come when
they will not endure sound doctrine; but
wanting to have their ears tickled, they will
accumulate for themselves teachers in
accordance to their own desires, 4 and will
turn away their ears from the truth and will
turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:1–4
So, elders come along side the saints to
encourage them through God’s Word.
And they must refute those who contradict
“Refute” doesn’t picture a shouting match or
verbal debate. It’s exposing falsehood by the
truth of God’s Word. For local church elders are
those whom God has called to be spiritual
watchdogs over the flock.
So it is, elder must lead the way in taking God’s
Word and bringing to the light any and all threats
against God’s precious flock.
At the end of Paul’s 3rd missionary journey, he
sent word to Ephesus for the church elders
there to meet him at Miletus.
They come and he tells them, “this is the last
time you are going to see me.” Then he gives
them words that they could never forget of
God’s high calling for an elder.
Acts 20:28–30 “Be on guard for yourselves
and for all the flock, among which the Holy
Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd
the church of God which He purchased with
His own blood. 29 “I know that after my
departure savage wolves will come in among
you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from
among your own selves men will arise,
speaking perverse things, to draw away the
disciples after them.”
Praise God. It doesn’t end there. All is not loss
but there’s a great safeguard for that church
through elders who hold forth God’s Word.
That’s why Paul declares, “And now I
commend you to God and to the word of His
grace, which is able to build you up and to
give you the inheritance among all those
who are sanctified.” Act 20:32
Here we have the God-given calling for men to
lead there in the church in Ephesus, Crete and
here at Hope In Christ Bible Church.
So I ask you, pray for us as elders that we would
walk worth of this high calling. And rejoice as we
as elders prepare to welcome Craig Kumpula
with whom we have been meeting and praying
to serve along with us as an elder.
Above all, ask God to be glorified in your life and
in this church as we together hold fast to His
Order in the Church!
Hope In Christ Bible Church 6/23/19
Intro. Isa. 64:6; Eph. 2:10; Mat. 5:16
1. Crisis of spiritual leadership 5
Acts 14:21-23; I Peter 5:1
Applicability of God-given elder requirements:
2. Character of Spiritual Leadership 6
Job 2:3; Psalm 101:2,6; I Tim. 4:12; I Cor. 11:1;
I Cor. 9:27; I Tim. 3:4–5; Luke 15:13
3. Conduct of spiritual leadership 7-8
Heb. 13:17; I Peter 5:2; I Peter 2:25; II Tim. 2:24;
Eph. 5:18; I Cor. 11:21; I Cor. 8:9-11; Rom. 14:21;
Luke 12:15; I Tim. 6:10; Heb. 13:2; Rom. 12:13;
I Peter 4:9; II Cor. 8:21; I Thes. 2:10
4. Conviction of spiritual leadership 9
Ezra 7:10; II Tim. 4:1–4; Acts 20:28–30,32
How can I be a doer of God’s Word for His glory
in His church?
Order in the Church!