“But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance” – Titus 2:1-2
Recently we had a conference for the men of our church (Cornerstone Bible Church, Lubbock, TX) and I along with the elders of our body addressed many issues that Christian men deal with on a regular basis. The topic assigned to me was the identification of some of the biblical characteristics of the godly man. When I came to these two verses in Paul’s letter to Titus I was struck by the volume of information that was packed into them. So I decided to share what I found in these verses with our men. I would like to take the next few blog postings to share with you what I shared with them.
It is important to notice the first phrase, “But as for you” (v.1). In order to identify what makes these words so necessary one must go back to chapter 1:10-13, 15-16. Paul identified those “rebellious men” (v.10) who were “teaching things they should not teach” (v.11). These men were to be instructed in the truth by Titus so that they “may be sound in the faith” (v.13). Accompanying their false teaching, “by their deeds they deny (God)” thereby proving themselves to be “worthless for any good deed.” In contrast to these men Titus was to “speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (2:1), “sound” in that it is healthy, pure, or uncorrupted.
To be sure this first directive is given directly to Titus and secondarily to all who would be teachers of God’s word. However, I believe that it also extends in a broader degree to every man who would be a godly man. My reasoning is as follows: First, Messiah left the Church with the command to “make disciples” or “disciple the nations,” which included the mandate to teach the nations to “observe” (tereo “to guard; keep”) all that Messiah had taught to the disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). This command is not simply for those who first heard. The idea that those whom they taught were to “guard” or “keep” all that Messiah taught would necessitate the perpetuation of the discipling process. But if it were only for those who actually heard, then no contemporary Christian would have any culpability if that command were not being currently heeded. This is a ridiculous thought since it would necessarily mean that making disciples would have ended with the death of the last person to who had actually heard the words of our Lord. Secondly, if men are meant to take part in disciple-making then each man (Christian person in general) would need to be a teacher to some degree since part of making disciples lies in teaching the lost person about the gospel. After that initial gospel presentation (or after several presentations in which questions will almost assuredly also need answering) the new convert will need more instruction in the faith. I realize that in the process of discipleship more than one person will be involved, some evangelizing, some teaching after the conversion of the person, but all of us must be able to answer questions concerning the Christian faith if we are to be obedient, although none of us can answer all of them. Therefore, Paul’s command to Titus can find application in the life of those who are not in the position of pastor/teacher.
Remember what Paul’s message was; “speak the things which are fitting (in accordance with) sound (pure) doctrine.” Again, the contrast is seen between those who teach “things they should not teach” (1:11) and the man of God who is to teach the pure word and doctrine from God. A man of God, whether he is single or married, whether has children or does not, must be a teacher of theology to some degree. It’s not that he has to be able to write a multi-volume systematic treatment of biblical theology, but he must at the very least understand the foundational truths of the Christian faith “once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). How else will we be able to speak those things that are in accord with uncorrupted doctrine? How else will we be able to “contend earnestly” for the body of Christian doctrinal truth?
We find then that one of the major characteristics of a godly man is seen in his ability to identify what is “fitting for sound doctrine” and then speaking that truth to others.
We will continue next time. I pray that his is helpful.