The Work of Ruling Elders

In this series of sermons we have been looking at the importance of having multiple officers in the church: not just the senior pastor, but associates pastors; and not just the teaching elders, but ruling elders too. It's been in one sense a marketing attempt for the election of officers. And today after the service we will be having a congregational meeting to discuss these plans, answer questions and get your input.

In any case, in Exodus 18 we saw that there should be one ruling elder per ten family units. And after reading Brian Abshire's essays, I am convinced that ten families is a max that one elder can adequately shepherd — that is, if he is really doing his job. In typical churches the elders don't do their own jobs, but love to micromanage other people's jobs. In any case, we took a whole sermon to contrast verse 5 with the rest of the book not only so that you could see the high nature of the office of elder, but also so that you could see the differences between teaching elder Titus and the ruling elders that would soon be part of that church's ministry team. Then in verses 1-5 of this chapter we looked at the foundations for eldership. Verses 5-9 dealt with the qualifications for elders. And now we are looking at the work of the elder. So that's the context.

Leadership is Unavoidable

And the first point that I want to make is that leadership is unavoidable. It will happen whether you have formal leadership or not. It's happened in our church. There have been good leaders who have stepped into the gap (and I praise God for them), and there have been bad leaders who have caused trouble at Dominion in the past. Any time a vacuum of leadership happens — such as when Teaching Elder Titus was stretched too thin — there will be people who will step into the void and provide leadership of one sort or another. Sometimes that is OK, but often what happens is exactly what happened to Titus' first congregation. He had some negative people who were tearing things apart.

There were men who provided good (informal) leadership influence (2:2)

Of course, it is important that we read these verses in context and realize that there were some good men who influenced by way of informal leadership as well. And in chapter 2 Paul encourages these mature men and women to continue to lead informally. Verse 2 speaks of the "older men" and verse 3 "the older women likewise." The men and women in chapter 2 are not officers, but their influence was such that leadership was unavoidable. And so Paul makes sure that Titus utilizes even the informal leadership of the respected men and women of chapter 2. Just because you are not an officer doesn't mean that you won't have influence and leadership. But it's important that such leadership be done in a godly way and in a Biblical context.

When we get together at General Assembly, I have a few friends in large, influential Southern Churches who bemoan the fact that the true leaders in the congregation aren't the elders. It's a powerful woman who sits in pew number 25, or a wealthy man in pew number 4. And if the elders don't make a right decision, they will hear about it. Now the way they use their money to get their way is totally inappropriate. But you know, even if they were perfectly godly and did not flaunt their influence, people would still look to these individuals for their viewpoint. God just made them with a leadership profile. It's unavoidable that certain people will have an informal leadership influence. But it is my contention that this informal leadership can be a good and a helpful thing if solid officers are in place. And we will get to that when we get to chapter 2. So there was good leadership in Titus' church, but we will see that it had a terrible disadvantage of being informal, with no authority to back it up. All they could do was advise and exhort — they couldn't discipline.

But there were also men who provided bad (informal) leadership influence (1:10-16)

But there were also men who provided a very negative leadership influence. Again, they weren't officers, but because of the void of formal leadership, their negativity had an incredibly harmful influence. We've had the gullible taken in by the negative influence of such people ourselves in the past. And because adequate shepherding was not taking place, I didn't know about it until it was too late. This whole chapter is a further argument for why we need elders.

The character flaws in these informal leaders (v. 10)

Let's look at their character first. What kinds of bad leaders were filling the void? Verse 4 says, For there are many insubordinate... This is not the only age when people do not like to live under authority. And yet to have legitimate authority, you yourself must be under authority. Some of the most dangerous influences that have come to this church have been people who do not want to join any church because they do not want to be under authority. The Greek is literally to not be put under someone or to not be subject to someone. It's the same word that is used in verse 6 of children who refuse to be subject to their parents. And you know, this is one of the things that many parents and other leaders do not recognize: they model insubordination to those that they are trying to influence. They don't like it when their children are being insubordinate to them, but they are doing the same thing. Insubordination breeds more insubordination. Matthew 8:9 indicates that only as we are fully under authority can we legitimately exercise authority. Mothers: you may be able to force your children to obey when they are young, but you will never have moral authority in their lives if you are not willing to be under authority. But many male leaders make the same mistake. They want to be respected by those that they are influencing at the very time that they are tearing down authority.

He goes on to describe them as idle talkers or as the NASB has it, "empty talkers." The idea is that there are no godly actions that can back up the words. Do you know people like that? There are a lot out there. They are idle talkers. But you know, it's very easy for any of us to become idle talkers — people who don't walk the talk. It takes organization and government to get a church running smoothly. Though individuals can be very active and godly even without elders, the law of entropy tends to hold true in the church as well. The law of entropy is that left to itself, any system will tend toward disorganization and decay. Unless there is a systematic effort at implementing the whole counsel of God (not just teaching it, but implementing it), it is very easy for the church to run down.

Next phrase: and deceivers.1 Not only have these people believed a lie, but they are promoting it. The Greek word indicates an active leading astray. And it may seem like a harsh thing for Paul to call these people deceivers and later in verse 12 — liars. But bad theology needs to be named for what it is. It is a lie if it does not conform to the truth of Scripture. There is no in-between ground. Now there are sincere people who have bought into the false theology of these informal leaders, and to such Paul says, And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (That is 2 Timothy 2:24-26) In that case, the theology and the devil are the enemy, not the person who has been deceived. But here we are talking not about the person who has been deceived, but the people who are doing the deceiving — the teachers; the divisive person of 3:10. Chapter 1:13 says that such people need to be rebuked sharply. There is a big difference between being deceived and being a deceiver; between having been taught the wrong thing and going out and dogmatically teaching the same heresies. Paul treats the two groups quite differently. And so we are dealing with a group of people who are causing havoc both theologically and ethically.

The negative influence of these informal leaders (v. 11)

Verse 11 shows that their influence cannot be ignored, because they will influence the church. Whose mouths must be stopped... Notice the imperative. While immaturity and lack of understanding is one thing (and Paul is very patient with those people), Paul has no patience with people who knowingly and willfully undermine the theology, ethics and practice of the church. The bottom line is that there are some people that you just need to ask to leave. Here's the problem though. These people weren't teaching from the pulpit, and so they were much more difficult to recognize. If they had taught these things publically instead of house to house, then Teaching Elder Titus could very easily have recognized the problem and dealt with it. What they were doing was going into households, befriending people and through home Bible studies and personal interaction they were undermining Titus' teaching. Titus wasn't even aware of it until the households were already subverted. And so the next phrase says: who subvert whole households — it's the ongoing tense — "who are subverting whole households." "As I write, this is happening." This is yet another reason why there is a need for ruling elders who are constantly involved in the lives of their people, and who can quickly detect a problem and nip it in the bud, or at least bring it to the attention of the other elders. And here is the important point: Titus was not the first line of defense: the ruling elders were supposed to be. Why? Because they are working on a household level, whereas the Teaching Elder (generally speaking) is working on a church-wide level. That is precisely what has happened in our own church. Some time back there was poisoning going on behind the scenes that I wasn't even aware of. And thankfully, there were informal leaders in this congregation who were trying to do what they could. But they faced the same problem that the informal leaders of chapter 2 face — they lacked the church authority to deal with the issues. And so there were good (albeit naïve) households leaving who probably would never have left if there were elders in place doing what Paul calls them to do.

Anyway, verse 11 goes on to say, teaching things which they ought not... That verse shows that Paul did not share the modern view of tolerance, where you just let everybody believe and teach whatever they want to believe and teach. There are things that ought not to be taught. I'm not saying conformity of viewpoint of what people believe, but there does need to be a conformity of viewpoint of what people teach. Teachers are held to higher standard. And if the teaching is insubordinate (verse 10) and undermines the church, it ought not to be taught. And people say, "Yeah, but what if what I am teaching is Biblical?" And three things could be said about that: 1) first, everybody thinks that what they teach is Biblical and 2) second, the person should seek to change the officers and bring this to their attention rather than hiding it from the officers and bringing it to everyone else's attention, and 3) third, if this does not work, the person should go teach that in a church that shares his viewpoint. I am so thankful that we don't have any of these troubles now, but it is important for me to teach what the Biblical procedure would be. I think it would be wrong for me to send our members as missionaries into other churches to undermine the teaching of those churches and to try to split off a group of people who share my view. That would be insubordinate. And yet this is precisely the strategy that many people take. How many churches have been split by charismatics who have joined the church not because they shared any of the viewpoints of the church, but because it was their intent to convince as many families as they could of their charismatic views before the elders found out, and eventually hive off a group. That's a parasitic way of planting a church, and it happens all the time.

The Biblical way of influencing and Reforming churches is not to undermine the leadership but to work with the leadership. That's harder, but it is more Biblical. That's my passion: it is to reform the leaders and through the leaders to reform the churches. That's not insubordinate. That's covenantal.

By the way, that is the same reason why we don't have Child Evangelism efforts and Daily Vacation Bible School outreaches. The goals of those efforts are to reach pagan children, and through those children to reach the parents. It's not covenantal, and it's no wonder that it statistically doesn't work. In the Bible the covenant ordinarily goes from the parents to the children, not from the children to the parents. Now I admit that statistics don't prove anything — the Bible is the standard for truth, but it is not surprising for me to read that statistics say that if a child is the first in a family to come to Christ, there is only a 3.5% probability that the rest of the family will come. (This is based on how it has happened in the past — 3.5%). If the mother is the first to come to Christ, there is a 17% probability that the rest of the family will come. But when the man of the household is the first to come to Christ, there is a 93% probability that the whole family will come. Every study I have looked at says that in 93% of the cases where a man comes to Christ first, the rest of the family follows. That's just the way covenantalism works, and people can harp all they want against God's methods, and to say that God's methods are chauvinistic, but you can't move a mountain by butting your head against it. And these statistics have held true despite the fact that most of the efforts of evangelical churches have been focused on youth and women. I find that remarkable. It just goes to show that it is better to align yourself with God's methods rather than trying to be innovative.

By the way, this is why evangelism is so slow in Japan. The men are never home. They work from early morning till late at night and the only people that missionaries are able to talk to conveniently are the children and women. And the husbands almost never follow suit, and the children almost never persevere in their professions of faith. I think that rather than continuing that methodology, people need to refocus on how to have business men compete in the business world and to be real men. That's a long rabbit trail, but it may help to explain why we have the focus that we do in this church. We are trying as hard as we can to be covenantally consistant with the Bible. Teaching in an insubordinate way can be a very subtle thing. It could be very easy for me or ruling elders to undermine the authority of the head of the household, and that needs to be avoided like the plague. So there are a lot of ramifications for this point.

The last phrase in verse 11 says, for the sake of dishonest gain. What was happening was that the informal leaders were taking the tithe away from the church in an underhanded way. Obviously that was a bad motive. But one side note that I would like to point out is that these informal leaders would never have been able to get away with that gain, whether honest or dishonest, if it was not expected that leaders over households were indeed paid. Paying lay leaders was not a foreign concept. Just because there is dishonest gain by lay leaders does not mean there can't be honest gain by lay leaders. And in fact, that is exactly what Paul commands in 1 Timothy 5:17-18. The book of Timothy is phrase by phrase dealing with the same issues in Ephesus as Titus is dealing with in Crete. And in that book Paul says that it's not just the teaching elders, but the ruling elders as well that should be paid. It says, Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages." Brian Abshire points out that if elders were doing what God calls them to do, this idea of paying ruling elders would not seem strange at all. Unfortunately the church has conformed its views of eldership to the 501c3 corporation model where board members are either people with money or people who can raise money — and they are all unpaid volunteers. There's a place for that, but Paul thinks that if eldership is functioning well, it should be a paid eldership. Now the fact that he only calls for those who rule well to be paid shows that not all ruling elders got paid. It was when they proved themselves by indispensable service. So it appears to start as a gratis service and evolves into a paid service.

The unbiblical sources of authority for these informal leaders (vv. 12-14)

The Cretan ones

The Jewish ones

Point number 4 deals with issues of delegated or usurped authority. Now in past lessons I have pointed out that I have no authority except for the authority of the Word. I can't tell you to do things unless I have a Biblical warrant to do so. And the same is true of ruling elders.

But these trouble makers were appealing to an authority that was outside the Scriptures. Verse 10 indicates that the biggest trouble came from the Judaisers. He says, especially those of the circumcision. They seem to be the major headache in almost every church that Paul wrote to. And down in verse 14 you can see their authority — it was the authority of Jewish man-made tradition. Verse 14 says, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth. Notice the contrast he draws between the truth of the Scripture that Titus holds to and the commandments of men that they held to. In the evangelical church of today people want to elevate the so-called truth of science to an equal footing with the Bible. They cry out, "All truth is God's truth." I would agree with that because I say that the truth of God is in the Bible. But they say, "No. There is truth in science, and since all truth is God's truth, science is God's truth, and it is just as authoritative as the Bible." In fact, some people have recently called it the Bible of nature. And so they say that if scientists come into conflict with the Bible, we have to reinterpret the Bible so that there is no contradiction. And thus these people hold to evolution, reject the idea that Genesis 3-11 happened in the last 6000 years, have weird views on homosexuality and women's issues because of the so-called findings of sociology and science and psychology. Some have even been audacious enough to say that the truth we find out there is the 67^th^ book of the Bible. They don't explain how it is that the Bible doesn't change, but science is constantly changing in its truth claims. In fact, if you read the history of science, it makes you wonder how anyone can claim that scientific truth is absolute. It is not. It is constantly changing.

Paul says that you have only two options: Option one is to believe verse 1 — that he writes this Scripture as the mouthpiece of God, and believe verse 2 — that God cannot lie, and therefore everything that the Scripture speaks is truth (that's option 1) or (here is option 2:) to submit to the commands and authority of men and make that your standard. As Rushdoony said, infallibility is an inescapable concept. Men can't function without absolutes or universals. It's impossible. You couldn't have any discipline in the university if they didn't make up some presuppositions to start with — axioms that are absolutes or universals. And if we do not receive the infallibility of God's Word, then we will come up with our own sources of infallibility (whether that is science, the church or our own opinions). If the universals don't come from God, then the universals have to come from man. The problem is, to be able to know if a universal is true or not, you would have to be omniscient or know someone that is omniscient. To know that no two snow flakes are alike or that the speed of light is a constant you would have to examine every example of snow flakes in this universe and every example of light waves on this planet and in every other part of the universe. In other words, you would have to be God. And that is the ultimate issue of truth claims — either God is God or man is God. Another way of saying it is that either the Bible is the standard of truth or man is the standard of truth. Universals (such as the person in verse 12 gives — and let me explain that a universal is a claim that something is all, always or everywhere — statements like that) can only be known to be true or false by God.

On the other hand, if we affirm what God says, we can know it to be truly true even if we are not omnisicient, because the omniscient God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible. And it doesn't matter how prestigious these Jewish authorities are, he calls their conclusions "fables" in verse 14 because they are not grounded in the truth of Scripture. Scripture alone is the measure and standard of truth.

Well, he's just as insulting to those who valued the traditions of the Cretan philosophers. Because the second group of people were arguing from the brilliance of Epimenides (whom Paul quotes here), Paul in a few words absolutely destroys the authority of this amazing Cretan philosopher. Let me explain a bit. The guy Paul quotes in verse 12 lived about 600 years before the birth of Jesus.2 Plutarch and others list him as being one of the seven wisest men in the world. That's saying something. Plato thought he was so brilliant, he called Epimenides "a divinely inspired man." Plutarch called him "a man dear to the gods." He was honored not only as an amazing philosopher, but also as a prophet. Plato for example records the following prophecy made by Epimenides: "That divinely-inspired man Epimenedes... was born in Crete, and ten years before the Persian War, in accordance with the oracle of the god, went to Athens...; and when the Athenians were filled with fear by reason of the Persians' expeditionary force, he made this prophecy: They will not come for ten years, and when they do come, they will turn back again, having accomplished nothing that they had hoped (to accomplish), and having suffered more woes than they will have inflicted." And he made a number of other prophecies.

So Epimenedes had a lot going for him. 600 and some years later, he was still Crete's claim to fame. But Paul takes on this intellectual giant in the same way he took on the Jews: if a truth claim is not from Scripture or a logical deduction from Scripture, it does not have the credentials to be able to prove itself not a falsehood. Paul doesn't here go into all the philosophical reasons why men cannot claim truth apart from revelation. If you are interested, you can read Gordon Clark. But Paul just does two things. He presents the Scripture as the standard for truth, and the thing from which we must reason. And secondly, he shows the inconsistency of a non-Christian approach.

He quotes this authority that the people appeal to in verse 12. One of them, a prophet of their own [Epimenides was a Cretan, and they definitely laid claim to him — "one of them, a prophet of their own"] said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." Now Cretans did have a reputation for those three sins among many philosophers. IN fact the Greek word "to Cretanize" meant to lie. If you were accused of being a Cretan you were probably being accused of being a liar. And Epimenides, who was trying to be a Reformer and to change the notoriously evil people, was not only utterly unsuccessful (why? Because he didn't have God's grace — which alone can change people from the inside out), but he got himself into a paradox called the "liar's paradox" that was discussed and well-known long before Paul came on the scene. Some people think that Paul fell into the liar's paradox himself, but he would have clearly known about this issue. Here's the liar's paradox: If Cretans are always liars, and if Epimenedes is a Cretan, then Epimenedes is a liar. Well, suddenly his credentials for calling all Cretans liars comes into question, doesn't it? How do we know that this statement is not a lie? Remember what we said: only God can come up with valid universals because only God is omnisicient. So Epimenedes gets himself into trouble on two counts: He claims to know what everyone in that island was doing (in otherwords, to have omniscience), and secondly, since he is a Cretan, he calls himself a liar. I think this is a brilliant strategy for Paul to show that their authority in philosophy is really not a credible authority.

And people who criticize Paul for saying that Epimenedes made a true proposition (that's verse 13) are missing the reductio argument that Paul is using. Here's the dilemma that Muslims and atheists and others have presented to Christians. In verse 13 Paul says, This testimony is true. If it is true that Cretans are always liars, how could any statement made by Epimenedes be true? As one philosopher said, "'All Cretans are liars', if uttered by a Cretan, is necessarily false, but not paradoxical." And so there is a long article by one group that says this verse alone disproves inerrancy. Paul is calling true what is necessarily false. Another philosopher said, "it seems that the Cretan prophet's words are true if and only if they are false." Yet Paul calls it true? How do we reconcile that?

Well, let's go down this rabbit trail and I will give you three possibilities, and then we will return to the main subject that the Scripture alone should be our authority.

Some Christians respond that verse 12 does not say that Cretans always lie (which would make every statement of a Cretan a lie), but that Cretans (as persons) are always liars. It's a noun (describing a character) rather than a verb (describing an action). And so they say that it doesn't mean that everything they say is a lie, but that they are always characterized by lying. They mix truth with lying in order to be more effective in their deceit. So even their use of truth is to enhance and promote a lie. And there may be something to that argument. Even some secular philosophers have agreed that this could be a technical way around it, though it doesn't seem to be what the passage is saying. The problem with this remedy is that the Greek word "always" usually means "at all times." One dictionary says, 'always, constantly, continually.' Another had, "always," ever," "eternally." And so it seems to imply that at all times, Cretans have no way of avoiding lying. Actually, one dictionary says that it can mean continuously with no break or episodically (in other words, repeatedly, with breaks in between). So, I think this is a legitimate explanation.

Another possible solution is to say that since Paul called Epemenedes a prophet, that God was speaking truth through Epimenedes. Though that seems a little far fetched, it could be possible. After all, John 11:51 says that the High Priest (who was not a believer) prophesied against his will — God spoke through him. In that case, it is God speaking, not Epimenedes, and therefore it would be truth. There is no dilemma.

But the solution that I believe makes the most sense is the one that flows from Clark's Biblicism. Clark points out that by definition there is no such thing as a valid induction. Inductions are by their structure false in the sense that you can't validly arrive at a conclusion from the inducted premises. In other words, the argument is a fallacious argument. You can't start from Epimenedes finite mind, get a finite sampling of Cretans and then come up with a universal — they always act the way that my sample says they should act. That's a false argument. God may know it to be a true statement, but the argument cannot prove it true. And so it is a false argument ( a lie if you will) for Epimenedes to claim that he knows that all Cretans are liars. It is by definition false because he has no valid way of knowing what all Cretans do. But in verse 13 it is God speaking through Paul, and God says that though Epimenedes could not make a valid induction, the proposition that all Cretans are liars is true nonetheless. All Cretans are liars, and the only reason we can know that is because God has infallibly told us. I think that Gordon Clark is correct when he makes this passage out to have huge apologetic implications. Romans says let God be true and every man a liar. Without revelation, we have no basis for truth. Here's what Gordon Clark says, "Sometimes the fallacy does not lie on the surface. Evil men can run through a long series of valid syllogisms. But away back somewhere they have had a wrong thought. The Scriptures teach that out of the heart, or mind, come all the issues of life; as a man thinks, so is he. Those who disturbed Paul's congregations were fallacious reasoners." I think it is the perfect solution to the riddle. Though unbelievers may hold to some valid premises, the argument as a whole is always false because it is linked with invalid premises, and because it reasons from finite to universal. So Cretans can always be liars while holding to true premises.

Now for those of you whose heads are spinning — I had to deal with this issue. It is such a major argument that people have used against Christianity, that I needed to explain the answer in detail.

But let's go on to the implications. The implications are that unless we reason from the propositions of the Bible — or the truth statements of the Bible, we will always involve ourselves in falsehood and fables no matter how many true statements are mixed therein. And so it is important that elders not fall into the trap of these false teachers by appealing to non-Biblical truth or non-Biblical authority. The only authority we have is the Bible. If you don't remember anything more than this from this point, that is sufficient. The only authority we have is the Bible. Science is not our authority, nor sociology, nor psychology, nor statistics. Everything in life must conform to the Bible or as verse 14 words it, it is straying from the truth.

The informal leadership of the good guys (2:2,3) did not have enough authority to

Stop the mouths of false teachers

Disciple/Discipline members

There comes a time when formal leadership is needed to discipline and judge between those who are justified and those who are fakes (vv. 15-16)

We're almost done. Two quick points. First, the informal leadership of the good guys in chapter 2 was not sufficient to stop the mouths of the false teachers, nor was it sufficient to discipline members. All of us have the authority of the Bible, don't we? When you challenge the unbiblical thinking of another person from the Scripture, it is God speaking, not you. And that's great.

But what we are talking about here is - what can be done if people rebel against the authority of the Word and outright reject it? How do you keep these people from continuing to undermine the church? Well, Paul indicates that there is a delegated authority that the Word gives to officers to discipline. The discipline can be the sharp rebuke mentioned in verse 13, or the rebuke with all authority of 2:15. When verse 15 says, Let no one despise you, Paul is talking about an "or else." Informal leadership doesn't have that "or else." Chapter 3:10 says, Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition. Only ordained men will have the clout to do these things. It's a protection of members from false accusations, but it is also a protection of the church from people who say they are Christians but are not acting like it. Eventually such a person is excommunicated and treated like a heathen and a publican.

Without officers, none of that could happen. For instance, if you were in that church, and there was false teaching that was going on, what could you do if there were no officers? You could try to contradict him, but they would be even more likely to ignore you than they did Paul and Titus. Verse 10 says that were insubordinate. It is unlikely that you as a member would be able to stop the teacher from teaching. Unless you were an elder, you couldn't rule, give authoritative commands to cease and desist, and you couldn't discipline. The reason Paul said that eldership was not an option, was because that was the only way that a person would have an office with the authority of God to back him up. It was for the protection of the church.

Now let's tie all of that in with authority. Starting to read again in verse 9. holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, [Notice this next phrase:] that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. Now let's suppose that I was an elder there. But when I tried to stop the mouths of these teachers, I used the authority of man rather than Scripture. What would I be doing? I would merely be trading off one human authority against another one, and if these people happened to have a higher respect for Epimenedes than they did for my authority, it would be a fruitless, losing battle. But if instead I said, "Thus says the Lord" and I placed the authority of God firmly over against the commandments and doctrines of men, it is much more likely that the people will see that they ought to obey God rather than man since God's ways are infinitely superior to man' ways. Even though I am not as respected an authority as Epemenides was, my teaching carries greater authority because it is God's Word and not my opinion, or the second hand opinions of another man.

The Jewish teachers there would have tried to say that their way was God's way, but you would have them in a corner if you challenged them to prove it from the Bible. Elders have lost the respect of the people because they have tried to be miniature imitations of the world. If I as a member thought that I needed the psychological way rather than the Biblical way in healing my marriage for instance, would I go to a pastor who has studied some psychology in seminary, or would I go to a psychologist who has devoted his whole life to psychology? Well, obviously if I believed in psychology as my standard I would go to the psychologist rather than wasting my time with a faint imitation. But if I was convinced that the Lord had to build my home block by block, and unless He built the home that my building would be in vain, then I would go to a pastor who made his only aim and goal in life to understand and apply the Scritpures. Do you see the difference? Not all leadership has the authority to disciple or discipline members, becuase they have substituted the authority of man for the life-changing authority of God Himself in His Word.

I'll try to finish off chapter 1 next week, Lord willing. But hopefully I have given you enough that you can understand why the leadership that fills the void needs to be well thought through for the benefit of the congregation. Leadership will always happen, but it would be better if it happens according to a plan. We'll discuss parts of this plan after the worship service if you are able to stay. God bless. Let's pray.


  1. φρεναπάτης, ου m: (derivative of φρεναπατάω 'to lead astray,' 31.12) one who misleads people concerning the truth—'person who misleads, deceiver.' εἰσιν γαρ πολλοι και ἀνυπότακτοι, ματαιολόγοι και φρεναπάται 'there are many disorderly people, empty talkers, and deceivers' Tt 1:10. In some languages the equivalent of φρεναπάτης is 'one who leads along the wrong path' or 'one who says wrong is right.' — Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 366.

  2. There are various estimates ranging from 630-500 B.C.

The Work of Ruling Elders is part of the Titus series published on October 3, 2004

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"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

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