Text: Titus 1:5-16

Fulfilling the Unfinished Task (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Background:

Just by reading verse 4 of Titus chap 1, we can see that this letter was written for Titus by Apostle Paul (v1).
Titus had been with Paul many times. First, during the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15; Gal. 1-2). Second, from Ephesus, he was sent to Corinth (2 Cor. 8:6, 16-17). Third, they met again in Philippi—then returned to Corinth. Fourth, he was assigned to Crete. Fifth, asked to meet Paul in Nicopolis (Western Greece). And lastly, he was tasked to go to Dalmatia (Montenegro/ Yugoslavia).

Titus exemplified what a true follower of Christ must be. The same with Timothy, Paul told them that a Christian must teach others also so that they can also share the gospel of Christ (2 Timothy 2:2).

Main Idea:

Reading our passage, there are two things that Apostle Paul commanded Titus to do in Crete. These are the very purpose of his stay in Crete. Let us read verse 5:

5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.

Two things: first, “to put in order what was left unfinished;” second is to appoint elders. First one: there is unfinished business in the lives of Christians. There’s something missing, something lacking that each of us must long for. We are not perfect nor in a glorified state of life. Hence, the need of putting things in order in our lives through discipleship, prayer, and growing intimacy with our Lord and Savior.

Second task: appoint elders. Now, in here, I might challenge some of the existing views that some of you might have. In 1 Timothy 3, Acts 6, and even here in Titus 1:5, it clearly states that we appoint elders. It does not say, ballot boxes nor election, nor pushing someone to be an elder. But by appointment. This has been the practice of the early NT church, so as we.

Examples of Gospel myth:

(1) Extreme Positive thinking similar to the Prosperity gospel
(2) The myth that you can be saved by your own work
(3) The contrast is also true. Not attending church services, nor Bible study, fellowships are just fine since I am already saved.
(4) Those who say that the Bible is not the word of God are another danger.
(5) Others would say that Jesus Christ is a mere man, a great teacher but not God. (6) The Spirit is just a force and not another person of the Trinity.
(7) Last myth, Pluralism. Pluralism says that we can find salvation or know God through any world religion.

Three Directions:

  1. Deep Worship
    1. Preaching
    2. Prayer
  2. Deep Discipleship
    1. Studying the Word
      i. “Encourage others by sound doctrine” v9a
      ii. Defend the truth: “refute those who oppose it” v9b
      iii. “Rebuke them sharply” v13
    2. Transforming Lives
      i. Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
      ii. We conform to the Elders as they conform to Christ. They are our spiritual models. Hence the need for higher qualities of being a follower of Christ.
  3. Deep Evangelism and Missions
    1. The purpose of Paul sending Titus to Crete is the advancement of the gospel of Christ. The church is more than a mere institution, but we should be missional.
    2. We are not doing it right if we are just focused on the things about ourselves and not longing for the expansion of God’s Word.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
September 12, 2021

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.

 

 

Text: Acts 14:21-28

Biblical Eldership (Full Sermon Manuscript Download)

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Introduction:

Jonathan Griffiths said, “The office of eldership is given in Scripture to provide spiritual nurture and protection for the church. Elders are to shepherd the flock of Jesus Christ through the faithful ministry of the Word and are to lead by godly example.”

Background:

This is Paul’s first missionary journey with Barnabas. After struggling much with these places: Cyprus, Lycia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (these are all in Modern day Turkey [former Galacia]), Paul made sure that they appointed elders in these places to preserve and keep the faith of churches in these places. Which Paul revisited and affirmed the significance of their works.

Main Idea:

1. Conforming to the NT Church

When I was asked to fill up the application form as the interim pastor of UCBC, in the section where I was asked about my view of church administration, I wrote (verbatim): “In the context of the Church administration, I believe in the biblical principle of congregationalism with the plurality of elders.”

Indeed, the plurality of elders is biblical (James 5:14 [Elders to pray for the sick]; 1 Timothy 5:17 [“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”]; Titus 1:5 [Paul telling Titus to appoint elders]; Acts 14:23 [Paul and Barnabas appointing elders].

Observing how the Bible speaks about the “elders,” it is always in a plural form. It presents us that plurality of elders is normal in the New Testament church. That is our first point. If our church ought to follow the Scriptural New Testament Church, then we ought to follow the plurality of the “elders.”

2. Commanded by God in Scriptures

Similarly, God has commanded us in His Word to appoint leaders. In Titus 1:5-9, v.5 only, “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint[a] elders in every town, as I directed you.” Also, in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and in our passage Acts 14 verse 23.

Interchangeable: “The terms πρεσβύτερος (presbuteros), ποιμήν (poimen), and ἐπίσκοπος (episkopos) are all used to describe the same office in the New Testament. Overseers, pastors, shepherds, and elders are all operating as the same kind of servant leader(s) of the church.” (Costi Hinn)

Titus 1:5-9, presbuteros in v5; episkopos in v7; and Ephesians 4:11, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.” (Granville Sharp Rule)

3. Commissions/Calls Elders: Who appoints elders?

The church through the Holy Spirit. In Acts 20:28, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” This is Paul’s farewell to the elders in Ephesus (v. 17).

Indeed, it is the Holy Spirit that calls a person to Eldership. But this is achieved through the church. That is why we have to affirm the appointees or “nominated” to the Eldership position. Now, I know I am a young pastor, but I have seen the dirtiest parts of different churches. When we nominate or appoint an Elder or Deacon, we give out their names because we know the person is really deserving of it.

To give some functions of the Elders:

  1. They are the spiritual leaders and models (1 Peter 5:3)
  2. Teacher/ preachers of the Word (1 Tim 3:2; 2 Tim 4:2; Titus 1:9)
  3. Caring for the souls (Heb 13:17)
  4. Protects the church from false teachings (Acts 20:28-31)
  5. Models Unity (Eph. 4:3, 11-13)

Conclusion:

After exploring the biblical significance of plurality of elders, congregationalism, and elder-led church, we ought to learn more about the matters of functions or roles, qualifications, and other important stuff. I am aware that many of you have learned this before. But being reminded and reviewing it and allowing ourselves to learn from God’s Word again exemplifies the willingness and purity of hearts toward the health of our church—UCBC.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
July 4, 2021

 

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.