SHARPER THAN A SWORD

SERMONS

Hebrews 4:12-13 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

It Is Sound For Everyone!

Text: Titus 1-2.

 

Author: After his release from prison in Rome , the Apostle Paul would take Titus to Crete . Paul would leave Titus in Crete with some very important work, “set in order the things that are lacking” . This would encompass several important things that we will discuss within the body of this lesson. However, Paul would leave him to the task and take Timothy to Asia Minor ( Ephesus ); he would then go into Macedonia , Greece , and finally end up in Nicopolis ( 3:12 ).

From this location, Paul would write to Titus and reiterate everything that he has already authorized him to do. This would lend Apostolic authority to the work Titus was engaged in.

 

Titus: Titus was a true son to Paul in common faith ( 1:4 ). He was Greek, born to Gentile parents ( Galatians 2:3 ). He accompanied Paul to Jerusalem , where he would be an example of Christianity apart from the act of circumcision ( Acts 15 ; Galatians 2 ). Titus was the delivery vehicle for the letters to the church at Corinth (in which he also encouraged them to adhere to the instructions of Paul, towards repentance). The last mention of Titus in the New Testament has him heading for Dalmatia ( II Timothy 4:10 ).

 

The Problem In Crete : Since Paul starts off in the first chapter of this letter setting forth the guidelines for appointing elders, it is easy to consider that this is the primary problem. However, since Titus is to, “set things in order that are lacking, and appoint elders in every congregation” , there is every indication that problems exist within the core of these congregations that have led to them not having elders already. This is also evident within the body of verses 10-16 of the first chapter .

It seems that there are many insubordinate, idle talkers, deceivers, liars, lazy, and those who in works deny God.

These churches in Crete needed elders in the worst way, but could not produce men with the qualifications within the atmosphere that existed in these churches. Older men were not behaving in accordance to sound doctrine; older women were not conducting themselves according to sound doctrine. This left a teaching void for the younger men and younger women, who in turn were not living according to sound doctrine.

Even if there were a few very faithful within these groups, because of the lack of God's organization, they could not overcome the many listed above. Elders would be able by sound doctrine to exhort, and convict any who would contradict ( 1:9 ), and stop the mouths of those who would subvert ( 1:11 ). However, something had to be done within the body of each of these churches to change the environment. This change would need to take place first within these churches before men could be appointed to oversee. However, once the changes occur, appointment of elders is the prioritized and natural course.

 

The Change: The change that was needed in each of these congregations (that thing that is lacking), was to learn to live , promote , and teach sound doctrine . Sound simply means, healthy or wholesome; that which is safe and sound. Doctrine comes from the Greek word, dioache , which means, teaching!

This was the theme of the instruction to Titus in 2:1 , note:

“But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:”

It would be the adherence to sound doctrine that would begin the change within these brethren towards purifying themselves as God's special people ( 2:14 ), and remove what was lacking in order that they could appoint over themselves God's organization within these bodies of Christ (to maintain and protect from further apostasy).

 

The Lesson: What we want to do is look at the body of teaching that Paul has given Titus to establish the character and qualities of a sound congregation. In learning theses qualities, every Christian in every congregation can determine if they are doing their part or are what is lacking!

 

 I. Pillars

The first group within a congregation that must ascertain its role within a sound congregation are the older men. Paul opens the body of teaching with them, note:

Titus 2:2

“that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;”

Sober: This is a state of mind free from excessive influence of passion, lust, or emotion; a serious state concerning the importance of sound doctrine.

Reverent: Venerable, reputable, dignified behavior, all pertaining to their heavenly citizenship.

Temperate: Self disciplined within one's freedoms.

Sound in Faith: This describes their conviction in truth and a healthy control over outside influences.

Love: Affectionate regard towards the best interests of those they love.

Patience: Bearing up under pressure.

 

Older men may not be physically strong, but they are to be strong spiritually, and in this way set the tone for sound doctrine within the body. If they are adhering to these things, they will not be engaged in the disreputable things described in 1:10 -16 .

In addition, many of these qualities are set forth within the qualifications of elders. Not all older men will be qualified to be elders, however, consider the quality of candidates if all are living by these standards.

Besides being a man, one of the first qualifications for an elder is the desire to do the work ( I Timothy 3:1 ). The term desire means to reach or stretch out. This signifies the mental effort of stretching oneself out for a desired thing, of longing after it. This definition would in no way justify one longing for the office to enable one to get his way, or to fulfill selfish ambitions, however, it certainly does indicate a strong willingness to serve, and a willingness to prepare to serve God in this particular capacity.

In the case where there are men who are qualified to serve as elders, yet, are not, there are two primary reasons this situation has occurred:

•  The church is at fault as described in the problem segment.

•  The qualified men themselves are at fault.

In either case, it is the atmosphere within that body of Christ that is not prioritized to sound doctrine and the will of God for His servants in Christ. All Christians must realize that God expects us to desire to do what we are qualified to do, and we really don't have the luxury of choice. Paul told young Timothy ( I Timothy 3:1 ), that a man who desires the work of an elder, desire a good work. Paul told the Ephesians, that we were created in Christ Jesus for good works ( 2:10 ). Can we deny our own creation and purpose within the body of Christ? Certainly not !

This logical course is apparent in every aspect of service such as leading public prayer, Bible class teachers, preachers, song leaders, etc…

So why would a man who is qualified not wish to serve? Maybe he is not thankful? Sound doctrine can help (consider: I Timothy 1:12 ; I Corinthians 15:9-10 ). Maybe he has forgotten that he will be judged according to his abilities? Sound Doctrine can help (consider: Luke 12:48 ). Maybe he is afraid? Sound doctrine can help (consider: Philippians 4:13 ; Revelation 21:8 ). Maybe he is skeptical concerning what he will be able to accomplish? Sound Doctrine can help ( Romans 8:28 ).

Men who are qualified to serve as elders (or in any capacity), and are not, because of conscience sake, must be made to understand that our conscience must be regulated by the word of God. With that said there are legitimate reasons for not desiring the work (illness, depletion of the mind, etc…), however, the conduct for sound doctrine still applies to all.

In these standards for sound doctrine within the church, you can see why the things that are lacking must be addressed first!

 

 II. Exhorters.

The next vital group within these churches that must live and promote sound doctrine are the older women, note:

Titus 2:3 “the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things”

Likewise: The same attitude of priority that the older men were to display is likewise to be with the older women.

Reverent: The behavior of a sacred person (one set apart – holy).

Not Slanderers: A slanderer is a false accuser, one who divides without reason.

Not Given to Wine: One who is not enslaved or a practitioner of intoxicants.

Teacher of Good: One cannot teach what they do not practice themselves. In order for older women to teach good, it has to be done in both word and deed. This would ensure that they stay busy in works that are constructive to the good of a congregation and that there was little or no time for anything else.

Admonish: in the beginning of verse 4 , these older women were to admonish the young women; that is to exhort or hold them to their own duties.

 

All of us can note several women within the bodies of Christ that portray these characteristics. However, Paul's teaching is not exclusive but inclusive, just as it was for all older men. Congregations do not need some, but all to prioritize the practice of these virtues. All congregations need older men and women who would rather wear out than rust out!

 

 III. Supporters.

The third group within a body of Christ that must fulfill specific qualities of a sound congregation are the young women, note:

Titus 2:4-5 “that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

Love Husbands and Children: To love their husbands and children is to act in their best interest. This is done by helping the husband provide a godly home and reverence the Lord. These homes are where the future of the church is developed in nurturing each other and training the children.

Discreet: This is the act of self restraint in order to not be a distraction from sound doctrinal practices.

Chaste: The act of being pure in nature by living a life void of carnal practices. Her joy is found in her own husband and children and most importantly in the Lord.

Homemakers: A homemaker is more than a dish washer, guys! A home that is made is a woman that effects the establishment of her husband's godly home. When you walk into a home that is made, you will see that values of a family in Christ.

Good: This describes that which is being good, in it's character or constitution.

Obedient to Husbands: Not slaves, but reverently yielding to their own godly husbands.

 

Young women are the supporters of a sound congregation, actively developing strong and healthy households! Healthy households in Christ are a sign of a healthy congregation.

 

 IV. Interns.

The last group that Paul would instruct through Titus to live that which is proper for sound doctrine are the young men, note:

Titus 2:6-8 “Likewise exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”

Paul includes Titus within this group and commands him to exhort these young men, and to be a pattern of good works for them to follow.

Sober-minded: To think and act in sound judgment. Swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath ( James 1:19 -20 ).

Good Works: The practice of all things that pertain to life and godliness.

Doctrinal Integrity: What an important skill to develop when you are younger. The realization of the incorruptibility of the scriptures, and that the scriptures alone can raise you up and give you an inheritance ( Acts 20: 32 ; II Timothy 3:16 -17 ).

Sound Speech: That which is wholesome; or language that is spiritually healthy. Youth is not an excuse for lose speech of conduct.

 

Just as we should long for elders in every congregation, we should also long for young men and women who are dedicated to the Lord (the future of sound congregations). Paul would continue to exhort that sound doctrine must also be seen in the day to day lives of these brethren (this is described by the bondservant illustration), but is summed up by the understanding that we must be adorned with the doctrine of God and our Savior in all things!

 

Summary: Entire lessons could be devoted to each of these categories; however, there are plenty of sound words to chew on for each and everyone of us. In every congregation, there must be an active effort to recognize where we might be lacking! Do we have elders? Why not? Are we growing? Why not? Are a handful of men and women doing the work? Why?

If we all teach and hold fast the qualities of sound doctrine in the wisdom of God in Christ, our congregations will resemble the Lord's government and sound practice among all it's brethren!

Remember:

IT IS SOUND FOR ALL OF US!