Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Duty to Discern

An interesting post here on Titus 1.
NOTE: This is very key. Titus was not an apostle but, as he taught that which Paul laid down (apostolic doctrine), he spoke with the authority of God. Many people in church today find it easy to discount doctrinal teaching from a pastor…as simply “his interpretation” or “his opinion”…not realizing that as far as it relates to apostolic doctrine, it is more than a pastor’s opinion or interpretation…it is an authoritative Word from God. (So…we must be very careful not to too easily dismiss what our spiritual leaders in authority say).
I agree with Brother Aiken's note here. It is important to remember that this is referring to Christian doctrine based on Scripture, as Brother Aiken states. The other shoe drops in the next paragraph.

To summarize vv.5-16, we see the qualifications of elders (pastors/overseers) in a more concise list than in 1 Timothy. We recognize that the elder/pastor is a “steward” of God (v.7) overseeing what God has entrusted to him to lead. A characteristic of a pastor that is crucial is his ability to discern and teach theology and doctrine…since his adeptness at this is crucial to exhort (sound doctrine) and refute (those who teach wrong doctrine).
The qualifications are clear, but the last sentence I don't hold strictly to the pastor only for discernment. Discernment is a critical requirement for all Christians. Although they make errors in discernment as they are "younger", they must still continue to discern the best that they are able, like the Bereans did.

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. (Act 17:10-12) Emphasis added.
Note that they take the word given to them by the pastor (Paul and/or Silas) and then search the Word itself for support. This is a constant and ongoing process for any Christian. By blind acceptance of the "word" of false teachers, because they spoke with authority, apostasy and false teachings enter that and our churches.

The necessity is very apparent to Paul in Crete…since there are false religious teachers among the people who must be challenged, rebuked, and corrected. Many of them are of Jewish descent (v.10) who teach Judaism’s traditions and OTHER man-made traditions as necessary activities to the path of right standing with God (v.14).

Paul does not teach that we “live and let live;” rather, that these false teachers be confronted with “severe reproof” so that they might turn from their false teachings (v.13). Their false teaching is upsetting families and destroying the faith. To not confront, is to tacitly approve of their message and to be a co-conspirator in their destructive works.

Brother Aiken continues here correctly, but it is still much more than the duty of a pastor, it is the duty of every Christian, because if any person comes teaching false doctrines, even if he is (or claims to be) a pastor, the Word is clear on this.

If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2Jn 1:10-11) Emphasis added
Coddling these apostates simply encourages them. Those who support them, even while trying to be "fair" and not create a "stumbling block" on a "questionable subject" among their congregation may fall in this area. They can be busy, other things are distracting them and since it is "quiet", it is easy to ignore. It can even be ignored when sermons, even entire sermon series are being preached that totally undercut the "stumbling block" objection. Like a hammer, it chips away at the credibility of any man, especially one in authority, since it gives the appearance of working under a double standard.

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