Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Guardians of the Gospel: God Entrusted His Truth To Men

Paul's letter to Titus begins by describing how God has chosen to give eternal life to men. How does God bring people to saving faith in Christ? Through his word; the preached message of the gospel of Jesus Christ (1:2-3).

The message of Jesus' righteous life, substitutionary death for sinners, and resurrection has power to save sinners who believe (Romans 1:16). This message is not (normally) announced through mystical means, by angels or a giant megaphone from heaven. God has entrusted his truth to men.

The truth was first revealed to the Apostles. Paul introduces himself in Titus 1:1 as an "apostle of Jesus Christ." He goes on to tell us that his purpose as an apostle is to bring God's elect to faith and knowledge of the truth, resulting in eternal life. This happens through "the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior" (v3). God has commanded men to preach his gospel; thus preaching is God's idea, not man's.

The gospel came first to the Apostles, but they entrusted it to godly men who would serve as elders/overseers/pastors of local churches. Paul writes to Titus:
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you...For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. ...He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. Titus 1:5, 7, 9, ESV
The gospel that brings people to saving faith in Christ and eternal life has been entrusted to men; Apostles and then local church elders. These men are guardians of the gospel. They must "hold firm" to the word. It cannot be adjusted, watered down, forgotten or given a small priority in the church. These men must be qualified: godly in character, officially appointed by the church, and devoted to the gospel.

All members of the church must work together to guard the gospel. But God has chosen to entrust this job to men who will make this their lifelong work. Paul wrote to Timothy, "what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2).

Leaders in the church are gifts from Jesus to his people, for their building up and edification (Ephesians 4:8-16). This is the chosen method of the all-wise God, who loves his people with an everlasting love.

Glory to God, who has given his Son to save his people! All praise to God, who gives us men who will devote themselves as gospel guardians in the church, for the glory of God and the good of his people!

Take a moment and thank God for the gospel of Jesus. Thank him that faithful men throughout the ages have, by God's grace, guarded this truth, so that it came to you! Thank God for the elders in your local church who serve you in the gospel. Pray for these men, help them, and make their work a joy (Hebrews 13:17).

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