Jul 8 11

The Pastor and Sound Doctrine

vmsmith

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:9)

In the first few verses of Titus chapter 1, the apostle Paul lists some of the qualifications for the office of pastor. As an independent Baptist church, we believe there are only two scriptural offices for the church. These are the offices of pastor and deacon. Men that are chosen for these positions must meet the strict biblical requirements outlined in the epistles of 1st Timothy and Titus.

In the first part of Paul’s letter to Titus, the emphasis is on the pastor. There are requirements concerning his family, his personal character, and also his heart for God’s people. These qualifications are condensed into three verses, and then the rest of letter is an admonition for the teaching of strong doctrine. The disparity between the short amount of space given to this part of his qualifications compared to the bulk of the letter being dedicated to the teaching of doctrine does not diminish this aspect of the office. The personal character of the man chosen to lead God’s people is crucial to his effectiveness as a minister. He must be above reproach or else his message falls on deaf ears. Many men that could have been used greatly by God have failed because their families and/or their morality have disqualified them.

It remains, however, that there is much material in this letter devoted to the teaching of doctrine. The pastor’s main duty is to feed the flock of God. He may be a wonderful man personally and very well liked, but if his knowledge of the word is deficient, he will not be able to feed God’s people spiritually. Neither will he be able to protect them from the constant attacks of heresy that threaten them on a daily basis. There are many wolves that would devour the flock and the pastor must be able to defend his people against these heretics. Several times in the letter, Paul makes this point. The pastor must be able to identify heretics and defend against them.

Another point that should be evident from the letter is that any doctrine of any kind is not automatically acceptable. There is a difference between truth and error. Truth always strengthens the people; error always destroys. Doctrine cannot be dismissed as unimportant. False doctrine and its teachers must be exposed (1:10-16). The pulpit ministry of Berean is never timid about naming names when necessary. The popular saying among many evangelicals is “unity at all costs.” We are opposed to this. We believe “defend the truth at all costs.” We seek accord with other Christians only on the basis of doctrinal unity. Unity on any other basis is dangerous to the gospel and to the health of God’s people.

We believe and whole heartedly practice Paul’s command to Titus. The bishop (pastor) must hold fast to the word, maintaining sound doctrine that will encourage the saints and will convince those that resist the truth. Anything less is blight on the pastoral office.

Pastor V. Mark Smith