Teach Sound Doctrine

by Mike Ratliff

7δεῖ γὰρ τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνέγκλητον εἶναι ὡς θεοῦ οἰκονόμον, μὴ αὐθάδη, μὴ ὀργίλον, μὴ πάροινον, μὴ πλήκτην, μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ, 8ἀλλὰ φιλόξενον φιλάγαθον σώφρονα δίκαιον ὅσιον ἐγκρατῆ, 9ἀντεχόμενον τοῦ κατὰ τὴν διδαχὴν πιστοῦ λόγου, ἵνα δυνατὸς ᾖ καὶ παρακαλεῖν ἐν τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ τῇ ὑγιαινούσῃ καὶ τοὺς ἀντιλέγοντας ἐλέγχειν. (Titus 1:7-9 NA28)

7 For it is necessary for the overseer to be blameless as God’s steward, not arrogant, not quick-tempered, not given to much wine, not violent, not fond of dishonest gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, sensible, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast to the faithful Word as taught that he may be able to also to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to expose those who oppose it. (Titus 1:7-9 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When I am asked about recommendations about certain churches or church leaders I do look at various things taught and done and said, but the primary thing I look at as the determining factor in whether a pastor is doing what is called to do is if he is preaching sound doctrine without compromise. If I see attempts to compromise anything in a ministry in an attempt to appeal to the flesh then that is warning that the preaching of sound doctrine is also being compromised. 

1Σὺ δὲ λάλει ἃ πρέπει τῇ ὑγιαινούσῃ διδασκαλίᾳ.  2Πρεσβύτας νηφαλίους εἶναι, σεμνούς, σώφρονας, ὑγιαίνοντας τῇ πίστει, τῇ ἀγάπῃ, τῇ ὑπομονῇ·  3πρεσβύτιδας ὡσαύτως ἐν καταστήματι ἱεροπρεπεῖς, μὴ διαβόλους μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ δεδουλωμένας, καλοδιδασκάλους, 4ἵνα σωφρονίζωσιν τὰς νέας φιλάνδρους εἶναι, φιλοτέκνους 5σώφρονας ἁγνὰς οἰκουργοὺς ἀγαθάς, ὑποτασσομένας τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν, ἵνα μὴ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ βλασφημῆται. (Titus 2:1-5 NA28)

1 But you speak the things that are fitting for sound doctrine. 2 Older men need to be temperate, respectable, sensible, being sound in their faith, in love, in endurance. 3 Older women likewise are to behave in way that befits holiness, not slanderers nor having been enslaved to much wine, teachers of good, 4 that they may encourage the young women to be lovers of their husbands, lovers of their children, 5 sensible, pure, workers at home, good, subject to their own husbands, lest the Word of God be dishonored. (Titus 2:1-5 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In Western culture in the 21st Century much of what Paul taught in those 5 verses from Titus 2 would be looked at with anathema. Why? Paul gave us several examples of what it means to be morally good plus, gasp, he even mentioned that it was a good thing for a wife to be subject to her own husband. It was a good thing to be a good wife and mother. It is things like this that those women on The View (not that I have ever watched it) and the editorial page and the New York Times (not that I read it much at all) will get all up at arms calling what The Word of God says is good “evil” while elevating what the Word of God says is “evil” as good. These are the times in which we live. We are entering a phase of history in which cultural Christianity is being consumed by the culture and has no relevance at all, but that has nothing to do with the genuine Church, which is being built by our Lord Jesus Christ. All in him are in this Body of Believers and there is not one thing our enemy nor this world can do to change that.

The first verse is the key. The shepherd of the sheep is to preach sound doctrine. God uses this to transform his sheep who are living sacrifices through the renewing of their minds changing them more and more unto the image of their Saviour. However, all genuine believers in this “process” will find themselves more and more out of step with this lost and dying world, especially with cultural Christianity. This period of history we are entering will be somewhat similar to that period in which the Church began in the 1st Century. That is, in a Greco-Roman culture that was extremely hostile to it which demanded total allegiance to Caesar as god proclaiming him as Lord. If people did this they were able to operate in society and not be persecuted, but his also meant that genuine Christians could not do this. The Christian’s Lord is Jesus Christ alone, not some man over the government. This sort of political pressure is already coming to bear in our culture upon Christians. Are you ready?

6Τοὺς νεωτέρους ὡσαύτως παρακάλει σωφρονεῖν 7περὶ πάντα, σεαυτὸν παρεχόμενος τύπον καλῶν ἔργων, ἐν τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ ἀφθορίαν, σεμνότητα, 8λόγον ὑγιῆ ἀκατάγνωστον, ἵνα ὁ ἐξ ἐναντίας ἐντραπῇ μηδὲν ἔχων λέγειν περὶ ἡμῶν φαῦλον. (Titus 2:6-8 NA28)

6 Likewise exhort the younger men to be sensible; 7 in all things show yourself to be a model of good works, show integrity in the teaching of doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:6-8 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When I was a Bible teacher to young men back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s I lived what Paul was talking about in these three verses. When I had the young men as early teens it was fun. Then they promoted and I got the next group and it was fun. Then I was promoted to teach the original group and found some older teens that seemed to have forgotten how to be sensible. I tried to be nice. I tried to be louder than them. The only thing that worked was going back to my military roots and putting my face into the face of those few determined to make sure we never had class. After that I was called Mr. Ratliff and it was fun again. No threats, I just pointed out what was right and what was wrong and if I was not going to be allowed to teach the lesson then I was going to turn them over to their parents. Exhorting them to be sensible worked very well. I never changed how I taught. I still taught the Bible verse by verse and I am still friends with some of them.

9Δούλους ἰδίοις δεσπόταις ὑποτάσσεσθαι ἐν πᾶσιν εὐαρέστους εἶναι, μὴ ἀντιλέγοντας, 10μὴ νοσφιζομένους, ἀλλὰ πᾶσαν πίστιν ἐνδεικνυμένους ἀγαθήν, ἵνα τὴν διδασκαλίαν τὴν τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ κοσμῶσιν ἐν πᾶσιν. (Titus 2:9-10 NA28)

9 Slaves need to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well pleasing, not talking back, 10 not pilfering, but demonstrating all good faith that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.  (Titus 2:9-10 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Some people try to use this text to denigrate Paul saying he supported slavery. No, slavery was a reality in the Roman Empire and a very large part of the Church was made up of slaves. However, that being said, what Paul gave us here pertaining to the relationship between slaves and masters also applies in our time to employees and employers. We are to be good employees seeking the best for our employers. God is glorified in this. No Christian should ever be accounted as a problem employee or a thief et cetera.

11Ἐπεφάνη γὰρ ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ σωτήριος πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις 12παιδεύουσα ἡμᾶς, ἵνα ἀρνησάμενοι τὴν ἀσέβειαν καὶ τὰς κοσμικὰς ἐπιθυμίας σωφρόνως καὶ δικαίως καὶ εὐσεβῶς ζήσωμεν ἐν τῷ νῦν αἰῶνι, 13προσδεχόμενοι τὴν μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 14ὃς ἔδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, ἵνα λυτρώσηται ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀνομίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἑαυτῷ λαὸν περιούσιον, ζηλωτὴν καλῶν ἔργων.  15Ταῦτα λάλει καὶ παρακάλει καὶ ἔλεγχε μετὰ πάσης ἐπιταγῆς· μηδείς σου περιφρονείτω. (Titus 2:11-15 NA28)

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly and righteously and godly in the present age 13 awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself on our behalf that he might redeem us from all lawlessness and might purify for himself a people as his possession, zealous of good works. 15 Speak these things and encourage and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When I study passages like this I marvel at those who insist that those saved by grace do not have to deny ungodliness, worldly desire, et cetera. In other words, those who take what the Word says about free grace to the extreme while ignoring the rest of scripture that teach that Christians are to be a holy, righteous and godly people set apart unto Christ have made an egregious doctrinal error. Also, those of us in Christ are to be focused not only on living this Christian life as living sacrifices, we are to be eternally focused, awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ who gave himself on our behalf. I don’t see that that much in a lot of Christians I know and that’s a shame.

What’s the point? The point is that those in ministry who are supposed to be shepherds of the sheep need to be teaching sound doctrine. If they do not then they need to find another job. God is going to hold them accountable. I would hate to be some of these people at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Soli Deo Glora!

6 thoughts on “Teach Sound Doctrine

  1. Mike,
    A good word but I would take it further than just teaching sound doctrine. When the Lord charged Ezekiel to go to the people of Israel He gave him this charge, “Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people in exile and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’” (Ezekiel 3:10-11) If a person is going to teach the Word of God he had better be living that Word first. God makes it a very serious matter for a biblical teacher, even those teaching sound doctrine, if their life lived is a contradiction to the very doctrine or truth they proclaim. Jesus acknowledged that this does happen and even quite often. “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.” (Matthew 23:1-3) Teaching the truth of God from His Word is no guarantee of a right relationship with God. We must be living that Word first and only then are we in a position to be a chosen vessel of the Lord to teach sound doctrine.

    I think Matthew Henry’s comment on the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in chapter 2 of Paul’s letter to the Romans is so apropos to many in this day we live who claim to speak a word from the Lord. “That they sinned against their knowledge and profession, did that themselves which they taught others to avoid: Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Teaching is a piece of that charity which begins at home, though it must not end there. It was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees that they did not do as they taught (Mt. 23:3), but pulled down with their lives what they built up with their preaching; for who will believe those who do not believe themselves? Examples will govern more than rules. The greatest obstructors of the success of the word are those whose bad lives contradict their good doctrine, who in the pulpit preach so well that it is a pity they should ever come out, and out of the pulpit live so ill that it is a pity they should ever come in.”

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