Sound Christian doctrine and good Christian living are intimately tied together. You cannot have one without the other. This is especially true for church leaders. In his letter to Titus, the Apostle Paul implores the reader to take truth seriously and to ensure that the good news of gospel is being passed on in its full force. The twin themes of doctrine and a passion for godly life are woven throughout this short epistle. In Living Doctrine, Danny Akin unpacks this powerful message and shows how these themes are still vital for Christians today.
Tom Schreiner calls Living Doctrine “wonderfully clear and pastorally powerful.” In this excerpt, Akin shows us how doctrine and deeds go hand-in-hand for Christian leaders, calling on Paul’s instruction to Titus as a blueprint for churches today.
Titus is a bargain-basement letter. You get more than your money’s worth, as Paul packs in so much truth and so much teaching in such a short amount of space. This short, three-chapter, forty-six-verse letter weds beautifully the Christian sonnet of doctrine and deeds, belief and behavior, conduct and creed. This message penned to an apostolic delegate in a dire situation proves a lasting charge to pastors and churches today.
Titus was tasked with doing ministry in a hard place. The island of Crete was known as the mythical birthplace of Zeus; famous for the legendary Minotaur, a half-bull and half-human monster; and deeply immersed in worship of the emperor as universal savior. Combine these influences with the local culture, which celebrated sin and embraced infiltrating false teachers, and the fledgling congregations on the island of Crete needed serious attention, and they needed it quickly.
In the midst of these hardships, Paul penned this letter to Titus to serve as a manual of instruction. Some even refer to it as an apostolic manual for church planting. It certainly provides a blueprint for planting and building churches that will survive and thrive for the glory of God. It is not surprising that along with 1 and 2 Timothy it is referred to as a Pastoral Epistle. Anyone looking for how a New Testament church should be ordered will find these letters to be a treasure trove of instruction and wisdom.
In his classic The Reformed Pastor, Richard Baxter wisely warns, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your example contradict your doctrine, … lest you unsay with your lives what you say with your tongues; and be the greatest hinderers of the success of your own labors.” The faithful pastor must have no part in such a contradiction. For the glory of God and the good of God’s people, his life will match his belief; what he believes will connect with how he lives. Then he will be a leader worth trusting. Then he will be a leader worth following.
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