This morning I was reading in Titus.
To young Titus, Paul gives an interesting instruction: “Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority” (2:15). What authority does Titus possess? And what are “these things” which he was to declare?
Perhaps he was to declare what follows in the subsequent verses. Paul clearly instructs Titus with the kinds of exhortations he ought to prepare himself to give to God’s people – to be obedient, to avoid quareling, to be gentle, to be kind toward all people (especially the foolish and disobedient, who are just as we once were before the grace of God saved us). He may be young. He may be inexperienced. However, such were the words of exhortation and even rebuke that Titus the minister of God must declare “with all authority.” Indeed, the only authority in the church is declarative.
But, as I check the text, I wonder if it is not the paragraph that precedes 2:15 which chronicles what Titus was to declare with all authority… they are words SOLELY about the grace of the gospel. The gospel which has brought salvation. The gospel that trains God’s people to renounce ungodliness and worldliness, the gospel that trains us to responsively live self-controlled lives as we anticipate the consummation of the gospel – the blessed hope of Christ’s return to call his children home and to FULLY redeem us from all lawlessness. The gospel that we are a people of God’s own possession… who in gracious thankfulness for grace are to be zealous for good works! That is the task of Titus – to declare the fullness of the gospel with all authority! Whose authority? The authority of Christ who possess us!
I only blog this because at the present moment, I am finding myself wrestling uncomfortably with the ‘authority’ position in which I find myself. I am a church planter leading a people to establish a gospel-centered and dependent local church in the west valley of the Lehigh Valley. I am – in this moment of my life’s short history – called by God to “declare things, to exhort and rebuke, with all authority.” “With all authority” means “without trying to make people like you.” It means, “without trying to be visibly successful, just faithful.”
What a reminder to people in pastoral ministry… our role is to declare the gospel with all authority because the authority of the gospel is what sandwiches us in our calling, just as the gospel sandwiches Paul’s word to Titus in Titus 2:15 (consider 2:11-14 and 3:1-7).
It is only when I rest fully on the gospel to deliver me from my sin and wickedness that I have a chance of speaking authoritatively in conformity to God’s Word… because only through the gospel is there no looking over my shoulder to see who likes me or pets me or scratches my selfish-itch.
I praise God with confidence today. Confidence in my pastoral/planting role… “all authority” was given to Jesus to send his church out (Mt. 28:19-20) … and now I am to join Christ’s church throughout the ages as I declare “with all authority” his name, his news, his gospel to this time, this people, this place, this church plant in the West Valley!