Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
"For a bishop must be... a lover of good men." -Titus 1:7, 8-
When I read through the requirements for a proper biblical pastor in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, I see a great number of things that make me uncomfortable because I know I have a lot of work to do if I'm to fully match the description. However, this qualification is not one that is difficult or uncomfortable for me, because I love good men. I recently heard Dr. Michael (my fellow pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church) explain this passage while teaching his theology class, and his definition here of "good men" was eye-opening. We know that according to scripture, in our natural state there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Rom. 3:12) but the "good men" here refers to men who love good things. I have gleaned several applications from this particular requirement as I mulled it over the past few days and would like to share them here with you.
First, the obvious and clearly stated principle, I should love men who love, live and teach good things, and I do! In my personal life I love men who personify the love of good things, I love conversing with them, watching how they live life, and following their example. I love being around them, goofing off with them and learning from them. A few "good men" that fall into this category would be my dad, Dr. Michael, the deacons at Emmanuel, Paul Washer, several other local pastors that preach truth and a few of the congregants at Emmanuel that match this description of men who are truly in love with good things. Beyond that, I love some "good men" that I've never met before, but whose sermons, ministries, books and public lives have blessed and taught me. Men whom I love as fathers in the faith and brothers in Christ even never having met them in the flesh. These are men who I would have no problem endorsing or recommending to my own flock. Included in this number are men like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, R. Kent Hughes and John MacArthur. Then in a third category I would say there are "good men" that I love although they are not even alive any longer, but I know of them and love them through their writings. This list is probably the longest of the three considering I have 6000 years of dead guys vs. the other two categories being limited to my short time here on earth. However, it would be headed by names like, C.S. Lewis, C.H. Spurgeon, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and Martin Luther.
In my contemplation of what it is to love men who love good things and who some of those men are, I was struck with another thought. Many times a truth is seen most clearly when we understand it's antithesis, yet in this particular situation I thought it compelling that we are never told to be haters, refuters or debunkers of evil men. While Titus does tell us to sharply rebuke the deceivers, it does not say that we are to spend a great amount of time ranting to everyone else about them. Understand, I do not deny that we are to warn our flocks of false teachers and false prophets, but here are my reasons for not making this a focal point of my teaching. One, if I boldly and consistently teach truth, my congregation will know error when they hear it. Two, those who are constantly looking for a new preacher to rail against, will inevitably make a godly man the brunt of their wrath, based either on a comment they heard out of context or perhaps even a legitimate (but minor) error in their theology. The fact of the matter is, every one of the "good men" I listed in three lists above, have/had their holes in their theology. As I often say, "The best of men are men at best", but to be an accuser of our brethren is not my job, in fact it is one job that is ascribed to Satan (Rev. 12:10).
So, I'm going to continue to love good men and look for more of them to love, understanding they are not perfect, simply error-prone men being sanctified daily, just like me. I'm also going to continue to try to walk the fine line of warning God's church of those who really are wolves in sheep's clothing, without attacking a true sheep who simply has some spots in his wool.