Glorifying God Together
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The Kind of Teaching We Need – Part 3

Zach Putthoff Written by 
Thursday, 14 January 2016 00:02

In my previous two posts, I’ve tried to demonstrate from Scripture the kind of teaching and preaching that we need as a church in order to grow in Christ-likeness and in faithfulness to God. And as I’ve indicated, I believe that is the subject of Paul’s instruction to Titus in Titus 2:15.

“Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you” (Titus 2:15 ESV).

From this straightforward instruction, I’ve drawn two points of application for us so far.

First, we need Gospel-centered teaching; a kind of teaching that clearly emphasizes the grace of God in Christ despite our sins and the grace of God in Christ to overcome our sins. We don’t need checklists. We don’t need life lessons. We need Christ. And so, we need a kind of teaching that centers upon the good news about him.

Secondly, we need steady Gospel-centered teaching. We need a kind of Gospel preaching & teaching that is relentless in its effort to bring the Gospel to bear upon all kinds of situations, scenarios, and people. Those who preach and teach the Scriptures in the church should seek to overwhelm their hearers with the awe-inspiring magnitude and all-encompassing relevance of the Gospel.

Today I want to look at a third application we must consider. It is that we need authoritative Gospel-centered teaching.

We need authoritative Gospel-centered teaching.

Let me try to unpack what authority and Gospel teaching is all about. I believe the big point in Titus 2:15 regarding authority and teaching is that authoritative Gospel-centered teaching begins with recognizing the source of a teacher’s authority.

Teaching with all authority is not about a kind of authority that a preacher or teacher has by virtue of his position. No one in the church possesses inherent authority over anyone else in the church. Those who are responsible to teach the Gospel do not have the right to rule over people like a king would rule over people. The authority that Gospel teachers and preachers possess is a very specific kind of authority.

When Paul says, “speak the Gospel and exhort with the Gospel and reprove with the Gospel…with all authority,” he is not saying, “Tell people what to do, where to go, what to do with their lives, whom they should marry, how they should spend their money, what they should enjoy for entertainment, whom they should vote for, and what they should eat or drink.” He’s not saying that at all.

No, when Paul says this, he is commanding Titus to teach and preach the Gospel as one who has been commissioned by God himself to speak on behalf of God to his people.

Look at how this works. In Titus 1:3, Paul said that he had been entrusted with the preaching of the Gospel “by the command of God our Savior.” Then in 1:5, Paul says that he has entrusted Titus to carry on his mission in Crete. So, God commands Paul to take the Gospel out into the world, and as Paul does that, he appoints others to carry on this same mission. So, as one commentator says, “Titus’ authority to teach and correct the congregation, which is an extension of the apostle’s, is established, by way of transference or participation.” All the commands to Titus flow out of God’s commands to Paul in 1:1-3.

So, the reason that Titus (and others responsible for teaching in the church) must labor to serve the church with authoritative Gospel-centered teaching is because Jesus ultimately has called him to do so. Jesus has commissioned him and so he must not give up. He must not fail to give this kind of teaching, even in the face of opposition to this kind of teaching, because Jesus is the one who has called him to carry out this ministry and Jesus is the only one he will be accountable to on Judgment Day.

Paul roots his words in 2 Timothy 4 in that very reality, when he says to Timothy, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”

In other words, Titus is to teach with all authority because the One who has ultimately commissioned him to teach has all authority. Authoritative Gospel-centered teaching begins with seeing yourself as a servant of God and his Word, and as one who exists to please and glorify Jesus Christ. It begins with knowing where your authority comes from. Truly biblical preaching and teaching flows directly from this understanding.

This is what we should want from those who teach the Word in this church, starting with those who preach and teach the Word to our church as a gathered body; we want men who understand the weight and the seriousness of proclaiming the Gospel to the church – and who feel the commanding authority of Christ thrusting them forward to say what they say, to teach the way they teach, and to live the way they live. We should not want teachers and preachers who seek to please the masses, but men whose sole concern is to please the One who has enlisted them into the ministry of teaching and preaching.

Authoritative Gospel-centered teaching is not about convincing your hearers that you are an authoritative teacher; it is about pointing your hearers to the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth. It is not about teaching in such a way that people think you are a really gifted teacher – it is about teaching in such a way that people see that Jesus is an amazing Savior and the sovereign Lord over all things. The authority of the message is not in the messenger, but in the One whom the message is all about. And so, Gospel preachers and teachers must make it clear that the matters on which they speak are not the kinds of things you can casually take or leave.

I believe this is why Paul says what he does in his final command to Titus here in Titus 2:15. “Let no one disregard you.” Paul is saying to Titus, “Treat the Gospel as a matter of ultimate importance. Don’t let people shrug it off casually. Don’t present the Gospel as a light and inconsequential sort of thing. And don’t live in such a way that people could justifiably accuse you of not really believing it, such that they would have reason to reject your Christ.”

Why would he say this? Because the message of Christ and Him crucified is the only message in which the saving power and sovereign authority of God is unleashed in the hearts of those who believe in Christ. If people reject Jesus and his Gospel; they have rejected the only way to be saved and sanctified.

And yet, these days, the idea of authority in preaching and teaching gets a really bad rap, even in the church. In an effort to sound less dictatorial, some have opted to approach the task of preaching and teaching God’s Word in a less authoritative manner. As a result of this, sermons in many churches have become “talks” and “conversations,” preachers have become “speakers,” and the proclamation of the Word has been moved to the outer edges of the worship service. The idea behind all of this being that such changes might appeal to and be more palatable for those who are turned off by more authoritative preaching and teaching.

However, even the “speaker” giving a “talk” in a conversational and non-confrontational manner for 20 minutes in the most “relevant” and seeker-sensitive church service is speaking with authority. He’s merely appealing to his own authority; the authority of his own ideas and opinions, rather than the authority of God’s Word.

And ironically, such talks are far more dictatorial than a sermon where the Bible is opened and the preacher seeks to proclaim the meaning and importance of what a particular passage says. This is because the preacher who is afraid to appeal to the authority of God in Scripture, instead of saying “this is how you must think and live, because God says so,” can only say, “this is how you must think and live, because I say so.”

The fact is that every preacher and teacher preaches and teaches with authority. The only question is where the authority of what a preacher says comes from. For the one who opens up the Bible and seeks to clearly communicate its meaning and importance to the people, his authority is an actual authority that comes from directly from God. But, for the one who seeks to speak with a less-authoritative voice, his authority is an artificial authority derived merely from the ideas in his own head.

And so, lest we be fed with the individual opinions of talented speakers, let us always demand to be fed in an authoritative manner, directly from the Word, by those who have voluntarily placed themselves under its authority in the way they think, live, preach and teach. And by that authoritative preaching and teaching, we will grow up as a church into all that Christ wants for us to be as his church.

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