Many of you have studied the pastoral letters in the New Testament.
These are 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus.
I want to look at all three of these letters, and talk about the main reason that Paul wrote them.
We can learn many things from these letters.
For example, Paul talks about things like the importance of personal purity.
He says in 1 Timothy 6: 11:
But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.
Another point of the pastoral letters is to explain the qualifications for leaders.
We looked at some of these sections in out last session.
He also talks about the role of women in the church, and many other practical issues like this.
But as you study these 3 letters, you will notice that there was one point that seemed to be the most important to Paul that all the others.
And that is the importance of good doctrine, and the importance of defending good doctrine.
And because it is Paul’s main point to the pastors that he wrote to, it should be a main point to us as well.
Today we are going to look at these passages and discover one of the most important jobs of a pastor.
But before we look at these passages, Lets first turn to Acts chapter 6 starting in verse 2:
Act 6:2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.
Act 6:3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;
Act 6:4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
What I want you to notice in this passage is verse 4.
That they were to “give themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
This is one of the main jobs of the elder or pastor.
We will see examples of this in the verses we are about to study too.
For many of us this is not always possible. We have jobs, many of you run orphanages.
And that is ok, but we should remember that we have a responsibility to make time to study the word.
If it is possible to train others to do some of the work you are doing, you should try to do this.
I know for me sometimes it is hard to do that.
Because sometimes I think that I am the one who knows how to do it correctly.
But remember the words of Jethro who told Moses. In Exodus 18:17-18:
“…The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.”
Also in training others to do ministry you give them an opportunity to be blessed.
Many people want to do some work for the Lord very much and you can give them a job to do.
This will be a blessing to them, so do not deny them an opportunity to serve.
Of course you can do this in an incorrect way too.
Don’t go home and say, “I cannot help with this work or that work anymore because I have to read the bible.”
Remember that you are a servant, and the things that you know you should do yourself, you should still do.
Let the spirit guide you about this, and if there are jobs that you need to give to others. Pray about this.
In other words, do not use this teaching as an excuse to be lazy.
But remember that your main job is to study the word of God.
Ok lets begin our study of the pastoral letters, lets turn to 1 Timothy verse 1.
1Ti 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,
1Ti 1:2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
1Ti 1:3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
1Ti 1:4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
You can see that Paul starts off this letter with his main point.
In verse 3 he reminds Timothy why he sent him to Ephesus, which is to correct the bad doctrine that had come into the church.
In verse 4 we see that he says not to give heed to fables and endless genealogies.
“Give heed” means to agree with or put up with.
An when he says “Fables and Endless Genealogies,” it is probably referring to the specific types of false teachings that were being taught in Ephesus.
And Paul says don’t give heed to these types of false teachings, because it does not produce good fruit.
Lets turn to chapter 4, starting in verse 11:
1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
1Ti 4:14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
1Ti 4:15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.
1Ti 4:16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
This is a very important passage for pastors. The idea is very similar to the passage in Acts we read earlier.
Verse 14 says to give yourself entirely to the study of the Word.
And it’s interesting to see some of the reasons that we are to be diligent in our study of doctrine.
Verse 15 and verse 16 tell us that our study of doctrine is not for us, but for the people we Shepard.
Shepard’s protect sheep from wolves. Jesus said in Mat 7:15 to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
As shepherds one of our main jobs is to protect the sheep from false teachers and false doctrine.
This is what he means here by how the study of doctrine will “save them”, it will save them from the false teachers and teachings of Ephesus.
But we cant do that unless we are experts in doctrine ourselves.
That is what Paul tells Timothy here. He must give attention to reading, exhortation and doctrine.
It is how he will be able to do his job of protecting the church from false teachers.
The interesting thing about false doctrine is that you defeat it not by studying false doctrine, but by studying good doctrine.
You protect your sheep not by explaining why a false teaching is wrong.
But by teaching them why good doctrine is right.
For example, If you want to become an expert in fake or counterfeit money.
You would not need to study fake money.
You would want to become an expert in real money.
Then when someone gives you a fake bill you will immediately recognize it as a fake.
Because you know so much about how real money looks.
That is why it is important to take our study of doctrine seriously.
If we study the bible and good doctrine, we will immediately be able to see false doctrine.
And we will be able to explain to others why it is wrong.
Let’s look at verse 17 and 18 of Chapter 5:
1Ti 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.
1Ti 5:18 For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE AN OX WHILE IT TREADS OUT THE GRAIN,” and, “THE LABORER IS WORTHY OF HIS WAGES.”
Here Paul gives us the principal that is right to support your pastor so that he can labor in word and doctrine.
Here again we see that the pastors main job is to be a student of the word and doctrine.
Notice in verse 17 that not all the elders were laboring in word and doctrine, but that was ok with Paul.
Elders that “rule well” can have different gifts in the ministry, and they are still considered worthy of honor.
Paul quotes a verse from the Old Testament in verse 18 to support the idea that pastors deserve to be paid if it is possible.
But also remember that sometimes Paul did not get paid for his ministry.
For the Corinthians he worked as a tentmaker to support himself.
So you should understand that each situation of ministry will be different, and you should not be worried if you have to work to support yourself and your family.
That is normal in America too, many pastors have to work a job until the church is able to support them.
I want to emphasize again that not all members of the body are teachers, but all elders of the church need to be able to explain doctrine to others.
Maybe you are preacher, maybe you are more gifted in prayer, or with the business of the church.
But all elders still need to know doctrine very well, if they are to be good leaders.
Let’s turn to chapter 6 starting in verse 3:
1Ti 6:3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,
1Ti 6:4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,
1Ti 6:5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
Here we have instruction about people who will not hear good doctrine.
Paul says that they are obsessed with disputes and arguments over words.
Im sure many of you have noticed that people who believe false doctrine become are obsessed with that error.
It seems that it is all they ever want to talk about.
If it is a church, then every week the message they preach is about the same false doctrine
That is a pattern of false doctrine, it becomes an obsession.
We are told what this type of person produces.
Envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions.
That is a pretty accurate list of the fruit of false teachers, and those of you that have seen this know it is true.
Those of you who have not yet experienced Satan’s attack in the form of false teaching in your church yet need to hear the words of the Holy Spirit here who said:
“From such withdraw yourself”
We will see later on that Paul instructs us how to do this. He will tell us that we first need to try to correct them in love.
He says in Titus 3:10 that we should try to do this at least twice.
Do not argue with them, but try to your very best to help them see their error.
But often it is obvious that most people like this do not want to hear what you have to say.
They are only interested in changing your mind, they have no intention of changing their mind.
And this is why your only option at that point is to withdraw yourself, or ask them to leave.
And just as Paul started his 1st Letter to Timothy, he will also end the same way:
In chapter 6 starting in verse 20
1Ti 6:20 O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—
1Ti 6:21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.
We again these two main messages from the Holy Spirit.
1.) Guard and protect and your good doctrine.
2.) And avoid false doctrine and arguments about unimportant things.
Also notice in verse 21 that many have fallen away because of this false teaching already.
False teaching is a very serious problem. Satan is working very hard to deceive people, and he will have some victory in his efforts.
If we quickly turn back to chapter 4 verse 1 we also find that Satan will continue to have victory with deceiving people like this in the future.
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
1Ti 4:2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,
In the next few verses he explains what kinds of false teachings these would be, and then in verse 6 he gives us instruction about what we can do about it.
1Ti 4:6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.
1Ti 4:7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.
He says instructing the brethren, in this way is our job, we study the Word so that we can teach others, that is how we will be good ministers of Jesus Christ.
Again in verse 7 we are told to reject false teaching and commit ourselves toward holy living.
Now let’s move on to the 2nd letter to Timothy.
This letter was written at the end of Paul’s life.
Paul was in prison and knew that he was about to be executed for the sake of the gospel.
Let’s start in Chapter 1 verses 13 and 14
2Ti 1:13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
2Ti 1:14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
Paul tells Timothy to hold fast to the doctrine that he taught him.
Hold fast suggests someone or something will try to take the truth from us; and that unless we hold on to it, it will be taken from us.
How good a pastor is should not be measured by how funny he is, or if he is an exciting preacher, or even he is a good evangelist.
The true measure of a pastor should be does he “hold fast to the pattern of sound words.”
I like that verse 14 tells us that the Holy Spirit will help us to hold fast.
I like this because It says that it is not about how smart we are, we don’t have to be scholars in order to know and hold on to good doctrine.
It is because study and because of the discernment given by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said the Holy Spirit would teach us in John 14: 26
Even new Christians might not always know why a certain teaching is false, but often the spirit gives them a sense that it is not of God.
But we also must remember that we have also seen many commands to labor in the study of the word to get good doctrine.
It is a mixture of both. We labor in the word, and we are also taught by the Holy Spirit.
In says in Hebrews that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Next let go to chapter 2 verse 2.
2Ti 2:2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
This is a very important part of a spiritual leader’s ministry.
To train other spiritual leaders.
Notice what specifically Paul asks Timothy to pass on.
The teachings of the Apostle.
We will see later that this also includes all the scripture written by the apostles in the New Testament.
It is important to train spiritual leaders in many things.
But the most important thing you can teach them is the doctrine found in Holy Scripture.
Training leaders is a part of your job according to the bible.
Not only when you need another leader to help you.
And not only for service in your congregation.
You should train leaders for the kingdom of God in general.
Whether their ministry will be pastoral or used for some other purpose by the Lord.
You should always be training people in what you have learned.
If you don’t have anyone that you feel you should be training.
You should pray and ask the Lord to send you someone, or reveal to you someone you already know to begin training.
It says that the men you should train need to be “faithful men who are able to teach.”
There are other qualifications in these letters that we have already looked at in the last session.
Let’s move on to 2 Timothy 2 starting in verse 14:
2Ti 2:14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.
2Ti 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2Ti 2:16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
2Ti 2:17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort,
2Ti 2:18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.
Here we hear many of the same things we have already heard from the Spirit through the Apostle Paul.
I want to point out verse 15 which says that we should be diligent in our work of rightly dividing the word of truth.
This phrase “rightly dividing the word of truth” literally means to “cut straight.”
That a minister of the gospel should present the truth correctly and honestly.
He should not be dishonest in any way when presenting the scripture.
We also see in 16 and 17 that false teachings are like cancer.
If you ignore it, it will grow and grow, and in verse 18 we see that it can cause the faith of other people to be overthrown.
This is why it is important to deal with false teaching in your church in the way the bible says, because it can destroy the faith of other people as well.
Let’s move on to verses 24-26
2Ti 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,
2Ti 2:25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
2Ti 2:26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
This is my favorite part of this entire teaching.
It says that our goal should not be to fight, but that God will show them the truth of their error and they would repent.
A wise pastor said to me one time that no one ever wins in an argument.
Yes, you may prove someone wrong, and make them be silent.
But there is no winner in an argument, only losers.
If you truly desire the salvation and repentance of those who are in opposition you must be patient and humble.
You must see if they will let you teach them the truth.
It’s easy to have sympathy for false teachers if you understand verse 26.
They are in the snare of the devil, taken captive to do his will.
Just as the Lord Jesus uses us to do His will, Satan also uses people to do his will.
The difference is that we choose to serve the Lord, Satan though has to capture people and trick them into doing his will.
You can pray for them, and try to help them, but there is a limit to how much you can allow.
Let move to the next chapter starting in verse 13:
2Ti 3:13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2Ti 3:14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
2Ti 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
2Ti 3:17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
This passage tells us what the weapon we should use in our warfare is.
It is the Bible, this book, from Genesis to Revelation.
This is all we need to do the job that we are being asked to do.
It says the scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction.
What is so interesting to me is that it seems that every kind of false teaching, no matter how strange it is, was already answered by the Holy Spirit somewhere in the bible.
What I mean is that there is always a verse, usually many verses that are perfect for refuting every kind of false teaching.
So a smart false teacher will spend most of their time trying to explain why the verses that prove them wrong in the bible do not really mean what it says.
Part of our job is to be able to correct false doctrine using the scripture.
The more we know of scripture the easier this job will be.
Let’s move on to chapter 4 verse 2
2Ti 4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
2Ti 4:4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
2Ti 4:5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
There are many things to learn here.
Verse 2 again describes that we should be ready to explain the word to people.
It says to preach the word.
We have many examples of the Apostle Paul doing this.
He wrote many letters that were correcting false teaching in the church.
For example the letter to the Colossians, or the letter to the Galatians.
What is interesting to notice about those letters is that Paul fights bad doctrine with good doctrine.
He doesn’t spend any time explaining the details of their false beliefs.
But instead he teaches in detail the good doctrine that they needed to hear.
For example he does a study of the Old Testament in Galatians and explains the correct doctrines of justification of faith clearly.
So this is an example, we fight bad doctrine with clear explanations of good doctrine.
Verse 3 is the second time Paul tells Timothy that in the future this problem of bad doctrine will grow worse.
It is interesting because it says that the people will “heap for themselves the false teachers.”
It says that they have itching ears, which means that they will want to believe false doctrine.
Many people believe false teaching because they want to.
Not necessarily because they have been deceived.
This is why for some people it won’t matter if you can prove to them their error from the word of God.
They will still believe it, they wont endure sound doctrine.
Let’s move on to the book of Titus.
This letter is a little different than 1st and 2nd Timothy.
Titus was in Crete where there was a lot of false teaching.
We understand that Titus was a person who was very brave and liked a challenge.
Paul sent Titus into a very difficult situation in Crete.
This is what Paul tells Titus about the situation at Crete:
Tit 1:10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,
Tit 1:11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.
Tit 1:12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
Tit 1:13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
You can also see in verse 5 that in addition to appointing elders, Titus was sent to Crete with the purpose of correcting their bad doctrine.
And according to Paul, and even Cretan’s themselves, they were not easy people to convince of anything.
In verse 9 we see that Paul says that if any man wants to be a Bishop he must:
“Hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”
This is a job requirement for elders, we must be able to instruct difficult doctrine to difficult people.
Let’s read verse 16, which is speaking about some of the false teachers at Crete:
Tit 1:16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
This is similar to what Jesus said about false prophets.
Mat 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
Mat 7:16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
Mat 7:17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
Mat 7:18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
False teachers and prophets bear bad fruit in their lives.
In verse 16 back in Titus 1 it says “They profess to know God”
Almost all false teachers claim to be very good Christians.
Often they claim to be the only kind of Christians that have the real truth.
They say very holy things, and talk like they are more religious that everyone else.
But they do not bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
If they were as holy as they claimed to be, their life’s would show it.
But as Jesus said a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Let’s turn to chapter 2 starting in verse 7:
Tit 2:7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,
Tit 2:8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.
Paul is telling Titus and us. To not let your critics have any doctrinal reason to accuse you.
The truth is that none of us understand the word perfectly.
Because it is the Word of God, we should expect there to be parts of it that we do not yet understand, because we are only human.
We are all wrong about something, and we don’t know what it is we are wrong about yet.
But you should be the kind of person who is willing to admit you are wrong if you are shown the truth in the word.
Doing this will make you a better leader and a better pastor.
One of the hardest things for a leader to do is to admit he was wrong.
Especially if he has taught the wrong thing for a long time.
We try to hold on to it, we try to make excuses for ourselves.
We need to be the kind of people who can say “I was wrong, and I am sorry”
And you need to be humble enough to explain why you were wrong to those you have taught.
They will respect you more for your humility.
There is nothing worse than a preacher who won’t admit he is wrong.
This is very destructive to the body of Christ.
Now let’s look at chapter 3 starting in verse 9:
Tit 3:9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
Tit 3:10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
Tit 3:11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
Here we find instruction of how many times you should try to correct someone in this type of error.
It says after two times you should reject him.
We must be careful not to use this for every situation where we have disagreements with people.
Because not every disagreement is a matter of heresy.
We know from other passages we have read today that when trying to correct false teaching we must be gentle.
We must be patient; we must try to very hard to correct them by using scripture.
And we must pray for them that God may grant them repentance.
And even after you correct them, and they continue to believe the false doctrine, it says here that you should try one more time.
But after the second time, if they show no signs of repentance, then you must reject them.
This is for the health of your church and its protection.
But I have found that this passage is also there for you, the minister.
Because if it was not here, some of us would feel that we had to try to correct error over and over again.
But the Word of God says, after a certain point you have done your job, and it is no longer your responsibility.
I would encourage you all to read through these three letters we have just looked at.
Because doctrine is not the only subject talked about in them.
Almost as much time is spent on the need of personal purity of the minister as well.
I will now give you a few ideas on how to learn and maintain good doctrine.
Obviously the main thing is prayer and reading the bible.
These two things are your best weapons in the war for good doctrine.
Read the bible because you love it, not because you want to prove a point.
If you do not want to read the bible, pray that God will give you a thirst for the reading it.
And pray that prayer all the time, not just once or twice.
The more you read the more you will understand.
The Holy Spirit will be able to bring to your mind verses that will help you discern the truth.
It is not important to have many theological books in order to have very good doctrine.
But it is good to have access to a concordance or other reference books like this.
I have the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge that I made for your mobile phones.
If you haven’t already received one you can turn the Bluetooth on in your phone and one will automatically be sent to you by my computer.
You do not want to have errors in your theology because of a lack of understanding the meaning of a word.
If you have a question, ask other pastors, ask an elder or someone who you know to be strong in the scriptures.
The bible says that iron sharpens iron, so fellowship and conversations about your questions are important.
Always be learning.
You are all here at this conference, so I know that you understand this point.
But I would encourage you to find more opportunities to learn.
Pastor Chris has a bible school, and I know there are other schools in your area too.
Ask your congregation to help you afford some theological books.
Even if you have to save money for a long time, and pray that the Lord sends you this help.
But most importantly, the best way to learn is to teach.
In the discipleship session I talked about teaching verse by verse through the bible.
If that is how you decide to start teaching, I can promise you that you will go much faster in the process of becoming an expert in the bible.
The more you teach through the bible verse by verse, the faster you will grow.
Please consider doing this. I think it will not only make your sheep healthy sheep.
But it will also create a healthy shepherd.