“Left with a Purpose”: Titus 1:4-5
“4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. 5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you” Titus 1:4-5
While Titus was written to a single person (Titus), whom Paul left in charge of the church planting work in Crete, it was also intended for the church at large (3:15 “grace be with you all [plural]) and for the church through the ages. It has relevance for us today in 2015.
Paul was Titus’ spiritual father, yet they shared a “common faith” in the Lord Jesus. This passage reminds me of 2 Peter 1:1, where the Christians are referred to as “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours [apostles’]”. The Apostles were authoritative, wrote inspired words, and were unique, but they were not super-human. They shared a common faith in Christ with all believers. Today, we share in the same faith as the Apostle Paul and Titus—faith in our Lord Jesus. It is this faith we call others to as we plant a church.
“Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.” Just a verse earlier (2:3) we saw God the Father referred to as Savior, but now we see Jesus possessing the title. This is no surprise, as Jesus the God-Man was sent by God the Father and empowered by God the Spirit. But this sharing of divine titles and prerogatives is worth observing (see Bauckhman’s work ‘God Crucified’ where he explores the ramifications of Jesus being identified as possessing the divine identity of Yahweh, the God of Israel). As we plant a church we remember this: Jesus is our Savior and the savior that everyone needs. In our day, many think they are their own savior, but in reality we all need a savior so that we might be rescued from spiritual death and estrangement from God. Only Jesus can provide this saving, and as we plant a gospel-centered church we pray that more might hear of Jesus the Savior.
We see in verse 5 that Titus was left in Crete to do two things: “put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town” (something that he was apparently told earlier [“as I directed you”]). Titus was left with a purpose. He had to continue the work of evangelism and discipleship that was started when Paul and others were in Crete. This work that was surely incredibly challenging and also culturally inappropriate—some things never change! (The gospel message is always offensive regardless of what year it is.) Along with this, Titus was to appoint elders. These elders would pastor local congregations in Crete. This is a vital task in church planting, as the biblical model is a plurality of elders caring for a local church. As we plant Cross of Christ Fellowship, I’m praying that God raises up elders for us and begins to show discernment about who these might be. The lead pastor of a congregation is not called to bear the work of shepherding on his own, he needs other qualified elders to help him care for and feed the flock. In the next passage we see some of the qualifications for shepherds.