Speak With Authority, or Sit Down

It’s early on a Sunday morning, 15 minutes before 7 a.m., to be exact. I’m sitting here at the dining room table with my Bible and my laptop (graciously provided to me by our church), contemplating the Scripture I am going to be sharing a few hours from now.

What I am about to say is not for everyone, for not everyone has been given the responsibility to lead. Nevertheless, though not all of us will have the opportunity and calling to shepherd a congregation of believers, each and every one of us will at some point be responsible for communicating truth to those for whom we are one day going to give an account.

The verse from this morning’s text that has captured my attention is Titus 2:15.

“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

That was the King James Version rendering. Now, let’s read the text as translated in another version.

You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.

Titus 2:15 NLT

What I think we as pastors need to remember is that what we have to say needs to be taken seriously. If, however, we stand before our flocks as shepherds with no staff, not only are we “despised,” but so is the Word we are called to teach.

Those who know me the best know that I am a nice guy. Seriously, I hate confrontation so much that I will go to great lengths to avoid it. I want to be liked, even to a fault.

But when it comes to preaching and pastoring, we must take very seriously Paul’s admonition to Titus. As Paul left Titus in Crete to “set in order the things that are wanting,” so has God ordained us to set and keep things in order(1:5), speak those things which become sound doctrine (2:1), and remind believers of their obligations and responsibilities as representatives of God’s grace (3:1).

The problem we in leadership face is how to demand attention, to “let no one despise” us, without coming across as authoritarians or tyrants. Is a pastor to be a bully in the pulpit? Is he supposed to lord his authority over the sheep and force them to lie down in green pasture? Some think so.

However, it is Jesus who exemplified for us the model of servant leadership which draws attention. It is this same kind of example the apostles left us when we read of their boldness after Pentecost.

Our authority comes from the Word of God. Our boldness comes from the Holy Spirit. We are equally accountable as both heralds and subjects.

If we find ourselves timid, skiddish, reluctant, or intimidated behind the pulpit, we must ask ourselves some very point-blank questions. Who are we trying to please, God or man? Why are we called to be heralds? Just to be heard, or to proclaim the Message of the King?

Should we actually “speak the things that become sound doctrine,” then we are accountable to God for what we say, for we are to speak what He is saying. If we are tasked with heralding the Word, then God will hold us accountable for getting the message out to those who need to hear.

If we cower or hesitate in our duty, then we either doubt the authority of the Word, or we proclaim it in the power of our own strength. There is no excuse for the pastor, the shepherd, the man of God to stand behind the pulpit or on the neon-lit stage and waste time offering suggestions and scratching itching ears when we are plainly told, “These things speak…”

“Let no man despise thee” tells us there is a responsibility incumbent upon the preacher.

Therefore, unless you are going to mount the pulpit this morning with authority as one tasked with an urgent message from the King of the universe. . . unless you are going to “be strong in the Lord, and the power of His might” (Ephesian 6:10). . .

Sit down.

12 Comments

Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Preaching

12 responses to “Speak With Authority, or Sit Down

  1. Thanks for standing up and speaking the truth with the power of the King of the universe.

    Blessings on this holy day.

    Stand UP!!!

  2. Reblogged this on a simple man of God and commented:

    And now the encouraging admonition for leaders. Good is good.

    Daniel

  3. Well. I could almost hear a little Lester Roloff type conviction in those last two words!

    And good on you for using the KJV. It’s so succinct and powerful.

  4. Stephen

    “However, it is Jesus who exemplified for us the model of servant leadership which draws attention.”
    “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.”
    You’re doing a poor job at following Jesus Anthony. Your cognitive dissonance is showing yet again.
    Feel free to sit down as you have no power other than a religious spirit. It will take you places in this world, but the Kingdom of heaven is far different place.
    You might as well of thrown a picture of your maga hat out with this garbage.

    • I have some free time this evening. I will actually enjoy addressing your biblically illiteracy. 😉

    • So, here we go.

      Stephen, I am going to start this off by saying that I in no way really want to offend you. I may tease a little, but the banter in meant in fun, not mockery or meanness. I care for your soul, and I do not want to say anything that will jeopardize your eternity. As I understand it, I am responsible to God for my treatment and exposition. of Scripture. Therefore, I am going to take very seriously my responses to your questions, including your – let’s be honest – angry and mean-spirited attacks on my character and intelligence.

      Also, in order to achieve maximum transparency and allow for others to judge our arguments against the Word of God (our only source of authority), I will be copying and pasting the most pertinent of your previous remarks into a series of new blog posts. It’s only my opinion, but I feel that if what I believe is important enough to stake my life, my family’s well-being, and my eternal future on it, then my defense of it should not get lost in the comment section. You, of course will be able to respond and rebut …. in the comment sections 😉

      Now, let’s discuss the verse from Matthew that you quoted in the above comment (as a rebuttal to a quote from me). You used Matthew 23:8 as a proof text showing me to be some kind of hypocrite. Because I wrote a post dealing with being a pastor, you used the words of Jesus against me as evidence I am in some fashion “doing a poor job at following” Him. However, your use of this verse for this purpose displays a perfect example of “cherry picking” a text to support your argument. So, let’s exposit your “proof text” and see if what you accused is valid.

      Beginning with verse 2, Jesus speaks to the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. He points out how they love the attention for their own pride’s sake. Their main desire is not to teach truth or relieve the burdens of the lowly, but to receive the praises of men (23:5). It was to these overbearing, bullying hypocrites that Jesus was referring when He said, “But be not ye called Rabbi…” He was not telling them that they should not seek to be Rabbis, nor was He saying that being called a Rabbi was a bad thing. All Jesus was doing was illustrating the prideful desire of the scribes and Pharisees to relish in the public acknowledgement of their revered positions.

      But let’s not stop with the verse you chose to use against me. Consider this one: “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1 KJV). What is James, the half-brother of Christ, saying to us? The word “masters” is translated from the Greek word didaskalos (διδάσκαλος) [Strong’s G1320], which means “a teacher.” More specifically, it means “an instructor (genitive case or specially):—doctor, master, teacher.” So is James suggesting that we should never earn a Masters or Doctorate? No, not hardly. All he is saying is that we should be very cognizant of the fact that those holding this position will be held to a higher standard and will one day give an account to God for what they taught. AND, James says “be not many,” which is not condemnation demanding be not any.

      Am I misinterpreting the above verses for my own purposes? Of course not. As a matter of fact, the above verses speak very directly to the position I occupy. The contexts of both Matthew 23:8 and James 3:1 warn me against taking pride in being called “Pastor,” “Reverend,” “Doctor,” etc. They admonish me to remain humble and accountable unto the same message I preach, not to be one who says, “Do what I say, not what I do.” The word “Rabbi” was a Hebrew word, one given out of honor to their teachers. It was an official title that imbued respect. All Jesus was telling His disciples was that none of us are better than the other and to not use any title or office as a tool to gratify one’s own ego. Doing so, quite simply, is stealing honor from God.

      So, there is no “cognitive dissonance,” only your poorly-placed, out-of-context use of Matthew 28:8.

      Now, on to something else. Whatever a “maga hat” has to do with this is beyond me. The constant arrogant and condescending swipes against those who voted for or supported President Trump are at once childish, biased, bigoted, and ignorant.

      Lastly, about the Kingdom of heaven. Sir, I really don’t think you know what that means, and if you do, I would ask that you offer a biblically-supported definition. Besides that, I do not seek to “get far” in the Kingdom, for I am only in “the Kingdom” by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

      That’s all I have for this evening. Tomorrow is going to be a long day of taking my mother to chemotherapy treatments. Don’t expect much out of me by way of comments, especially a new post in which I begin addressing your previous concerns and misconceptions. I’m also working on a lot of different projects which demand my attention, so I will get back to this when I can.

      Hey, Angel! Feel free to insert your 2 cents 😉

      • Stephen

        No, you have said nothing that changes my beliefs. Quite the opposite, your still suffering with cognitive dissonance. I’ll stick with what Jesus says. Not your interpretation of what Is being said bu Jesus or the other two who aren’t Jesus.

        I would expect that those you are telling to sit down would probably answer you as you’ve answered me.
        It’s funny how that works.
        I hope all goes well with you mother.

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