Mickey D. Brackin
Senior Pastor, Mars Hill Baptist Church, Lawrenceburg
Are you familiar with the term “smokejumper?” A smokejumper is a highly trained firefighter who specializes in fighting wildfires. Often, they must parachute into rugged and remote areas to provide a frontline defense against raging wildfires. Upon examination of a young pastor named Titus, I believe he could have been given the title “pastoral smokejumper!”
Just like the U.S. Forest Service Smokejumpers, Titus on more than one occasion, was given the assignment of being a frontline firefighter, fighting against the fires of false teachers and false doctrine (II Corinthians 7:6-16, Titus 1:5, 10-16).
The book of Titus joins with I and II Timothy forming the pastoral epistles. These books were written to individuals rather than church congregations. Although penned to specific individuals their timely truths speak to all believers in every generation.
Paul begins Titus with a lengthy salutation expressing his greetings, as well as his authority. He identifies himself as under God’s authority and with God’s appointment (Titus 1:1-3). As often his custom, he introduces some key themes found in the book: faith, godliness, and the importance of the Word.
Titus, like Timothy, is referred to as a spiritual son in the faith (v. 4). Paul had left Titus in Crete to finish the work they had apparently begun together. Titus was encouraged to complete the assigned task and establish trustworthy leaders to lead the ministry.
Paul considered Titus reliable, mature and faithful enough to handle the difficulties at Crete (vv. 10-16). Just as Timothy was battling the rise of false teachers at Ephesus, Titus was fighting the same fires at Crete. As Warren Wiersbe states, “It did not take long for false teachers to arise in the early church. Wherever God sows the truth, Satan quickly shows up to sow lies. Titus faced an enemy similar to Timothy, a mixture of Jewish legalism, man-made traditions and mysticism.”
Titus’ responsibilities were difficult (vv. 10-16). Before the wildfires of false teaching could spread causing more damage to the church, Titus was charged with “silencing” (“to muzzle”) the false teachers (vv. 10-11). This charge could best be appropriated by preaching and teaching the truth — the Word. The false teachers must be confronted and rebuked “sharply” with the hope of redemption (v. 13). True redemption would bring genuine change in the lives of the false teachers and their followers.
Titus was called on to protect the church from the dangerous wildfires of false teachers and false doctrine. As a pastor/shepherd he must confront the opposition with truth, or the sheep would suffer and perhaps even face destruction. In the words of Daniel Akin, “The ministry of confrontation is not easy, but it is essential. When the integrity of the gospel is at stake we cannot run and hide. We must stand and fight. Armed with truth, motivated by love, and clothed with a pure life, we engage the enemy and rescue the captive.”