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A Call for Spiritual Fathers


June 16, 2024|A Call for Spiritual Fathers|Titus 2:1-8

JD Cutler


Click here for the sermon audio


A Call For Spiritual Fathers

On Mother’s Day we looked at really, what amounts to part 1 of our examination of Paul’s instructions to Titus as he established and strengthened the churches in Crete. 

If you remember, we looked at it under the heading of ‘A Call for Spiritual Mothers’. Today we return to that same text as we look at what Paul has to say to Titus about the men under his pastoral care. 


Obviously Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be wonderful times to celebrate our Earthly parents, or to spend the day fondly thinking of them if they have passed. But as I said on Mother’s Day, as the family of God, those who have been brought into the family of God, who now relate to one another in familial ways that we did not before, it has the potential to be so much more. 


Once, when Jesus was in the midst of ministering close to his home town and he had gathered quite the crowd, his family heard about it and worried for him and about him, came to get him and take him home.

Mark 3:31-35 (ESV) 31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”


Maybe these parental holidays are not a source of joy for you but pain. Pain because you did not have great parents, maybe because you are struggling to become parents. But, as believers, we come to a great family of God, full of opportunities to develop and invest in these wonderful relationships. This was why I said in our time together on Mother’s Day, I pray that our women answer the call to be Spiritual Mothers and Spiritual Daughters so that next year we can celebrate, not only our Earthly mothers, but our spiritual ones as well. My heart is the same for our men today. That our older men would hear the call to be Spiritual Fathers and to disciple and invest in our younger men, and that our younger men would see the incredible value of having Godly older men to walk alongside. 


Let’s get into the text this morning. Titus chapter 2, beginning at verse 1.

Titus 2:1-8 (ESV) 1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.


As always, I want to keep our text in its proper context. 

What is the occasion for Paul’s descriptions of older men and women as well as what is to be taught younger men and women?


Paul is writing Titus, his Spiritual Son because he has left him in Crete to finish establishing and strengthening the churches that have been started in Paul’s missionary journeys. This letter is part reminder, part encouragement, and part personal instruction for Titus. 

It is in the midst of this letter that we find Paul encouraging Titus in the face of false teachers who are trying to creep into the church. He tells Titus how he is to conduct himself and what standards he ought to hold the men and women of the church to. It is in the context of these local assemblies, the church, that Paul gives Titus these lists. 

Specifically because the health of these churches is going to rise and fall not just on their leadership or Elders, but on the spiritual condition of the congregations. As we noted last time, this is Paul’s plan for the establishment and health of the church.

It is in the context of these local assemblies, the church, that Paul gives Titus these lists. Specifically because the health of these churches is going to rise and fall, not just on their leadership or Elders, but on the spiritual condition of the congregations.

This morning I want to look at three areas of instruction with you in our time together. The Biblical description of a Godly Man, The Biblical Strategy for Developing Godly Men, and finally the Impact of Character on the Advancement of the Gospel.

Let’s turn to the first area of instruction this morning… 


The Biblical Description of a Godly Man

Paul begins his instruction to Timothy concerning speaking that which accords to sound doctrine by immediately addressing the older men in the Cretian churches. Which makes sense in light of the fact that scripture lays upon men the primary responsibility for servant-leadership in the home and in the church. 

We can usually see how important something is in terms of Biblical Christianity, by measuring the amount of attack it gets from the world. 

Understanding that, it is not hard to see how increasingly the idea of any special calling on men’s lives has been attacked, labeled misogynist, part of the patriarchy, out-dated, hateful, and even oppressive. 

Culture does its best to relocate men to a relatively unimportant position, biologically necessary, but really unimportant.

Growing up almost all of the dads I saw on tv were portrayed as out of touch, self-absorbed, comic relief. 


Now, the church has always known better even if it hasn’t acted like it, but it's interesting that the field of psychology and those who study social dynamics in the last couple of decades have begun to understand the importance of involved fathers in their families and especially their children. We don’t have time to get into it this morning, but the statistics are staggering when you compare men and women who grew up with strong male presences in their lives vs those who did not. From infancy to adulthood, it matters.

But I would argue, culture at large has not caught up with what the Bible teaches and Psychology affirms, Father’s matter, men matter. 


To go further, I think the problems we have in the modern church, from the abandonment of long held theological convictions to the increasing worldliness within the church, can be laid at the feet of our men. 

To see the church recover and advance the message of Jesus Christ we need men, and not just any men, but Godly men who have been formed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Which leads us to ask the question, what is a man?


To our men and women here this morning, what formed your understanding of what a man was? When you think of a man’s man, who or what image comes to mind?


Lincoln and I were riding in my truck the other day without the girls and he has been talking lately about when he grows up and marries and has a family of his own. So he said something along the lines of when I become a man and get married and have my own kids. So I asked him, son, what is a man? To which he responded ‘He’s tough and eats meat.’ 

So I laughed and then we talked through why a man has to be tough. Because he is called to lead, protect, and provide. He also partners with his wife to care for the family. 


But even then, I realize as I go through this list that Paul gives Titus, I was describing what men do, their roles, rather than who men are to be and become. 

Both are important conversations, but what men are called to do finds its root in what men are called to be and become. 

...what men are called to do finds its root in what men are called to be and become. 

I feel that most if not all of our boys and men today fall into the same trap, don’t they? When we think of what a man is, we often think of what they do or don’t do. 

A man’s man has to be able to hunt and kill for his dinner. A man’s man has to be able to build a house with his bare hands and fix anything that breaks. A man’s man doesn’t take anything from anyone. A man’s man is someone who takes what he wants and never asks permission. King of the castle, Lord of the road, and boss at work. Somewhere between the hulk and John Wayne, right?

Hunters, conquerors, warriors. 

Some of these things are not bad things, some of them are in fact good and beneficial things, but the most important thing in God’s eyes is not the physical abilities of a man, not the toughness of a man, but what a man is inside. It’s far more about his heart than his abilities. 


Listen to the list Paul gives. 

2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

If I could say it this way, this is Paul giving Titus a target to point the older men in the church towards. This is Biblical manhood described. This is what Titus is to exhort and encourage men in his preaching in his ministry, especially those men who are older and therefore seen as leaders in their communities. 


Now, what's remarkable about this list is that it's unremarkable. There is nothing in this list that is rooted in innate ability, or innate strength. This is a list that every man can pursue. Right?

If Paul said, encourage the men to bench press 500 lbs, it doesn't matter how badly I wanted to meet that call, I don't think I would ever get there. 


If a Godly man has to meet certain physical requirements or be able to meet certain skill levels, what do we do with someone like Justin Peters, who has Cerebral Palsy and will never walk or run or bench press anything, much less 500 pounds? What about some of you who had one time maybe could have chewed nails and spit gasoline and easily bench press 300, 400 lbs. Now that you’re older, now that your testosterone levels are lower, are you no longer a man because you can’t?


If we cannot encourage every man to be a Godly man then our definitions need to change. We need to be less culturally minded and more scripturally minded.

So what does Paul say a Godly man is? 

He gives us a list that can be broken into two different sets of three. The first is what some pastors have called self-mastery and the second is spiritually healthy.

Sober-minded,- earnestly thoughtful character or demeanor, calm and reasonable

Dignified,- reverent, respectful

Self-controlled- curbing one's desires and impulses, self-controlled


This Saturday we celebrated my grandmother’s 88th birthday. My grandfather passed away almost 7 years ago now and yet I can still fondly remember his embodiment of this list. Reasonable, calm, worthy of respect, self-controlled. There was just a weight to his presence, even when he was no longer physically as able as he once was, he was no less a man because he embodied these characteristics of self-mastery. Not in and of himself, but through the power of the Spirit and obedience to the word. 


A Godly man thinks deeply, he is earnestly thoughtful, calm, reasonable.

A Godly man carries himself in a way that is worthy of respect.

A Godly man controls his desires and impulses, not being driven by unbridled desire or worldly lusts.

How different is that list than the world’s list? The world’s list has men being reactionary, aggressive, domineering, respected only because if you don’t they’ll fight you, and being controlled by base instincts, testosterone driven men that look nothing like this list.  

But Paul goes on, moving from self-mastery towards spiritual health. The reason I say spiritual health is the word Paul uses when he says sound.


Sound- the word sound is the same word Paul uses for sound doctrine. It signifies health. So Paul says Godly men are healthy, spiritually in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 

In Faith- A Godly man knows, understands, believes and defends the truth. He has firmly established his trust in God’s word. He is healthy in his understanding and belief of the faith. 

In Love- A Godly man is a loving man. The word here is agape. A Godly man loves God, he loves his neighbor. He loves his wife, if he has one, like Christ loved the church, he loves his children, if he has them, in a Godly, nurturing way. He loves his church family in a way that honors God. Love here is not a feeling, it is action. You can tell by how a Godly man lives that he is motivated by love. 

In Steadfastness- A Godly man is a steadfast man. The idea here is that he is not swayed in his God given purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings. He endures and remains committed to God and his purpose. 


Again, what is remarkable about this list is that any regenerate man can and should desire and pursue it, knowing that he will never be perfect in these, but that he will be showing evidence of growth in all of them over time. 


The second thing that is noteworthy, is how many of these characteristics show up in the qualification passages of the elders and deacons in Paul’s pastoral epistles. In Paul’s description of the church, we ought to be able to look around and have an abundance of men exhibiting the qualities of elders and deacons. Then as we look around, we see from these men, those that have a particular gift of teaching, who seem to exhibit these normal qualities in abundance and from these men come our elders or pastors, and deacons. 


If this is the Biblical description of a Godly man, how do we get here? Within this passage Paul not only gives us a biblical description but let us turn to… 


The Biblical Strategy for Developing Godly Men

Let’s pick back up in verse 6. 

6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Likewise, is how Paul transitions from one category of people to another. He now turns his attention towards the young men in the church.

If he has already set the goal for older men, he now outlines the starting point. Urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 


Titus’ situation elicits a particular responsibility. He is a young man himself. He is to teach and point the older men towards Godliness, but Paul tells him he is to come alongside the younger men. Scholars estimate that he was probably in his early thirties here. 

He has a unique responsibility towards the young men, the group in which he belongs. Yes he is to exhort and encourage the older men as fathers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters. This is pastoral work. 

The reality is that at this point in my life, like Titus, I know very little about being an older man, although hopefully I learn more every day. I certainly cannot directly speak to the experience of older or younger women, so all I can do as a pastor is point you to scripture, pray for you, encourage you. But for the younger men, there is a different relationship. 

The word urge- means to come alongside, to strengthen. What is he supposed to come alongside them and strengthen them in? Self-control. 

Now when we contrast that with the list for young women where Paul lists 6 things older women are to be training younger women towards, we have to ask, is Paul being easier on the young men? Fair, but let me point out one textual idea that helps us understand what Paul is saying. 

First you have to remember that chapter and verse numbers were not part of the original scripture and were not added until the year 1550. Second, the Greek language is different from ours. We have reason to believe that in the original Greek, the words translated ‘in all respects’ actually belong with the previous sentence. 

Which would read, urge the younger men to be self-controlled in all things. Show yourself to be a model of good works…etc.

That is, young men, the starting point for being and becoming a Godly man is self-control, in all things. 

In addition, the very things he encourages Titus towards in verse 7 and 8 is at least indirectly aimed at the rest of the younger men Titus is to be a model for. 

Integrity, dignity, sound speech. Similar to the list for the older men. The things we see as mature characteristics in older men should be finding their roots and producing fruit in our younger men. Fruit that will go on to become more and more fruitful. 


We briefly defined self-control as ‘curbing one's desires and impulses’, but let’s dig deeper for a moment. 

Why is self-control so important and vital to cultivate in young men? Because they are by far and by nature the most prone to indulging their desires, shirking their responsibilities, embracing the culture, and reveling in immaturity. Don't believe me? Just spend an afternoon on Youtube watching the insane amount of stupidity on display by young men who should know better. 


John MacArthur says it this way,

Young men must have self-control, self-mastery, balance. They must exhibit power over their appetites and their faculties.  These are essential if they are to be godly.  They've got to control their lives.  That means, parents, that when you are raising your children you need to teach your children conformity to holy standards, and that means you need to control them so that your control becomes their control in time.

What is the biblical strategy then for producing young men? First we need older Godly men to look towards as examples. Second, we need to understand how important self-control is and then make sure our church is continually reminding our young men of its value in their lives. It’s not manly to lose your temper and want to fight everyone who makes you mad. It’s not manly to cuss out someone that wrongs you. It’s not manly to be overly aggressive and domineering. 


In the same way that we need older women to be Spiritual mothers, we need older men to be spiritual fathers. To willingly invest in the younger men around them. To build relationships within the church, centered on the word and with specific goals of seeing our young men become Godly so that when they are the older men the next generation of younger men will have role models and disciplers within the church. 


This is a call for spiritual fathers. For Godly men to stand up and step up as father figures to men who may have never had a Godly male figure present in their lives. 


How do younger men become formed into these godly older men described here in our text?

It is not by accident- age does not equal maturity. Just because someone is older does not mean they are Godly. We are at a unique point in history where social scientists are having to coin new words to describe this generation of young men and women.

Have you heard this word yet, Adultolescence?

Used to you had adolescence and adulthood. Now the line has become blurred and although they are physically adult age, they still very much display traits attributed to adolescence. One person defined adultolescence as- It is a term that has been used in recent years to describe a phenomenon where individuals in their late 20s and early 30s feel that they are stuck in a prolonged period of adolescence. It refers to a period where people feel like they are not yet fully adults but are also no longer teenagers. 

These young men and women are not being formed into adulthood, they are growing older but not necessarily up. So we cannot simply add time to young men and produce Godly older men. 

It is not by being formed by the culture- we have already seen that men and women formed by the culture will not match up to these biblical descriptions. 

Then how are they formed?

It is by and through the discipleship of Godly older men by the power of the Holy Spirit.


How can we do this if we do not have Godly earthly fathers? We need Goldy spiritual fathers to stand in the gap, to call boys to manhood, to model Godly manhood, and ensure that our kids’ kids will not be devoid of any spiritually mature Godly examples. Amen?


Okay, you may wonder and fairly, what does this have to do with us as a church? It sounds like a societal problem, or a family problem? Yes and yes, but it is, in reality, also a gospel problem. If I could, I want to step back for a moment and take everything we heard on Mother’s Day and everything we have heard today and ask, why do we need spiritual fathers and mothers?

Let’s look at…


The Impact of Character on the Advancement of the Gospel. 

Why, as a church, do we need Godly older men and women?

Why do we need Godly older men and women to be walking alongside and teaching the younger men and women?

Because, this is not just Paul’s plan for the establishment and health of the church, but for the fulfillment of its purpose.


In this chapter of Titus where Paul is encouraging Titus to teach not just sound doctrine but that which goes with it, we find his purpose for it again and again. 


Titus 2:3-5 (ESV) They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 


Titus 2:7-8 (ESV) 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.


Titus 2:9-10 (ESV) 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.


Three times Paul says so that…

​​(ESV)so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

​​(ESV)so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

(ESV)so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.


Then in verse 11 he declares the gospel.

Titus 2:11-14 (ESV) 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.


He essentially says, all of this behavior, characteristics, who men and women are to be, matters for the gospel. It is, at its core, a gospel issue. 

I want to give you two reasons it is a gospel issue. 

Number one, Paul ties our salvation to our training. That is our position as children of God should produce in us evidence in this present age, while we wait on the age to come. He has not just redeemed us from something but is purifying us towards something. 


This is why a gospel that fails to account for real, displayable life change, is no gospel at all. A gospel that allows someone to make a profession of faith and then show no evidence of regeneration is not the gospel. The fruit of someone’s life, although imperfect and sometimes stunted, is evidence that God is working in and through them. This is why we are commanded to examine ourselves, this is why we are commanded to help one another examine, this is why we are to call into question someone’s profession that doesn’t match their life, lest they think they are secure and are actually headed for eternal damnation. 

A gospel that allows someone to make a profession of faith and then show no evidence of regeneration is not the gospel.

Number two, Paul says that our lives adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. 

What does he mean? That our lives confirm and present the truths we believe. We may go as far as to say they make the doctrine of God beautiful to outsiders. 

   

Let me share with you a quote from MacArthur, who says it beautifully here. 

The greatest and the most powerful element of evangelism is not technique, it is not some marketing strategy, it is not cultural relevance, it is the power of a transformed life - collectively, the power of transformed lives in the church. When the world looks and sees a person or people who are holy, righteous, virtuous; who are at peace, experiencing joy, blessed, happy, satisfied, fulfilled, and have hope in their hearts for eternity, they see the evidence of God's transforming power. That's the proof.  That's the test. That's how you market the product - by letting people see what it is. To convince a man that God can save, I need to show him a man He saved.  To convince a man that God can give hope, I need to show him a man with hope.  To convince a man that God can give peace, joy, love, I need to show him a man with peace, joy, and love.  To convince a man that God can give complete and total and utter satisfaction, I need to show him a satisfied man.  You see, the way we, the way we lay down the platform is by living the life.  I'll say it again - the greatest and most powerful element of evangelism is not technique, it is not marketing strategy, it is not cultural relevance - it is the power of transformed lives.

To summarize, if our lives look no different than the world. If our older men are no different than the older men of the world, our women younger and older, our younger men, if we look just like the world, we are saying that the gospel we proclaim has no effectual or actual power to change us and we actually communicate to the people outside of the church that they are just fine without it.


Paul knows that if the Cretian church is going to advance the gospel in Crete and wherever else they go, the kind of people they are matters. Who they are and who they are becoming.


Conclusion:

This is where I want to land this morning as we close.

This is why on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day this year I have issued a call for Spiritual Mothers and Fathers. 

We need you. 

Listen, we must and will continue to proclaim the gospel from the pulpit, in our singing, in our teaching, but if we are going to reach White Oak and the surrounding areas with the gospel, it will be the evidence of your transformed lives that will carry it forward. 


If you are an older man or woman and you don’t know where to start. If you didn’t have a Godly example growing up, if you lack one now, camp out here in Titus. Review the applicable lists over and over again, with your Bible open and your heart poured out to God. Ask him to form you and shape you, and while you're at it, connect with someone younger and begin pouring into them, pointing them towards what the Bible says they should be and be becoming in humility and with gentleness. 

If you are a Godly man or woman, and I believe that we have some, how are you investing in our younger men and women? How are you living your life out in full view so that they may look to your example? Consider how you might invite them into your life so they can see what it looks like. 


May God help us as we pursue what he desires for us here at EBC and beyond. Let us pray. 








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