Lighthouse Leader Study Guide
Date: November 6, 2016
Series: Church 101
This Week’s Printable Resources:
We start our Fall Fireside Chats this month. Your elder should have contacted you setup the time for your Fireside Chat. If you are unsure who your elder is for your group, contact me and I will get the info to you.
Overview of this Lesson
This week we begin a new study called Church 101, a study of Paul’s epistle to Titus. This letter is the third of Paul’s “Pastoral Epistles,” and follows 1 & 2 Timothy. The letter is addressed to Titus, who was a close associate to Paul, and one of the few men Paul relied upon as a “trouble shooter.” Paul sent him to places that needed help. In this case, Paul has left Titus on the island of Crete.
The focus of this letter is pretty clear: doctrine must impact our actions. Paul starts early in the letter that Titus’ first responsibility was to “set things in order” in the house churches of Crete. Order is an important distinctive of a New Testament Church, and this is displayed outwardly when a church’s members display a life that is in clear obedience to strong doctrine.
The key verse of this letter serves as the summary point of Paul’s admonishments to Titus: “The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people” (Titus 3:8). Right doctrine leads to a church congregation that outwardly displays good works, godly works, a devotion to the commandments of God as expressed in His Word.
This week, the focus of our Lighthouse lesson is on the importance of understanding our identity in Christ. Paul uses the word “slave” to describe himself, and this is consistent throughout Scripture. As Christians, we have lost this identification as a slave of God, and this impacts our priorities as well as how we relate within the church. From boys and girls to older men and women to the leaders of the church, we must all understand and acknowledge this important identifying of a Christian–we are slaves of God.
Memory Verse for This Week
“Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to build up the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” Titus 1:1-2 (HCSB)
This Week’s Take Home Truth
“In God’s family, leadership responsibility demands character, credibility, and Scriptural proficiency.”
1. If a wild fire was moving towards your house and you had five minutes to grab items from your house that you could put in a five-gallon bucket and take it with you, what would you take?
2. What do you think the word “Christian” means? How would you describe a Christian to an unbelieving neighbor?
3. Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.
Read the Text (Titus 1:1-9)
Paul begins the body of the letter with a reminder to Titus of the directions for ministry that he had left with him. Unlike most of Paul’s letters, there is no thanksgiving section. While this is unusual for Paul, it is not unique (cf. Galatians) and it is not unusual in first-century letters. A “virtue list” provides the portrait of the sort of leadership needed for the new churches in Crete. The emphasis is on good behavior (seen esp. in the home) and the ability to teach. Thus these leaders embody the fact that the gospel (“the truth”) results in “godliness” (Titus 1:1). Read Titus 1:1-9.
Titus 1:1–9 (ESV)
1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;
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— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.
7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.
4. How does Paul describe himself in Titus 1:1?
The best translation to help us understand Titus 1:1 is the Holman Christian Standard Bible. It translates this verse as follows:
Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to build up the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness,
The word Paul uses in his opening sentence is doulos. In fact, of all the English translations of the Bible, and there are close to two dozen various translations, the HCSB is the only translation that consistently and correctly translates this word as slave.
To help you understand the importance of correctly translating the word doulos, John MacArthur states,
If you go to the New Testament, you will find the Greek word for “slave” about 150 times in all its forms. And you will find it actually translated “slave” only a few of those 150 times. The New Testament translators only translate the Greek word for slave “slave” when it’s referring to an actual physical slave, or when it’s referring to an inanimate object, like “slaves of sin” or “slaves of righteousness.”
So there is this concept of slavery in the Scripture that has been completely hidden to the English reader. Now this was by design because the word “slave” is the most important, all-encompassing, and clarifying word to describe a Christian used in the New Testament, and yet whenever a Christian is in view, it’s not translated “slave.” The word doulos. in the Greek, means “slave”—never means anything but “slave.” It doesn’t mean “servant”; it doesn’t mean “worker”; it doesn’t mean “hired hand”; it doesn’t mean “helper.” There are six or seven Greek words that mean “servant” in some form. Doulos never means “servant.” A servant is someone hired to do something. The slave is someone owned. Big difference—huge difference—and yet all through the New Testament the word “slave” is masked by the word “servant,” or some form of the word “servant.” Truly a remarkable thing.
Why the mistranslation? MacArthur goes on to explain that in the in the sixteenth century, when Calvin and Knox were translating the Geneva Bible, they made the editorial decision to translate doulos as servant or bond-servant because the concept of slavery had too much of a stigma behind it. In their opinion, it was too humiliating and belittling of a word to describe a Christian.
NOTE: John MacArthur has written an excellent book on this subject called, Slave: The Hidden Truth about Your Identity in Christ. I would highly recommend it. Amazon Link
5. How should Paul’s description of himself impact our understanding of what it means to be a Christian?
Yet, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, opted to use the word doulos (slave) rather than one of the many other words he could have chosen that would have implied a servant.
The true “servant” of God is not just a servant, but is indeed a slave of God. What does this mean?
- It means that as a Christian, we are totally possessed by God. One writer stated it this way: God had looked upon me and saw my degraded and needful condition; God saw me in the slave-market of the world, held in bondage by sin and death, the trouble and trials of life. And God was moved with compassion toward me; therefore, God bought and purchased me. I am now the slave of God—totally possessed by God.
- It means that as a Christian, we totally belong to God. We are completely subservient to God and owe total allegiance to the will of God.
- It means that as a Christian, we have the highest, most honored, and kingly profession in all the world. Men of God, the greatest men of history, have always been called “the servants (slaves) of God.” It was the highest title of honor. The believer’s slavery to God is no cringing, cowardly, or shameful subjection. It is the position of honor—the honor that bestows upon a man the privileges and responsibilities of serving the King of kings and Lord of lords.
- Moses was the slave of God (Deut. 34:5; Psalm 105:26; Malachi 4:4).
- Joshua was the slave of God (Joshua 24:9).
- David was the slave of God (2 Samuel 3:18; Psalm 78:70).
- Paul was the slave of God (Romans 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:1).
- James was the slave of God (James 1:1).
- Jude was the slave of God (Jude 1).
- The prophets were the slaves of God (Amos 3:7; Jeremiah 7:25).
- Christian believers are said to be the slaves of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:18; 1 Cor. 7:22; Ephes. 6:6; Col. 4:12; 2 Tim. 2:24).
6. Given what we have learned about the true nature of a Christian, what can we conclude about leadership within a church?
It is important to acknowledge that Paul, the great Apostle, begins his letter by identifying himself as a slave of God.
Unfortunately, we see pastors and elders within the church today who act like masters rather than slaves. This is wrong.
The picture the Bible uses to identify leaders within the church is one of shepherds. See the following verses.
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. – Acts 20:28.
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 1 Peter 5:1-4
With the exception of the first two qualifications, which point to an elder’s family and how he manages his home, the remaining qualifications are character qualifications:
- He is God’s steward
- must be above reproach
- must not be arrogant or quick-tempered
- most not be a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain
- must be hospitable
- must be a lover of good
- must be self-controlled
- must be upright
- must be holy (i.e. separated from worldliness; set apart)
- must be disciplined
- must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught,
- must be able to give instruction in sound doctrine
- must be able to rebuke those who contradict it.
7. Knowing what we have learned in this week’s lesson, how should this impact your priorities in life?
Submission to Christ ought to be our highest priority. It should permeate everything we do. Our daily priorities must be ordered by an honest acknowledgement that we owe everything to our Lord Jesus Christ because he purchased us at the price of His own blood.
Charles Spurgeon stated:
Where our Authorized King James Version softly puts it “servant” it really is “bond-slave.” The early saints delighted to count themselves Christ’s absolute property, bought by him, owned by him, and wholly at his disposal. Paul even went so far as to rejoice that he had the marks of his Master’s brand on him, and he cries, “Let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” There was the end of all debate: he was the Lord’s, and the marks of the scourges, the rods, and the stones were the broad-arrow of the King which marked Paul’s body as the property of Jesus the Lord. Now if the saints of old time gloried in obeying Christ, I pray that you and I . . . may feel that our first object in life is to obey our Lord.
Scottish pastor Alexander Maclaren, a contemporary of Spurgeon, echoed these same truths:
The true position, then, for a man is to be God’s slave. . . . Absolute submission, unconditional obedience, on the slave’s part; and on the part of the Master complete ownership, the right of life and death, the right of disposing of all goods and chattels, . . . the right of issuing commandments without a reason, the right to expect that those commandments shall be swiftly, unhesitatingly, punctiliously, and completely performed—these things inhere in our relation to God. Blessed is the man who has learned that they do, and has accepted them as his highest glory and the security of his most blessed life! For, brethren, such submission, absolute and unconditional, the blending and the absorption of my own will in His will, is the secret of all that makes manhood glorious and great and happy. . . . In the New Testament these names of slave and owner are transferred to Christians and Jesus Christ.
John MacArthur applies this truth well to 21st Century American Christians:
As these voices from church history make so abundantly clear, our slavery to Christ has radical implications for how we think and live. We have been bought with a price. We belong to Christ. We are part of a people for His own possession. And understanding all of that changes everything about us, starting with our perspective and our priorities.
True Christianity is not about adding Jesus to my life. Instead, it is about devoting myself completely to Him—submitting wholly to His will and seeking to please Him above all else. It demands dying to self and following the Master, no matter the cost. In other words, to be a Christian is to be Christ’s slave.
These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.
8. Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?
9. Read and meditate on Paul’s life verse in Philippians 1:21: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Is this same commitment evident in your day-to-day life? Do you need to make any changes to better align your priorities with this reality?
10. Spend time praying this week that your life and the lives of your family members would reflect the true nature of what it means to be called a Christian.