"E u ana te pupuri i te kupu pono i whakaakona atu na, kia taea ai e ia, i te mea ka tika nei tana whakaako, te whakahauhau, te turaki ano i ta te hunga e totohe mai ana".
"He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it".
— Titus 1:9
Cretans are wild. The Cretan Church is the wild west! Wild living, wild times, and wild teaching.
Across the Cretan house churches, wild speculations and doctrines are being blasted out by bogus Christians, opportunistic charlatans, and confused believers.
At Crete the Apostle Paul gives Titus clear instructions for elders.
Elders must hold firmly to the message of the gospel. They must have a grip on its Old Testament foundations and the apostolic message which flows from it—now recorded in the New Testament.
Paul gives Titus two reasons for this:
Elders must be able to encourage others with sound doctrine
Elders must be able to refute those who oppose sound doctrine
They must comfort and confront. They counsel with the gospel those in need of encouragement, and contend for the gospel with those who oppose it.
Paul's charge to elders is as critical today as it was at Crete.
Our churches are being flooded with a digital deluge of teachers and teachings… cults are incredibly active in recruiting church members in main centres and now in the regions.
Into this explosive mix people are spiking the faith to disastrous effect; mixing political ideologies and Christian teaching.
Into this ferment shepherds must grasp firmly the gospel of the apostles; as taught in the Old and New Testaments.
In the life of our local churches we need to be able to renew people in need of gospel encouragement and refute people who oppose the gospel.
I recently heard a leader in a Kiwi church movement mention that local churches in the movement were seeking to develop their churches' deacons so that their elderships had more time to soak in, reflect on, and think out the implications of the gospel and then apply it amongst their people.
This struck me as a really wise move, especially in this complicated season.
What we believe about Jesus—who he is and why he came—makes a difference to the way we live out our faith. Jesus warns us to watch out for those who come as ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing. Theology matters.
One way we can keep watch is by investing in our understanding and love of the gospel. Don't give up meeting together regularly to encourage one another and remind each other of all we have in Christ.