Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior , Jesus Christ.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Titus. Who was Titus ? Perhaps some of you remember our Easter retreat last year . The subject of that meeting was the words of St. Paul to Timothy , one of his students , a young man whom Paul trained to be a pastor . His father was a Greek, his mother was a Jew.
Tito was another student of Paul, another young man in Paul trained as a pastor. Titus is mentioned several times in the New Testament, but we do not know many details of his life . Apparently Tito was completely Greek , not Jewish, but he was also a pastor .
So today we recognize the pastoral office. What does this mean for us? The ministry of the church is preaching the Word of God and administering the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper. In the last verses of Matthew , our Lord gave a mandate to the church , first to the apostles . " Go therefore , and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20 ) . This is the institution of the church ministry .
In the Book of Concord , the summary of the beliefs of the Lutheran Church, the Augsburg Confession , the first Lutheran confession , says so on the ministry of the church in Article V : " To obtain such faith God instituted the office of preaching, that is, given the gospel and the sacraments. Through these, as instruments , He gives the Holy Spirit , who works faith , when and where He pleases, in those who hear the gospel. This shows that we have a gracious God by the merits of Christ, not by our own, for those who believe. We condemn the Anabaptists and others who teach that without the external word of the Gospel we may obtain the Holy Spirit through our own disposition, thoughts and deeds. "
That is, God gave his church the office of the keys , as we discuss in catechism class , which is the authority to proclaim the Law and the Gospel and administer the sacraments. We have the promise that the Holy Spirit is active in preaching and the sacraments , and God has entrusted these treasures to the whole church , the whole people of God, but not everyone is responsible for public preaching and administering the sacraments . We need to meet regularly as believers to hear the Word and receive the sacraments. Why? We are saved in Christ , we have the assurance of salvation in baptism, but in this world , with all the trappings of hell , we need the power of faith , the word of forgiveness to live and stay in the way of Christ.
God instituted the ministry, a group of people to publicly preach the Word and administer the sacraments, but this is not a role for everyone. Why not ? We are all Christians , we all have saving faith , why cannot everyone proclaim the Word of God before the congregation or handle the elements of the sacraments ?
Another reading for today ( Acts 20:28-35 ) speaks of ravenous wolves , men speaking perverse things , to draw away disciples after them . In this world , there are many false teachers who want to deceive you, to win wealth , fame and temporal power . To protect the people of God , the church , against these people , God commanded that those who preach the Word and administer the sacraments should be reliable persons approved by God and the church. This was part of the work of the apostles.
Who were the apostles? The first men that our Lord commanded to take the gospel to all nations , to plant new churches and care for God's sheep , servants called and ordained by God. The word "apostle" means a representative or ambassador. One authorized to speak for the government of a country in other parts . The headquarters of an ambassador is an embassy . Near La Caramuca is a restaurant called the Embassy of Flavor , but seriously an embassy is somewhat different. Ministers of the embassy are official representatives of their country. Many countries have embassies and ambassadors in Caracas and Venezuela has ambassadors around the world. When an ambassador speaks in the name of his country, it is as if the country's leader is speaking .
An apostle is an ambassador of Jesus Christ , charged with His doctrine and teachings. The apostles were the first to receive the command to make disciples , baptize, and teach in the name of Christ. Also part of the duties of the apostles was to train those who would continue the apostolic work . So we read in our text for today, Paul first trained Timothy and Titus as pastors or bishops. We find in the New Testament, three words , pastor , bishop and elder, that mean the same office , the office of preaching and the sacraments. Episkopos is the root word for bishop, presbyteros for elder, poimen for pastor. In the beginning there were no ranks among pastors , but with the growth of the church , a structure, a hierarchy, was developed. Gradually bishop came to mean the leader or supervisor of all congregations in a region and then were archbishops and many other ranks in the church. Of course , the church must have a structure, a hierarchy to achieve its mission in this world , but we must always remember the Lord has not commanded a structure beyond the local congregation gathered around the Word and the sacraments with its own pastor.
The hierarchy is not the church , as the Roman-Catholic church says . But neither does the Lutheran Church teach that the Holy Spirit speaks to the heart of everyone apart from the preaching and the sacraments.
We find in our text for today some requirements to be a pastor. A controversial point in some circles is that the pastor must be a man . In some churches today there are female “pastors” , women dressed as shepherds , but the Bible says only men can be pastors.
In addition, the pastorate is not for all men either. A pastor must be a man of good reputation and character , not with evil tendencies to drink, to make money or otherwise abuse his authority as pastor. Of course , all pastors are sinners like everyone and no man is perfect . But the pastor should not be a scandal for the church , should be a person who has the respect of not only the church but the whole community. For non-believers look to the church , especially the church leadership, as examples of a different life from that of the sinful world. If there are no difference between the church and its leadership, and others, of what value is the church?
A pastor must give good testimony in his life. Of course, every good Christian should give good testimony , to live as the Bible commands , but above all the pastor, as a public figure , must have a spotless reputation.
But beyond that , a pastor must be faithful to the Word of God, must have the character to preach the Word of God and his own opinions as the Word of God. This is an abuse of authority.
Therefore, also says the Augsburg Confession , Article XIV, "Concerning church government , it is taught that no one should publicly teach or preach in church or administer the sacraments without a legitimate call . "
What is a legitimate call ? This means the preparation and formation of pastors , which is part of the duties of other pastors . First, a pastor 's duty is to teach all the doctrine. Before any of you were confirmed, you were taught the catechism , which is the minimum a person must know and understand to be a communicant member of the church . But the pastor should teach more to deepen the faith of all, and should look for young people like Timothy or Titus who have the characteristics to be the shepherds of the next generation. Also the church has a responsibility to support tpastors and their training, to send pastors to plant other churches and care for the flock of God.
This does not mean that the non-ordained can never teach the Bible in their homes or in Sunday School. Women can also teach other women or children under the supervision of the pastor. However, the spiritual authority in the congregation should be its own pastor, called and ordained by the church and Christ. The pastor has the authority to say every Sunday , as I do, in the stead and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins.
Now the Roman Catholic church says that to be ordained , a priest or pastor should receive the blessing of a bishop who has received his authority from an unbroken line of bishops back to the 12 apostles. We do not believe this. Dr. Martin Luther said that a group of Christians shipwrecked on an island , isolated from the rest of the world can call one of their number as pastor. Also at a time like the Reformation, when the church was corrupt , and the bishops did not want to ordain pastors to preach the pure Word , a congregation may call a pastor without the approval of the hierarchy. Contrary to the church of Rome, ministers of the church have no authority in their own persons , apart from the assembly of the church . The pastor's authority is derived from the congregation he serves , but also derived from Christ at the same time . We believe that is a legitimate calls is a divine call.
The apostles received their calls directly from Christ . St. Paul was not one of the original apostles , but his call came in a vision of the risen Christ, with a voice and a light from the heavens. Today, pastors receive their calls through the church as God's instrument, ie , receive their training from other pastors and the approval of other pastors and the assembly of the church. Therefore, pastors can continue the apostolic work , baptism , preaching , teaching , celebrating the Lord's Supper. The only difference is today we have no new doctrine .
At that time , the Bible for believers were the books of the Old Testament, the revelation to the prophets. The apostles had something else, the good news of Jesus Christ. Now we have all the teachings of Christ and the apostles written in the New Testament. So our authority is based on the Bible and nothing else. A pastor does not have the authority to teach something is not written in the Scriptures.
Our text for today says that a pastor must be faithful to the Word of God and not deviate from the Word, because the Word is the power of God to save us, to feed our faith , to give the Holy Spirit. We pastors or elders are stewards of the mysteries of God , the means of grace. Therefore, we are confident that this is the pure Word , the true doctrine of the apostolic church.
Thank God for this and the peace that passes all understanding be with each of you forever. Amen .
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