The Ministry of Rebuke
THE LETTER OF PAUL TO TITUS
THE MINISTRY OF REBUKE
Big Idea: As believers, we are called to carry out the ministry of rebuke—correcting error and confronting sin—while doing so in love, with wisdom, and with the goal of restoration.
I. The Doctrine that Deserves Refutation (what kind of doctrine deserves refutation?)
II. The Deeds that Demand Reproof (what kind of deeds demand rebuke?)
How should we go about the ministry of rebuke?
- It should be carried out in love
Paul Tripp: “…The Bible repudiates covering sin with a façade of silence. It teaches that those who love will speak, even if it creates tense, upsetting moments. If we love people, and want God’s best for them, how can we stand by as they wander away? How can we let them deceive themselves with excuses, blame, and rationalizations? How can we watch them get more and more enslaved by the fleeting pleasures of sin? How can we let a sufferer add to his suffering by the way he responds to his own experience?...The truth is that we fail to confront not because we love others too much but because we love ourselves too much. We fear others misunderstanding us or being angry with us. We are afraid of what others will think…Yet we know that the depth of love in a relationship can be judged by the degree of honesty that exists. Biblical rebuke is motivated by [love]” (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, 202).
- It should be guided by wisdom
*Not every error needs to be rebuked; and not every sin needs to be rebuked in the same way.
Albert Mohler’s theological triage (see his The Disappearance of God, pages 2-8 for more).
- First-order doctrines (the deity and humanity of Christ; the Trinity; justification by grace through faith alone, etc.)
- Second-order doctrines (the meaning and mode of baptism; gender roles in the church; the speaking of tongues in church, etc.)
- Third-order doctrines (debates about end-times; views on creationism; difficult texts)
Please note: Before confronting another person, we also need to examine ourselves first and make sure we are not being nitpicky. While there is wisdom in confronting another person’s sinful behavior, there is also wisdom in NOT confronting it.
Proverbs 19:11: “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
1 Thess. 5:14: “We urge you, brethren, admonish (rebuke) the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
- It should be aimed at restoration
James 5:19-20, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
Two books that Pastor Lucas recommends for digging deeper into this subject are:
Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul David Tripp
The Peace Maker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Conflict by Ken Sande