…holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
Titus 1:9 (emphasis mine)
Another reason the elder must be “holding fast the faithful word” is so he can “refute those who contradict.” This is the responsibility of every elder in the church. And this is a very serious responsibility. After all, consider what the Scriptures teach us that we can expect in the last days.
“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. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.”
Churches must make certain that they are developing theologically equipped elders. There is danger everywhere. Even in the church there will be those, and likely already are, that are enemies of the truth. All the elders must be on the alert and be prepared to confront false teaching.
In Paul’s last letter he gave this solemn charge to Timothy:
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 4:1–4
Understand that when the Scriptures say that an elder must be qualified to teach, the emphasis is not on teaching a weekly Sunday School class or a Home Fellowship. Nor is the emphasis on his oratory skills. The emphasis is on his knowledge of the Scriptures and on his ability to accurately communicate sound doctrine and to quickly recognize and refute false doctrine. An inability to do these things will leave the church vulnerable to the enemy.
In order to have godly elders, the church must be intentionally training men to be godly leaders. Churches need to teach theology. Churches must have a biblical process for selecting qualified elders. If we allow the elders of the church to be weak on their theology, we open the gate for the wolves to enter the sheepfold.