November 21/22, 2015
Ken Currie | 1 Timothy 3:14-15
I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.—1 Timothy 3:14–15
Our overall approach to preaching at Bethlehem is a steady diet of working through Bible texts in groupings (expository preaching). Periodically we take a break from this rhythm to address a topic of particular importance (e.g., sanctity of life, ethnic harmony, small groups, etc.) This week we are taking a look at the biblical understanding of the church.
Last week Pastor Jason talked about the times that we live in, some call them post-modern, in which everything is defined from the perspective of “self.” What do I want a word, concept, relationship to be or mean? We can do this with the church. Sort of like a cut-out of me fits into a scene in which everything is tailored to me. The music, the preaching and teaching, the programs, the people and how they related to me, the doctrine. There is not ultimate thing called “truth” therefore I can ‘behave’ in anyway that I deem “right.”
However, the Bible teaches us here that there is such a thing as truth and that the church is the means by which this truth is held up and protected and that because there is truth there is a connection, expectation, standard, accountability for how we behave. Particularly in the church.
I’m not planning to address the more detailed aspects of “church”—how leadership is established and carried out, programs, approaches to worship and hundred other things that are important at the ground level. Instead I will address a bird’s-eye view of the church.
Paul’s aim is very clear, to instruct Timothy on behavior within the church based on the premise that the church is the pillar (projector) and buttress (protector) of the truth.
Three images fill out this vision of the church as the projector and protector of truth.
The Church is a family. It’s right here in the text. The “Household of God.” This does not refer to a building but a people.
When we embrace our calling as “family” we project and protect the truth of the gospel. We say to each other and the world, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13).
The church is a place to belong, a place to be blessed by the gifts of others, a place to use our gifts to bless others, a place to grow, a place to love, a place where money, status, socio-economic position, education do not define or hinder our membership; a place where the requirement for membership is to belong to Jesus. To claim his righteousness alone as your badge or belonging; a place where loving accountability and discipline are applied to keep each other falling prey to ear-tickling false doctrine or plausible arguments.
The church is not a perfect place this side of the heaven—a place where everyone is rightfully friendly, compassionate, understanding, where everyone’s priorities are equally addressed.
The church is the projector and protector of the truth by loving and serving those who have been attacked and suffer because of lies. All abuse is rooted in a flat denial or perversion of the truth.
Matthew records Jesus’ public ministry as a ministry of preaching and healing:
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.—Matthew 4:23
The church is not only a place that is safe but a place of healing. A place where we should be able to come and be honest with our sin, pain, and suffering.
The church is not a pristine, antiseptic clinic. We will not “arrive” in our discipleship because, by God’s grace, we are constantly bringing in the immature, the hurting, the confused.
The church is an army that projects and protects the truth of the Gospel by carrying out the Commission of our Great High Commander, Jesus, to make disciples of all the nations.
Jesus established the militant nature of the church Gates of hell shall not prevail:
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”—Matthew 16:18
This illustrates that the church is meant to be on the offensive and to pursue victory against the forces of evil.
Does the military theme make you uncomfortable? Let’s be clear. We are not waging a war of hate to subject others to ourselves. We wage of war of love to free others from their prison of sin.
In the wars we see in our world armies attack the “enemy” with weapons to kill them. The battlefield starts with two (or more) armies of live people whose aim is to kill as many as possible for their own ends. The Christian “war” is in complete contrast. We wade into a battlefield of people who are dead targeting them with our message of love (the gospel) that they might live!
As the Army of God we have a great Commander who has “conquered us” to free us from sin to live for joy
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.—2 Corinthians 2:14
Explanation of Roman Triumph: The Roman General would lead his victorious army and conquered slaves through the streets of Rome to the Emperor; incense is burning, the crowds are cheering, and typically the conquered army is then executed. Again, Jesus turns this on its head. We who are conquered are given life—to be a slave to Christ is to be set free!
Romans 6: Slaves to Righteousness through Christ
We are the conquered ones. There is not greater place than to be a “slave of Christ.” The world says, “be your own person.” God says, “There is no such thing.” We belong to the devil or to Jesus. Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light. “You’ve conquered my soul, now be its defense.” Fight to project and protect the gospel
The Great Physician is the Healer. This is his hospital and he offers healing and hope by his Word through the power of his Spirit. We ultimately look to Jesus. If you are hurting today, look to him.
This is the only eternal one. Wars will cease, every trial and pain finished and healed but we will “dwell in the house of our God forever.”
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!—Psalm 84:4
We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.—1 Thessalonians 1:2–4
God describes himself in his word in many ways. Consuming Fire, King.
Probably the most significant, important, impactful way that God is presented to us is “Father.” When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, to approach and talk to God, he told them to address God as “Father.” A Father whose name is hallowed, to be sure, but Father nonetheless. God is creating for himself a family.
Jesus has secured our standing with the Father. We now call now call Jesus’ Father our Father.
Main Point: The church is the pillar (projector) and buttress (protector) of the truth.
Praise God together for the evidences of God’s grace seen in our strengths, and then pray that God will help us in our weakness to grow to be all that he calls us to be as a church.