The Foundation of the Truth.
1 Timothy 3:14-4:5
I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth. – 1 Timothy 3:14-15 NLT
The world in which Paul lived was mired in falsehood, much like it is today. This world is the domain of Satan, who is the father of lies (John 8:44). Everything in this world is deceptive and deceitful. As Satan has always done, he has taken what God has made and attempted to distort and twist it in such a way that it leads mankind away from God. As Paul stated in Romans, “And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:21-23 NLT). As a result, “They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself” (Romans 1:25 NLT). John reminds us that Jesus “came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him” (John 1:10-11 NLT). Men preferred the darkness over the Light. They rejected the Truth over the lie in which they were living.
So Paul tells Timothy that the church, the body of Christ, is now the instrument of God to spread and support the truth of God in this world. His whole purpose in writing Timothy is to help him understand how people are to live within the household of God, the church. And I think Paul is specifically thinking about the local church context. The local church is the testing ground of our faith. It is where the truth must be applied with love and grace. Even God’s life-transforming power made possible through Jesus’ death on the cross doesn’t work the local body of believers, we are hopeless. But Paul believed it could and should. First and foremost, the church is a household, a family. It is not an institution or organization. It is a collection of different individuals who have all shared in God’s undeserved, unmerited favor by placing their faith in Jesus Christ. They have been adopted into God’s family and been declared His heirs, all due to the sacrificial, sin-cancelling death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Paul describes this as the great mystery of our faith. “Christwas revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16 NLT).
This is the truth of God’s redemptive plan for mankind. It is this truth that the church is to support and uphold. There is no other version of the truth. It is this truth that leads to godliness. It is this truth that makes the church a living organism, not an organization. It is this truth that provides power through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. It is this truth that gives us hope for the present as well as the future. The church, the body of Christ, is where the message of new life in Christ gets lived out, and where the Light of the world illuminates the darkness of this world. And Paul knew the necessity of the these things because he had seen firsthand the impact of falsehood and heresy within the local church. The enemy was alive and well in his day, attacking the fledgling churches with half-truths, convincing lies, and distorted views of reality. Where there is truth, there will always be falsehood. The Good News regarding Jesus Christ would always be accompanied by counterfeits and knockoffs. One of the things Paul was constantly fighting was the tendency for people to buy into the formula of Jesus + something. Anything that added to Christ’s all-sufficient work on the cross was to be rejected as false – a lie from the enemy.
The real and constant danger to the church is compromise. If the enemy can get us to compromise our convictions by ever-so-slight revisions to the truth of God, he can destroy our effectiveness. It is exactly what he did with Adam and Eve in the garden. He got them to question the word of God by cleverly twisting it – leading them to doubt it’s veracity and reliability. But the church must be the pillar that supports the truth in the midst of all the falsehood and lies. And the lies Paul warns Timothy about are subtle and deceptive. Whether it was asceticism, the belief that abstinence from certain physical things leads to spiritual maturity, or legalism, the belief that adherence to certain rules and rituals were essential to salvation – these things were to be rejected as lies. They had no place in the household of God. They were dangerous and highly destructive. The key to the church’s survival in the hostile environment in which it is called to exist is the truth. We are called to be a “faithful people who know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:3 NLT). It is the truth of God, found in the Word of God, that gives the people of God the capacity to see the lies of the enemy and reject them. Knowledge of the truth brings health and vitality to the body of Christ. Living according to the truth makes the people of God a powerful force for change in the world, causing us to shine brightly in the darkness that surrounds us. Compromise is like a blanket thrown over the church, diminishing its capacity to shine.
Father, we are Your ambassadors and emissaries. Show us how to live in such a way that we truly are the pillar and support of the truth. May the local bodies of Christ around the world become agents of change and beacons of light in the darkness. But for that to happen, we must stand on and stand up for the truth. Your Word must become our only source of truth. Give us the capacity to spot falsehood and reject it for what it is – the lies of the enemy. The world is full of deception. May we become the standard for truth in the midst of all the deceit and distortion. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men