These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15)
Four Views Of The Church
Jesus promised to build His church and through His sacrifice purchased the family of God through His love. There has never been an institution among men as majestic as the church of Christ. It was formulated before the worlds were created, fulfilled through the providential power of God and established by the diligent work of the early disciples who believed with all their hearts Jesus was the Son of God raised on the third day to sit at the right hand of the Father. The church is called many things throughout scripture. Paul outlines four distinct characteristics of the church that are vital to realizing the importance of the church to all men. First, he calls the church a house of God. Every home is built upon the inspired plan of the Lord in creation. Adam and Eve began the first home and children were born. The home is the first institution of God established to bring harmony, peace, love, and companionship to man. The church accomplishes the same purpose as the home when it brings a harmonious relationship between the Father and His children and the children to learn to live in peace with one another. When God created Adam He said it was not good for man to be alone. The church was created to fill the needs of man both in his need for God and his need for others. As a family or house of God man finds fulfillment in the fellowship of brotherly love one for another.
The church is the dwelling place of the living God. In a world giving over the idolatry, the church was a place where God was alive and powerful. The wood and marble totems of man’s wisdom had no place in the church where the Creator of the world lived. All the saints of God serve a Lord that was before time and spans the eons of man’s history unchanged in His character. Dead gods change with the whims of men. The church is a dwelling place of God in the Spirit built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets where the Christian makes up the spiritual stones of its holy temple. It is a place where people are alive in the Spirit sharing together in the unified purpose of the Christ who was dead but rose to life without end. The glory of the church is not the ornate buildings of men but the broken and contrite hearts of worshippers who serve a living and powerful God.
Ancient temples boasted many pillars that supported their grand design. In the city of Ephesus, the temple of Diana had 107 pillars at a height of sixty feet supporting its roof. Paul used the imagery of the church to be the pillar of the truth as the place where all truth is found and shared with men. The church is not just a meeting place but a representation of where all truth springs forth in a community to let the world know the good news of Jesus Christ. Truth must be the watchword of the church. When the body of Christ allows the doctrines of men to challenge the authority of scripture, apostasy destroys the purpose and design of the church. The single authority of the church of Christ is the word of God. In every place, the church is found the beacon of light shines forth as the only true light because Christ is the only true Lord and God is the only true God. The life of each Christian is a representation of that truth. Preachers must teach only the word of God and the pastors or shepherds of the congregation must know the word to teach the word to be guided by the word. Truth is the foundation of the church and if the truth is to be revealed to the world it will be accomplished by the church.
Finally, Paul describes the church as the ground of truth. Jesus taught that only when a man builds upon the rock of truth will he be able to withstand the fierce storms of life. Such is the work of the church to build their doctrine, organization, worship, and purpose on the ground of truth. As the church is built on the ground of truth it becomes the measure of truth in the world. Standards are necessary in the business world to verify how long a product is or how much it weighs. Without these standards, there would be chaos. The world does not recognize a single standard of truth in the church. When Jesus told the eleven that all authority had been given to Him by the Father He confirmed there was one source of authority. That measure of righteousness would be fulfilled through the church. As the ground of truth, the church represents what all men must measure truth by. The church must be grounded in the teachings of God. Truth is fixed and permanent unchanged by the wisdom of man. The church must be built upon the truth that is Jesus Christ so that all men can see the one true foundation of right. Any other foundation is sand and will pass away.
The church is the house of God, the church of the living God, the pillar of truth and the ground of truth. Glory to God for His infinite wisdom in establishing the church of Christ to be the body of the saved and glory of the risen Christ.