You can click here to go to the Internet Archive page for this sermon, or listen to the sermon using the player below.

Thistletown Baptist Church

June 14, 2009

Pillar and Buttress of the Truth

1 Tim. 3:14-16 (ESV)

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, [15] 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 truth. [16] Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,

vindicated by the Spirit,

seen by angels,

proclaimed among the nations,

believed on in the world,

taken up in glory.


a.Word Association game – I say “hot” the first thing you think of is – ____________.

i.I say “blue”, you think __________________.

ii.I say “garden” you think ________________.

iii.Try one more – I say “church” you think ___________________.

All kinds of answers that could be given. All kinds of thoughts that arise in a person’s mind – some good, some not so good. Some based on biblical teaching; some based on past experiences. “Church” – “boring”, old fashioned,

What would the Apostle Peter say? – Matthew 16:18 perhaps? “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church” – how heady an experience must that have been for Peter, the man with an enormous pride issue?

It would be really good if, when we heard the word “church” our knee jerk response would not be based upon any bad past experiences, or misconceptions, or caricatures, but on the Scriptures:

“Church” – Ephesians 5:25, Acts 20:28, or, as we read in the Scripture reading this morning – I Timothy 3:15 – the pillar and buttress of the truth.

b.This Friday – TBC Annual Meeting. We will talk about the year just past and the year coming up.

We will hear reports and pass a budget and read a church covenant … . We will vote for elders and other church officers. As we approach the annual meeting this week I want to take the time around the Word of God this morning to talk a little bit about the church of Jesus Christ.

c.Paul writes Timothy a letter

i.One of the “pastoral Epistles” – so called because I and II Timothy and Titus are written to men with pastoral responsibilities and are given instructions about how church is to be done properly. Voting on elders and deacons at a meeting on Friday should send us to I Tim. 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9.

(1)Timothy was not likely the pastor of the church in Ephesus (where he was working when Paul wrote this Letter to him), but he was there under apostolic authority to make sure that the church there developed and ran itself properly. Paul had left Timothy there to deal with important issues facing the church (see 1:3) The instructions given to him are instructions that are for every pastor/elder/bishop in every church in every place.

(2)When someone writes you a letter or an email and says in it why they are writing it helps you understand the letter while you are reading it. Finding out why certain Books of the Bible are written is sometimes a challenging task, but it is not so difficult when the writer states the reason. (See John 20:31 for example). Paul, in this first letter to Timothy, tells Timothy, and therefore us, why he is writing this letter. 3:14-15 – Paul was hoping to be able to visit Tim. But it has turned out that he cannot and this letter is the result. [BONUS POINT – the negative thing happening in Paul’s life that prevented him from visiting Tim and the church in Ephesus led to the writing of I Timothy, which we would not have if God had not organized things in such a way that Paul was prevented from visiting Tim. This “bad” thing has turned out for great good throughout the history of the church].

(3)The whole of I Timothy is instructions to Timothy about how people ought to behave in the church. God has preserved it for us and the reason He has kept it for us is because we are to govern our church in the same way that Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, instructed Timothy. I Timothy is given to us so that we may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church, the pillar and buttress of the truth.

2.if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God a.The verse does not say “how you ought to behave”, as some translations have it. Paul is not telling Timothy here how he only is to behave. He is telling him things that he must know so that all in the church will know how to behave. There is a vast difference between those two translations of verses 15. In the comic strip “Peanuts”, Linus tells Charlie Brown that he has difficulty reading the Epistles in the New Testament because he feels like he is reading someone else’s mail. I Timothy is not just Timothy’s mail. It is instruction for the church, in the 21st century, and if God should tarry, in every century to follow, regarding how we should conduct ourselves. This is a letter to us. This is a Letter to TBC in 2009.

b.I Timothy is a series of instructions regarding how to behave in the church. i.2:1-8 – Instructions to Men regarding their prayer life together

ii.2:9-15 – Instructions to women regarding modesty and their teaching role in the church

iii.3:1 – 7 “ To the church Regarding elders/bishops

iv.3:8-13 – “ to the church ” deacons                                                                        v.4:1-16 “ to elders/bishops ” handling false teachers/teachings           vi.5:1-6:21 various instructions regarding helping the needy, paying the pastors, attitude of slaves, cantankerous people, false teachers, the rich and maintaining godliness. All these instructions boil down to “how the leaders of the church are to lead/teach and how the rest of the church is to behave”. We need this Letter.

c.But this Letter is not addressed to the whole church is it? It is not like Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians, the Colossians or Philippians. Those letters were written to the churches and were likely read in the worship service … . This one was not read in the church of Ephesus. It wasn’t for them. Paul is writing Timothy to tell Timothy how the church must behave.

i.Why write Timothy about how the whole church is to behave? Because as a leader in the church it is Timothy’s responsibility to make sure the church behaves properly.

(1)What an incredible responsibility! “Timothy, I am writing you, so that you will know how they are to behave”. How would you respond to that? What would you say to someone who talked to you about the behaviour of your neighbour? “Go talk to him!!” But if they come to talk to you about the behaviour of your children, ah now that is your business.

(a)Dear ones – this Friday we are going to vote on an elder as a man who we give the right to maintain a II Timothy 4:1-2 ministry with us and we affirem those not being voted on. Take this responsibility seriously.

ii.Now then – how is Timothy supposed to make sure that the church in Ephesus behaves properly? How is any pastor/elder supposed to do what Paul instructs Timothy to do here? How will Timothy’s knowledge of how the church is to conduct itself enable the church to know how to conduct itself?

(1)Timothy will teach that to the church – See II Tim. 4:2; Eph. 4:11-16; I Tim. 1:3; Acts 6:2; I Peter 5:1-5; Acts 20:28.

(2)1 Tim. 1:3 (ESV) As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,

1 Tim. 3:2 (ESV) Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

1 Tim. 4:11 (ESV) Command and teach these things.

1 Tim. 6:2 (ESV) Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these things.

2 Tim. 2:2 (ESV) and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

2 Tim. 2:24 (ESV) And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,

Titus 2:1 (ESV) But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Titus 2:3 (ESV) Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,

(3)The church is to be taught – teaching of the Scriptures is never ever, ever a waste of time – ever. And dear ones – if the church is to be taught, it is to learn. Learn the Word of God. Learn what its themes are, what its purpose is. Learn how to conduct yourself in the house of the God the church of the living God – the pillar and buttress of the truth.

(a)Now dear ones – what do you want from your church leaders? … the household of God

a.Paul does not use the word “church” right away as he gives Timothy this instruction. He does not say “in the church”. He says “in the household of God”. Lot of names for the church in the Bible. Why does Paul use this one here?

i.Not a building – the church is NOT a building. Paul is not telling Timothy to make sure the building behaves properly. Church NEVER EVER means a building in the New Testament. Never is a building called the house of God, a sanctuary, a church. Because that is not what the church is. In this verse the church is the household of God

ii.Where God dwells – Hear Solomon at the dedication of the temple – 2 Chron. 6:18 (ESV)

“But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!

(1)Dear ones – where does God live? So many answers to that question.


(b)in my heart

(c)In the people of God. This is different from saying that God lives in my heart. He lives in His house. Where do you live? What is your address? We hear that question or we see it in a form we are filling out and we write down a residence. You know where God lives? In the midst of His people. In the church. In the people of God. This is not the same as saying “in my heart”.

(2)Dear ones – we are to conduct ourselves, first of all, as a church. Not as individuals who happen to meet together at the same place and time on Sunday morning.As a community. As a fellowship of people. …

(a)in the household of God – Pardon? Paul wrote Timothy, a leader in the church about how the church is to conduct itself with itself? Yes he did. Aren’t we called to live as evangelists outside the church? Aren’t we called to make the world a better place? Isn’t the church a fuelling up centre to prepare us for service out there? Not entirely. Well yes, we are. But if the church surrenders up the truth that it is called to live by then what is the point of doing anything outside of it?

(i)Dear ones – it is never, never, never, a waste of time to work at improving the fellowship of the saints. See Acts 2:42-47; Acts 5:12-15; Ephesians 4:11-16.

4.the church of the living God

a.“This seems to have been added to impress the mind of Timothy with the solemn nature of the duty which he was to perform.” This is the church of the living God. It is not a social club. It is not, first of all, a fellowship of people, although it is that. It is first of all an assembly of people called out of the world by a God who is alive and active in the world, and with/in whom God dwells. What we do as a church matters to Him. It matters to the world even if they do not like it or acknowledge it. The decisions we make. The doctrines we hold to. The officers we elect. The missions we set … … . None of these things are a matter of our preference, our understanding of things … . They are a matter of us representing to the world the living God. If the world ignores us or accuses us or opposes us or embraces us – none of this matters. What we are concerned about is representing Him correctly, accurately, truthfully in the world, to the world, to one another … .

b.We are the church of the living God

i.warning and encouragement in there dear ones

(1)not our church; not Rexdale’s church; not the people’s church; this is God’s church and God dictates how it is to operate and who is to lead it and how it is to be led and what our agenda is and how the programmes should operate and what is best for us and… and… and… .

5.a pillar and buttress of truth

a.It is interesting that this phrase is said to the church in Ephesus. Ephesus, the home of the temple of Diana/Artemis. One of the seven wonders of the world. When Paul says to Timothy that the church is the pillar of the truth, he may have been able to look out his window and see the pillars of the temple to Artemis. Conceived by architect Chersiphron and his son, Metagenes, the temple’s inner space featured a double row of at least 106 columns, each believed to be 40 to 60 feet high. The foundation was approximately 200 feet by 400 feet. Those pillars held up a very impressive structure. And Paul says to Timothy and God says to us “Be like that with the truth.” Hold it up. Support it. Never let it collapse. Never let it alone.

b.The church is not a social club. It is not on a quest to re-invent itself. Its quest is to find what God says to it in the Scriptures and do it. The Scriptures say to the people of God – uphold the truth.

c.Now dear ones, this should simply amaze us. This is astounding.

i.The space shuttle launch was put off this week due to a malfunction. They hope to get it fixed so that the launch can take place at a later date. Tell me – did NASA call you to help them fix it? Were you surprised that they didn’t think to give you a call? What would you have said if they had? “Sorry, wrong number.” And what would you have said if they replied – well, would you come down anyway?

(1)Now dear Christian listen – that would not be as impressive as what God has already invited you to do. This church Thistletown Baptist Church … has been called by God to support and uphold the truth in the world.

(a)The church – ekklesia – called out by God. God has called us out of the world to represent the truth in the world.

(b)Called who? – Called the people of I Cor. 1:26-31; Romans 3:10-18; John 15:5; II Cor. 4:7

Called to do what? Support and uphold the truth:

6.TRUTH                                                                                                                                  a.John 17:17  – The Word of God                                                                                       b.Galatians 2:4-5; 2:14 – The Gospel                                                                                        c.John 14:6 – Jesus Christ

7.Closing Applications

a.What an awesome calling is ours dear ones. It numbs the mind. God has called such as we were, to become such as He can make us, so that we can declare and proclaim and demonstrate to the world – the truth.

b.Friday night we who are members of this church meet to participate together in a business meeting. And we need to come into that meeting with a sense of wonder at what God has called us to.

c.What are you doing as part of this church to uphold the truth dear one? Does your life when we are not together show the power of the Gospel and the community of the saints as a blood bought people where Christ dwells by His Spirit?

d.What are you doing to demonstrate the fellowship that is ours? Are there sins you need to turn from. Do you need to apologize to someone? Do you need to forgive? Is everything you believe solidly based in Scripture? Are you in a Bible study? Are you meeting with other brothers anbd sisters from TBC to pray, study, grow in the faith … ? Paul wrote a whole letter (three in fact) because of the importance of the church being the church. Is the church more the church because of you?

e.Do you know Jesus Christ? Then what hinders you from attaching yourself to this one so that you can conduct yourself properly in the household of God the church of the living God? Baptism? Get baptized!! God commands it. Membership? Join up!! Be a part of what the Bible calls the very household of God! Help us support and uphold the truth.

f.Do you have a soul saving, life changing relationship with Jesus Christ? If not, it doesn’t matter how well you conduct yourself. You are not a part of the household of God. You must turn from your sin first through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for the church. Not in the church? Then what makes you think you are in Christ?