1Timothy 3:14-16, “14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 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”
As I think of qualifications of a minister and the model by which the church is to run, I count on Paul’s epistle to Timothy because of its depth and clear instructions. This epistle appears to have been written to Timothy while he was at Ephesus facing numerous challenges as a young pastor. Paul wrote to instruct him in the choice of proper offices in the church by keeping to mind the right qualifications he outlined, as well as in the exercise of a regular ministry.
It was important who he appointed to service. While he directed him on how to establish the church and its leaders, he also took time to caution him against the influence of false teachers, who by subtle distinctions and endless disputes, corrupted the purity and simplicity of the gospel by adding or subtracting to and from the vital parts of the gospel. He pressed upon him to be constant in regard to the greatest diligence, faithfulness, and zeal in handling God’s word.
In this writing, he had hoped to be there in person to instruct, however, Paul was also confident that in writing, the inspired word of God had the capability of guiding Timothy. He therefore says, “…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”. How to conduct himself was crucial because the stand and the survival of the church depended on it with Christ as the foundation and the chief cornerstone of the church.
Paul identified the pillars as the disciples, the apostles, the representatives of Christ who by their teaching, this foundation and introduction was based upon. Galatians 2:8-9, “8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised”. The apostles in Christ were the pillars of the church. Paul in Ephesians 2:20 says the household of God “20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone”. The prophets mentioned here I am convinced are the ministers of the gospel who proclaim the truth of God’s word to His faithful without compromise. And these are all built on the ground, the foundation of none other than Jesus Christ. Paul writes, 1Corinthians 3:10-11, “10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ”
This is what should drive us in to be under certain pastors, teachers, the church etc. The truth of Christ’s Gospel fueled by the Holy Spirit should be the ground and the pillar for God’s work for there lies in Christ’s sufficient power through His word to save and deliver anyone. “When the church ceases to be the pillar and ground of truth, we may and ought to forsake her; for our regard to truth should be greater than our regard to the church; we are no longer obliged to continue in the church than she continues to be the pillar and ground of truth”, Matthew Henry.
Samson standing before the Philistine in their temple (Judges 16) shackled and blind asked God for strength one more time to destroy his enemies or rather God’s enemies. He asked to be led to the pillars that supported the temple. He pushed the pillars destroying himself with those ungodly people in that temple. Any minister, pastor, teacher who destroys the pillars and the ground for the truth like in Samson’s example would have destroyed instead the house of God and himself if they deviate from who Christ is to the church. Paul’s advice to Timothy, “16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you”, 1Timothy 4:16.
Why was this advice important? because sound doctrine matters. As Martin Luther beautifully articulates the importance of doctrine says, “The great difference between doctrine and life is obvious, even as is the difference between heaven and earth. Life may be unclean, sinful, and inconsistent; but doctrine must be pure, holy, sound, and unchanging. Life may show omissions and come short of what doctrine calls for. But from doctrine (says Christ, Matt. 5:18 ) not a tittle or letter may be omitted, however much life may fail to meet the requirements of doctrine. This is so because doctrine is God’s Word and God’s truth alone, whereas life is partly our own doing. On this account doctrine must remain entirely pure. God will have patience with man’s moral failings and imperfections and forgive them. But He cannot, will not, and shall not tolerate a man’s altering or abolishing doctrine itself. For doctrine involves His exalted, divine Majesty itself. In the sphere of doctrine, therefore, forgiveness and patience are out of order.”
Sound doctrine, the doctrine of Christ must be the pillar and ground for the truth if any believer, the church is to stand. Blessings Ev