MSG: Training Your Replacements: How to Prioritize the Church 1 Timothy 3:14-15

This message was presented on March 2, 2014 as part of the 1 Timothy series.

My Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is here in our midst. I wish He would tell you how much He loves you, but today, He’s asked me to do it. I don’t understand why, because He could assemble some rocks and they could do a much better job than I, but He chose the plan. When I think of the holiness of Jesus, I think, “In my sins and struggles, what am I doing here?” He could have used some of His holy angels from Michael and Gabriel’s army and they’d do a much better job, but He chose the plan.  Yes, I wish He was physically here! We’d be amazed at His presence, His words and His truth. 

Our passage is the center of 1 Timothy. This is Paul’s reason for writing this letter. It answers the question, “What is Jesus’ priority?”  These words were not only for Timothy, but for the whole church.  It’s not about me or you, it’s about His Church!

1)    Communicate Jesus’ life-giving truth (1 Tim. 3:14)

In economics, what is the most often heard statement made by an investment advisor besides “buy low, sell high”? Sure, “diversify your investments.”  Hence, we have the advent of mutual funds.  But certain wise people, who understand the times, will emphasize a few strategies and they do well with their investments.

In the military, a commander has many tactics and courses of action at his disposal to overcome the enemy. After analysis, he will choose one course of action where most of the resources are focused to defeat this adversary.  God highlights for us in this passage His plan for promoting His kingdom. He has one plan. It’s the BEST plan. What is it? The church communicating Jesuslife-giving truth.

14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly.(1 Tim. 3:14 NKJ)

Jesus’ priority is to communicate truth in His Word.  Paul and Peter help us understand the importance of that Word.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17 NKJ)

And Peter wrote,

20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:20-21 NKJ)

As Paul stated in 1 Timothy 3:14, the Word is life-giving truth. These things refer to all that Paul wrote. This was not just a transition verse.  He was not just writing “a nice, newsy letter.”  He was not just “catching up.”  He was very purposeful.  He was not there, but Jesus’ life-giving Word was.

Notice Paul said that he had hoped (pap elpizo-) to see Timothy. He was expressing confidence in going to see him.  Back in 1 Timothy 1:3, he stated he left Timothy there, to guard the truth and ensure no false doctrines would be taught. Now, Paul can’t wait to be back with him.  The word “shortly” means “quickly, soon, and with speed.”  Why this urgency? Because person to person is better than a letter. How did Jesus disciple? He discipled face to face. You might say, “Jesus didn’t have the technology we have today.”  If He wanted them to rely on it, He would have caused someone to invent it! Yes, you can text, email, write, or scratch in stone, but nothing is as good as face to face, person to person discipling. But you may not be able to be present, so use the best means available to you. The church is God’s best. You can choose what might be good, or better, or best.  Jesus’ priority is to communicate life-giving truth. Why?  Because the world is empty when it comes to answers. It is dead. It is a sinkhole and gives nothing to stand on. It has no lasting solutions for how to live, get along, or have an abundant life.

Jesus’ life-giving truth determines how we should live out our love for Jesus.

Two years ago, my brother picked me up from the Minneapolis airport and as we were headed over to my mother’s place, I asked myself, “Who is this guy?” This was not the brother I grew up with, although we’ve always gotten along well. I had tried to share the gospel with him over the years, but whenever it got close to the cross, the conversation stopped.  When I was listening to him, I was thinking, “Where did he get these ethics? They’re Biblical!” So I asked him, “How did you become so ethical?” (He was talking about some supervisors and leadership that had ethics different than what he now believed, and he left them.)  He responded to my question, “I remembered what Dad taught us.” As we continued to talk, I found out he had become a believer in Jesus a few years before and hadn’t told me.  Wow! The Truth was having an impact on his life! He was involved in a Friday morning Bible study with a men’s group from his church and it was impacting his life!

2)    Live holy conduct mirroring Jesus (1 Tim. 3:15)

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. (1 Tim. 3:15 NKJ)

Paul started out with a condition that he was not sure of his immediate future. He said, “If I am delayed…” The “if” is a Third Class Condition, which means, “maybe I will be, or maybe I won’t be, but I sure hope to come to see you soon.” That certainly describes the way life is for most of us, doesn’t it?.

Then he stated his purpose for writing, “…so that you may know…” which means “in order that you may know how it is necessary to conduct yourself.” The word for “conduct” (anastrepho- ppf  ) is an interesting word and can be translated “to turn again and again” and often describes your life as it goes this way and that and you are turned every which way, or it sure seems!  It is like a woman with small children! The passive voice of the verb means it is God’s Spirit leading you on your journey, so keep your eyes on the Lord! Then Paul used four words for the church. Let’s note them.

First, he called the church the house. What is in a house? A family! The house is where we are nourished as Jesus said,

4 But He answered and said, “It is written,`Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” (Matt. 4:4 NKJ)

And as we take in the Word, we’re supposed to grow up. We start out as babies drinking milk and people who spoon feed us. We’re supposed to grow up and feed ourselves solid food as we dig into the Word and make application to understand life. The writer to Hebrews describes this process,

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb. 5:12-14 NKJ)

The Lord Jesus is working to grow us up! During that process of growth, the Lord loves us in a special way,

6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” (Heb. 12:6 NKJ)

When you “plug into” Jesus, you have life-giving truth flowing through you. But if you are unplugged (unplug the microphone), you are missing out.  Are you plugged into Jesus? When you are plugged into Jesus, you will see the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace by acts of love, kindness and caring in the body of Christ.

What happens when the Colts get a touchdown?  People who don’t know each other smile at each other, high five, jump up and down and even hug each other. They are strangers, but they act like old friends. The church is the house of God, which has the Word of God with people filled with the Spirit of God enjoying unity of command under Jesus and building on the unity of effort in the Spirit. You will see an awesome work of God to help you connect to other people, engage to become equipped in grace to become more like Jesus and then multiply together with the gospel to reach the world.

The second word for church is assembly. That is the expression “Church of the living God.” The word “church” means “called out people from the world.” The church is not called to gather only for social activities, but to worship a living God. Paul faced a world of idols. In Acts 17, he addressed the altar of the unknown God.  He wanted them to understand there is a living God to be worshiped, rather than the dead idols. Paul gave several great passages,

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1 Cor. 3:16-17 NKJ)

16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” (2 Cor. 6:16 NKJ)

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:19-22 NKJ)

The assembly is life-giving to those who gather with God in relationships. Peter said the church is composed of living stones (1 Peter. 2:5). We’re not dead any more!

God often met with man personally to make sure He had our attention. For example, He personally met with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8). When God delivered Israel out of Egypt, He met them personally on Mount Sinai (which was an awesome experience for the nation! Ex. 19:11). When Solomon completed the temple and at the dedication of it, God manifested Himself as the Shekinah Glory, in which people stopped in their tracks in total amazement (2 Chron. 5:13).  God sent Jesus to be born of the Virgin Mary and was called Emmanuel, because Jesus was “God with us” (Is. 7:14).  John described Jesus as God dwelling with us in the flesh (John 1:14). And every Christian has the indwelling presence of the Godhead in his body (1 Cor. 6:19).  God is living and not dead, so we ought not to be stoic or dead either.  Do you meet Jesus here?  Are you connecting, equipping, and multiplying?

The third word for church is pillar, which means  strength, stature, standard and support, but not the source of Truth.  Jesus is the source; He is the Truth. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6 NKJ) Many of you have enjoyed the movie, “It’s a wonderful life.” You watched poor George Bailey get into trouble, but then his angel friend, Clarence, showed him what life would be like if he were not born. Can you imagine what the world would be like, if the church did not exist? Yes, it would be like the Tribulation!

The word pillar is used in several ways in Scripture. For example, it is used for a memorial (Gen. 35:14,20) that Jacob set up when God reiterated the Abrahamic Covenant to him and when Rachel died while delivering Benjamin. It is also used for a physical structure that Samson leaned against and caused the death of many Philistines when he toppled it. This term can also mean a person (Barnabas), who seemed to be a pillar, but apparently was not a good example of what a true pillar was. While the English translation uses the word “the,” it is not in the original, because the emphasis is on the quality of the noun and therefore the importance of the church as the strength, stature, standard and support of the Truth. We will often use “the” to emphasize the quality, like the radio station that says, “WFMS, THE country station.”

The fourth word for church is ground of Truth, which means “make stable, or foundation.”  In the Church Age, the church must hold the Truth.  The purpose of the church is to be the foundation to defend the Truth.  Is it today?  There is an enemy fighting against the Truth.  He misrepresents the Truth in many ways.   Here’s our key:

Jesus’ priority is our that assembly upholds and promotes the Truth!

  • The enemy wants to diminish the church. Why? Because this will diminish God’s way of promoting the Truth. He’ll use any method he can.
  • The enemy’s ploys to hinder the Truth include division, comparing, slander, distorting, doubting, questioning, and in-house bickering. Seek unity of command under Jesus in church!
  • The world, the flesh and the devil are fighting against clarity of the Truth.  What is your part in stabilizing and promoting the truth?

The most important Truth you can know today is the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God and He left heaven to be born as a vulnerable baby, because none of us could ever satisfy the holiness of God. When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, we all sinned and inherited a sin nature. Because God is holy, that sin had to be dealt with and the ONLY plan that would satisfy the holiness of God is when God sent Jesus to live the perfect life and be the sacrifice on the cross, that is, to die in your place and mine.  He is the substitute for you. When you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will be saved.

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (John 1:12 NKJ)

When you trust in Jesus, you begin a new relationship with Him and we want to help you connect to Him here at Grace. When you do, we’ll help equip you in grace to know Him and understand Him.

We’d encourage you to join a home group where you can learn more about Him and become a part of the family at Grace.  Welcome!

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)    What television shows deal with handling what is true or promoting the truth or distorting what is truth?

Digging Deeper:

2)    What was the first way God communicated truth to Adam and Eve? ___________________ What are ways that God communicated truth (cf. Gen. 20:6; Num. 27:21; Ps. 19:1-6; Matt. 11:2-6; Num. 12:8; Jn. 1:14; Heb. 1:1)?

3)    What makes the church very important to Jesus, that is, what is it called? The ___________ of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27). What are various expressions used to describe the church in this passage (cf. John 21:16; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 12:19-20; 1 Pet. 3:8)?

4)    What will set you free in life? _____________ (Jn. 8:32) How would you define truth?  Why is it important? (cf. John 1:14,17; 8:31-32; 14:6; 17:17;  Eph. 4:15, 25)

Making application from the message:

5)   When did the church begin and when does the church end according to Scripture? How do you fit into church history?

6)    How can believers strengthen their church?

7)    How can you disciple people to show the importance of the Truth and the church as its foundation and pillar?

3 thoughts on “MSG: Training Your Replacements: How to Prioritize the Church 1 Timothy 3:14-15

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