"The Church and Jesus"
"The mystery of godliness is great." What a phrase! Paul uses it as he describes the church and recaps the ministry of Jesus. This little paragraph draws us to what is really important - Jesus.
Jesus and the Church
(1 Tim. 3:14-16)
A. It is great to be a Christian. Amen? I hoped you would agree. For some people, being a Christian centered upon the time in which they gave themselves to Christ in baptism and received from Jesus the forgiveness of sin. But is there more? Being a Christian for others is their own relationship with God through Jesus and the empowering they feel from the Holy Spirit. For them, being a Christian is about a personal relationship with Jesus. It is about prayer time, meditation, time spent reading the Bible, reading devotional books or listening to sermons as a way to grow. Being a Christian is very personal. But is there more? Is that really what it’s all about – simply you and Jesus?
B. I agree there is a great responsibility as a Christian to live your life in holiness before God. We are called to walk in steps of Jesus you and that will produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Not by your own goodness or perfection, but by living in holy submission to God’s will every day. We all need to learn what it means to keep in step with the Spirit.
C. But there is more to being a Christian than just being a solo Christian in this world. In fact, there is nothing in scripture that teaches a Christian should live separate and apart from society or others. For some, being a Christian is separate from being a part of the church. Yet the teaching that started with Jesus and was brought into reality by the Apostles is that we are a part of a community of believers, a local assembly, a church.
D. So Paul writes these words in the middle of his letters (verses 14-15). This morning I want us to see this church the way Paul told Timothy.
I. We Are Family
A. To begin with, I have some good news and bad news for you. The good news is the church is like a family. The bad news is the church is like a family.
B. Just a few verses earlier, when Paul described the character of elders and deacons, he talked about their house, family.
C. Paul wants Timothy to know how we all are to behave in God’s house, God’s family. We are not talking about these four walls and what happens within them, but who is within these four walls and what you think about them.
D. A little later, Paul will tell Timothy how we are to see one another and his description fits these verses about the church. Look at 1 Tim. 5:1-2.
E. What makes us family? We are family because we have the same heavenly father. We are family because we were brought into the family through the blood of Jesus who claimed us as brothers and because the Spirit of God, who makes us holy, lives in us, producing in us very visual effects of what it means to be family. Family is not something you are physically born into, but something you are spiritually born into. Listen to Matt. 12:46-50
F. So we don’t look alike, act alike, or even completely think alike. The resemblance we have is that we are “conformed to the likeness of the Son” (Rom. 8:28). And our attitude is the same as Jesus (Phil 2:5). Our family resemblance overshadows our differences. Let’s make sure we live like Paul is teaching.
II. The Pillar and Buttress of Truth
A. Family is one aspect that Paul says the church is about, but the second is just as important. Paul calls us “the church of the Living God, a pillar and buttress of truth.” What a phrase.
B. The church is not simply a building. Paul seems to compare the church with the maybe the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. You see, many people went there to worship this goddess. They believed in her and promoted her false teachings. Paul contrasts such a thought by describing the church as the church of the Living God, a pillar and buttress of truth.”
C. The fact of the matter is, it takes the church to be the embodiment of truth to the world. As individual Christians, we let our light shine, we give glory to God, we teach others about Jesus, but it takes a church, an assembly of Christians, to fully embody spiritual truth. We are collectively God’s house and therefore teach the truth about the living God. We are more than just a collection of individuals, we are the pillars and foundation of truth to the world. Think of the power that should emanate from this church.
D. We as a church hold up (pillar) and support (buttress) the truth. In a world that questions truth, God, and everything we hold dear in Christ, we must never stop holding up and supporting the truth. The expression “the truth” is used 10 times in 1 & 2 Timothy as the body of accepted Christian doctrine.
III. This Jesus Whom We Serve
A. I would love have some type of recording, musical notation or something to help me hear what singing was like in the first century church. I would guess the culture affected the style as much as anything else. I am sure the singing style in Jewish Jerusalem was different than in the strongly Greco/Roman culture of Ephesus. While the tunes may have been different, the content of the songs were similar. We sing praises to God. We lift Him up in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our heart.
B. Most likely, verse 16 is an example of one of those early hymns that were sung. Listen again to the words that describe Jesus. (read 1 Tim. 3:16).
C. These simply words speak of Jesus from his birth in Nazareth to his ascension outside of Jerusalem. You see, Jesus is God’s great mystery revealed to us. The mystery of godliness is seen in the ministry of Jesus and how that message is carried out in the church.
D. This church stands as a pillar and foundation of truth. We as the family of God have as a mission to teach the truth of Jesus. We preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. We preach that Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of the Spirit and has ascended to heaven where he sits at the right hand of the father making intercession for you and me. We teach that salvation comes by no other name than the name of Jesus. That in him we live and move and have our very being. We teach that the only way to the father is through the son. We teach these words: Gal. 3:26-29.
A. If you are here today and have not received the inheritance that comes by being baptized into Christ, having your sins removed from your account, standing justified by grace, we invite you to come and received the greatest gift ever given – salvation.
B. If you are here today and have hurt this family, run away from this family, mistreated this family then we as family offer you forgiveness and would love to put our arms of love around you and walk together with you.
C. If you are here today and have heard the words of truth and simply need the prayers of this congregation so that you can work worthy of your calling, then come as we stand and sing.