Imagine something that you use everyday. Toothbrush. Pen/Pencil. Belt. Then imagine how you would feel if I told you, “you have no idea how valuable that is”. If you believed me, you’d be astonished, right? Amazed? This is what happened to a participant in the Antiques Road Show. This participant brought in a simple baby mobile and was surprised at the results. First, for those of you that don’t know, the Antiques Roadshow is one of the longest running shows on television. It has been on air since 1979 for a whopping 39 seasons. Can you imagine trying to binge watch that show on Netflix in a weekend? Anyway, the premise is that normal people may have valuable pieces of art in their possession, and they don’t know it. So, here’s where we pick back up on our mobile story. In 2010 in Miami at the Antiques Road Show a participant brought in this Alexander Calder mobile to be appraised. She knew it was kinda special as she received it in the 1950s and did some restoration on it in the 1980s. However, after the Road Show reviewed the piece of art they told her that this is valued between $500 and $600k and may fetch up to $1M. She came in thinking this very beautiful baby ornament had a little bit of value and she left realizing that her life and her children’s lives would be changed forever at the true value of this mobile. The mobile was so much more than a cool piece of art. It was a bonafide family heirloom, a game changer. I guarantee you that she will treat that mobile differently now that she knows its true value. She will maximize its potential. Do you maximize the potential of the house of God or do you treat it as some cool artwork that you dust off once a week? In Paul’s letter to Timothy, at the end of chapter 3, he passionately describes the true value of the house of God. My hope for all of us is that we might listen to the words God gave to us through Paul and apply them to our lives in our local house of God. Let us see the house of God for its true value and the value of her message.
Read Passage: 1 Timothy 3:14-16
14 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 the 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.
First, let’s begin by examining the sentences to help us get to the heart of the passage and the letter. Verses 14 and 15 are one sentence, verse 16 is another sentence and Paul makes it clear what we are to get from these two sentences. But he adds a few clauses to add some color. We’ ll examine some of these clauses later, but tucked in the middle of this first sentence is Paul’s central theme. It is so central in fact, that if you miss this point you might miss the point of the entire letter. Paul says “ I am writing these things so that you may know how one ought to (should) act in the household of God”. Notice how Paul is singularly focused on God’s house. In chapter 1 Paul uses words like charge and urge and in chapter 2 we see words like must and qualifications - but Paul is not concerned with making things difficult or trying to rouse something out of Timothy or the church for his own purpose. On the contrary, Paul is concerned with God’s house and how we should behave as members of the house.
Remember in verse 14 where Paul says “ I am writing these things to you”? Let’s briefly list “these things”. I won’t teach on them as Keith has already covered them and if you missed them the recordings are on the website. But I do want to list them for you to see their importance.
● 1:3-6: Instruct false teachers
● 1:8 - 11: Purpose of the law
● 1:12-16: Christ came for all of us sinners
● 2: 1-15 Pray for all people (men pray, women pray)
● 3:1-7: Qualifications for pastor
● 3:8-13: Qualifications for deacons
In these 6 things Paul has described the key items a house of God should be concerned with. This is what a church should do. Frankly, the rest of this letter to Timothy doesn’t reveal new information about the house of God. Instead it clarifies or fills out elements from the previous 6 topics. Therefore, from these topics we are beginning to understand “how” the house of God should operate. Instruction, Law, Christ, All Pray, Pastor and Deacons. This is the reason Paul is writing the letter; to convey this information to Timothy and for Timothy to convey this to every church he touches. Every church should do these six things and a church that does these things has value.
This message is based on two sentences and as such we have two points: the value of the church and the value of the church’s message (repeat). However, the first point consists of 3 supporting points form the three modifier clauses in v15, “ household of God”. The second clause is “ church of the living God”. The final clause is “ a pillar and buttress of truth”. The clauses are not the central part of the message, but as modifiers they enable us to see the full value of the Church.
Point 1. The True Value of the Church/ See the church for what its worth.
First, “ household of God”; The true value of the church is realized when it operates as the household of God . In the original Greek the word for household is “Oikos”. I think this word conveys so much more than house with 4 walls and this is the reason I’m taking you to the original greek word used. However, in order to fully understand this word we need to understand the context in which it is most often used in the culture at the time.
In Ancient Greek societies, the Oikos denoted several meanings based upon its context: it was the central element to the family structure, it was lead by the patriarch, it provided an inheritance to the sons, it referred to anybody that lived with the family whether an extended relative or hired help and it served as a physical source of protection.
Thus from this simplistic definition, we are able to gain a deeper understanding for what this word meant to Paul and why God inspired him to use it. Oikos doesn’t simply refer to those that live with you, it contains elements of lineage and inheritance ,and was the protection of everything for the family unit.
First there is a family. Family denotes codependents. We each need the other for survival. Consider the example of the early church. Paul repeatedly uses the word brother, not out of duty or because of feigned affinity but love. Family relationships. You also see Paul frequently use phrases of compassion like he uses in verse 14, where he ”longs to see them”. Family time. 1 timothy 5:1 speak to those in church as father, mother, sister and brother. Family conversations. Acts 1:8 sharing of wealth, echoed in Paul's letters of sharing Phil 5. Phil 2 :29-30 epaphroditus risked his health and life to help accomplish the work of his local congregation. Family sacrifice. Relationships, time, conversations, sacrifice; These are key elements of a biblical local household of God. Important in our culture where the home family and biblical family are attacked by our culture's desire for more work, more money, more digital interactions and less real personal intimate involvement. Let's together stand up for our families.
Therefore, as the Oikos of God, we have a lineage relationship with God, the father of our house. Jesus also conveyed this idea of “heavenly father” in several places, and Paul echoes this teaching from Jesus in Romans 8:15, For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Similarly we derive our inheritance from God, God tells the children of Israel that he alone is their inheritance. Numbers 18:20, “And the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.”
Finally, we get our protection from God as David so poetically exclaims in Psalm 61:3
3 for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
In summary, as the Oikos or household of God, we are to be a close knit family of believers that have a personal relationship with God where he is our inheritance and our protection. Here we see the value of the Church to God. Our value is so great that he desires a personal relationship with us. He is our everything! Remember, Paul wrote this to remind us how we ought to act. Remind us as to how we should relate and lovingly care for each other as if our very lives depended on it. One question that I asked myself while studying this is, “Do I act like I live in the Oikos of God with God’s inheritance and God’s security and God's family or do I act like I live in the Oikos of this world with the world’s inheritance and the world’s security and the world's friends ?” Don’t look around, examine yourself.
The true value of the church is realized when it operates as the household of God.
Point 1b. Our next phrase in verse 15 is “ church of the living God”, The true value of the church is realized when it operates as the church of the LIVING God. The word translated as Church is “ekklesia”. Ekklesia denotes a set apart assembly. In ancient Athens, there was a large city of thousands of people. Only some from the city at large, the assembly/ekklesia, gathered regularly to discuss the affairs of the entire city. Kinda’ like “all y’ all over here gettin’ wangz for lunch, the rest of yall aint gettin nuthin” All y’ all is a sub group from the main group. The word church is derived from two words, one means “assembly” the other means “for God” and together we have an assembly for God or Church. But here’s the kicker, Paul describes God here in verse 15 as the LIVING God. He also uses this language and it’s purpose in 2 Corinthians 6:16b, For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people."
In us, the physical members of the church, a key element from the old testament temple is accomplished in our bodies. The temple (2 samuel 7) served as the definitive location to encounter the presence of God. The location. And as his living temple we are to be the definitive place where others encounter God, not a building or edifice - us. Not just our pastor - all of us - all y’ all. God may live in heaven but he has multiplied his impact, through the church, into societies all over the world. This living God is completely different from the Athenian gods of stone. He's a God of flesh. This living God is completely different from the disappearing money in our bank accounts. He’s eternal. This living God is completely different than any scientific theory that tries to poove our existence. He is the proof. He - is - the LIVING God and he wants to dwell with us. When I stop and consider that in me is the presence of God - it changes the way I act. Meditating on the fact that I’m a part of the church of the LIVING God and God LIVES in me changes everything. I see myself as valuable and the value of the church is realized, because God values his church and dwells in them individually.
The true value of the church is realized when it operates as the church of the LIVING God
Our reliance upon God begins with our lack of reliance on our self. It is impossible for the household of God to regularly do the elements ( Instruction, Law, Christ, All Pray, Pastor and Deacons) without a complete reliance on God. On my own - I may be able to fool those of you around me, but I’ ll never fool God. I may be able to fool you for a season, but I can’t maintain it without God. God must be the center of everything that we as a church and as members in this household try to accomplish or it will not prosper. Consider this family, as members of the house of the living God, what are you doing that doesn’t have God in the center? (repeat) Don’t look around, examine yourself. Whatever it is, let us stop.
Point 1c. Our final modifying phrase is in verse 15, “ a pillar and buttress of the truth”; The true value of the church is realized when it operates as the proclaimer/exalter of truth. So what does pillar and buttress mean? Well, contrary to popular southern belief a “pillar” is not something you rest your head on in bed - “Can you pass the pillar, I’m ready to go to sleep?”. Nope. A pillar is a column, a pillar supports something, it holds it in the air, it elevates something else. Whether it elevates a roof or an additional story it elevates it. A buttress is a foundation or firm ground. The pillar must be grounded or it will sway and that which it supports will fall. The foundation needs a pillar in order to elevate the roof. The two are intrinsically tied together and dependent upon the other for the purpose of elevating or supporting the truth. Paul would have been quite familiar with the edifices in ancient Greece and Athens. Imagine the Parthenon with 6 foot wide columns standing 34 feet in the air resting upon a perfectly flat massive foundation. The fact that these ruins have lasted for over 2,000 years is a testimony to both the pillar and the foundation of the Parthenon. The church/God’s household is to be that massive, that enduring, that stable an item which is to ground and elevate the truth of Jesus Christ.
There is no other foundation for declaring the truth of God. The church is God’s plan A for changing the world. There is no plan B. Some of you may be hungry to see a change in the world - maybe it burns you up. How’s your household of the living God? Some of you want to do something that has a purpose, you want to be relevant. How’s your household of the living God? Some of you want a better life for the next generation, for your kids and your grandkids. How’s your household of the living God? Get involved in your oikos and lovingly help change it as it desires to change the world. As the pillar and buttress of truth, the world is completely in the dark, and without truth, if the church crumbles as it tries to uphold the truth and becomes silent. Based upon these observations, we are able to understand why Paul uses these modifiers and is so concerned with detailing how the church is to operate. We, as the household of God, are to uphold the truth of God and there is no plan B.
Here we see in this one sentence in verses 14-15, the true value of the church is realized when we operate as a close knit house of God, devoted to the living God and proclaiming /exalting the truth. It is therefore out of this understanding of the true value of the Church that Paul highlights the six things we are to be concerned with for the purpose of making a difference with the truth.
Point 2. The Value of the Church’s Message, the true value of the Church’s message is salvation to all!
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.
Here Paul breaks down what is the mystery. Notice the colons, he is about to explain this for us in the next sentence. But in your bible you may also notice the sentence broken up and indented. This is widely believed to indicate a song that was common to Timothy and the other Greek churches to summarize the gospel or this mystery of godliness. The song can be decomposed into three groups of paired lines.
The first pair, He was manifested in the flesh / vindicated by the Spirit,
This word manifested is excellent because nowhere in the bible is it used to describe a person. We don’t typically say people exist in the flesh, that’s a given. All humans have flesh. Even the phrase, “here I am in the flesh”, is used to mean we are here in person as opposed to a telephone or video call, but we’ re always in the flesh. God manifested himself in the flesh. This is abnormal because God doesn’t normally exist in the flesh, the Bible says God is a spirit, except for when he comes down to fix his normally sinful human race. (repeat) This is amazing. God came down in the flesh to be with us. BUT we didn’t believe him. He claimed to be God and one with God and ultimately this is why the Jews killed him. They didn’t believe he was God. But the spirit Justified or vindicated him. In the book of Mark when Jesus is baptized, the trinity of God presents itself for the purpose of Man and God says, “this is my son”. Jesus knew who he was. God the father knew, but we didn’t believe. This is all for us, so that we might believe.
The second pair, seen by angels / proclaimed among the nations,
Everything is focused on Christ. Even the angels in heaven are excited at his entry. Recall who is singing first at the birth of Jesus? It’s a multitude of heavenly hosts (angels) praising God. The angels were thrilled to see Christ manifested - Salvation is finally come. But it doesn’t stop with the angels, the whole rest of the world is taught of the good news of Christ. The proliferation of the Greek language throughout the Roman empire at the time of Jesus death, burial and resurrection is no coincidence. The Roman infrastructure and roads and the Greek language made it possible for multiple nations to hear of the news of Christ and hear it fast.
The final pair, believed on in the world/ taken up in glory,
Jesus came to this earth in flesh for one purpose. To make right man’s relationship with their creator God and conquer sin. God created man. Man chose to sin and disobey God. God is perfect and holy and can’t dwell with sin. Therefore, man was no longer able to enjoy personal fellowship with God as they did together at creation. God made a solution, death covers sin. Through death, sin can be forgiven and a relationship can be renewed between God and man. Every man must take care of their sin through death. Jesus came to this earth in flesh, to die for us, so that we don’t have to die in order that our sin is forgiven. Man now has a choice to believe that Jesus died for their sins and have a renewed relationship OR go to hell and die and be eternally separated. I’ ll pick Jesus for free please. The founders of the first church believed on Jesus while he was on earth and then he was taken up into glorious heaven. This is the gospel!
The true value of the church’s message is salvation to all!
Paul says it this way in Eph 3:10, “ so that through the CHURCH the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
In Summary, the mystery is solved and must be proclaimed and it starts with us, the church. We learned the value of the church is realized when it operates as the close knit household of God, the church of the living God and exalts the truth. And the value of the Church’s message is Salvation to all!
There are people suffering today in communities, neighborhoods, grocery stores, restaurants and at our jobs today and they are at risk of suffering for an eternity away from the God who so desperately desires to be a father to them because the Church doesn’t act like it knows it’s true value. In the words of Paul, I charge you to not lose sight of the immense value the church has and the value of the Church’s message.
The Alexander Carden mobil is nothing more than some thin wire soldered together with a few metal leaves. There is nothing special in its elements. The value in the mobile comes from the one who made it. How much more valuable is the Church as the household of God because of its creator, God the father? Individually we are all broken pieces bound together with Christ’s love and decorated with the truth of the Gospel.
And the world we live in today needs truth. The digital world is filled with fake headlines, fake posts and a fake gospel. Many people are confused about what it means to be a member of God’s house due to false doctrine. Here’s the application: speak, live and love. Only the Church, operating according to its true value is specially equipped to solve these problems. There is no Plan B. We should speak the truth of God, live the truth of God, and love truthfully centered on Christ and without borders. Now Bridgeway, let’s go, devote ourselves to the truths in this bible and live this wonderful truth out so that all the world may see and know how this household of God that assembles at 4755 Kimball Bridge Road proclaims God’s truth. Go and make a difference.