Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons . Life in the family

. Life in the family

LIFE IN THE FAMILY

1 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV) 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.”

2012 is history and we are already at the 13th of January. I am not sure if it is because we get older that time flies quicker, but it sure does fly. What excites me though is that every day we face is one day closer to the second coming of Christ.

In seeking the Lord’s face regarding what to preach as my first sermon for 2013 my heart was drawn to the text before us. In it we see that Paul has a desire to visit the church of Ephesus where young Timothy is the pastor. This young pastor is in need of careful instruction which obviously comes over better in a one on one context, but in the meantime though a letter has to suffice.  This is not just an ordinary letter; this is a letter that brings knowledge on how a person should behave in the family of God. So if you want to know the purpose of Paul’s whole letter to Timothy it is contained in those simple words: “…..so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God.” A simple translation will be. Hey Timothy read my letter carefully as in it I am telling you all how to behave as the family of God. To expound on that would require that we work through Paul’s whole letter to Timothy, which is not my goal for this morning.

My goal for this morning is to challenge us from a different angle, as the verses before us present to us clearly the heart of what the church is all about. And even though the verses before us are not practical, there are practical lessons to be learnt from the principles that are highlighted by Paul. The million dollar question is this: ‘why should Christians know how to conduct themselves and does it really matter?’

For me there are three very simple reasons in the text that will call us to total commitment and a conduct in 2013 that excels beyond that which we have ever achieved. It should affect every aspect of our lives, be it in church, or at home, or in the workplace, or on the sports field or wherever we are and whatever we are busy with, however the focus is on life in the family. We see it in the words of verse 15: 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.” Join me as we draw some truths from this verse. The reason we should be fully committed are contained in three statements:

  1. We are the household of God.
  2. We are the church of the living God.
  3. We are the pillar and buttress of truth.

Let’s unpack them one at a time.

Firstly, we are the household of God.

“15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God,…”

Now, this letter is written to Timothy personally, and it is written with the church of Ephesus in mind. Ephesus was a church that was close to Paul’s heart to the point that he spent three years with them, teaching from house to house, and training leaders for them. Paul calls them the household of God.

While he was with them he taught them things they should know. Now that he is gone he is still concerned about what they should know. This knowledge by the way is not just simple ethereal (unearthly) knowing, it isn't just cognitive knowing, it is a knowing in the sense that you have the skill to do what you know, "that you may know how to behave." The Greek word  eido {i-do'} or oida {oy'-da} carries a meaning of being able to “ascertain what must be done about, that which we know.” So it is not just good enough to be a church who knows things, but we must be a church who knows what to do with what we know, and how to do it properly. All the knowledge without the appropriate deeds means nothing at the end of the day.

 

Now even though my New Year’s challenge is towards our lives in general, Paul has something more specific in mind. He is talking about behaviour in the household of God, or the house of God. The word for household comes from  oikos {oy'-kos} which can mean house or all the persons forming a family. Now we all know that according to Peter we are living stones being built up into a holy temple, which makes us the house of God. But in this section the latter is in mind here, namely how we conduct ourselves in the family of God as a household and not just a house.

 

Today, I have good news for you and I have bad news for you. The good news is that we are a family; the bad news is that we are a family.  The bad news is that family members often hurt one another, disappoint one another, neglect one another and that happens in the family of God as well. Someone was once asked how his family vacation went. He summarised it with the words of Winston Churchill’s at the beginning of WWII when he said: ‘We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills!’ The good news though is that blood is thicker than water, and so it is for the family of God. As born again people we are birthed by the Holy Spirit into the same family and we belong together until death us do part. And in the same way as the family has rules and there is an accepted conduct, so in the family of God there is an accepted conduct. All we know about being family of God has to be applied. We are not distant relatives of one another as God is the source of our belonging, He is the Father of the house, we are all children and we obey Him.

Church family, do you realise that you belong to the divine family?  The metaphor of family is so close to the bone that Paul even says earlier in Timothy that you do not appoint a man as an elder if he cannot rule his own family well. Being family places a tremendous responsibility for conduct when you look at yourself as belonging to God.  So the whole epistle then is instruction on how to behave as the family of God. And order starts with the leadership, that's why he specifically identifies Timothy.  Now that puts Christian conduct and Christian behaviour at a high level, doesn't it?  We are called to this kind of behaviour to be consistent with who we are.  You are in the family, which means that your responsibility towards the family is of critical importance. The family is never made up of one member or two, it is all of us, and all of us must take ownership of the household.

Remember Ephesians 5:1 says, "Walk in love as dear children of God." We are dear children of God and so we are to walk as Christ who is God walked and He walked in love.  We are to behave in a way consistent with our family identification.

Secondly, We are the church of the living God.

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,

Another way to translate this, which draws the meaning home is to remind us as the family of God that we are not idol worshippers, we are not man worshippers, we are not denominational worshippers, we are ‘the Living God’s Church.’ So we are not just the household of God, but we are the Living God’s Church, we are His assembly, we are His People, we are His ekklesia, which means we are His called-out ones. Church family, do we realise that God is a jealous God and He will always destroy idolatry in our midst.  You see this back in the Old Testament in Joshua 3:10 (ESV)10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites.”

Even when David stood up against Goliath and the Philistines it was because they defied the armies of the Living God. This is central in the Old Testament. Psalm 42:2 (ESV)2 My soul thirsts for God (not just any God), for the living God. Psalm 84:2 (ESV) “2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Jeremiah 10:10 (ESV) “10 But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation.” Daniel 6:26 (ESV) 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.”

So the Old Testament then makes much, and those are only some samples, of God as the living God, as opposed to dead idols.  How wonderful in this city of Ephesus, this little assembly of believers existing, as it were, as an island in a sea of paganism and cultic worship of dead idols was the assembly of the living God.  All around them were those who worshiped dead idols. The main idol of Ephesus was Diana, her female name; Artemis, his male name, the god of Ephesus.  Those people belonged to that pagan cult and worship a dead idol, they are the assembly of a dead idol but you are the assembly of the living God.

And so, Paul makes much of Timothy's and the other believers identification.  And, people, at the bottom line of our behaviour, at the bottom line of our conduct is that we represent the living God, that we are in the household of the living God.  And therefore we are to conduct ourselves in a way that is consistent with the one whose name and image we bear.  When people look at us in and around Polokwane, do they see idol worshippers or do they see the household of the Living God, people who are committed, faithful, disciplined, punctual, worshipful and God exalting in all we do?

Thirdly, We are the pillar and buttress (support) of truth.

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.

Some translations say that we are the pillar and foundation of truth.

If you want to know what the church is, that's it.  We are the pillar and buttress or foundation of the truth.  This is a wonderful designation and would have vivid imagery to the Ephesians and to Timothy, for in the heart of the city of Ephesus was the Temple of Diana, or the Temple of Artemis as I mentioned under my previous point.  Let me tell you a little about it. It was an incredible piece of architecture, huge, massive, buttress, bulwarking foundations laid on the bottom of it.  And rising up to support the roof were 127 pillars, supporting the tremendously heavy structure of the roof.  The pillars were made of solid marble, studded with jewels and overlaid with gold.  Each of those pillars was a gift from a king and represented the nobility of the one who gave the pillar.  It was a tribute to the one it represented. Now capturing some of that vivid imagery in the minds of those people, Paul transitions to the church which as far as architecture goes in actual physical buildings didn't probably have much to speak of, if anything, in Ephesus but in fact was the foundation and the pillar that held up the truth.  As that foundation in the Temple of Diana and those pillars were a testimony to error and lies and paganism and cultic false religion, the church is to be the living support of the truth.

If you want to know why the church exists, you can sum it up very simply, ‘it is to hold up the truth of God.’ That's what we're all about.  That's it. We are not the pillar of denominationalism, we are not the pillar of tradition, we are not the pillar of preconceived ideas, we are not the pillar of brainwashed information, we are the pillar of truth.  It is not the church who makes the truth, we just support it.  We just hold it up.  It is God who reveals it, we have it, but it is not our own, it is come from above, we cannot alter it, we cannot modify it, our job is to safeguard it.  It is a sacred treasure given to us for the glory of God, and the good of men, we must hold it as our most precious treasure.

And so, we are as a church very simply placed in the world to hold up the truth.  Isn't that wonderful?  You see, that's what's so terrible about churches that abandon the truth.  That's what's so terrible about churches that deny the inerrancy, the authenticity, the authority of the Word of God, what existence do they have?  What justification?  We are to hold up the truth.  The function, responsibility, mission of every Christian, every congregation is to support, safeguard, uphold the truth of God's revealed Word which is His saving truth.

So how can we as a body uphold the truth in a practical manner? What conduct on our behalf will aid us in conducting ourselves properly regarding the truth in the household of God? Let me give you eight little practical things to set it in your minds.  I am not going to take time to substantiate all of it it with Scripture, but it is important to know this.

Firstly, by hearing it.

Secondly, by memorizing it.  It's not enough to just hear it, you've got to have it in your memory.

Thirdly, by meditating on it.

Fourthly, by studying it.  We all know 2 Timothy 2:15 in this regard. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

Fifthly, holding up the truth means obeying it.  Luke 11:28 (ESV) 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Sixthly, we are upholding the truth in the church by defending it. The truth is always attacked.  Jude says we must contend for the faith. People are always coming against the truth and we need to be able to defend that.

Seventhly, by living it. Colossians 3:16 (ESV) 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

The Eighth and last one is to proclaim it. Philippians 2:15-16 (ESV) 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labour in vain.”

We are in this world the foundation and the pillar that holds up the truth.  What a great mission we have.  Isn't it?  What a wonderful calling we have.

Let me say something to you just in conclusion, listen carefully.  Everybody in this place this morning as part of the household of God has different spiritual gifts.  Every one of us has different functions.  We function in the family as a father, a mother, a husband, a wife.  We function with our friends as a friend.  We function as an employee.  We may function as a teacher or a Bible study leader or youth leader.  There is so much we all do and should do. I don't know what you all do, there are myriad of things that we all do, but down at the bottom of anything we do within the framework of the church is this necessity, that we realize that we are the living God's family, the living God's assembly and that our primary task on behalf of the living God whom we serve is to hold up His truth, to hold it up faithfully.  And that means by diligently pursuing it, by living it and by proclaiming it, to sum up those eight things that I gave you.

The greatest issue facing the church today and always is the battle for the authority of the Scripture. It is always that.  It comes in different forms.  There are all different ways the Bible is attacked, but it's always under attack.  Some even attack it’s authority under the guise of protecting its authority, but it is more their own traditions they are concerned about. As Logos, we exist in this world to hold forth the Word of life as lights shining in a dark world.  That's our calling, and let’s remain faithful to that.

Let us as a family therefore join hands this year as the household of God, as the church of the living God and let us demonstrate our commitment to the truth.

Amen!

Logos Community Church:- 13 January 2013