The Pillar and Support of the Truth
Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 3:14-16
1 Timothy 3:15, “…the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth.”
The church of the living God is a pillar and buttress of truth. It stands in this lofty and privileged position before the world. God has positioned her there by grace according to His sovereign decree. He has firmly established her in truth and bids her to live it out and proclaim it.
Two terms are used to describe the church in its relationship to truth. Both relate to a structure, which is fitting, since the church is elsewhere identified to be a “holy temple in the Lord…a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22). The church, as a building, has been “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). It has been well founded on the truth. Webster’s dictionary offers this definition of truth: “A transcendent, fundamental or spiritual reality.” The truth, in this context, has to do with the manifestation of unseen spiritual and eternal realities. We live in a “there-is-no-such-thing-as-truth” world (John 18:38; Romans 1:18), yet truth stands unassailable, irrespective of what people think of it. Jesus is the embodiment of truth and came to bear witness to it (Ephesians 4:21; John 18:37). God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). The gospel is “the word of truth” (Ephesians 1:13). The truth is beautiful in its saving power and transforming influence.
The two terms used regarding the church in its relationship to the truth are both structural terms. The first “pillar,” refers to “a column supporting the weight of a building” and is used metaphorically “of a local church as to its responsibility, in a collective capacity, to maintain the doctrines of the faith by teaching and practice, 1 Tim. 3:15” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). The second term, “buttress,” means “a support, bulwark, stay.” Metaphorically, the buttress speaks of that which lies at the foundation (The KJV translates the term “ground”). Both the “pillar” and “buttress” serve a building in a supportive role, but there is a difference in their functions. The buttress is the foundation, which lies unseen beneath the structure. The pillar extends the supporting strength of the foundation to the superstructure of the building. It differs from the foundation because it is visible. In fact, in NT times pillars served not just to support, but to adorn a building and were sometimes intricately carved.
The church has such a role in the world, as it both proclaims the truth and is changed by it. It is important to note the church of the living God is the pillar and support of this particular virtue. The church possesses other virtues too, but none can be possessed apart from truth. Truth stands in a preeminent role. All is lost if truth is forsaken. Lives changed by truth adorn the truth (Titus 2:10).
It ought to be if a person visits an evangelical church, he, or she would find truth being proclaimed and practiced. Yet that is not always the case. Charles Spurgeon once spoke to this need, “Remember how your fathers, in times gone by, defended God’s truth, and blush, ye cowards, who are afraid to maintain it!…What! Do you expect easy lives?…Be ye the pillar and ground of the truth. Let the blood of martyrs, let the voices of confessors, speak to you. Remember how they held fast the truth, how they preserved it, and handed it down to us from generation to generation; and by their noble example, I beseech you, be steadfast and faithful, tread valiantly and firmly in their steps, acquit yourselves like men, like men of God, I implore you! Shall we not have some champions, in these times, who will deal sternly with heresies for the love of the truth, men who will stand like rocks in the center of the sea, so that, when all others shake, they stand invulnerable and invincible?”
“Explicit Christian truth-telling is the church’s reason for being.…The God of the Bible has sent his church into the world to tell the truth about himself—about his laws and commands, about his grace and love, and most important, about the gospel of Jesus Christ.”Albert Mohler
FAITH OF OUR FATHERS
Faith of the martyrs, living still
in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
whene’er we hear that glorious word!
Faith of the martyrs, holy faith,
we will be true to thee till death.
The martyrs chained in prison cells
were still in heart and conscience free,
and bless’d would be their children’s fate
if they, like them, should die for thee! [Refrain]
Faith of the martyrs, we will love
both friend and foe in all our strife,
and preach thee, too, as love knows how,
by saving word and faithful life! [Refrain]