"The Pillar and Support of the Truth"
In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul called the church “the pillar and support of the truth.” What responsibilities does that description place on us? We must. . .
Determine the Truth
Let’s be crystal clear on this point. It is not a church’s place to determine the truth in a legislative sense. There is only one Lawgiver (James 4:12). No passage gives any church leaders any right to alter the Bible standard in any way on any question. Nor is it a church’s place to set itself up as an official interpreter of Scripture. Sometimes people ask, “What does your church teach about ___?” The real question is, What does the Bible say about it? Churches may say opposite things; the Lord’s view is what matters. For example, the church at Ephesus opposed the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6), whereas a number at Pergamum embraced it (v. 15). The Lord said He hated it! No church’s position would change that.
It is our obligation to study God’s word to learn what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:10; 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 2:2). This applies to all of us, not just preachers, elders, and Bible class teachers.
Digest the Truth
Digestion is the process of absorbing, of assimilating, of taking something in. That is precisely what we must do with the truth. “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). I need to read the Bible with a “this means you” disposition; with a willingness to admit that what I have previously thought or what others have taught me may be wrong; with a desire to please God by doing whatever He says. “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (v. 22).
Disperse the Truth
God does not want us to keep the truth to ourselves; we are to spread it. “Sounding forth the word” (1 Thessalonians 1:8) is the church’s fundamental task. Collective efforts include preaching in our assemblies or through various media or by supporting preachers in other places. These are important, but they are no substitute for using our personal opportunities to spread the word. Any such effort requires something else, that we. . .
Demonstrate the Truth
Teaching will have no effect if it comes from those who have not first personally applied it. Jesus said we are lights in the world (Matthew 5:14-16), a world which may look with a suspicious eye. We need to be very careful about our influence and reputation. “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
Defend the Truth
Truth often comes under attack. Mostly that comes from without. It may be from people who are secular in their outlook, who mock Christianity or challenge its standards. But just as often it comes from religious people who adhere to false doctrines, either out of ignorance or unwillingness to accept the truth. Of course, error can arise internally as well. Paul warned that would be the case (Acts 20:29-30).
Regardless of an error’s source, Christians must be ready to defend the truth. “. . . Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). Defending the truth includes parting company with those who persist in error (2 John 9-11).
Let’s each ask ourselves, Am I doing what I can to be a pillar and support of the truth?
(Article concept from William Hendriksen)