“But, if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

As we look around our troubled world, and our fragmented nation, we are thankful it is not our job to be building the Kingdom right now. If it were, we would be doing a rather horrible job of it! Our job is to build the Church, specifically our local church and to lend our aid in fulfilling the Great Commission. It is the commission given by the Church’s Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. That is a job more to our capacity and to our purpose!

Throughout the pages of the New Testament, specifically from the event of Pentecost to the Rapture, the primacy of the local church is drilled into every believer. Since all biblical authority granted by Christ (Ephesians 4:12ff, Acts 13:1ff) rises from the congregation, all church-age activities should answer to local churches (Acts 14:27). This instruction for local church order is the reason for the articulation of several of the Baptist Distinctives: for instance, Autonomy of the Local Church, Saved Church Membership and the Priesthood of All Believers.

The church operates as a body, not a family, not a club, not a monolith, and not a corporation with a board. Each individual believer is duty-bound to live a selfless, Spirit-led life. He must be in conscious, purposeful, dependent submission to the Word of God so that he will fulfill his role in the building up of the church, of which he is a member.

The Greek word for church is ekklesia, meaning, called out ones. It was a term used to designate an assembly of citizens called by town officials for a town meeting. Right off the bat, we discover from this word that a church is not for private business, but it is the house of God. He calls for the assembly of His citizens, bought by the precious blood of Christ!

The truth of this is observed on both a personal level and on a corporate level. Every believer is a temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19), and every church must treasure the fact that it is a gathering of “temples” set apart to the Lord. 2 Corinthians 6:14ff explains this: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God…” Every local church, and every believer, is obligated to observe the healthy doctrine of separation. After all, we are “called out ones!”

Our text in 1 Timothy immediately follows God’s instructions for the two offices of pastor and deacon. To the whole church these instructions are given so that not only do those privileged to hold the office know what to do, but so that every church member has a worthy goal for which to strive. It is out of the church body that deacons are discovered and it is through the service of a deacon that a pastor is discovered. The church, the local assembly of believers, is to be the pillar and ground of truth. Pillars, like the foundation, were designed to support the roof structure—for all to see and for all to benefit. Also, without an intact roof the rest of the building will eventually crumble. The church member’s conduct within the edifice to truth is to be exemplary in all aspects, and the church body must stand firm, stable, and support the truth!

Upholding and supporting truth is a full time job in this old world. What is the job God wants the local church to accomplish and what part are you to play in supporting truth? From the founding of the Church we discover that each local church is to be a living entity. Acts 2:47 tells us that the Lord “added to the church daily those who were being saved.” The church is God’s work and it is God’s increase.

The early days of the church were great days of evangelism (Acts 2:41, 4:4, 5:14). It was not just the Apostles’ witness; individual believers were used mightily to draw people to the Gospel. Evangelism naturally flowed out from Jerusalem as persecution scattered the saints. Evangelism and church planting missions are prime directives for every church member.

The church also has the job of feeding the saints. Acts 20:28 emphasizes the pastor’s role in this task, but we also find that the church builds itself up by teaching, doing the work of ministry, and maturing in Christ, as it is His body (Ephesians 4). The church is a “building” of lives rather than a building (Romans 6:5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Philemon 2). We tend to think of a building when we think of the word church, but buildings will not be raptured, only saints!

A church body becomes the pillar of truth when it hears and heeds the Word (Matthew 13:9) then digests it for nourishment (Revelation 10:9). It is the pillar of truth when it handles the Word rightly (2 Timothy 2:15) and defends it (Philippians 1:6). It is the pillar of truth when it hides the Word in the heart (Psalm 119:11) and disseminates it abroad (Matthew 28:18ff). It is the pillar of truth when it holds forth the Word of Life (Philippians 2:16) and demonstrates its power by consecrated living (Colossians 3:12–17). Trust and obey.