GOD BUILDS HIS CHURCH
Princeton Christian Church 06 November 2022
The letters in the New Testament called First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus are some of my favorite sections of Scripture. These letters, written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy and Titus contain instructions about the church of Jesus Christ is to conduct its life.
Timothy and Titus, at the time Paul wrote to them, were young preachers. I was a young preacher once too and often turned to these letters for guidance. And I still do, although I am no longer so young.
Let’s begin by reading 1 Timothy 1:1-7
Have you ever watched any of the Home Improvement shows on TV? There are several on now.
I enjoy watching as the home renovators like Fixer Uppers, and Property Brothers among others go into a house, pretty much gut it and begin with an empty shell.
It is amazing what they can do – if they have enough money to accomplish it.
But have you noticed that the trend that is what everyone just has to have today is out of date or out of style after just a few years?
All that tearing out of walls and cabinets; changing colors and styles to meet the trend of the day.
It has to be done all over again just to keep up with changing interests. These decorating trends go in cycles. If you wait long enough what you have now will come back in style --- like bell-bottom pants.
After all, is said and done, nobody can decorate your home the way you can. What they want is not what you want; what you want is not what they want.
You are the architect and designer of the way you want your house to look and feel.
We all have different likes and dislikes. Some people like country music and would never listen to anything classical. I like good old Gospel 4-part harmony quartet singing music. You may like the more modern feel-good Christian music.
We are all free to choose what we like to listen to and how we arrange our house. But imagine if someone made their way into your house and rearranged everything or replaced everything the way they thought it should be.
There’s a chance you might like their ideas. But more of a chance that you wouldn’t.
I say all of that to say this --- this is where it applies to what we really want to talk about today.
The Church is God’s House. It is His Household. It is His Dwelling Place.
And God’s church must be built and furnished and arranged according to His design.
How often have church members decided to rearrange or renovate God’s house? Now I don’t mean add new carpet, new lighting – that kind of thing.
Far too often the changes churches want to make are to change God’s plans to attract more people for His Church – God’s plans and designs. We do not have the right to mess with God’s House.
You have heard, I am sure, in recent days the slogans being spouted by different groups – often political – Black Lives Matter. Babies Lives Matter. Just about anything you want to speak of – Matters. And these groups and others do matter. But let us not forget that above all else God’s Church Matters. And it matters in the way He has designed and arranged it.
And that is why we need to protect God’s church and be sure that we follow God’s designs and plans for His church.
The letter Paul has written to the young minister Timothy is full of “church matters” issues.
The nuts and bolts of how to do church together; how to conduct matters in God’s
Household – House rules for God’s family.
These two letters to Timothy and the one to Titus are commonly called the “Pastoral Letters” of the Bible. And it is because they were written to young ministers or Evangelists who need this practical teaching about church matters.
As you know, most of Paul’s writings in the New Testament are filled with theological matters. But the Pastoral Letters are somewhat of a “how” to manual.
Paul actually tells Timothy his purpose in writing this letter to him. It comes in the 3rd Chapter, verses 14-15. He says this: “I write these things to you, hoping to come to you are soon. But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the Living God, the Pillar, and Foundation of the Truth.
His purpose? To teach Timothy about the proper conduct of God’s people in God’s household.
Paul is serious about how precious and important the church is – the church matters! And our behavior or conduct in the church matters.
The church is the Body of Christ – Christ is alive, and the church belongs to Him.
Remember how Paul described the church – it is built on the truth (Jesus Christ); He is the sustainer of the truth (Jesus Christ) and He matters.
When you think about it and remember what Paul’s first introduction to the church was like – he violently opposed Christianity. He persecuted Christians. He was a Pharisee, and we know that the Pharisees tried everything they could to get rid of Jesus.
But then Paul had an encounter with the Man whose church it is. He met Jesus in a very personal way – blinded so he could see. That’s God’s way of dealing with those He wants to use in a mighty way for His Kingdom.
Paul then became a preacher and a missionary. A tentmaker by trade. He suffered because of his zeal for Jesus Christ and His church.
And, in regard to Timothy, he and Paul developed a close relationship on the first missionary journey to Lystra, a Roman colony, around 45-48 A.D.
It is believed that Timothy’s mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, became Christians as a result of that missionary trip to Lystra.
After about 5 years Timothy had become solid in his walk with Christ, and he grew in his faith. Paul felt confident that Timothy would be an effective worker for Christ on his missionary journeys and took him with him.
Paul began to see Timothy as his own “beloved and faithful child in the Lord.” He was with Paul when he wrote the short letter to Philemon.
One of the important events found in this first chapter of 1 Timothy is that it is full of the flame of a torch passing from the Apostle Paul’s hand to the hand of his friend and protégé, Timothy. Timothy has received the responsibility of strengthening and correcting the church. So he gives him these instructions we read of in this passage. These were the things or situations that were very close to Paul’s heart. He wanted to pass those passions on to the young Timothy.
You might notice that Paul uses the words: grace, peace, and mercy as he addresses Timothy. He uses some, or all three of those words, more than once in his teaching to other churches.
Grace is getting what we don’t deserve - a reward.
Mercy is not getting what we do deserve – punishment.
Grace and Mercy result in Peace from God and with God.
As we go through Paul’s letters to Timothy we can see that 1 Timothy is broken down into four sections.
1. The Church and its Message.
2. The Church and its Members.
3. The Church and its Minister.
4. The Church and its Ministry.
Let’s go back to the beginning where we talked about how only the owner of the House has the right to make changes to that house, but not to another person’s house without authorization or permission.
The church is God’s house, but sometimes people try to renovate or make changes that are not authorized by God. Tradition often becomes more important than commitment to Scripture. You probably have heard the phrase “We have always done it that way.” Now, there is nothing wrong with tradition.
It can remind us of our roots and our heritage. But if we hold tradition up as more important than Scripture, we are using the wrong measuring stick.
Scripture, not tradition, must be the final word on how to conduct ourselves in The Household of God. The Word of God is clear about how God expects His church to conduct itself. The Word also leaves some room for adaptation in some areas of the life of the church.
But what we must be careful about is adapting to the ways of the world and its standards. We must always be sure that we are exercising God’s values and not those of the world.
The world’s standard seems to see everything is better if it is bigger and flashier than the next one. When we buy into that thinking, we are serving the world’s values. We are not conducting ourselves, being guided by the Holy Spirit.
Some of our larger churches turn to secular companies to learn how to “market” the church to promote church growth. And it can happen that they will grow – in numbers. But numbers are not what God is looking for in His Church. God is looking for people who love Jesus Christ and desire others to know and love Him. He is looking for people who are hungry for His Word, and eager to share it with those in their circle of friends and family – even to share it with strangers.
Jesus prayed that we would all be one like He and the Father are one and that our unity would lead to a witness to the world (John 17).
I believe that the divisions in the Christian world cause God to grieve.
A commitment to love as Christ loves will keep us from letting worldly and sinful things to separate us. We need to constantly remind ourselves who the enemy really is. That will help us to love everyone and provide us with more unity.
Things to remember:
God has given us instruction for the church – instruction to follow.
God designed the church – He knows best how it will function. God’s truth doesn’t change. Times do. Styles and methods do. But we must be careful what we accept and follow. Our roots must remain in the Scriptures.
The reality is this – there will always be a tension between Scriptural ideals and human ideals.
Remember this as well – God’s truth is always true whether the world accepts it and practices it or not. Church history, past and present, is full of those who defected from the truth. But God’s Word never fails.
Remember also – regardless of the church’s weaknesses, the church will not fail. Hear Jesus as He speaks to Peter in Matthew 16:18: “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
Today, Princeton Christian Church has the privilege of participating in the building of God’s kingdom, and the work we do in His name will succeed because of His perfect power and His faithfulness, not because of our own.
Those of us who are older need to be “Pauls” those who are younger in the faith. We need to pass on the faith and the Biblical instructions God has provided for us. Those who are younger need to be “Timothies” learning, and growing to become the next generation of “Pauls.”
And for all who claim Christ as Lord of their life, we must constantly strive to be faithful, conducting ourselves as God has directed in His House – the Church of the Living God.