Live as God’s Household

Whom do you count as your family? In 1 Timothy 3:14–15 Paul describes you as the family, the household of God.

Live as God’s household. God has built his house for you. Ultimately, God builds his house for us, rather than us building for him. As the Lord told David, it is not we who build his house, but he makes us his household. The church is build on the redemptive work of Christ, on the events of his humiliation and exaltation described in v. 16. The household of God is wonderful, not in itself, but because of its wonderful Savior. Paul, as always, points you to Christ. In Christ, particularly in his humiliation and exaltation, you understand and experience the mystery of godliness. Paul likely quotes an old hymn, the quote consisting of three pairs of contrasting statements: revealed in the flesh, preached among the nations, believed on in the world; justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, taken up in glory. “The eradication of death in his [Christ’s] resurrection is nothing less than the removal of the verdict of condemnation and the effective affirmation of his (adamic) righteousness.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., The Centrality of the Resurrection: A Study in Paul’s Soteriology, p. 122). You are baptized into the triune God. You are united to Christ in his death and resurrection. That is how God makes you his household.

Live as God’s household with the help of church officers. Paul was coming to Ephesus–but might be delayed. This epistle helps to prepare the church for the post-apostolic period, the time when the apostles would no longer be present. Notice the emphasis on office in 1 Timothy 2 and 3, and on the inscripturated Word of God, 2 Timothy 3:16,17. “The purpose of [Timothy and Titus’] appearance and of the epistles addressed to them is precisely to bring the church and the office coming to development in it to greater independence, in view of Paul’s absence and approaching demise and their own impending departure.” (Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, p. 476). Certainly you need to believe in your heart. But being God’s household involves being connected with the rest of the body. It involves being served by and led by officers in the church. There is a real connectedness to the church of the loving God.

Be what you are – the church of the living God. The living God has made you his. David marveled that God was gracious enough to build his house, his family (a promise that looked forward to the coming of the One who was manifest in the flesh and vindicated by the Spirit–1 Timothy 3:16). Solomon recognized that the house he built could not contain the Lord. The New Testament describes the temple of God, not as an ornate building of stone, and cedar, overlaid with gold, but as a building made of living stones. The living God, the Creator of the universe, the Redeemer of his people, is pleased to call you his church, his temple, his people, his family. Don’t neglect the corporate aspect of the church. It is not just an amalgamation of individual believers. Do you want to know how important and special the church is? It is the dwelling made by the living God and for him to dwell in! “[N]ot only has [God] received us to be his children by the grace of adoption, but he also dwelleth in the midst of us.” (John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Timothy, at 3:15).

Live as the pillar and bulwark of the truth. We might think that Paul has it backwards. Is not the church built on the truth? It is, and Paul does not deny that. Yet, in a real sense, the pillar and foundation (or bulwark) of the truth is the church. It was to the church that the ascended Lord gave the Great Commission. It is to that church that he entrusted the task of teaching the nations. Be on your guard against false teaching and compromise creeping into the church. But also be on guard against sins of complacency, of simply living as though you were not God’s household. Grow in learning the truth. Make use of the ordinary means grace.

Beloved congregation of Jesus Christ, recognize who and what you are – not because you are so worthy in yourselves, but because of what Christ has done in your place. Recognize that you are the church of the living God. And live this week as the pillar and bulwark of the truth.