Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 24, 2020

“the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. By common confession”

Today’s devotion comes from 1 Timothy 3:14-16.

“I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long;  but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.  By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:

He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:14-16.

————-

Some choose which church to attend by the social programs of the church:  their children’s program, their youth program, their praise band, their social outreach programs etc.

But, today’s Scripture leads us to consider the importance of how the church is a pillar and support of the truth.  What common confession does the church make?

More generally, what importance does the church place on its confessions a/k/a creeds?

What importance does the church place on its doctrine a/k/a teachings?  

We live in a day and age where more and more churches are hiding or minimizing their church confessions a/k/a creeds.  They even hide their denomination by substituting words in their name like “Reformed” or “Presbyterian” with words like “Family” or “Fellowship”.  When you check out their web site, you really have to dig to find, if it is there at all, the church’s confessions a/k/a creeds or to find its basic beliefs.  Rather, you find beautiful photos and large words on the Home Page like:  “We are a loving church.  You will feel welcome here.”

Rev. Ronald Hanko, in his article “A Plea for Creeds”, states the importance of doctrine and creeds.  His article in full can be read at the following link –

http://www.prca.org/articles/plea_for_creeds.html

Here is a brief quote from the article explaining what happens when a denomination or church dismisses or minimizes the importance of doctrine:  ” …  by cutting herself off from the church of past, the church today says in effect that every generation must start all over in its searching of the Scriptures and pursuit of the truth.  Thus she sets herself an impossible task – a task that is either set aside as too great so that there is little knowledge of the truth in the church, or which leaves her no time for other things.”

‘This is well-stated by the Presbyterian author, G.I. Williamson:

“The Bible contains a great wealth of information.  It isn’t easy to master it all – in fact, no one has ever mastered it completely.  It would therefore be foolish for us to try to do it on our own, starting from scratch.  We would be ignoring all the study of the Word of God that other people have done down through the centuries.  That is exactly why we have creeds.  They are the product of many centuries of Bible study by a great company of believers.  They are a kind of spiritual “road map” of the teaching of the Bible, already worked out and proved by others before us.  

He adds:

And right here we see one of the most important things about a creed that is true to the Bible – it remains true down through the ages.  It does not need to be changed again and again, with each generation, because it deals with things that are unchanging.  Thus, an accurate creed binds the generations together.  It reminds us that the church of Jesus Christ is not confined to one age, just as it is not confined to any one place.  In other words, there is a unity in what Christians have believed, right down through the ages.  Just think of it:  when we confess our faith together . . . we join with all those believers who have gone before us.  Does not this demonstrate that there is indeed just one Lord and one true faith?  (Emphasis by bold italic font by Bill)” 

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”  Ephesians 4:4-5.

More generally, Scripture emphasizes the importance of truth.

“‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”  Matthew 15:9 and Mark 7:7.

“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth;  for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  John 4:23-24.

Not any kind of worship will suffice, but “worship in spirit and truth”.

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.  For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” Romans 10:1-3.

Not any kind of zeal will suffice, but zeal “in accordance with knowledge”, or in other words, in accordance with truth.

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13.

Not any kind of faith will suffice, but “faith in the truth”.

There are those who “did not receive the love of truth so as to be saved”.  2 Thessalonians 2: 10.

Not any kind of love will suffice, but “the love of truth”.

“…  
the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.  By common confession …”  Verses 15-16.  


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