14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
Paul puts his cards on the table. He shows his hand. He tells Timothy (and the church in Ephesus . . . and us) why he is writing the letter.
He writes this so that God’s people will know how to behave. God’s people – the church – execute their lives on a different playing field. The church operates out of a different realm. Our beliefs drive our actions. Doctrine dictates deeds.
But Paul takes it farther than that. He goes deep. He doesn’t just say that the church should behave differently. He says why. It’s why I love the local church.
#2. The local church is where God dwells – “church of the living God.”
#3. The local church promotes and protects the Gospel – “pillar and buttress of the truth.”
Last week we looked closer at the meaning of “household of God.” Today let’s dissect a bit Paul’s statement that the church is the “church of the living God.”
God dwells with His people. Does He meet with people, individually? Sure He does. Of course. But there is a special manifestation of HIs presence when His people are together. Something happens – something divine, something spiritual, something supernatural – when God’s people meet together to worship Him, exhort one another, and learn more about Him.
Church people are different not because they are better than others.
Church people are different not because they know more, or have more “good deeds” on their resume.
No, no. Church people are different because God is among them.
Before God appeared in Exodus 3, the ground where Moses stood was just grass and dirt and sand. But when God appeared, it became Holy Ground. The dirt wasn’t special. God’s presence changed the landscape (no pun intended).
When God’s people meet together – when God’s people identify themselves as part of a local church – they are setting themselves apart as a people where the living God dwells.
Why does Paul write the letter? So church people will know how to behave. Why should we know how to behave? Because we claim God dwells among us. That changes things.
Do you believe this? Seriously – do you?
If a local church is a place where God – the living God Himself – dwells, then how does that adjust your schedule?
Do you want to be where God is?
Do you really?
How does your participation reveal that?
God can meet you in a deer stand. I believe that. He can meet with you on your back porch. He can meet with you at the lake. He can even, dare I say it, meet with you while you are watching television at home.
But we are promised a special manifestation of His presence when His church gathers. The church – and only the church – is the “church of the living God.” I love the local church!!
How is your life currently demonstrating you want more of Him?