Page 6 - October 2017 - Truth & Tidings
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t is one of the basic premises of this   This is a tremendous and essential fact.
            series of articles that the theme of truth   If we lose sight of what the assembly is for,
        Iis of central to the Pastoral Epistles.   what it has been designed by God to do, we
        There is little room to question this; the   are likely to find ourselves moving away
        language of truth crowds the pages of   from the Scriptural pattern of church truth.
        these epistles. However, truth is not the   Even as we grasp this fact, we are led inevi-
        only focus of these epistles. They are also   tably to ask what is the truth that rests on
        deeply concerned with church life and   this pillar. Paul anticipates and answers the
        order. Their pages are full of instructions   question, not by outlining all of the truth,
        for elders, deacons, and teachers. Indeed,   which would take a whole Bible of mate-
        if our Bibles did not contain the Pastoral   rial, but by giving us “the great essential
        Epistles we would have a more limited pic-  lineaments of the truth … the fundamental
        ture of church order than we now possess.  truth set forth in the person of Christ, and
          It is not a coincidence that these two   graven, not only on the hearts of Chris-
        areas of teaching come together. Truth and   tians as such, but on the assembly for its
        testimony are closely linked and mutually   public confession, its habitual praise, and
        dependent. Without truth there would   its practice every day” (William Kelly). A
        be nothing to which to bear testimony.   careful consideration of verse 16 will help
        Without testimony, truth would never be   us to understand a number of important
        known. If it is true, as we have seen, that   principles about what truth is.
        these epistles resonate with the wonderful   The verse begins with a note of affirma-
        truth that God has spoken, they echo too   tion: “without controversy.” There is no
        with urgent reminders that it is the “church   scope for dissent here, and the apostle is
        of God,” the local assembly, which God has   not offering a proposition to be debated.
        sovereignly chosen as the means through   The revelation of divine truth calls for
        which truth is preserved and propagated   unanimous assent. In our world, this can
        in a dark world.                     hardly be overemphasized. We live in an
          Perhaps nowhere in the pastoral epistles   age of a la carte Christianity. Our post-
        is this relationship so clearly stated as in 1   modern society has abandoned the idea
        Timothy 3:15 where it provides us with a   of objective truth in favor of a selective
        great statement of what a local church is   relativism. So religion becomes nothing
        and what it is for: “But if I tarry long, that   more than a pick-and-mix. We take the bits
        thou mayest know how thou oughtest to   that we like, the comfortable and comfort-
        behave thyself in the house of God, which   ing concepts and ceremonies that seem to
        is the church of the living God, the pillar   make life easier. The harder truths that cut
        and ground of the truth.” The closing   across our own preferences and inclina-
        clause of the verse intimately links the   tions we leave behind, dismissing the plain
        local church with the truth. Its primary   teaching of the Word of God with phrases
        purpose is to be “the pillar and ground of   such as, “I don’t see it that way.” We can-
        the truth” – to preserve and present the   not approach truth like this. God’s Word
        truth to a watching world.           demands our assent and our submission;

        294 TRUTH kTidings   October  2017
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