Thursday, July 9, 2015

Why should you care about how you live? A word to everyone in the church at large

1 Timothy 3:14-15 "I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, 15 so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth."

Paul's concern in 1 Timothy 3 is addressed to three main groups in the church: the pastor, deacons and church body. The conduct of the local church centers around the question posed earlier: "how then shall we live?" Thus far in considering pastors and deacons, we have discovered four key priorities that define how we ought to live as a local church:

1. Godly character
2. Godly home lives
3. Godly testimonies
4. Godly service

All of these areas work together to urge everyone in the church to be examples of Jesus Christ's life changing power in the church and in the world. It is clear from Paul's statements in 1 Timothy 3 and its larger context what "ought" to be done. We know the importance of answering the question: "how then shall we live?" But why should we care? 1 Timothy 3:14-16 aid us in understanding the "why" of this series of posts. Let's briefly consider two life applications as to why you and I should care how we live as Christians and churches in the 21st century.

1. The Living out of the Gospel is needed. 1 Timothy 3:14-15
Paul was concerned whether or not he would be able to get to Timothy personally and directly. The authority of 1 Timothy as scripture serves to bring God's very words to this young pastor and the growing Ephesian church which he pastored. Ephesus was a pagan city that needed a church modeling the Gospel. Jesus early on taught the importance of living out the reality of discipleship in John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love for God and one another ought to be at the center of church life. There is another important emphasis too that serves in modeling the Gospel before a watching world - namely holiness. 1 Peter 2:9-12  "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation." Unless we as churches get things in order as pastors, Deacons and church members, the world will only be convinced that the church has a lot to say but not a whole of of action to back it up. As Josh McDowell in his latest book: "The God-Breathed Bible" notes, the Bible is about three main things: right believing, right behavior and relationships with God and each other. Strong church members who prize love and holiness will only do so as it is modeled by both the pastor and Deacons. 

2. The Living Gospel is needed. 1 Timothy 3:16
This final verse of 1 Timothy 3 spells out en example of the living Gospel. Jesus of course is central to the Gospel as the incarnate virgin-born Son of God. His ascension into Heaven is connected to His resurrection from the dead, which in turn was proceeded by His substitutionary death. The last half of 1 Timothy 3:16 deals with how Christians are to proclaim these truths to a lost and dying world. The "Mystery of godliness" in 1 Timothy 3:15-16 is set over against the "mystery of iniquity" that marks our day and age in 1 Timothy 4:1. Unless we proclaiming the living God faithfully, doctrines of demons will not only affect people outside the church but even on the inside of the church. It is important how we live and it is important to know what we live by - the Gospel.  

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