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The Pillar and Buttress of the Truth

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1 Tim 3:15

1 Timothy 3:15 ESV
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.
1 Timothy 3:15 NA28
15 ἐὰν δὲ βραδύνω, ἵνα εἰδῇς πῶς δεῖ ἐν οἴκῳ θεοῦ ἀναστρέφεσθαι, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐκκλησία θεοῦ ζῶντος, στῦλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας.
The Roman Catholic interpretation of this verse. Teaching that the Church of Rome was the only foundation of truth. Conferring the authority of the Apostles to her Popes to determine what truth was and was not.
Zealous protestants in their eagerness to refute the Roman Catholic interpretation came to some rather far fetched interpretations of their own. Saying that Paul is referring to Timothy as the Pillar and ground of truth, not the Church.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. Don’t let your zeal for exposing error lead you into error yourself!
Truth is the foundation of the Church - Ephesians 2:19-20
Ephesians 2:19–20 ESV
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
Paul does refer to James and Peter in Galatians 2:9 as being pillars, but here make no mistake he is speaking of the church.
Paul is eager to encourage Timothy in this letter to hold fast to the truth and to rebuke and silence false teachers in their church at Ephesus.
What Paul says of the church is that it is the pillar and buttress of the truth. It’s a definition, not a mere suggestion of what this church might be, but of what all true churches are.
DEFINITION - M-Webster: a statement expressing the essential nature of something
So we are learning today something of what it means to be a member of the Ekklesia of God.
There is also no definite article in the Greek before ‘pillar’ so technically it’s a pillar and buttress of the truth.
And many translations render the Greek word ἑδραίωμα as foundation or ground but it is probably better translated as support, buttress or bulwark.
First Timothy Verse 15

Again there is no clear evidence that the rare word ἑδραίωμα ever means ‘ground’ = “foundation.” It is rather, in accordance with the almost universal Latin rendering firmamentum, a “stay” or “bulwark.”

Thus ἑδραίωμα (“mainstay”) is akin to a physical structure that protects from external forces or pressure; much like a sea wall protects from battering waves.

And so the true Church of Christ is a pillar and a support, a pillar and support of what? Of the truth.
Not of popular opinion, or prevailing cultural preferences.
Nor of the individual members of the church, to provide them a platform.
But of The Truth. To belong to the Church is to believe that there is such a thing as objective truth and that it is knowable. We are not called to be a pillar and support of ‘a truth’, or ‘our own truth’ but of ‘the truth.’
What is The Truth then? It’s God’s truth. He is the only arbiter of truth. Only He can speak absolutely truthfully about everything, because only He is untainted by sin. His word is truth. Psalm 119:160
The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever. -NLT
And so a Church is nothing unless it is a pillar and support of God’s truth.
“Paul will not acknowledge The Church except where God’s truth is exalted and plain.”
A church that claims that the scriptures are not the word of God, or that they are out of date, or need to be reimagined for today is not actually a Christian church at all, but rather a synagogue of satan.
The downgrade controversy - Spurgeon.
So what does it mean for the church and indeed this church to be a pillar of the truth? Well think of the Acropolis in Athens, or the ancient temple of Artemis which once stood in Ephesus. The pillars all held up the roof for all to see. And on the temple of artemis there was an inscription all the way around the roof of the building held up for all to see.
The Church therefore is to hold up God’s truth for all the world to see. We’re not the tarpaulin of truth, or the screen of truth, but the pillar of truth. We’re not just to know the truth, but we’re to proclaim the truth to the world.
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. - MATT 5:15 - NLT
Acts 20:27 ESV
27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.
Mark 16:15 ESV
15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
We must love and proclaim the doctrines of grace - God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness and inability to save himself, God’s love and grace for us in sending Christ to die a perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind and that all who would be saved must repent and believe in Him.
The church has two functions in regards to truth; one is offensive and the other defensive. We are to herald the truth of God to the world on one hand as a pillar, but on the other we are to act as a bulwark to preserve and defend truth from external forces.
Jude 3–4 ESV
3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
As a mainstay of truth we are to ‘contend for truth’. This means we are to assume that there will be unbiblical even heretical teachings circulating around which may sound plausible but are actually destructive, damning teachings.
2 Peter 2:1 ESV
1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
One of the most dangerous things in the church today is that many pastors don’t ever mention false teaching. They don’t call it out at all, it’s like it doesn’t exist. This is actually revealing. If they’re not refuting error then they’re not contending for truth either.
Theology matters. Doctrine divides, yes, but better divided by truth than united in error.
Pelagian/Semi-Pelagian unbiblical teaching exposed.
How do we remain a mainstay of truth?
A love of God’s word, read it regularly
Listen to verse by verse exposition of the scriptures, not just feelgood messages.
Get familiar with the great creeds and confessions of faith.
Listen to good discernment ministries.
Know your false teachers.
Pray the Lord would unite us in His truth.
What happens when a Church ceases to be a pillar and mainstay of the truth of God? Ruin comes. If you visit Ephesus today you won’t see a roof on that temple anymore, the pillars failed and the roof fell in and destroyed the whole structure. A church stands or falls on it’s handling of God’s truth.
It’s no use just having a clear understanding of the truth, in dry liturgy and doctrine but never proclaiming those truths. The church will eventually die off.
Equally a church that fails to be a buttress and protect the truth from external pressure will eventually collapse in itself. It may take years, even decades but eventually that church will cave in.
“When the church ceases to be the pillar and ground of truth we may and ought to forsake her; for our regard to truth should be greater than our regard to the church; we are no longer obliged to continue in the church than she continues to be the pillar and ground of truth.” - Matt Henry.
There are churches that were once great that have utterly disappeared, the Ephesian church being one of them.
The last thing we read of the Ephesian church in scripture is actually the words of Jesus in the book of Revelation - Rev 2:1-8
Revelation 2:1–7 ESV
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
Don’t seperate love of God from love of His truth. Jesus complimented the Ephesian Church for their discernment, in testing self proclaimed apostles and finding them to be false, and in hating the false teachings of the Nicolaitians.
We’re not just to love truth as the church, but we are to hate error, not tolerate it, not honour false teachers but test and expose them.
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. LIV The Church of God and the Truth of God (No. 3,093)

Remember that our Bible is a blood-stained book; the blood of martyrs is on the Bible, the blood of translators and confessors. The pool of holy baptism, in which many of you have been baptized, is a blood-stained pool: full many have had to die for the vindication of that baptism which is “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” The doctrines which we preach to you are doctrines that have been baptized in blood,—swords have been drawn to slay the confessors of them; and there is not a truth which his not been sealed by them at the stake, or the block, or far away on the lofty mountains, where they have been slain by hundreds. It is but a little duty we have to discharge compared with theirs

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