These Truths We Proclaim
These Truths We Proclaim (1 Timothy 3:15-16)
The church is the "pillar and foundation of the truth." In this world by our proclamation we display the truth as if elevated on a pillar, and we support the truth as if a foundation. There are certain items of timeless truth that the church both displays and supports. The truth does not rest on the church. The church rests on that truth. But the continued presentation of the truth in the world depends on the faithfulness of the church as a "pillar and foundation" of that truth. Each local congregation has that obligation as well as the entire church.
Paul gave to Timothy a simple hymn or spiritual song which expressed that truth in six statements. The hymn contains the confessedly great and wondrous revelation of Jesus Christ. That revelation begins in heaven, descends to earth, and returns in glory to heaven. Our congregation through its proclamation must hold up and support these truths in this generation.
We Hold Up the Incarnation of God in Christ
We hold up His manifestation in the flesh: "He appeared in a body." In Christ the invisible God appeared in our very form. He appeared "in fashion as man" (Phil. 2:8, KJV). "The word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). He took part in our own flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14). This implies His preexistence. The fact that He "was manifested" clearly states that Jesus Christ existed before His birth in Bethlehem. It also states His virgin birth. Along with the Gospels Paul understood the virginal conception and birth of Christ (Rom. 1:3; Gal. 4:4). But the statement includes still more. The entire life of Christ was a manifestation of the invisible God. Every attribute of Jehovah in the Old Testament appears visible in the ministry of Jesus.
We hold up His vindication by the Spirit: "He was indicated by the Spirit." The end of His earthly manifestation was a shameful public death on a stick of wood. He died a criminal's death that was a ghastly aggregate of horrors. The power of God intervened to vindicate the claims of Jesus Christ. He claimed to be the Son of God in His Person and to be sinless in His performance. In a preliminary way God vindicated Him by His baptism and transfiguration. But in the final approval God vindicated Him by the resurrection (Rom. 1:4).
In this place our congregation must hold these truths up as if on a tall pillar and support them as if a strong foundation.
We Hold Up the Proclamation of God in Christ
The apostle emphasizes the widest possible proclamation of Christ in the next two statements. Jesus Christ revealed God to the two greatest extremes of rational creation. He revealed God to those closest to God, the angels. He also revealed God to those furthest from God, the Gentile nations.
He is the object of angelic observation. "He . . . was seen by angels." We should remember that before the coming of Jesus Christ, God Himself was invisible to angels. These superhuman intelligences took the deepest interest in everything about Jesus' career. They carefully marked His birth, temptation, resurrection, and ascension. But more than that, the coming of the Christ taught the angels things they could never have known about God in any other way. The angels learned truths about the multifaceted wisdom of God they would have known no other way (Eph. 3:10). With breathless interest the angels looked at how Christ fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (1 Pet. 1:12).
He is the subject of universal proclamation: "He . . . was preached among the nations." While the angels of heaven longed to observe Him, His followers on earth proclaimed Him to the entire world. He was made known by direct vision to the angels and by preaching to the nations. This bespeaks the dignity of the church's preaching task. We are proclaiming what intrigues heaven itself.
Our congregation has the responsibility to proclaim in this generation and city the Truth. We are to hold it up like a mighty pillar and buttress it like a great foundation.
We Hold Up the Consummation for Christ
We hold up His reception in the earth: "He . . . was believed on in the world." Jesus Christ has not been believed by the entire world, but He is believed on by many in the world. From north, south, east, and west a worldwide church has accepted the truths of the Lord Jesus. It should never cease to amaze us that the Galilean's message now circles the planet, that what began with a dozen followers now claims millions who call Him Lord.
We hold up His glorification in heaven: "He . . . was taken up in glory." The glorious and glorified Jesus has been gloriously lifted up to heaven itself. At the end of His earthly manifestation He was elevated to another world. He had a glorious reception on His return. He now sits in a glorious position at the right hand of the Father. He now has a glorious occupation as our Intercessor and Advocate. He is still the unseen support of those who believe in Him here in the world below.
Thus this confession begins and ends in the heavenly world. He was there before His manifestation and He is there now. Travis Avenue Baptist Church in this city may do many good things. But the essential things are to hold up and protect these six truths about our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. These are the only truths that save, forgive, and give eternal life. These are the only truths for living with confidence now and forever.