The House of God
While this article is complete in itself, it would be profitable to read it in conjunction with the article In this section appearing in the last number. — Ed.
Since earthly households some times are destroyed by Satan and sin, we ought to realize that from these same evil influences there is a danger to the House of God. Our enemy is powerful and well armed
(Eph. 6:12, 2 Cor. 10:4-5). We, therefore, have a warfare to wage for the protection of the character of the assembly. Paul emphasized three phases of our responsibility in this regard (Tim. 1:18, 2:7).
First, the inward aspect of the warfare (1:18-20). This presents a challenge to our spiritual character and to our faithfulness to God’s Word. We are to hold, to maintain, faith with a “good conscience.” Faith embraces the two ideas, the doctrine of God, and the state of the soul. One should never cast off “sound doctrine,” but hold it with the inward energy of faith. Do not give up God’s truth as He teaches it, but hold it energetically in “a good conscience,” obeying it in your life. This is part of waging a “good warfare.”
Second, the upward or God-ward aspect of the warfare (2:1-4). This emphasizes the responsibility of “supplications, prayers, and intercessions.” We have a God Who is the Saviour-God, anxious that men be saved; therefore, for the development of our testimony during its continuance on earth, the extent of the prayer-life of the assembly is imperative. This ministry at the Throne of Grace is our constant recourse, for it even touches the “powers that be” in order that we may carry out our great testimony for Christ in this present age. The prayer-life of the assembly and of every believer is necessary for “a good warfare.”
Third, the outward aspect of the warfare (2:5-7) which places the emphasis; first, on our being ambassadors to the world; second, on our proclaiming the good news of the Saviour; and, third, on His power and willingness to save men, “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
Through being faithful to the Word of God, persevering in prayer, and engaging in active gospel testimony, we shall “war a good warfare,” protecting the House from Satan’s destructive influences. May God help each of us to fulfil this responsibility.
The Order of the House
“God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33), but the God of order in the assembly of the saints. We find that there is a divine order in every local gathering of the House (1 Tim. 2:2-15). “Let all things be done decently and in order” is His command ( 1 Cor. 14:40). One phase of this order has to do with the responsibility of the men, and the other with that of the women. The brethren are responsible to lead the assembly piously, affectionately, and intelligently in audible praise and prayer (1 Tim. 2:8). Every brother should always be exercised as to his spiritual state of acceptance before God, and as to whether the Spirit of God would use him in thus leading the saints to the Throne of God. It is necessary, therefore, that the heart and the life be kept clean so that prayer may be effective and result in the needed blessing from God.
Our sisters are advised to be in submission in the public gatherings of God’s people. They are not to participate in leadership (1 Tim. 2:8-15); nevertheless, they may make a blessed contribution to the testimony, not that of the outward adornment which in itself should always be governed by modesty and discretion, but that of the spiritual adornment of “good works.” They are not to assume a place in the leadership of the House; first, because of God’s order in creation (1 Cor. 11:1-16); and, second, because of the women’s guilt in the Fall. Let brother and sister each obey with gladness the Word of God, and thus maintain the beautiful order of the House.
The Care of the House
Each local expression of God’s House should have the best of care; the requirements for this are given in 1 Tim. 3:1-13. The “overseers” have the spiritual care of the House, and the “deacons,” the material care of the House.
How important this spiritual care by the shepherds is! It is to be done by men who have the heart-exercise and the spiritual qualification necessary for the work (1 Tim. 3:1-7). The Holy Spirit develops such men, and assigns to them their task (Acts 20:28). These shepherds and deacons should be recognized by all the others in the assembly (1 Thess. 5:12-13). A heart for Christ and His people is absolutely imperative (John 21:15-17). No man can do work of this type without showing this character and without first performing such works as will prove his spiritual qualifications to the church.
The deacons, or ministers, are definitely required to be spiritual men, and in their lives to be faithful to God’s Word. They must manifest their fidelity and ability before they can be entrusted with the responsibility of material things for the saints. It would appear that in this work, promotion is possible; in Acts chapters 6 and 8, Stephen and Philip were particularly honoured of God, although they had begun by humbly serving Him through waiting on tables. Every young brother should be prayerfully exercised before the Head of the House, our Lord Jesus Christ, as to this great task of caring for the members of the Divine family in order that it may please the Spirit of God to so develop his character, ability, and testimony that some day he may fulfil this responsibility toward the House of God.
The Dignity of the House
How great is the truth covered in 1 Tim. 3:14-16! Let us recognize the Divine side of this. First, it, as the House of God, must be suited to His character, “Holiness becometh Thy House forever.” It is a testimony for Him, for His worship, and for His glory. Second, it is the local miniature of that building of Christ, His Church, that new structure of which He spoke in Matthew 16, when not one stone was yet laid. “I will build,” He declared, on the foundation of Peter’s confession of Him as the Son of God. Third, it is the dwelling place of the Holy Ghost (Eph. 2:22; 1 Cor. 3:16). The occupancy of the Holy Spirit gives it character. As long as He occupies it, it is the House of God; when He is gone, only religious Babylon will remain.
The purpose of God in the testimony of the Church is that a clear witness be borne to Christ, His person and His work, and in order that this testimony be given with intelligence and power, the witness of Christ is given to us in detail, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (V. 16).
God grant that He may be thus revealed by our assemblies in the many different localities where we reside.