The House of God
This is the third article in a series that our brother has given us on the First Epistle to Timothy; it should therefore be read in conjunction with his earlier papers. — Ed.
The Holy Spirit in the House
It is our responsibility to permit the Spirit of God to assert and maintain His rights in the assembly of the saints. There never has been a period of divine history in which the Holy Spirit has not shared a part. In 1 Tim. 4:1-5 we see His authority in the House of God. Our age, more than any other, is the age of the Holy Spirit; from Pentecost to the rapture of the Church to glory, He is the Vicar of Christ on earth. The outstanding truth of the Book of the Acts is that during the early years of Church history, He was present to do His work. The Epistles constantly unfold the wonders of His Person and work in both corporate and individual testimony on earth. It is essential to the welfare of the House that the members acknowledge His Person in obedience to His sovereign authority on earth. A study of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit from God’s Word is a great help to every young Christian.
Conduct in the House
In this Epistle the Lord had some personal advice for Timothy (1 Tim. 4:6-16) relative to his attitude and behaviour in the House of God. These words to Timothy should encourage every young believer to be an example among the saints, in character and conduct. A personal example of excellence before all fellow-believers should be the aim of everyone in the assembly, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” In so doing, each will find that the exhortation that follows will be fulfilled in his testimony (5:1-2). These words instruct young believers how to conduct themselves in relation to all others in the assembly, how to consider the aged brethren as fathers, the aged sisters as mothers, the young men as brothers, and the young women as sisters, with all purity. Young Christian, look upon all in the assembly in this manner and you will be greatly honoured by the Lord.
Widows in the House
Paul in like manner deals with the problem of the support of widows in the Church. He sets forth the qualifications of those widows who are fully worthy of congregational support (1 Tim. 5:3-16). It should be realized that the relatives of any widow must assume this responsibility in order that the assembly be not charged (5:48 and 16). If this cannot be done, certain requirements are made plain, a limit to the age is stated and a standard of character and testimony is set for all widows who are to be supported. Young widows are to be refused and encouraged rather to marry, to establish a home, and to guide their children. In this way God graciously entrusts worthy widows and their material needs to the care of His Household.
Discipline in the House
Paul, in 1 Tim. 5:17-25, reveals the necessity of discipline in the assembly. This responsibility of the elders has frequently been neglected, not withstanding, every child of God should realize that he is subject to discipline. The flesh is still present in every child of God (Gal. 5:3-25. 1 Cor. 5:12- 13). The believer also is in the world that is away from God, where, if not protected, he can be defiled. Satan is always ready to use the world and the flesh to lead the child of God astray. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Peter, and many others, all prove that none are exempt from failure.
Paul exhorts us to honour worthy overseers “who labour in the Word and doctrine.” Thank God for such! All must respect and honour them, being careful not to receive any accusation against them unless with definite proof before “two or three witnesses.” Flagrant sin in the assembly is to be rebuked (5:20). Sin manifested and permitted among the people of God is a great tragedy, for if not corrected it may result in divine judgment.
This is a subject for careful study. Godliness among the believers must be exemplified; worldliness must be shunned. If a church of God is going on happily in the things of Christ, engaging in the work of the Lord, and ministering the one to the other in love, sin will not likely lift its ugly head. Young believer, seek to be “an example of the believers,” proving that you know how to behave yourself in the House of God.
Perils in the House
The advice of the Apostle here teaches us that we must understand and fulfil our responsibility at our daily work (6:1-2). Do not forget that when at work or any place else you represent God’s assembly (6:3-5). The proper attitude of heart to the material things of life is also mentioned (6:6-8).
How easily we fail in this! Learn then the lesson that, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” If you do, the dangers of riches will not ensnare you (6:9-10). Many Christians have put the desire to be rich before the desire to please God, and this has resulted in their sorrow and eternal loss. Young believer, set your heart on eternal things, “The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). If God is pleased to prosper you materially, learn how to honour Him with your substance (1 Tim. 6:17-19). We all should learn the joy of giving to the Lord whether we are prosperous or otherwise, for it is a blessing that will ultimately mean an eternal reward in heaven.
Admonitions in the House
The balance of the Epistle is filled with personal admonitions to Timothy which every young believer in the House of God can well lay to his heart. “Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life” (6:11-12). What a blessed occupation to be in!
“Run the straight race through God’s good grace,
Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face;
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the path and Christ the prize.”
Thus Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is written for our encouragement and intelligent obedience; we might well take it to ourselves, “That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the House of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
May the Holy Spirit help us all to wisely and faithfully fulfil these tremendous but blessed responsibilities in our own assembly of saints in order that our blessed Lord Jesus Christ be glorified.
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“Put ye on the Lord Christ.” It is immensely important to have the truth of the Lordship of Christ deeply engraved on the heart. It is the only regulator of the course and conduct. It settles a thousand questions. If the heart be really subject to the authority of Christ, it is in readiness for anything and everything to which He calls us, be it to stand still or go forward, to do little or much, to be active or passive.—C. H. M.