«But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth» (l Timothy 3:15).
PAUL REPRESENTS the role of the church with four illustrations:
The home. In Paul’s day churches met in homes (Rom. 16:5, I Cor. 16:19, Col. 4:15, Phil. 2). Many houses, as well as many lives, were the temples where God lived.
Wherever these believers worshipped the living God, it became «the house of God.» Families lived in the house; the family of God lives in the house of God. Our family provides us with sustenance. The church grows not by addition but by being nurtured from the Word. After one of his great naval conquests, Horatio Nelson asserted that such a victory was due to his ability to command «a band of brothers» (William Barclay). The house, the family of God, makes us all brethren.
The assembly (1 Cor. 11:17-28, 14:28—35). In Paul’s day, this word was used in Athens to refer to the convening of all citizens. The church is like an assembly, all those who are outside are called and summoned, those who respond, and gather are the assembly, the church of God. There are many assemblies, but the church is the assembly of the living God.
The column. The great temple of Diana had 127 columns. They were all made of marble, adorned with jewels, and coated with gold. Just as a column is in plain sight, is admired for its strength, and holds up the building, the truth must be in sight, be contemplated, be admired, and must support the church building. The columns joined the floor with the ceiling, the column of truth joins heaven and earth.
The bulwark. It is a base, a support, and a foundation. The people, the church, their behavior, and their way of life defend the truth. As a bulwark, the church protects the truth and guards it, so that the truth is not distorted. It upholds the truth.
Ellen G. White clearly admonishes:
«The church of Christ is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men.Its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. And the obligation rests upon all Christians. Everyone, to the extent of his talent and opportunity, is to fulfill the Savior’s commission. The love of Christ, revealed to us, makes us debtors to all who know Him not. God has given us light, not for ourselves alone, but to shed upon them» (Steps to Christ, p. 81).