Please turn to 1 Timothy 3:14-16. In this great passage, Paul explains why it is significant that we ought to strive to live in accordance with God's instructions in Scripture about life and ministry in the local church. First, Paul tells us that we will never aspire to live in accordance with God's commands in His Word as a people together in the local church until we realize the glory of what God has done in the assembly of believers. Secondly, he tells us that we will never be able to live like this unless we fully realize the glory of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we can explore these two grand realities in four parts of the passage. In verses 14-15, Paul explains his purpose for writing this letter. Then, in the final words of verse 15, Paul addresses the importance of the local church. Next, in the first part of verse 16, Paul tells us the secret of the Christian life. Finally, at the end of verse 16, Paul addresses the glory of Christ.    

I. Paul’s Purpose for Writing This Letter. 

In verses 14-15, Paul says, “I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God.” At the heart of all of the practical instruction that Paul has provided so far in the first three chapters of this letter is the enormous truth that the local church is the household of God. Paul's words would have been thunderous to Jewish Christians. They would have remembered when Jacob met God at Bethel saying, “Surely this is the house of God. Surely the Lord is present in this place.” And then later when Moses first gave the commands for the tabernacle to be built in Exodus, and then executed the building of the tabernacle, the tabernacle became the focal point of God's presence with His people. Later, after the tabernacle, the temple became the place where God dwelt, God's house par excellence in all the world. However, in the New Testament, the emphasis is on the phenomenal truth that the local church is the household, the family of God. Wherever the people of God are gathered, whether it is in a beautiful sanctuary or whether it is in a parking lot, on a hillside, or in a valley; when the people of God are gathered on the Lord's Day to meet with Him, they are God's house. And that is why it is vital that we live according to God’s instructions in Scripture. So Paul says to us in these verses, “I am writing to you because I want you to understand that you are God's house.”  

II. The Importance of the Local Church.  

In verse 15, Paul says that the household of God is “the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” Paul wants us to appreciate the nature of the local church. First, he says the church is “the church of the living God.” In Hebrews chapter 12, the writer of the letter tells us that new covenant believers “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.” Paul wants us to appreciate how awesome it is to be the dwelling place of the living God of heaven and earth. Secondly, Paul says that the church is “a pillar and buttress of the truth.” In other words, Paul is saying that the local church is the place that God has appointed to be essential to the propagation and protection of the truth in the world. Paul is saying that we need one another as believers. We need to see the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of other believers to encourage us to love and minister to others. We need to be saying the Word to one another, memorizing the Word with one another, hearing the Word of God together, and serving the Word of God together. The church serves as the pillar and support of the truth, in the sense that it is God's essential vehicle for evangelism, discipleship, missions, and for the defense of the faith. In this passage, Paul is telling us that it is the local church where God meets especially with His people in the new covenant era, and it is the local church which is the essential instrument through which God propagates His truth.

III. The Secret of the Christian Life. 

In verse 16, Paul says, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness.” Then the next word in the verse is “He.” Who is the “He”? Jesus Christ! Paul is telling us that the mystery of living a godly life in this world as the people of God is Jesus. Paul is saying that all Christians know and can attest that the mystery of their new life in obedience finds its source in Jesus. He is saying that our ability to live in accordance with the instructions of God's Word is all based on and grounded in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the source of our ability to live the Christian life. Christ is the revelation of what the Christian life ought to be. Jesus is the example of godliness and what the Christian life ought to be, and only in faith-union with Him can we live the Christian life. Our godliness, our piety, our obedience, our consecrated living- it is all rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  

IV. The Glory of Jesus Christ.

At the end of verse 16, Paul says, “He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” This is a description of Jesus Christ in His incarnation, in His vindication, in the angels’ witness to Him, in His universal proclamation, in people from every tribe and tongue and nation believing on Him, and in His ascension. In six grand phrases, Paul is picturing to us our glorious Lord. He wants us to appreciate how glorious our Master is, because our temptation in the living of the Christian life is to look at our circumstances and say, “Lord, this is too hard for me, I can't live the Christian life. This situation, Lord, that You have put me in is more than I can handle.” However, Paul is reminding us that Jesus, the one who is the mystery of godliness and the one to whom you have been united by faith, is so much greater than any circumstance or habit of sin that you face right now. Refuse to allow the circumstances of life to be the final determining factor in how you will respond. But in faith, trust in Jesus Christ. May God teach our hearts by His Word and help us to live out His Word in our lives and ministry to others.