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When You Live Under God's Roof (I Timothy 3:14, 15)

June 11, 2017 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: The Essentials: One Body

Topic: One Body: You Shall Be My People Passage: 1 Timothy 3:14–3:15

 

When You Live Under God's Roof

I Timothy 3:14, 15

(One Body: You Shall Be My People)

June 11th, 2017

 

 

 

I. Of Roofs and Rules

 

When I think of teenagers and parts of the house, I usually think of either doors or bathrooms. Teenagers love to lock their door, don't they? And on occasion, some teenagers have been known to slam their door. But let's not forget bathrooms. Some teenagers hit an age where getting ready in the bathroom becomes a fairly involved and lengthy process. It's not too bad at my house, but I am thankful we have more than one bathroom...just in case.

 

Doors and bathrooms.

 

But when it comes to kids and teenagers, one of the most often quoted parts of the house is the roof. Do you see where I'm going with this? Parents are often driven by a questioning teen to exclaim, “As long as you are living under this roof, you're going to follow my rules.” Ever said something like that? Ever been on the receiving end of that kind of statement?

 

When we think of our roof, we don't think about rules. And when we think about family rules, we don't think about our roof. But, nevertheless, they come together in that popular expression.

 

This morning I want us to turn over to I Timothy 3, a two-thousand year old set of words in which we will find this same roof/rules dynamic.

 

 

II. The Passage: "How One Ought to Behave" (3:14, 15)

 

As we dig into another one of the passages that informs the second of our Four Essentials, One Body, listen for what Paul tells us about the Church and belonging to the Church. He writes this to Timothy, who is helping to shepherd the church in Ephesus. He tells him...

 

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, [15] if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.

 

Now at first, this passage may sound fairly mundane; just some personal note about Timothy's responsibilities in Ephesus. But these verses are anything but mundane. And there are important and wonderful things here for us. Just as the Spirit of God inspired Paul as he wrote these words to Timothy, so too does the Holy Spirit want to use these words this morning...to equip you...to grow you...to grow us as a church.

 

How? I see three things in these verses, three things into which we should dig deeper.

 

1. Concerning Rules (v. 15a)

 

First, Paul has written to Timothy concerning rules. We see that in the first half of verse 15. Look again at what he said. His overall desire and design for this letter to Timothy was to inform Timothy, and through Timothy, to inform the church regarding “how one ought to behave in the household of God”. Do you see that?

 

Paul is saying, “By the grace of God and the work of Christ, we now live under God's roof. Therefore it is important that we understand God's family rules.” To be clear, these are not just rules about when we gather on Sunday mornings. These are 'oughts' for our life together as His people. Every household has rules, doesn't it. Some have less, some have more, but every household has rules; ways things should be done; ways people should be treated; responsibilities; systems.

 

Think for a minute about a rule in your household, OR, a rule you had growing up. Did you think of one? Okay, think about this: Is it a really important rule, or more of a preference? Is it a 'don't play with matches on your bed' kind of rule or a 'put the toilet seat down' kind of rule? How important is that rule? If it is, why is it important?

 

Well, when it comes to God's household, every rule is important. God did not communicate preferences through Paul. He communicated important instructions for how we live together as God's household. And they're important for the same reason I'm guessing your household rules are important: they are meant to protect us and help us flourish as a family.

 

What are the 'oughts' when it comes to your behavior and my behavior in the family of God? What does Paul actually say in this letter? Well, there are many 'oughts'. Let me just give you a few from the previous chapter. Look back at chapter 2.

 

First we see in 2:1...that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. The family of God ought to be a family that prays for all kinds of people, including civic leaders, as we see in verse 2.

 

Second, Paul says in 2:8-10, I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; [that's this and not this (with hands)] [9] likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, [10] but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

 

What does that tell us? That men in the church ought to be known, not as brawlers, but as prayer warriors; that women ought to stand out, not because of their dress or hair, but because of their mercy and zeal..

 

Finally, in verse 12, Paul writes, I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. Paul makes it clear there are also 'oughts' when it comes to leadership in the church, in the household of God.

 

The elders of the church were those who taught and exercised authority. That's clear because Paul immediately moves into the qualifications for elders in chapter 3. But as he indicates here in 2:12, that office is open only to qualified men in the church.

Just as men are called to be leaders in their homes, so also are men called to lead in the household of God. I Timothy 3:4, 5 make that same exact connection.

 

To be clear, “quiet” here in reference to women is not a blanket rule. I Corinthians 11 describes women praying and prophesying in the church. So “quiet” here means humbly respecting those instructions, those restrictions about elder leadership. Does this mean women are not given gifts of leadership? No. Does this mean women are not gifted as teachers? No. It simply means those gifts are to be used in other areas.

 

Now clearly there is a lot we could talk about regarding women and leadership in the church. There are many questions we might raise, especially in light of the common outlook of our culture. But I simply want to give you some examples of 'oughts' in the church; family rules; ways that God calls us to conduct ourselves as His children, as His people. Of course the whole NT is filled with specific instructions about how we treat one another, about our life together.

 

And in many cases, these 'oughts' are not natural to us or easy or appealing to everyone. They require a new perspective and godly discipline. But they are the Father's rules. And if they are, they must be designed to protect us and help us flourish as His people.

 

 

2. Concerning Reverence (v. 15b)

 

But notice where Paul goes in verse 15. He wants Timothy to know how one ought to behave in God's household, but he goes on to clarify that phrase. What is God's household? It is “the church of the living God”.

 

Now, I would think that Timothy would understand what Paul means by “the household of God”. So why does Paul feel the need to expand on that? Well, notice he doesn't simply say, “the church”, but “the church of the living God”. I believe Paul has included that phrase because what he writes concerning rules should be viewed in light of reverence.

 

Often when that title “the living God” is used in the Bible, it is meant to affirm that not only is God distinct from the dead idols of the nations, but He is a God who is involved and active among His people. He dwells in the midst of His people. And that calls us to stand in awe of Him; to revere Him.

 

God is the Father of this household. Amen? But He is not deadbeat dad. He is not a disinterested or distracted dad. He is not a pushover. He is vitally involved and deeply cares about Way of Grace Church. Do you believe that? If our heavenly Father is the living God, then we can be sure He is at work to protect us and help us flourish. And one of the key ways He does that is by the 'oughts', by the commands He and his Son have given us.

 

How should all of that affect you? It should sober you, right? It should remind you and me that this isn't a game. This isn't about my personal preferences. This isn't about being involved with a church family in a way that works with your schedule, your likes and dislikes, with your comfort level. We should see to know what God expects of us as children in His household, and we should seek to live by those expectations. Consider an 'ought' Paul gave to the Philippian church...

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, [13] for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

 

Isn't that both sobering and encouraging? But there's one last part to verse 15.

 

 

3. Concerning Responsibility (v. 15c)

 

Listen to the whole thing again. I Timothy 3:15...

 

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, [15] if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.

 

Regarding that final statement, one commentator offered this appraisal: “This is perhaps the most significant phrase in all the Pastoral Epistles [that's I & II Timothy and Titus]. It shows more clearly and dramatically than anything else what is at stake in [what that writer calls] the Ephesian hersey...” (Mounce)

 

The household of God, which is the church of the living God, is a pillar and buttress of the truth. What does that mean? Well, there are number of questions about the Greek terms here and how we should understand this imagery. But in spite of those, I think a natural reading communicates this idea: how well we live as God's people directly affects how well we beautify God's word to a watching world.

 

If our fellowship is cracked and crumbling because of selfish motives or indifference, our role as a pillar and buttress is compromised. We have a responsibility to showcase the gospel. But we can't proclaim that the gospel changes lives if we live like everyone else. We can't proclaim the gospel reconciles if we stay entrenched in our bitterness. We can't proclaim that the gospel gives hope is we are panicking in fear. Well, we CAN proclaim those things, but it's unlikely anyone will believe us.

 

How we behave in God's family matters, not only in terms of our protection and flourishing, not only in terms of obedience before the living God, but also in terms of dying, desperate world. We have a responsibility to showcase the gospel. They're all inextricably linked: One Lord. One Body. One Truth. One Mission.

 

 

III. Our Older Brother's Room

 

So think about what God is reminding you of this morning. If you have trusted in Jesus Christ as your only hope in this life and the next, then you are His child. And if you are His child, then you are part of His family. You are now a member of “the household of God”. Now, ultimate belonging is a beautiful thing, especially when God is the Father of this faith family.

 

But belonging to the household of God involves both privileges and responsibilities. Do you know what those are? Since September, I have preached nine messages on this very Essential, One Body. I challenge you to go back and think about all the passages we've looked at together, passages that describe what it means to be a Christian in community.

And as you do that, consider these three encouragements to application:

 

First, come gratefully. The reality that God has rules for you regarding His family assumes the amazing fact that you are part of His family. You are no longer a wayward, hopeless, spiritual orphan, cut off because of sin. You have a beautiful roof over your head. You have been brought in. You have been adopted. You belong!

 

Second, care deeply. God brought us in because he cares deeply. AND He gives us 'oughts' for our life together because He cares deeply. In the same way, we should care deeply about His instruction, His commands. As the psalmist said in Psalm 119:130-131, The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. We desperately need that understanding and guidance. Remember, they are for our protection and flourishing.

 

Third, confess honestly. If we carefully consider God's family rules, I think all of us will become aware of how much more we need to grow. If we care deeply, then we should be convicted deeply about our neglect and our indifference and our absenteeism and our unforgiveness and our selfishness when it comes to our life together.

 

But instead of keeping us in a place of guilt and shame, that confession should drive us to a particular part of God's house. Listen to what the writer to the Hebrews tells us about Jesus:

 

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. [11] For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers... (Hebrews 2:10-11)

 

As we come gratefully, as we care deeply, as we confess honestly, such things should drive us, in the household of God, to our older brother's room. These things should always drive us back to Jesus, the firstborn over all creation, the Son of God.

 

Now when I was a kid, my brother would eventually throw me out of his room if I was hanging in there too long. But “scram” is not in Jesus' vocabulary when it comes to His brothers and sisters.

 

Friends, when it comes to the meditations of your heart, to your spiritual focus, to the direction of your prayers, strive to hang out in your big brother's room! Why? Because it is by His death and resurrection that you belong. AND, it is by His power that you can behave as you ought in God's family. AND it is His example of selfless, self-giving love that guides us, AND it is by His blood that we find forgiveness when we fail to behave as we ought.

 

All of us will fail. God knows all of us are learning to live in this new family. If you truly belong by grace through faith, then by that same grace, God is nurturing you as a good Father should. So be encouraged by His family rules. Pursue them with reverence. Remember the responsibility we have to showcase the gospel. Come gratefully, care deeply, confess honestly.

 

And as you do, the words of Jesus Christ are being fulfilled. Matthew 16:18...I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.