The House of God --Part 1

The House of God
Part 1

John Bramhall

Paul’s pastoral epistles to Timothy and Titus possess valuable instruction for young believers, both for individual encouragement and also in guidance as to assembly responsibility. 1 Timothy reveals our great responsibilities toward the corporate testimony of God’s assembly. The key verse is 1 Tim. 3:15 — “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.”

The Head of the House

Paul immediately introduces us to the Head of the House: “God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ” (1:1). It was at His command that Paul became His apostle and that he wrote this letter. Paul sets forth the Lordship of Christ “over the house” (Heb. 3:6), each member of the household being responsible to be submissive to His authority. The Lordship of Christ in our life and in our assembly demands our obedience. “One is your master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren… neither be ye called masters,” said the Lord (Matt. 23:8, 10). Let us acknowledge this in word and deed, for our Risen Lord alone is the Head of the House, the Head of the Church, and the Master of each believer.

The Hope of the House

The Apostle declares that the Lord Jesus Christ is “our hope” (1:1). The Father made the risen and glorified Christ to be Head of the Church, which is His body; thus the Church on earth began; but the consummation of the Church in its earthly testimony (Acts 1:11) and taught by the apostles (1 Cor. 1:7. 1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18. Titus 2:13. 1 John 3:1-4). At the coming of the Lord for His saints this hope will be fulfilled. We are exhorted to be “looking for that blessed hope”. Let us do so; our hope should not be centered on earthly things, but on the coming again of our beloved Lord. His return for which we hope is imminent; that is, He might come at any moment. Are we looking for Him Today?

The Genealogy of the House

Paul charges Timothy to stay in Ephesus to withstand the pressure of false teachers (1:3-4). The early believers were greatly troubled by so-called “gnostics”, “the knowing ones”; they claimed superior know-Godhead and the true humanity ledge, but denied the essential of Jesus. They taught many myths about a succession of emanations, upon which they sought to establish their heathen deities, with interminable genealogies of eons supposedly mediating between God and the world. In this, they never traced all things back to Christ and God, but they only produced endless controversies.

The membership of God’s household is far more clearly taught in God’s Word for us. John records its simplicity and beauty: “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). Note that we “were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). This emphasizes the doctrine of the new birth, the important necessity for every man, if he would enter the kingdom of God. All other claims of relationship to God without the new birth are false (John 3:3-8. 1 Pet. 1:22-23. 1 John 5:1).

The Heart of the House

God’s direct objective in Timothy’s teaching of God’s Word was the production of “love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1:5). It is a wonderful blessing to be intelligently taught the Scriptures, but they are not only for our minds to take in, but also for our hearts to realize! All truth should help us to “love one another.” The Lord commanded: “Love one another, as I loved you” (John 13:34); 15:12, 17. 1 John 2:10; 3:11, 18, 23; 4:11). This love is to be “sincere”, with “a good conscience,” not giving offence in my testimony to any: it is to be without hypocrisy, and in “faith unfeigned.” One of the greatest responsibilities in the house of God, is to “love the brethren.” May we faithfully obey the Lord!

The Rule of the House

Paul next presents the rule of the house (1:6-16). He reveals what happens when the heart of the house is missing, for some in his day “swerved” and “turned aside unto vain jangling,” which means “empty talk.” Failing to show love to their brethren, they became teachers of the law, seeking to place the household under the rule of law instead of grace. The principle of rule for the house of God is Grace! “Ye are not under law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). What is the difference?

Under law, God said in effect, “If you will do good, I will bless you” (Deut. 28:1-14), and “If you will do evil, I will curse you” (Deut. 28:15-68). This still has its divine place in the world, as Paul reveals to Timothy, and is “for the lawless and disobedient” (1:8-10), who are not in the house of God. The law never helped a person to do the right, but rather condemned his failure.

The principle of grace in the house of God is a higher standard than that which the law required. The law said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” but Christ says to us, “Love one another as I have loved you!” The law sets forth God’s earthly ideal of the way men should live, but grace sets forth the standard of heaven! Our divine ideal is to be like Christ, doing the will of God and overcoming every form of evil (Rom. 12:1-2). Grace also helps us to fulfil this responsibility in a way that the law could never do.

When we allow grace to rule, we shall follow the pattern Paul sets for us himself, never forgetting that it was the “grace of our Lord… exceeding abundant” that brought us into the House. Paul did not forget what he once had been (1:13-15), and how that he as “chief of sinners” had been saved. We should also remember that in relationship to each other in the House, we are under the rule of grace, —a heavenly pattern indeed. Note this high standard of Christian living in 2 Cor. 10:5; Gal. 5:16; Eph. 4:1, 30; 5:2; 1 Thess. 5:19; 1 Pet. 2:9; 1 John 1:7. Let us behave accordingly!

The Glory of the House

Who is the greatest, most honoured person in the house? God tells us who is the greatest ONE in the House, and who is the Glory of the House. “Now unto the King eternal (king of the ages), incorruptible, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever” (1:17). Never think that the material building, however comfortable, or any of our fellow-believers, however esteemed, bear the true glory of this testimony. God places it upon the Lord Jesus Christ alone. He is the Glory of the House! Whatever the age, He is still King. He is also the only incorruptible One. He is very God, too! Best of all, God uses the word “invisible”. When we gather together as His people, do we realize that HE is in our midst? This is a real test! The greatest and loveliest of persons in any gathering of saints is the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps you meet in a humble hall or a very fine, substantial building; but whatever it is, or however few or many saints may be there, never forget that there is ONE Who is worth more than ten thousand … He is altogether lovely.” Praise His Name!