The Pillar and Ground of the Truth

“…the house of God…is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15).

The word “pillar” should remind every Bible student of the pillar that God gave Israel to guide them through the wilderness to the promised land (Nehemiah 9:12). After the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, they needed a guide. They had been slaves for 400 years, and didn’t have a clue as to where they were going! It’s not like Pharaoh let his slaves take exploratory vacations. So God had to lead them every step of the way with the pillar.

Once Moses had written the Book of the Law, however, the pillar disappeared. Of course! Now they had a Book to guide them every step of the way. No matter where they went in life, they had a reliable Guide to teach them how to walk and please God. And now that Book has been completed and resides in the local church! No wonder God calls the church the pillar of the truth! God’s people should follow that Book as closely as the Jews followed their pillar. How closely was that?

“…when the cloud tarried… then the children of Israel…journeyed not… when the cloud… was taken up… then they journeyed…” (Numbers 9:18-22).

When the pillar moved, they moved. When it rested, they rested. In other words, they didn’t make a move without the benefit of its guidance. Does that sound like a good way to follow the Book today? Beloved, God has graciously given us a Guide that can help us navigate the most treacherous paths of life. The One who steers the stars (Job 38:32) has deigned to guide the lives of His people. May we never forsake His direction!

This great Guide has further equipped us with a place to meet to hear His Book taught. If there is no church near you where God’s rightly divided Word is taught in all its clarity, continue to share the gospel with the lost and Pauline truth with the saved. The people with whom you share God’s guidance just might want to start meeting at your house to discuss it. And God has a word for such meetings—He calls it church (Rom. 16:5; I Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philemon 1:2).

These references to churches that met in homes are especially significant when we remember how small the homes were in those days. There’s a reason the Lord had to send the apostles out to find a home large enough for twelve men to eat the Passover (Mark 14:12-16). Such rooms are not that uncommon today, but they were then! Thus Paul’s allusions to churches that met in those humble homes tells us that the smallest of gatherings is a church in God’s eyes, one that He will be pleased to call His house, the pillar and ground of the truth in your community.

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Words You Should Avoid – 2 Timothy 2:16-19


Summary:

“Profane” (v.16) means unholy (Ezek.22:26), and “holy” means set apart to God (Ex.20:8). If the Jews didn’t keep the sabbath holy, God considered it profane (Ezek.22:8). So what kind of profane babblings was Paul telling Timothy to shun?

Well, since verse 16 begins with a “but,” and the previous verse speaks of rightly dividing the Word, the profane words he has in mind are words that aren’t rightly divided. We saw in Verse 14 he has the words of the law in mind. The words of the law were holy for the Jews, but unholy when placed on us since we’re not under the law. For instance, we don’t have to keep the sabbath (Col.2:16), so putting Exodus 20:8 on us is unholy.

Some parts of the law are interdispensational, of course. It is always wrong to take God’s name in vain (Ex.20:7) because His name is holy (Lu.1:49). When the Jews didn’t treat it as holy, God considered it profane (Ezek.36:20). “In vain” means for no reason, no purpose, so when Paul says to shun “profane and vain babblings” (2:16) it is because the law serves no purpose for us.

When he says the words of the law will increase unto “more ungodliness,” that must mean the words of the law are ungodly in and of themselves. Religion always is! (IITim.3:5). When the Galatians messed with the Law they were “removed” from God (Gal.1:6). That’s ungodly!

Paul says these profane babblings will “increase” because sin always increases! Carnal sin spreads like leaven (ICor.5:6) and so does legalism (Gal.5:9). The only way to keep it from spreading is by rightly dividing the word and paying heed to Paul’s gospel (ITim.6:19,20).

Speaking of things that spread, Paul says that unrightly divided words will eat like a canker (2:17). The Greek word is gaggraino, from which we get gangrene. Gangrene is dead flesh that eats up living flesh and spreads, like the words of Hymenaus and Philetus. Hymenaeus was sailing along with Paul, teaching what he taught, when he “made shipwreck” of the faith (ITim.1:19,20) when he stopped teaching what Paul taught. Here we learn he did so by teaching the resurrection was past (2:18).

Paul called that erring from the faith because he is thinking of how the Lord said that to deny the resurrection was an error (Mark 12:18-27). Some of the Corinthians were denying the resurrection (ICor.15:12) and it was overthrowing their faith (v.13-19). But misplacing the resurrection will overthrow faith just as much! And the word “overthrow” means the complete destruction of something (cf.Ex.14:27; Jer.49:18).

The resurrection for us is the one associated with the Rapture (ICor.15:51-53), and if you thought it was past and you were still here, you’d think you’re not saved! Paul’s answer to this is to insist the Lord knows them that are His (2:19). He has always known His own (Nahum 1:7,8; John 10:4), and always seals His own (John 10:27,28). And now He knows you (Gal.4:9), and has sealed you (Eph.1:13). The fact that He knows us is our seal (2:19).

Old Testament seals identified a document with the king (Esther 8:8), and our baptism into Christ identifies us with Him (Rom.6:3-5). That means not even God can reverse your seal (cf.Esther 8:8; Daniel 6:17). Job could be confident of his salvation (Job 19:25-27) because God sealed his sins (Job14:17). Jeremiah bought some land and the seal was evidence of his purchase (Jer.32:10,11), and the Spirit is the evidence that your body is His purchased possession (Eph.1:13,14). You’re sealed with the same Spirit the Lord was (John 1:33,34; 6:27). We know God never loses any that He seals because He will seal 144,000 on earth (Rev.7:3,4) and all make it to heaven before God’s throne (Rev.14:1-5). Not even the devil can break our seal (cf.Rev.20:1-3).

Religion says you can’t tell men they are sealed and can’t be lost, they’ll live in sin, but Paul says we should “depart from iniquity” (cf.Eph.4:30).

Are You A Pillar of God’s Community?

“And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision” (Galatians 2:9).

When Paul shared his new message of grace with the leaders of the twelve apostles, it seemed that James, Peter and John were going to be pillars. That is, it seemed like they wouldn’t receive his new message, that instead they were each going to be as immoveable as a pillar when it came to acknowledging it.

That’s the way the word “pillar” is used in Revelation 3:12, where we read that God will take those who overcome the temptation to take the mark of the beast and make each one a pillar, a permanent part of His temple, the living temple made up of believers (cf. Amos 9:11,12). In that same sense of the word pillar, James, Peter and John looked like they would permanently resist Paul’s new message, and cling to the truth the Lord had given them for the dispensation that was passing away.

By the way, that’s how you should be about the truth that God has given you. You should cling to it with all your might. You know, the way Peter clung to the truth God had given him in the Law when the Lord surprised him with a command to eat unclean animals. Peter replied, “Not so, Lord” (Acts 10:14). He stood there arguing with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, standing his ground, saying, “Your Word says I can’t eat unclean animals.” Now, if he put up that kind of fight with the Lord, imagine the battle he gave Paul over something new! I expect that ol’ boy gave Paul the fight of his life. “What do you mean there’s an entire new program called the mystery that the prophets knew nothing about?” (cf. Ephesians 3:1-9).

And listen, he was 100% right to do so. That’s the way you should be about the truth that God has given you through Paul, because Paul says the church of which you are a part is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15). When someone attacks the truth, you need to give him the fight of his life. Graciously, of course! (II Tim. 2:24,25). If Stonewall Jackson stood like a stone wall in the onslaught of enemy opposition, you should too. God help us to be like Jeremiah, whom God made “an iron pillar…against the whole land” (Jeremiah 1:18,19). When the dust of this life settles and eternity begins, it will be all that will have mattered.

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

And Hearing By the Word of God

“I can understand why Romans 10:17 might say, ‘faith cometh by hearing the Word of God.’ Why does it rather say, ‘faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God’?”

It is sometimes taught that an unsaved sinner is so spiritually “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) that he cannot even hear the Word of God in the gospel, let alone respond to it in faith. It is argued that if you go to a funeral and tell the deceased to rise up out of the coffin, he cannot even hear the words of your command, let alone respond to it. It is then argued from this that the Spirit must first regenerate a lost sinner so that he can hear the gospel and believe it.

While that sounds logical, the Lord Jesus gave a different explanation for how a sinner who is “dead in sins” is “quickened” (Eph. 2:5) when He said,

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

The Lord here asserts that His words “are spirit.” That is, His words have the spiritual power to raise a dead sinner from spiritual death. The Lord also taught that His words “are life.” Thus, if a sinner must be given life in order to be able to hear the gospel, then the Lord’s words are able to give a dead sinner all the life he needs to hear and respond to the gospel in faith.

This is why Romans 10:17 is worded in that manner. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, to be sure, but even the hearing comes by the Word.

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Things To Remember – 2 Timothy 2:14-15


Summary:

The “things” Paul told Timothy to put them in remembrance of were the things of his gospel that he told Timothy himself to remember in v.8. If a grace pastor re-minds his people of Paul’s gospel it will keep them from “words to no profit.” Those words “no profit” are asso-ciated with idolatry (Isa.44:9,10; Jer. 2:8-11; 16:19,20).

The spiritual Ephesians to whom Timothy ministered wouldn’t bow to idols of wood or stone, but Paul is talking about “words to no profit.” That’s a reference to religion (Jer. 7:8-10), the religion of Judaism. Since Paul is talking about words of no profit that “subvert” the soul, we know he was talking about the law (cf.Acts15:24). The Jews of the circumcision were subverting believers with the law in those days (Tit.1:10,11; 3:9-11). So Paul was warning Timothy about striving about the words of the law.

“You can make an idol out of the law?” The Jews did! They trusted in the law of Moses (John 5:45) rather than in the God of Moses (II Sam.22:31). They rested in the law of Moses (Rom.2:17) rather than in the God of Moses (Ps.37:7). When the Lord tried to introduce the New Covenant, they made a god out of the Old Covenant. It happens whenever God changes things (IIKi.18:1-4). We know the Galatians made a god out of the law for Paul compared their worship of idols to turning to the law (4:8-10). Keeping Paul’s gospel in remembrance prevents this.

We know this is important, for Paul charged them not to fall for the law, a word he only used for important things (IThes.2:11,12;5:7). And the “they” of v.14 refers to the “faithful men” of v.3, so this warning was very important.

After telling Timothy what to warn the faithful men about, he tells him to study to show himself approved to God (v.15). The solution to the law is rightly dividing the Word! The Law is in the Word, just not in the part of the Word that is written to us. That makes it of “no profit” to us. “All Scripture is…profitable” (3:16), but only if it is rightly divided!

“Study” (2:15) can mean to “do your best,” as the context shows it does in IThessalonians 4:11. But the context in Ecclesiastes 12:12 shows that “study” there means to study books, as it does in II Timothy 2:15. If you don’t study the Word, you’ll think it is all written to you. Only those who study it notice the dispensational differences and so know to rightly divide it. You can’t be “approved” of God if you think you are still under the law (cf.Lamentations 3:36).

But you have to do more than just study, you have to work as a “workman” to be approved of God (2:15 cf. Phil.4:9). And the work we should be involved in is building up the Body of Christ (Eph.4:12). Paul uses the word “workman” because the only workmen in the Bible either built the tabernacle (Ex.35:35) or idols (Isa.40:20). If you build the law today, you’re building an idol. If you are building up the Body of Christ, you are building the house of God.

If you build up the law, you’ll be “ashamed” because you’ll be minding “earthly things” (Phil.3:18,19). When God doesn’t make you prosperous when you’re good as He did under the law, you’ll be ashamed of Him. There were probably healers glorying in their supposed ability to heal, and ashamed when they couldn’t heal people. Paul says our conversation is in heaven, from whence we look for the Lord to heal us (Phil.3:20). No one will be ashamed then!

We don’t rightly divide the Word to throw any away (cf.Jer.36:23). Wise students of the Word teach old things of Israel’s program as well as new things from our program (cf.Mt.13:52). Of course, you won’t get famous rightly dividing the Word, but you’ll be as approved as Apelles (Rom.16:10), an unsung hero who rightly divided the word. It all boils down to whether you want the approval of God or men. Ishmael lived and died “in the presence of his brethren (Gen.16:12; 25:18), not for God’s approval.

Some say rightly dividing isn’t important, but that phrase “the word of truth” is used for the very gospel of salvation itself (James 2:18; Eph.1:12,13). Since the Bible presents more than one way to be saved, even the word of truth of the gospel must be rightly divided!

The Hope of Eternal Life

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2).

Dr. Tony Evans says this about eternity: “If we were to empty the Pacific Ocean, the largest body of water in the world, we’d be left with a hole that’s beyond imagination. If we were then to fill that hole with sand and make a pile as high as Mount Everest, we’d be talking about a lot of sand because Mount Everest is the tallest mountain peak in the world. Since the ocean is fairly deep and Mount Everest is fairly high, we’d have a fairly sizable sandpile! Now, if we had a bird that would take one grain of sand from that sandpile every 100 billion years, how long would it take the bird to finish the sandpile? I don’t know that in human language we have such a number. It is probably beyond numerical count. Whatever that number is, when the bird finishes the last grain of sand, you will have been in eternity your first second.”1

It is glorious to think of spending eternity with Christ in heaven, but it’s also heartbreaking to think of those who will be in the lake of fire forever. Our faith rests on the sure hope of eternal life. We can live our lives for Christ confidently and courageously, knowing that nothing we do for the Lord is ever in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). We have certainty in what we believe. The “hope” Scripture holds out is not a hope-so hope. Our hope is a complete certainty, a confident expectation. It is a destiny.

Eternal life is both a present possession and a future hope. It doesn’t just begin when you die; we have it at conversion, the moment we trust Christ as our Savior. God is “eternal” (Deut. 33:27), and having “eternal” life means we have been given God’s life, which is Christ in us (Col. 1:27; 3:4). Our future hope of eternal life is in the sense that we confidently look forward to eternal life in its final, victorious form when we’ll be in our eternal home in heaven, having received our eternal, incorruptible, glorified bodies (2 Cor. 5:1), dwelling in Christ’s presence forever (1 Thes. 4:17).

All the truth of the Bible and the hope of eternal life is based in God Himself. Our faith is secure by virtue of God’s unchanging character and the fact that He cannot lie. God is Truth and free from all deceit (Deut. 32:4). Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie.” Hebrews 6:18 tells us it is “impossible for God to lie.” God’s character backs up our absolute hope of eternal life. If He said it, it’s true, He cannot lie, and it will happen.

From eternity past, “before the world began,” God promised what He was going to do for those who believed (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2). God is a promise-keeping God. What He has said, He will do. You can place your soul’s eternal destiny in His hands, and you don’t need to be anxious about it. We can rest in Him because we can count on Him and on His character. When (not if) we find ourselves in heaven one day, we’ll praise Him saying, “The Lord was faithful, faithful to me, faithful to all His promises.”

Notes:

  1. Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009), p. 91.

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.