Pillar and Foundation of Truth?
NCW 17, March 1995
Q. The apostle Paul says that the Church of God is "the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim.3:15, NIV). If Jesus is the "truth" (John 14:6), how can the Church be the "truth" also? Isn't the Church just the people in it?
Some commentators believe that "the pillar and foundation of truth" refers not to the Church but to God Himself although the sentence structure in the original Greek makes this interpretation unlikely. Note also that the text does not say "the Church of God" but the "church (fellowship) of the living God".
The language used by Paul here echoes the reply given by Simon Peter when He identified Jesus as the Messiah: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt.16:16, NIV). Jesus goes on to tell Peter that on this testimony -- the Messiahship of Christ, given to Peter and therefore to each indiviual by personal revelation from God, will the Church be built (Mat.16:17ff). The emphasis is on heaven: the testimony came from heaven, the abode of the "living God", and whatever comes from heaven has repercussions in heaven also.
The Church of God is the fellowship of believers and the living God in heaven through the Lord Jesus Christ. It exists both in heaven and on earth. In light of the imperfection of believers there can be little doubt that the Church of God which is the "pillar and foundation of truth" is the heavenly Church which finds partial spiritual manifestation in the earthly Church of God. The living God is known by personal revelation, by direct contact with heaven. It is in those moments when heaven and earth meet, as it were, not just in individuals like Peter but in groups of Christians, that the heavenly Church of God and the earthly Church of God become one. When that happens then the earthly Church of God becomes "the pillar and foundation of the truth" like the earthly one. And as the earthly Church of God becomes more and more sanctified, so the two Churches -- presently separated by the veil of mortality -- become one, and both parts -- in heaven and on earth -- can commune with one another.
Jesus is always the Truth, and the Church of God in heaven -- redeemed and sanctified, is also the truth, through Jesus Christ. By and by the earthly Church of God will become the truth of God too, once it has fulfilled the measure of its creation. When Christ dwells within this Church in its fullness -- when everyone if filled up with the Holy Spirit -- then it will also become the truth. It experiences this from time to time -- our goal is to make this constant by leading pure and holy lives in Christ. May that constantly be the goal before you.
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