WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – Opinions have at least three advantages over facts:
- They are in endless supply.
- Everyone you know will give you theirs for free.
- You can form your own with any combination of feelings, intuitions, rumors, or impressions.
Their main disadvantage is their loose connection to reality. Unfortunately, reality has a pesky habit of fouling up plans that are based on opinions. Facts are more difficult to acquire but much more reliable for building a life.
The same is true for building a church. There are any number of opinions as to how it should be done. Even in Paul’s day, a variety of organizational theories, inherited traditions, and leadership styles competed for places at the design table for this new thing called “church.” That’s even more so today with hundreds of “church planting handbooks.”
Paul, however, went about building churches precisely as the Lord Jesus told him to. He considered these direct revelations to be the facts of church construction. He gradually wrote them down, and they’re in the Bible.
In the midst of building the church at Ephesus, God suddenly called Paul away for what he assumed would be a short time. He left one of his young apprentices named Timothy behind to keep the work going until he could return: “As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct …” (1 Tim. 1:3). “Don’t let anyone despise your youth, but set an example … Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching” (1 Tim. 4:12-13).
Paul knew that Timothy could pass on much that he had learned from the apostle’s teaching and example. However, when his return was delayed longer than he anticipated, he wrote the letter we call “1Timothy” to be certain the church would be built according to the Lord’s plans:
“I write these things to you, hoping to come to you soon. But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. And most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great…” (1 Tim. 3:14-16).
Paul hoped to be there soon and that this letter would just be interim instructions for the junior apostle. However, by the Holy Spirit’s leading, he wrote it in such a way that it would provide exact knowledge of how things should be done in God’s house if he were delayed (and with the dangers he constantly faced, he knew any delay could be permanent).
WONDERFUL THING IN MY LIFE – “The mystery of godliness is great” – much too great to rely on our puny speculations, preferences, and opinions to understand it. We need facts, divinely revealed facts. Those facts are available only in the written Word of God.
And God’s written word is understandable by the average child of God. It was “written so that you will know.” But, dear ones, you must READ what was written. Don’t throw the dice and hope you’ve chosen the right preacher’s opinions to believe about what it says.
Paul never asked that even of his audiences. He commended the Bereans as being “of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since they received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Consequently, many of them believed” (Acts 17:11-12).