Today, October 31st, the day Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door 501 years ago, is a day to remember the Lord’s gracious work in the reformation of His church. And we thank our Saviour that He continues to gather defend and preserve His church, in the unity of the true faith, throughout history. Because of our sinfulness, there needs to be continuing reformation, a continual return to the truth of God’s Word, in both the life of the church and our personal lives.
In the following brief meditation on 1 Timothy 3:15, the late Rev H W Ophoff links the truth on which the church is established to keeping the 9th commandment.
… the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
The ninth Commandment is the norm for everything the Church says in her Confessions, in upholding their authority, in the preaching of the Word; and for honouring the arrangements and promises she made.
Christ established the Church in this corrupted world to be the pillar and foundation of the truth. Pillars are used to carry a bridge, and the foundation carries a building. Similarly, the Church in this world carries the truth of God. The Church is the place God has assigned to His truth in this world.
Of course the devil, the father of lies, does not want this. That’s why the Church has a hard time. She is attacked by the power of the lie. And still … pillar and foundation of the truth … that’s what the Church is, and is allowed to remain, by the grace of God.
But being given a noble position brings obligations! An exalted position demands commitment. Having been made pillar and foundation of the truth, the church now must be that pillar and foundation. For if she no longer bears witness to the truth, where will the light of the truth still be found? The darkness of the lie will prevail, of false prophecy, and of advancing unbelief and superstition.
Pillar and foundation of the truth!
In the struggle between the truth and the lie the Church has been made the bearer of the truth. Christ desires to use her service for resisting and conquering and (finally) judging the lie. That’s why the Church must be reliable in her speaking. For she was called to the glorious position of being pillar and foundation of the truth. And that’s how she presents herself in this world.
It is a claim the Church must live up to. And if she does not do that? If she breaks her promises? If she does not honour the Subscription Form for her office bearers? If she allows deviation from the adopted and scriptural doctrine? If she does not live in accordance with the established Church Order?
In that situation there is not merely a crisis of confession. But also, and above all, a crisis of ethics, brought about by the gravity of the ninth Commandment of God’s law.
Her yes must be yes, and her no, no. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one (Matthew 5:37).
(from Your Only Comfort, a Bible daybook compiled by Rev Joh Francke: Pro Ecclesia Publishers, Armadale, Western Australia, 2017. This meditation was linked, in the book, to October 31.)