FOUNDATION OF THE ASSEMBLY

  1. Focus of the Assembly
  2. Foundation of the Assembly
  3. Figures of the Assembly
  4. Fragrance of the Assembly
  5. Fruitfulness of the Assembly
  6. Function of the Assembly
  7. Fellowship of the Assembly

1Ti 3:14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
1Ti 3:15 But if I tarry long, 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.
1Ti 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

 

Acts 28 ends with Paul in Rome. Subsequent to that he was released and he visited Ephesus and Macedonia.
He left Timothy in Ephesus for certain reasons and as a result he wrote to letter to Timothy this letter that we have before us.
These letters may be divided into 3 major groups:

  • Preaching Epistles during the book of Acts
  • Prison Epistles – Acts 28 and includes Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians
  • Personal or Pastoral Epistles – 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus

Interestingly, Ephesians is one of the assemblies we know the most about.

  • In Acts 19 we read of its planting.
  • In Acts 20 we read Paul meets with the elders and is concerned of their preservation and their progress as believers
  • In 1 Timothy Paul writes to the Pastors and Shepherds of the Ephesians’ Church
  • In 2 Timothy again Paul writes to them of their prevailing danger … Recall Revelation chapter – They had lost their first love.

So we have a long history of this assembly with many details.

However, the occasion for writing this epistle is made clear as we go through the epistle.
The theme of the epistle is what is known as the ‘House of God’.

Recall, on two occasions the Lord Jesus visited the Temple and cleansed the Temple.
In John chapter 2, the Lord cleanses the Temple at the beginning of His earthly ministry.
In Matthew (chapter 21) and Mark (shapter 11) the Lord cleanses the Temple for the second time.
This time it is at the end of His earthly ministry.
‘MAKE NOT MY FATHER’S HOUSE A HOUSE OF MERCHANDISE’ the Lord Jesus warned.

1 Timothy 6 deals with making – merchandise in the House of God, among other matters.
Mark writes the Lord as saying that His House will be called a ‘House of Prayer’.
It reminds us in chapter 2, there is prayer linked with the House of God.
And Mark adds it would be a ‘House for all Nations’.
And so Paul writes in Chapter 2, to pray for ALL men…
Recall John chapter 2 … the zeal of my House has consumed me …
Chapter 4 Stresses for teaching in the House of God.

What was the reason and objective for Paul to write this epistle?
There are three main reasons:
In chapter 1 – False teachers and law keepers were making inroads, and so Paul was going to confirm Timothy’s authority to deal with them.
Also Paul was writing to Timothy to tell him:

  • How an assembly should function
  • How prayer meetings are to be conducted
  • How sisters should be adorned
  • How leaders and servants should conduct themselves
  • How to deal and care for widows

In Chapter 2 – Paul writes on intercessory prayer in the House of God
In chapter 3 – on individuals who will function in the House of God
In Chapter 4 – the imperative to be fruitful in the House of God
In Chapter 5 – the importance of being fruitful
In Chapter 6 – the incentive – to be faithful in the House of God.

In each of the chapters the Lord Jesus is brought before us.
As mentioned in the first teaching, the Lord Jesus is the focus of the assembly. So remember:

  • In chapter 1 He is the Means of salvation and how He came to save sinners.
  • In chapter 2 He is the Mediatorbetween God and man.
  • In chapter 3 He is the Manifestation of God – God was manifest in the flesh.
  • In chapter 4 He is the Master of the House and we serve Him.
  • In chapter 5 He is the Motivation for everything we do in His sight.
  • In chapter 6 He is the Monarch. He is the King who is coming to reign on earth.

Turn back to Genesis 28:16 keeping in mind Timothy chapter 3.
In Timothy chapter 3, the assembly is called the House of God.
Here in Genesis 28:16 we find the FIRST mention of ‘House of God’.

 

Gen 28:16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew [it] not.
Gen 28:17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful [is] this place! this [is] none other but the house of God, and this [is] the gate of heaven.
Gen 28:18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put [for] his pillows, and set it up [for] a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
Gen 28:19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city [was called] Luz at the first.
Gen 28:20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
Gen 28:21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
Gen 28:22 And this stone, which I have set [for] a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

 

Turn now to Genesis 35.
A lot has happened to Jacob between Genesis 16 and Genesis 35.
He had spent 20 years in the house of Laban, and now God was telling him to return to the land.

Gen 35:1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.
Gen 35:2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that [were] with him, Put away the strange gods that [are] among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

There is what is known as the ‘law of first mention’.
Whenever God introduces an important subject, the first time that it is mentioned has great importance attached to it.
God will establish principles in the FIRST MENTION that will be true in the rest of the Bible.

There are 5 things stressed in this FIRST MENTION of the ‘House of God’:

1 Residence and Reverence that is due to God:
Jacob said God is in this place. This is an awesome place.
So there is the Residence and there is the Reverence

2 Authority and Administration:
He said the House of God was the ‘Gate of Heaven’.
Does it mean the entrance to heaven? NO.
So what does it mean?
Remember Lot?
It was said that he sat at the gate of Sodom and the people said he was a judge.
Remember Boaz?
He went to the ‘gate’ to buy Ruth.
There he met with the elders of the city to make his intentions clear that he wanted to marry Ruth.
In Psalms 22:16 David writes …For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; they pierced my hands and my feet.
In Israel the ‘gate’ was the place of administration. The city was ruled from this place.

In Matthew 16:18: Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against His church.
So the gate is linked with the ‘assembly’
The assembly is God’s Authority and God’s Administration in the earth.
There is NO higher Authority than the WORD OF GOD ministered by those in responsibility in the local assembly.

3. Presence and Purity:
After the Lord told Jacob to go back the first thing he tells his household to do is to put away their strange gods before going back to Bethel … change your garments … be clean.
So the Presence of God demands purity among His people.

4. Commitment and Consecration:
Jacob would say: He would make a commitment and consecration to God.

5. Revelation and Representation:
First – God revealed Himself to Jacob.
Then Jacob said God would be my God, and I will represent Him before the world.
And so when Laban spoke to Jacob, he could say “ I have learnt by experience that God has blessed me since you set foot in my house.”
Before the ungodly Jacob represented God!

These 5 groups are introduced in Genesis 28.
And so when we find God’s House in the rest of the Bible, these 5 things will be true.
God will add to the Revelation of the House of God.
He will add but never take away from these 5 principles.
Example:
At the Tabernacle He added Sacrifice
At the Temple we find Solomon praying … we find wealth and treasure associated with the House of God.
In the House of God in Haggai we find God taking Pleasure in the House.

But when we come to the New Testament we get the fullest revelation – the full display of the beauty of His House.

Display and Beauty of the House:
We all have observed while we drive along the road and see houses on either side that some houses are well maintained with beautiful gardens while others are neglected and unkempt.
Houses reveal something about their owners
Some owners are careful while others are not.

Drive past Bill Gates house and you see a beautiful mansion.
It tells you something about the owner of the house.
You know the man living there is wealthy.

So a house tells you something of the people who live inside.
So when you think about a house you think of the occupant – of who lives there.
You think about the owner – who owns it.
You think about the order of that house and then we will see that there is an obligation linked with that house.

These 4 things will be stressed tonight:
The Owner, the Occupant, the Order that should mark the House and the Obligation of the House.
We will also talk of the Resident of the House and the Reverence that He deserves.

Recall what Jacob said “This is an awesome place. This is none other than the House of God”!
And then suddenly Jacob who was careless becomes very reverent
What is your attitude as you meet together in the House pf God?
Am I marked by reverence toward God?
Do I recognize the awesome Presence of the One who is in our midst?
Every assembly has House of God character.
It means that God had taken up residence in the local assembly.

How often we have said “If I knew that Preacher would be speaking I would have been there.
How much more then when God Himself is present in His House and the Reverence that He deserves!
In chapter 2 Paul speaks of the Reverence that is becoming to the House of God – “that men should lift up holy hands and sisters …”
So we are told of what is fitting in attitude and attire before God.
He tells of our relationship with one another and how that should reflect on the Occupant in our midst.
So when we meet we are acknowledging the fact that there is an Occupant.

Owner of the House:
It is not your assembly or my assembly. It is the House of God.
It has been purchased by the blood of His Son.
Have you considered how valuable an Assembly is to God?
Paul writes of the value that God places on the Assembly:
Act 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
Act 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Act 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

The value God places on the assembly is not based on its size, but that the assembly represents the Lord Jesus.
When the assembly gathers in His name, we have to represent the interests of the Lord Jesus.
It is God’s House. And He has a say as to what happens in His House.
So in this sense, it is the Gate of Heaven because His Authority is recognized and exercised in His House.

How is God’s Authority expressed in the Assembly?
There is the idea that the overseers are in charge. But it is not so.
It is the Word of God in the hands of the overseers that is The Authority in the assembly.
The Word of God is the ultimate authority -Always.
A good man may say a bad thing but that does not make it right.
And a bad man may say a good thing but that does not make it wrong.
Truth always stands on its own – the authority in God’s assembly is the Word of God.
It is in the assembly that the authority of God is administered and expressed.

This epistle is about administrating for God.
1Ti 1:3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
1Ti 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
Paul was writing to Timothy to place importance to ‘godly edifying’ … it means administrating for God.
We are administrating God’s authority in God’s house.
And so as far as heaven is concerned, there is no higher court of Authority than the local assembly.
One assembly is not over another assembly. Every assembly administrates for God and in reality it is a little picture of what is going to fill the whole world.
Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians that believers are enriched in all knowledge.
This is what the assembly should be right now – be enriched in all knowledge.

What will the earth be like in the millennium?
The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.
So right NOW the assembly should be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.
In chapter 6 Paul writes that the saints will judge the angels in the coming day.
You should be judging in the assembly right now.
Chapter 11 discusses Headship and the head covering of the sisters.
We are reminded that this is what is going to mark the whole world in the coming day.
The Headship of the Lord Jesus will be recognized.

In Chapter 13 Paul writes on the fullness of love in the assembly.
This too is going to mark the world in the coming day.

In Chapter 6, is the assembly’s willing surrender in consecration to the Lord Jesus.

Psalms too remind us that in the coming day, man will willingly sacrificing to the Lord and there will be a continual reminder of the death of Christ.
This we do now weekly in remembering the Lord in the symbols of bread and wine every Lord’s Day.

So what will fill the whole earth in the coming day we do NOW in the assembly.
Do we realize what a privilege it is to be linked to the House of God?
You are God’s beta program before He rolls it out to the whole world and we have the privilege now to be linked with a rejected Savior, upholding Him and giving Him pleasure.

How is this Authority and Consecration carried out in the Assembly?
In the Assembly there needs to be fairness
The need to deal with widows.
To know how to deal with those who bring accusations.

What does Paul write to Timothy in 5:21?
1Ti 5:21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
The strongest charges are in being fair!

God expects an assembly to be marked by fairness and honesty –
In Proverbs God spoke of hating a false balance – why?
Because when men make judgments they represent God. So when an overseer makes a decision, it is a decision that heaven has already made and we are carrying it out!
So Paul says it is very serious to make a judgment and then WILLINGLY make it wrong!

God’s Presence and Purity:
When Jesus went into the Temple HE said “Take these things out of my house”
These were things that did not belong in the House of God.
So this epistle written to Timothy reminds us that the House of God demands purity of life.
Paul also reminds Timothy to be an example of purity among other things.
He reminds him of maintaining the purity in relationships between men and women.
He writes of pious and holy widows.
So we see that there is a STANDARD that God has established for His house, and He has only ONE STANDARD for all. God places no difference between a leader or a follower, between young believers or old believers, if a person in sitting in the assembly or at the back seat of the assembly. God has ONE STANDARD for all believers and that STANDARD is to be HOLY.

Recall what Peter writes:
1Pe 1:14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
1Pe 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
1Pe 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
1Pe 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

So if we call him ‘Father’… then follows the incentive “Be you holy for I am holy!”
So the STANDARD for Christian living that is linked with the House of God is Holiness.

Commitment and Consecration:
If the assembly is to prosper, then it must have committed believers.
What it means is that I cannot just come and go. I cannot expect others to bear the burden of testimony. If my heart has been won for the Lord Jesus Christ, then I will want to please Him.
If I value my life knowing that it has been purchased by the blood of Christ, I will seek to serve Him.
So then there has to be commitment if my gift is to be developed.
Does the way I serve God reflect how much God is worth to me?
Does what you pour into the assembly express what you think of God’s House?
Remember, what a house looks reflects the owner of the house and the occupant.
So if we allow the House of God to fall apart, then we don’t think much of the owner.
Paul urged Timothy to pour out his life and stir up his gift and develop it for God.
2Ti 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

In the assembly here we have young men with wonderful minds and sisters with intelligent minds.
Will you give your mind consecrating it to God to know Him and know His Word so you can serve His people better?
And then giving your mind to God for also the growth in your personal life?
Christian progress does not come by, by accident.
It is not like growing old … no matter how hard you try for it not to happen – it just happens.
So our Christian growth is not something that occurs naturally.
It requires commitment and consecration.
You have to make it priority in your life to get to know God better.
So commitment and consecration is needed for my gift to develop.
Commitment and Consecration is needed for growth in my Christian life.

To those given the Responsibility to guard the flock:
Shepherding God’s Assembly requires absolute commitment and consecration.
It involves tremendous sacrifice.
1Pe 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
1Pe 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
1Pe 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
1Pe 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
The writer of Hebrews writes of those who are watching as though to give up sleep to pray for the believers.
Does the way I shepherd God’s assembly reflect what I think of the SHEPHARD?
Every shepherd must love the SHEPHARD. And as he loves the SHEPHERD, he will love the sheep.
The shepherd is not a man who is power crazy. He is a man in love with Christ.
So to guard the flock, the shepherd must love the SHEPHARD.

Back in Genesis 28, this love was linked to giving. And so Jacob made his commitment and consecration when he said, if God is my God then He will bring me again to this place in safety and I will give Him a tenth.
In Chapter 6 we discover what kind of God we have.
God is a God who gives richly and liberally and so He expects believers to give likewise.
There is no such thing as a stingy godly person. Everything we own belongs to God.
We need to be marked by the same character of God in giving liberally.
Practically speaking – Why do we have an offering every Sunday when we come to remember the Lord?
Why does the Bible frequently link worship with giving?
Keep in mind whenever you give, what you give reflects what I think of the Lord Jesus Christ.
My giving should be out of commitment and consecration to Him.
It is an expression of worship of what I think of Him.
My giving expresses my worship of what I think of Him.
So that poor widow with her two mites was worshipping God, expressing that He was worth all she had!
And so we must be marked in the House of God by giving liberally.

Revelation and Responsibility:
We represent God and Christ here on earth. We do this individually … but notice:
1Ti 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.
1Ti 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
Putting this in another way:
The Lord Jesus when He was on earth manifested what God was like.
Today as House of God, we are to manifest what God is like here on earth.

If someone were to come into our meeting and observe … they should begin to understand what God is like just by the way we act and treat each other. It should be a revelation to them of what God is like.

  • Do we treat each other with love?
  • Is there kindness in our relationships with each other?
  • Are we marked by mercy or are we hard and cruel?
  • Are we gracious and gentle with each other?

Above all are we willing to forgive each other when problems occur?
This is what God is like.
We should represent God not just in our words but also in the way we treat each other.
We represent and reveal God to those who do not know Him and know what He is like.
We should be revealing His holiness and love, His forgiveness, mercy and faithfulness.
All that God is should be stamped on the local assembly.
We are not just ‘going to church’.
Gathering as a House of God is more than just ‘going to church’
We actually represent God in the world.
And by how the House is ordered we are telling people what God is like.

We are telling people about the Owner of the House. We are telling about the Occupant of the House.
We are revealing about the order of the House and we seek to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.
And so as we think of this tremendous truth, we realize we ARE the House of God.
And linked with being the House of God, we ARE the pillar and ground of TRUTH.
As ground of TRUTH, we protect the TRUTH.
As pillar we PROCLAIM the TRUTH.
And the way we protect the TRUTH is to PROCLAIM the TRUTH.
And we protect the TRUTH not just by what we say, but by what we do – not just preaching but also our actions one with the other.

May God stir us and inspire us for the great privilege of being part of the local House of God here on earth.

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