Reminded this morning that, while there are many facets to church life, there is only one standard. That, while shepherding a flock entails many areas of instruction and counsel, there is only one plumb line against which all teaching should be measured. That, while there are practical out-workings of faith in a local body of believers, it all needs to be built on a single, firm foundation. That standard? That plumb line? That foundation? Sound doctrine . . . in accordance with the glorious gospel.
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine . . . and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1Timothy 1:3, 10b-11 ESV)
Paul will deal with a number of “family issues” in this letter to Timothy so that the body at Ephesus would know “how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God” (1Tim. 3:14-15). But, out of the gate, he deals with the essence of the stewardship he had been entrusted with . . . the stewardship he had entrusted to Timothy . . . “the glorious gospel of the blessed God.” And at the heart of being a faithful steward was an unswerving resolve to align all things to sound teaching.
It would seem that it didn’t take long for this fledgling fellowship to move on from “the basics” and get into “more relevant” issues. That while the fundamentals might be fine for those new to the faith, there were more subtle and sophisticated matters which needed to be worked through. And Paul called these “deeper matters” myths and endless genealogies, “which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1:4). Things that caused some to “have wandered away into vain discussion” (1:6).
Seems that since the beginning of the church there has been a propensity by some to move off “the pat answers” and the “plain gospel” and into stuff that deals with real issues and gets below the surface of to what God really wants us to know. But what was needed at Ephesus, according to Paul, was to stay aligned to the fundamentals . . . that stuff which plainly held forth the glorious gospel of the blessed God.
That’s the stewardship. It’s the treasure of God’s good news . . . the truths of God’s redemptive story, from Genesis to Revelation. And, at the core of this stewardship, is a belief that any illumination concerning the Scriptures which is of the Spirit, is for the intent of revealing God’s glorious plan to rescue man from sin and death.
A belief that all that is revealed concerning the essence of man being made in God’s image . . . of the fall of man from his intended place in creation . . . of the promises to a patriarch and his people to be a source of God’s blessing for all nations . . . of the story of God’s ancient people . . . of the songs of David and the inspired declarations of the prophets . . . of the birthing of a new people, called out from both Jew and Gentile, to form the spiritual body of God’s Son, and be a holy people shining forth light in a dark world, all the while being transformed into the likeness of their Savior to, one day, be presented to Him as a spotless bride . . . that all of it has been revealed for the purpose of making known the glorious gospel of the blessed God.
That which varies from this standard is, at best, unprofitable and, at worst, dangerous.
Not to say there isn’t a place for higher and deeper thinking than many of us are able to do ourselves . . . but that, at the end of the day, it’s about a stewardship not an academic exercise. And that it needs to come back to, and align with, sound doctrine. And that, in order to profit a world that is dark and church that is called to be light, it needs to be in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God.
By His grace . . . for His glory . . .