Alfred Place Baptist Church

3:14-15 The Glorious Body of Christ

1 Timothy 3:14-15. “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing these instructions so that, if I am delayed, 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.”

Let us imagine a certain soccer club and in its first team there is not a player under contract with it who is valued less than eight million in transfer fees. Everyone of the team plays for his country, and each one is constantly being head-hunted by the biggest clubs in Italy, France and Spain. The goalkeeper has let in less goals than any goalie in the history of the league. The back four are a formidable defence unit and seem to work and think like one man. The centre backs are brilliant both in defence and attack, and the forwards surpass one another in the number of goals they score each week. So the players are outstanding. They are the best in the nation. This club has to be a magnificent club to attract and keep such players. Keep that analogy in mind and let me apply it to the people of God.

There is this church, and its elders are above reproach, temperate, self-controlled, hospitable, not violent but gentle, great family men, with a good reputation from outsiders. Its deacons are worthy of respect, sincere, proved and tested men, fathers of happy families. Their wives don’t have a malicious bone in their bodies, kind-hearted and trustworthy in everything. This church must be a remarkable congregation to have such men in its leadership.

That is Paul’s approach here. He has told us in the first 13 verses in this chapter of the most visible figures in leadership in the assembly, and they are simply outstanding men and women through what God in his mercy has done to them. The playing life of a footballer is about a dozen years and then his body begins to let him down and he begins to slide from the top of his profession. Then his salary of a million a year keeps pace with the decline. These preachers, elders and deacons, however, keep going, for no remuneration at all, for fifty years serving God and caring for people. Throughout a half a century or more they display godlike values. What sort of organisation can this be which can attract and sustain such a company of men and women? Paul is about to tell us.

The apostle introduces his theme like this. He tells Timothy that he is uncertain exactly when he can get to Ephesus (v.14). He hopes it will be soon, but in the meantime, almost as a stopgap measure, but aware of the power of the written word he is sending this fascinating letter to Timothy in order to tell him how people should behave who are church members. “I am writing,” Paul says (v.14), and the consequences of that action for us all over the last two thousand years are simply immeasurable. Authors may write their books today and some in the church are quite interested for a time, but every Christian will be turning continually to what these apostles of Jesus Christ actually wrote down until the end of the world. Who today reads John Robinson’s “Honest to God”? How many churchgoers have even heard of the book? But in 1963 when I was a theological student that book had sold a million copies world-wide and many were constrained to read that ‘contemporary’ statement of who God is. How quaint the book seems today, like a black and white TV set. You see copies of “Honest to God”, along with the New English Bible, gathering dust in the religious section of every second-hand book shop. But the words of these gospels and letters of the New Testament endure in a remarkable way. What Paul has been writing is not simply high theology but also practical requirements for daily living. “People ought to conduct themselves” in a certain way in the church (v.15). In the world there is pluralism in behaviour, and no one knows what is right or wrong. That is not how it is for those who profess themselves to belong to the living God. We live by the touchstone of these New Testament words.

What then is the church which attracts such leaders? Paul tells Timothy that three things characterise the church.

1. The Church is God’s Household.

In Old Testament times God was seen to be living in a home which was a tent or a tabernacle in the middle of the people of God. Their whole encampment was set out to emphasise this. There were three tribes with their tents to the north of the Tabernacle, three to the south, three to the east, and three to the west. At the heart of them all God lived. All the time they moved across the desert and during the early years they were settling into Canaan the presence of this ‘house’ and the Person living in it had a fluctuating influence over the people. Think of it like an important person coming to stay for a few days in your home: initially everyone is in awe of him, and very careful about what you do and say, and then familiarity makes us take him for granted. That was the history of the Old Testament people of God. God’s home was in the midst of his people and they had to walk there to meet with the Lord. God himself said, “There I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified to my glory” (Ex.29:43). So the Tabernacle was called a “Tent of Meeting.” Later the house of God became a more permanent structure, the Jerusalem temple.

But the striking new covenant promise of God in the prophecy of Ezekiel was, “My dwelling place will be with them” (Eze.37:27). God says that he planned to come very close and his home would be in their actual neighbourhood. Not one of them could have imagined how close the Lord would come. But John, speaking of the coming of the Son of God into the world, tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). God the Son pitched his tent in our world, sharing a home with a family, attending weddings, sleeping on a boat, eating and drinking with friends in an upper room. So you did not have to go to the Temple any longer in order to meet with God, you went to the Lord Jesus Christ. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father …I am in the Father and the Father is in me,” (John 14:9-10). Stephen preaches to the Sanhedrin and he tells them, “the Most High does not live in houses made by men” (Acts 7:48). Where does he live? Where Jesus Christ is, there is God. Where two or three are gathered together in Jesus’ name there is God. Do people love the Lord Jesus and obey his teaching? What a privilege they enjoy – “My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit “who is in you, whom you have received from God” (I Cor.6:19). Paul could say, “Christ lives in me” (Gals.2:20).

So when Christian people come to that empty building we call a church they bring the indwelling God with them. Think of William Cowper’s lines in his hymn, “Jesus, where’er Thy people meet”…

For Thou, within no walls confined,
Inhabitest the humble mind:
Such ever bring Thee where they come,
And going, take Thee to their home.
A congregation of Christ-indwelt people is one of the homes of God. The New Testament’s focus is never on a building. The church is a body of people who have received the Lord into their lives. “The House of Windsor” is not a building but the royal family. The church is the divine family of God. What privileges then the household of God will know:-

i] Acceptance in the family of God. Our Father has made a beggar like Lazarus, whose sores were licked by dogs, his own son and heir. Any time day or night this poor man could run into the presence of God and say, “Abba, Father!” to be greeted by the divine welcome of his loving parent. God even says of Lazarus, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased,” and he loves him with the same love wherewith he loves his only begotten Son. It is an unbelievable thought and one we need to apply to rising doubts. Our status in the church does not depend on our limping staggering walk before God, but upon that majestic life of Christ, coram Deo, which always brought a smile of delight to the face of his Father. So in God’s beloved Christ we too are accepted, however inconsistent and fitful our lives.

If God has accepted us then we also accept all his people. There can be no racial, economic or class discrimination in the household of God. We are all the children of God. We all have the rights to the privileges of that family, the right hand of fellowship, membership, access to the table, office in the congregation, the ministry of mercy, pastoring care, prayerful support at times of need. All over the world there are Christians who are stretching out their hands to us as our brethren, and we dare not reject them. If there is the spirit of the elder brother in our hearts, which cannot rejoice when a prodigal comes back to the household, let us cry mightily to God for grace to mortify that spirit and accept every child who comes back to God, to love them, bear and forbear with them, rebuke and correct them graciously whenever such actions are needed, in all the reciprocity of the family of God.

ii] Provision in that household. As David, because of his love for Jonathan, welcomed his son Mephibosheth to his household and told him that he could sit at his table for the rest of his life, so our Father for the great love he has for his Son Jesus Christ welcomes all those who believe in the Lord to become his beneficiaries. He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies, and our cup runs over from the lavishness of his provision. Every child can expect to be supported according to his father’s means. What inexhaustible riches God has. He will supply all the needs of all his children according to his resources, and they are the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Those in the household of God do not get all they desire. The Father does not answer every prayer for prosperity that his children bring to him. But he does supply all their needs, and of those needs he is the judge by the wisest and most loving of criteria. All we need to hallow his name, to do his will, to gain conformity to the image of Christ, to persevere to the end – these needs he will most certainly supply. We shall lack no good thing. Sometimes our hopes will be dashed and our worst fears realised or even surpassed, but we will lack nothing that is for God’s glory. If we have left our own households, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, fields and employment to attach ourselves to his household we will not fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age, homes, siblings, parents and job satisfaction – and with them many persecutions – and, in the age to come, eternal life.

In this household of God all the residents receive daily bread in a convenient supply. If he sends any of his children out on special service then he will meet all financial and material needs incidental to that work, so that it will be done in a God-honouring way, because he knows we cannot serve him without daily bread. But he will not give us now what we will need in twenty years’ time. It is provision for each day that our Father gives.

There are times when we long for our parents’ arms to hold us again as they did when we might have fallen or when our hearts broke. That grace will also be supplied in this household. There will be times when some of his children know sorrow and bereavement, strains and stresses, bewilderment, and constant pressures. Sometimes the very framework of their lives seems to be collapsing and they are separate from all that is most dear and precious. There are periods when difficulties seem to accumulate and they are under temptation to discouragement, depression, bitterness and self-pity. Then they cry, “Help me! Keep me patient. Keep me contented and courageous and unselfish. Keep me remembering that my chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.” God will supply that need, no matter how tremendous the pressure is. That is why this household of God is such a happy home, why there are so few grumbles, little bitterness and impatience because the Father is meeting the needs of all his children. Our greatest problem is often to fail to trust our Father.

He also will in the midst of every trial make a way of escape that we are able to bear them. There are time when Satan has such immediacy and eloquent access to his children. An unchristian lifestyle is made to seem so attractive. There are occasions when pressures are brought to bear upon those who live within the household of God to leave that home and defy the will of the Father. We can raise many excuses at those times and blame our upbringings, and temperaments and habits and the company we keep and the weakness of the ministry we are sitting under. But we have only our own free choice to blame. Because there is always a way of escape that the Father provides which will give us deliverance. The trial is never unbearable because each temptation creates a need. “Father, I am in a trial. Meet the need! Father I am under pressure. Meet the need! Father I have a family. Meet the need!”

If the household of a Rockefeller can expect to live sumptuously, how much more the household of God! The Father will supply our needs gloriously. Sometimes we contemplate God as if he were reluctant to give to his dependants. When we meet together to speak to him we often rehearse in his presence our trials, and sufferings, and privations, and heartaches. It is not that way. It is not a soup kitchen where we have to eat, it is a feast.

Part of our testimony to the world is to tell them how great it is to live in the household of God. Our Father marvellously takes care of his home. We love to be there with him. What great moments and days we can remember. Sometimes he has poured his love over our heads and hearts. Down it has flowed to the hem of our garments. We have had a clear vision and far off we can see the goal. We have known full assurance of faith. He has filled our hearts with the love of God. All this household are in Christ Jesus, from the youngest servant to the most revered senior members of the family. All are dealt with as part of that unbreakable union. The Lord never treats us as mere individuals but as those who are one with Christ for ever.

iii] Discipline. All God’s household are under the discipline of their Father because he loves them. He will not allow them to destroy their own lives. The household has rules which the Head imposes. So they can’t bring their girlfriends home for the night. They can’t bring drugs home. The are not allowed to bring their friends home with bottles of whiskey to watch unspeakable videos together. It is not their household, and the Father will not allow them to turn it into a drinking den or a house of ill repute.

Everyone in God’s household is given the rules. This letter of Paul to Timothy is part of those rules. They know what the Father loves and also of what he disapproves, and if they defy him then there in no one in the household who will escape his warnings and his chastenings – if the warnings go by unheeded. All this nurture and admonition comes out of his love. He does not neglect his household. No child of his can complain, “But you never had time for me … you were such a bully … you were never here … you loved the other children and neglected me.” They all had tender loving care, and his rules were not strict nor were they savagely enforced. But they were enforced: “because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (Hebs. 12:6).

So those are the blessings that come from being in God’s household.

2. It is the Living God’s Church.

The word ‘church’ is the translation of a Greek word from which we get our word ‘ecclesiastical.’ It means basically a group of people assembled together. God has an ‘assembly,’ or a company who have been called out and called together. It is not a word invented by the apostles. Ephesus, where Timothy was, already had another ‘assembly’ (Acts 19:32) which tried Gaius and Aristarchus (who were the first Christians in the city) for causing a riot when the gospel was initially brought there. But now Timothy was pastoring in Ephesus the alternative assembly, what Paul refers to in our text as “the church of the living God” (v.15). Conflicting assemblies are to be found in every community. There is one assembly that meets, for example, in a club and another assembly meets in a pub or a bar. People are very loyal to their assemblies. But there is this assembly – the church of the living God. What can we say about it? “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic church” says the Apostles’ Creed. The church is there defined as ‘catholic’ and it is ‘holy.’ Two useful definitions that will let us into this phrase:

i] This assembly of the living God is a catholic church, that is, it is world-wide. It is not merely ‘our’ assembly – the group we belong to and worship with on Sundays. It also includes the church that met at Ephesus under the ministry of Timothy over 1900 years ago. If you stand on the promenade and look out to sea at Aberystwyth you may say, “That is the Irish Sea.” So it is. But the Irish Sea is more – much more – than the little stretch of sea which laps our bit of shoreline. If you stood on the edge of the Belfast Lough, over 200 miles from our promenade to the north-west, you would be looking at the same Irish Sea. While to men standing on the quay side in Rosslare in the Irish Republic, over 200 miles to the south-west, the same Irish Sea is before them. You could vastly expand the illlustration and say that the sea that washes the Welsh shore is the Atlantic ocean and that it stretches down to the tip of South America.

So it is with the church of the living God. It is immensely vast and colourful. It includes a group of people I know who assemble under a tree in Yala in western Kenya . Then there is a congregation in Seattle most of whose men work for Boeing and build jumbo jets. There is a church in Israel which has to meet on a Saturday morning when no one works, and there the Hebrew worship is translated into Russian and English. There are high-tech Japanese Christians in Tokyo and fishermen in the Scottish Hebrides and computer designers in ‘Silicon Valley’ near Los Angeles, and there is even a church which meets in a Bolivian prison. The church contains women who have believed the gospel for eighty years, and infants who have just learned that the Son of God’s name is Jesus, and that he loves them because “the Bible tells me so.”

The church is catholic not only in that it stretches all over the world but that it goes right back across the centuries. John Bunyan belongs to the same community as you and I do. So do Ann Boleyn, Felix Mendelsohn, Robert E.Lee, Cliff Richard, Lord Mackay, Eric Liddell. Even Daniel, Moses, Abraham and Sarah are in the same church because they belonged to the same Lord. Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, and Zacchaeus called down out of a sycamore-fig tree, and Chuck Colson called out of the White House’s corruption in Washington D.C.. So too have you and I been summoned out of our unbelief into the assembly of Christian believers. As already has been said, the word ‘church’ means ‘those who are called out’ from all of human history and from all over the world.

ii] This assembly is a holy catholic church. The word ‘world’ in the New Testament often has moral associations. When Christians are told not to love the ‘world’ then that is defined for us as ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.’ It is out – from that world – that all the members of the church are called to live very different lives – holy lives. We witness holy living in many Christians. I think of a mother accepting with exemplary peace the death of her son; a young couple longing to have children but refusing to have in vitro fertilisation because of the destruction of unused fertilised eggs; a woman who regularly goes to visit a retiring girl who doesn’t enjoy being with crowds of people; a man who lives on the edge of a vast African slum, who has been held up at gun point, but who stays there teaching the Bible with his wife and little boy. We look at all that sanctified living and know that there is much more. Then we say that we believe in a holy catholic church.

Dr. Cornelius Plantinga illustrates the holiness of the church by recalling this incident: “A high school student had leukemia. He became very sick – not only from the disease but also from the cure. The killer chemicals that doctors aimed at his cancer made him retch and throw up. What was to him even worse, the chemicals caused his hair to fall out in clumps. Being sick was bad enough, but the thought of returning to school bald filled him with horror and dread. But he did it. He went to class on the day he was expected back. Walking timidly into his first class, he was astonished to see a whole group of his friends with their hair shaved down to their scalp. Their shaven heads told him they cared about him and wanted to share his burden. Those bald heads that day became reflectors of the glory of God. The church can be like that. It can show a beauty of holiness that makes you gasp” (Cornelius Plantinga, “A Sure Thing,” CRC Publications, 1986, p.223).

Do you see that we are not defining holiness in terms of a decision followed by baptism that a person went through many years ago? That is only the first rung of the ladder, and the mere beginning of being identified with the church. From that moment onwards there is the whole of the new life to be lived and the Christian is to go on growing in holiness, changing from glory to glory. Advancing in the knowledge of God, love of God, joy in God and sorrow for sin at every level of his spiritual life.

Of course, every step we advance is by the grace of God. John Newton was once speaking with a friend about Paul’s phrase, “by the grace of God I am what I am” and Newton said, “I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I wish to be. I am not what I hope to be. Yet I am not what I once was, a slave to sin and Satan. And by the grace of God I am what I am.” John Newton did not think of grace as a pleasant quality but the very power of God.

Do you see also that we are not defining holiness in terms of respectability? We have said that there are different assemblies in every town, and some meet in clubs and some meet in pubs and bars. We are not saying that ours is the respectable assembly, and that that is the reason we are different. How does Paul refer to the church here? He says that it “is the church of the living God.” He does not have a nostalgic bone in his body. He is not looking back to a golden period for the church on the day of Pentecost. He does not say that it was then the real church. But today it is the living God’s church in Aberystwyth and in the world. In other words, here are a people who have been wrought upon by God. The fact of their holiness is due to a transformation by a divine energy entering the very core of their beings and making everything new. They are not holy people because of education and upbringing and good advice. It is all the result of the infinite and invincible power of the living God which has laid hold of them.

So when we ask to explain what is the church we are not simply an assembly of bourgeois men and women, kind and charming folk (though I hope we are that), and that is all. We are a people set aside by the living God, and radically transformed by him in the depths of our beings, and finally and irreversibly renewed. In other words a true church can only be explained in terms of the continuous workings of the life-giving Lord who supernaturally and sovereignly has been operating in the lives of the congregation.

Are our lives like that? Is there something in the life of the whole church which can only be explained in terms of the living God? I am not talking in terms of certain heightened feelings during a service, grand and pleasurable though those may be. I am talking about holy lives that can only be explained in terms of this, that the living Lord who was crucified on Calvary rose from the dead and is reigning by his grace in our lives. You know the way John saw this in Revelation? He saw the river of the waters of life, and they had flowed from the throne of God and the Lamb. So there were people he knew, and their lives could only be explained in terms of that Throne and that Lamb. Our lives only make sense in reference to tapping the power of the living God. There in Ephesus in the shadow of the great temple to Diana there was this assembly – the church of the living God.

3. The Church is the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth.

The church has the truth. Let us start there with that modest affirmation. God has given us in this congregation the truth, but not to our congregation only. I say certainly not the Reformed Baptists only. I have an old exercise book of one of my daughters at home, and she has written down her name and address in the front of this book in a way many children do.

Catrin Tomos,
The Manse,
Buarth Road,
Aberystwyth,
Ceredigion,
Wales,
United Kingdom,
Europe,
Northern Hemisphere,
Earth,
Solar System,
The Milky Way,
The Universe.

That is where she was located, very specifically: useful for anyone living outside the Universe to know where to contact her. Not any old ‘Tomos’ but it is this Catrin Tomos you could get in touch with: the solar system Catrin Tomos.

We are saying that this congregation has the truth and we who have professed faith belong to it, but that there are other Christian congregations, and all Christians identify with one or another of those. That church may be Reformed Baptist like ours. We have been greatly influenced by the leaders of the Reformation like Luther and Calvin and Zwingli. We are called Reformed Churches and like the Presbyterians and Anglicans we are Protestant rather than Greek Orthodox or Roman Catholic. Yet the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics are Trinitarian in their Christianity. None of us is Islamic or Buddhist. So my own address might be something like this:

Geoff Thomas,
Alfred Place Reformed Baptist Church,
Association of Evangelical Churches of Wales,
Protestant Churches,
Trinitarian Churches,
Universal Church purchased by Jesus Christ.

But that does not exactly capture the picture. We adapt the words of John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan and say, “I’m first a Christian, next a Catholic, then a Calvinist, fourth an evangelical, and fifth a Baptist. I cannot reverse this order.” Of course we know our own church the best. Here we learned of the Lord Jesus. Here we were baptized. Here we first listened and sang and broke bread and gave. Here we have mince-pies at Christmas, and a big August Conference, and students who inspire us with their discipleship. We are one of the rooms off the great central hall where all Christians move about from Monday to Saturday bumping into one another, talking and helping one another, acknowledging one another as Christians who believe the great truths of the faith, but every Sunday we go into one of the smaller rooms where there is central heating and seats and we grow in our love of the Bible and the Lord of the Bible there. We like our own room best, naturally, but we don’t run down the other groups who meet in all the other rooms.

God has given his truth to his church. It is good news about his Son, Jesus Christ. The long-promised Messiah, the light of the world, has come. As someone has said, “He was born like no other man before or since. He died, conquering his fear and going toward the darkness. They buried him; and when they went for his body it wasn’t there. Neither friend nor foe was ever able to produce it. He had risen. Death was exposed in all its falsehood. It had masqueraded as the last word. It was only the word before the last.” This living Saviour offers himself to become the forgiveness of every sinner who will come to him. Jesus will give them rest. He will become their Shepherd, and Teacher and Reward. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. That is the truth which we believe in this church. It has two aspects:

i] We are the foundation of the truth. This word ‘foundation’ can also refer to a buttress or bulwark, all of which supports and stabilises the truth. The church consists of those people who hold the truth steadily against the storms of unbelief. That is what Timothy had to do in Ephesus. This is what Luther did in Germany at the time of the Reformation, and Bunyan in England the next century, and Jonathan Edwards in America the following century, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon did in London the last century, and what thousands of churches like ours are doing today. The truth rests on us, and we are upholding it. It is a burden, and we feel the incredible embarrassment of our claim. We are the tiniest proportion of people in this whole continent of Europe, and we limping ordinary Christians are telling everyone that we are the ones who have the truth? But you remember, we are saying that because the Lord Jesus Christ said it. “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). And the One who lived the life he lived, and taught what he taught, and did what he did is worthy of being heard. It is an extraordinary burden in an apathetic generation to say, “We are upholding the truth.” There is nowhere to run, but how can you run while carrying a foundation? You must stand and fight, and that will be blessed by God. We become more than conquerors through him that loved us. Hold to the truth. Keep upholding it.

Think of a cowardly regiment, running away in battle, and the victorious army is firing its arrows after the men, picking them off one by one. The faint-hearted think there is a place of safety for them not far away, but as the last surviving soldier glimpses the refuge he is shot down too. Once we think of retreating, and conceding this area of truth and that foundational teaching, then in the end there are no foundations left. And “if the foundations be destroyed, what will the righteous do?” So we have to stand firm and cry to God for help. No one ever cried in vain. “Be steadfast and unmoveable!” So we can say to the world, “Here is a foundation. You can build your life on this.”

ii] We are the pillar of the truth. “The purpose of pillars is not only to hold the roof firm, but to thrust it high so that it can be clearly seen even from a distance. The inhabitants of Ephesus had a vivid illustration of this in their temple of Diana or Artemis. Regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world, it boasted 100 Ionic columns, each over 18 metres high, which together lifted its massive, shining marble roof. Just so the church holds the truth aloft, so that it is seen and admired by the world…the church’s function is not to advertise itself but to advertise and display the truth” (John Stott, “The Message of I Timothy & Titus,” IVP, 1996, p.105).

Perhaps there are over a million true Christians in the British Isles today. It is far more than all the membership of the political parties put together. The Welsh Labour Party can barely muster ten thousand members. The proportion of nominal churchgoers is at an all time low. There are no social advantages to be gained from attending church today. Those who go to services like our own do so because they are in dead earnest. We have buildings in central locations all over our land – many more of them and better placed than Marks and Spencers stores. We have British Bible Schools currently training a thousand young people for Christian service. There is a network of Christian Bookshops everywhere all complaining that they do not have enough room to display all the books that are being published. We have pastors and evangelists and student workers. There are extraordinary financial resources. I have never heard of a work failing because there was not enough money to keep it going. There is wonderful Christian stewardship giving so generously to spreading the truth week by week. We usually do not spend our money on cigarettes and alcohol and designer clothes and make-up, and so we have money to give for spreading the message of the Bible. There are not just our Sunday services, there are Bible Study Groups, and Sunday Schools, and Young People’s Fellowships, and University and College Christian fellowships, and summer camps and outreach weeks, and many similar enterprises.

Every month there is a different conference and a different magazine. There is a Christian radio station that broadcasts from France to Great Britain. Every work-place has a Christian presence, say, a scientist, a teacher, a doctor, a solicitor who have all excelled in the most demanding walks of life. And every church has inherited a tradition of wise patterns of worship and congregational structures which have stood the test of time.

We are saying that the church is lavishly resourced, and if we are failing to be a pillar for the truth then it is not for lack of divine provision nor for want of means, but because we have messed things up and grown lazy. We have been given the truth to tell to a nation in darkness. Men need not stay one hour longer in the misery of life without God. The Light of the world has dawned in the appearing of Jesus Christ. “I am the truth,” he has claimed. We say to the world. Examine him. Look to the Lord Jesus – that life, that teaching, those stupendous achievements. This is the truth, and it can make you free.

9 December 1999 Geoff Thomas