A Homestead for the Family of God
Dirt Day Celebration–1 Timothy 3:15
Repeat after me, “Wagons, Ho!” Again, “Wagons, Ho!” For 18 years, we’ve been huntin’ buffalo, makin’ clothes out of deer hide, eatin’ berries and roots, and livin’ on a wagon. FBC has been a set up/take down church for 18 years. We’ve been on a wagon train headed to the promised land. We’ve been blessed with decent wagon masters–the elders. The difficult foraging was accomplished by our deacons and set up/driving team.
Occasionally, we’ve even had to eat some bark, chew on some leather and not bathe for days. We’ve suffered some attacks, floods, disease, freezing, heat, stampedes, and the difficulty of living intimately with hundreds of others. But just like real pioneers who went through all that hardship together, all of our struggle has made us into a very special family.
Very soon, God will bring us to a place where we can establish a homestead–not a fort, not a castle, not a rockin’ chair, and not a church. But a piece of land and a building where the church can gather to worship our Lord, live for His glory, work to produce fruit, feed the believer, counsel those in crisis, care for the hurting and proclaim the good news to this region, southern California, the U.S., and the world.
This will be our fire base in enemy territory to show off Christ. This will be our grange to gather, to celebrate, instruct, and feed starving souls. This will be our base of worldwide ministry to exalt God, equip the saints, encourage through ministry, discipleship and shepherding, evangelize the lost and establish the church locally and worldwide. We want to see ten FBCs in the next twenty years.
This coming place is where we hope to see the church be F.A.I.T.H.–a Family of families, under the Authority of the Word, pursuing Intimacy with Christ, Trained in the Christian disciplines with Heart for the lost. What should churches like ours do as we wrap up our wagon train experience? Paul gives a charge to all churches, especially wagon train churches, in 1 Timothy 3:14-15.
Read with me the purpose verse of 1 Timothy, which is 1 Timothy 3:15, “I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” In this verse, Paul is calling the Church to pursue three major truths.
#1 We each have a ROLE
Paul said, “I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself.” The word know means to get the information needed in order to work something–like trying to understand program install instructions, or using a new app on your iPhone. God has given us the information we need in order to find our place in the Church and do our part. God has given each of us a role in His family. What is sad today, because of bad teaching and weak churches, most believers do not know how one ought to conduct himself.
If I were to ask you, what does God expect of you as a Christian in the Church, most believers would say, “Sure–I should attend church when I can.” That is not it, friends. First of all, the Bible commands you to attend church–that’s not an option. God commands us to gather, and gathering is what the Church is–the Church by nature is an assembly. You don’t go to church–you corporately are the Church.
You gather to worship, be equipped, and manifest ourselves as the body of Christ. Hebrews 10:24 to 25 asks, are you the disdained “some”? “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
But how you conduct yourself in the church is much more than mere attendance. The Church is a family, not a facility. The Church is a body, not a building. And when Christ saved you, He immersed you into His body. First Corinthians 12:12, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.”
No Christian can live a healthy spiritual life without a biblical inter-connectedness to a local church. Those not immersed in a body are raising questions as to their salvation, because all born again believers know they are absorbed into a Christian community. You say, “That’s a little strong.” No, notice verse 15, “know how one ought to conduct himself.” Ought is an ongoing verb meaning necessary.
Your involvement and inter-connectedness in a local church is ongoing and necessary. You continually need to know the facts of your necessary involvement in a local church. Like a family living on a homestead, you each have a part to play and a job to do along with your regular duties. Think about it–on a wagon train or a homestead, you need people to lead, protect, guide, hunt, cook, till, sow, harvest, build, repair, organize and feed, or life can’t be sustained.
Not for an exceptional church, but just a regular, average, every day, biblical church–what are some of your responsibilities according to the Word of God–what’s your role? How do you conduct yourself in the Church? What is the behavior of each believer in the Church?
First It is your responsibility to do the WORK of ministry
Local churches everywhere have messed up God’s basic expectation for each Christian. But Ephesians 4:11 is clear, “And He gave some as . . . pastors and teachers, [why?] 12for the equipping of the saints [what do the saints do?] for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” Notice the text–God’s job is to supply the Church with mature leaders. The pastor’s job is to equip the saints. The saints’ job is to do the work of ministry to each other, in order to build up one another.
God gives pastor/teachers to the church not to do all the work, but for them to equip the saints of that church so that they would do the work of the ministry. All the elders are to be able to teach, but God gives the church one or more elders who can equip the believers of that church. To equip is a powerful verb in Greek. It means to mend the net, supply the army, to mend the bone–through the power of the Spirit, using only God’s Word, build up and mature believers, fixing whatever is lacking in the believers in that church.
To equip is to bring a believer to completion, to fit them for a purpose. Not to pose in a mirror, but the purpose is the work of ministry. You do the labor, deeds, actions, of service, of ministry, or aiding others and giving help. Pastors are not to do all the visitation—you are. Elders are not to write all the notes of encouragement—you are. Staff members are not to arrange all the care, counseling or comforting—you are. Shepherds are not to do all the shepherding or programing or planning—you are.
Your role in the church individually is to do the work of ministry, and when you each do your part, then the entire church family grows more like Christ in love. Ephesians 4:16, “From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” What’s your role in the church?
Second It’s your responsibility to serve faithfully with your GIFTEDNESS
Similar to doing the labors of ministry is ministering your special gift to the church. The difference is this–the work of ministry is often actions we all need to do because you know they represent the heart of Christ. Acts of sacrifice, helping someone move, making a meal, caring for a brother or sister, that we all do.
But giftedness is the way God made you in order to show off Christ. Peter describes it this way in 1 Peter 4:10 and 11, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Here, Peter is not describing your singing, cooking, or Lego-building talents. When you were born again, the Spirit gifted you in service, helps, teaching, preaching, administration, giving, governing, mercy, helping, exhortation, evangelism, knowledge, or wisdom. These are special ways God gave you to show off Jesus Christ. Gifts are a window of Christlikeness, a God-given ability for unique service in the body of Christ.
Gifts are how we treat each other. Gifts are how we are to look at each other–not as the gal with the weird habit, not as the guy with the funny personality. But looking at others as the saint gifted to show off Christ in a way no one else can. Gifts are beyond acts of service, they’re actually a passion you pursue because you want to. You may get physically tired from using your giftedness, but never tired of using your giftedness. Your giftedness reflects a personal passion, a fruitfulness in others’ lives as people are supernaturally impacted to come to Christ or become like Christ, as you minister with your giftedness.
You have a gift–do you know it, are you using it? And when all of us use our gifts in the church, we all see more of Christ and we all become more like Christ. “I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself.” Your role in the Church is to serve in ministry, then listen to those who you minister to and those leaders who watch you minister, so you can discover your giftedness. It is a command, and it is a role each and every one of you fulfills. This is how you behave in the Church. Do you know how you are to act in the Church?
Third It’s your responsibility to give financially with your RESOURCES
Giving joyously, generously, and sacrificially from what God has given you is a clear command from your Savior to every single born again Christian. If you’re a junior higher to a can-age-no-higher, your Lord expects you to give. You struggle with giving because you are too bound to this world, you have a weak view of God, or you are untaught or unsaved. You give to God because Jesus examines your giving carefully. Giving displays your commitment. Giving brings you reward. Giving supports the church’s purposes to teach the Word and proclaim the Gospel. And giving glorifies God.
Giving is all over the New Testament, but a direct passage is 1 Corinthians 16:1 and 2, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.” Your role in the church is to give money. Look carefully at verse 2, “On the first day of every week”–the period is Sunday. “Each one of you”–the participants are each one of you who are saved. “Is to put aside and save”–the place is the church. “As he may prosper”–the proportion is a percentage of your income.
But how much should you give? You can hear a pin drop right now. Giving is to be sacrificial–it should cost you, like it cost Christ. Second Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” And giving is to be joyful. Second Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Do you know how you ought to conduct yourself in the Church? Most churches in America are like a professional football game. You see a professional football game is a happening where 50,000 spectators desperately needing exercise sit in the stands, watching 22 men on the field desperately needing rest. Too many Christians view their role in the body as a spectator and not a participant.
At FBC, every born again attender is a gifted minister and giver. We are to become the church of 1,000 ministers, all pulling together as a family to please the owner as we head toward our final, perfect home. But it will not work, unless each does our part and works together, because #1, we each have a role in this family.
#2 We each have a Relationship
Again, 1 Timothy 3:15 says, “I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” Household doesn’t refer to a building, but a body. It is not a program, but a people; not furniture, but family. There are no solo saints, no independent families, no isolated singles. The moment you were saved, you were immersed into the universal Church, which always finds its expression in a local church.
First Corinthians 12:13, you’re no longer selfish, but selfless; no longer independent but dependent; no longer friendless but in fellowship, no longer cut off but corporate. You cannot say you love the groom without loving His bride. You cannot say you love Christs without loving Christians. You cannot say you love God and not love His children.
First John 4:20, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” Those who love Christ, also love His Church. And as you live for Christ, you will also live for His Church. This is not a place you attend, but a family you belong to. It is not a building you enter, but a body you gather with. It is not an association you join, but an assembly you belong to.
For the born again, biblically astute believer, their life revolves around their church. Just as you live for Christ, you live for the church body–it is the household of God. “But,” you say, “I have so much to do with my spouse, my kids, my job, my school, my hobbies.” Yet if Christ is your first love, then His children will be your life, your family, your identity. You are in a relationship in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God.
First To one ANOTHER–the church
Paul says the household is the Church. The Church is a called-out group of people, a people set apart for God’s special purposes. We’re eternal brothers and sisters put together by God, for God. And the joy you feel in your heart today as you see these men, women and children around you is because God has given you a special relationship with each another.
Sixty-six times in the New Testament, God refers to our one another relationship. We are to love one another, serve one another, bear one another’s burdens, and confess our sins to one another. And more–as a family soon living together on a homestead, you have a working, alive and crucial relationship with one another. Positively, every family member has great value in God’s plan. And negatively, there are hundreds of commands in the New Testament you are disobeying unless you enjoy the community/family relationship God designed for you in the household of God.
I’m thankful you love God’s Word taught here, as we seek the author’s intended message alone–allowing the Bible to speak for itself in every way. I’m with John in 3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” On the foundation of God’s Word, every healthy church is to also enjoy unusually free fellowship.
We’ve worked hard to take the Lord and His Word seriously, but not ourselves. We’ve worked hard to deal with sinful bents, but also to make our main priority to focus not on each other’s weaknesses and sinful distortions, but to concentrate on each other’s spiritual gifts and passions in mutual appreciation. We’ve worked hard to take sin seriously, but encourage love covering a multitude of sins when it’s possible.
We’ve worked hard to help believers know that unintentional sin can be overlooked, but intentional, defiant sin must be confronted. We’ve work hard to remind you of God’s expectation for you to be filled with the Spirit and to also expect each other to live by the Spirit and not to live by the flesh. We’ve worked hard to make certain you know you can’t live the Christian life in your own strength, but that it requires dependent obedience in order to glorify God in anything.
We’ve worked hard to remind our church family just how difficult relationships are, but still labor to pursue one-anothering, fellowship, mutual ministry and most of all, discipleship–which is intentional relationships for the purpose of the Gospel and growth in Christ. Do you disciple or are you discipled intentionally? Investing? Fellowshipping? Praying? God has brought this about, God gets the glory, but the members of this church have worked hard to make this family a loving church. We still need to work hard. We have a relationship to one another, and God also says we also have a relationship . . .
Second To our GOD
Paul adds in 1 Timothy 3:15, “the church of the living God.” We are not aligning ourselves to a program, but a person. The living God, not a dead one–the God we know personally. We are the uniquely called-out people who belong to the real, alive, living God–not an idol, a philosophy, routine or religion. You are God’s child, God’s friend, God’s family. We have a real relationship with God together.
That’s why we hear His Word as written. That’s why we pray. That is why we worship with our entire lives and sing songs of praise. He is alive and our faith is to a living Savior. John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they may know You [intimately], the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Even in our fellowship, Christ is the center. You know what fellowship (koinonia) means–not red punch and stale cookies, not discussing the news or latest scores, not coffee and donuts, not brownies and ice cream, not hot dogs and sodas.
The word fellowship means sharing what we have in common with each other. Fellowship is sharing our common relationship with Jesus, with each another. When you stand and greet each other in services, it’s to show off Jesus Christ. When you’re at home, praying in your closet, studying the Bible– it is to glorify God. As we will be soon working together to keep the homestead productive, we will do so for the owner, the Lord of the land. The One we love first with everything we have, because He gave everything He had to rescue us.
When we sing, we are together exalting Him and encouraging each other. When we serve, we are pleasing Him and helping each other. Paul reminds Timothy, in the Church, each member of this household has a relationship with Christ and with each other. But why? What is the purpose of the local church?
#3 We each have a REASON
At the end of verse 15 it says, “we are the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” The Church, this church, is the pillar and support of the truth. Why would God say pillar? Pillars support buildings, but why would Paul add the word support? It sounds like the same thing–pillar that supports and support? It makes sense when you understand how the pillar was used.
A pillar did support buildings—but it also had another function, very much like the modern day telephone poll. A pillar was used as a communication device. You’ve seen the notices on telephone poles, right? The last one I read was, “Lost dog, mixed breed, tail broken in middle, one eye missing, balding in spots, lost right back leg, goes by the name Lucky”.
What do you see all over telephone poles? Ads, lost cat notices, buy my car, check out this event! Well, the ancient pillar was used like the telephone pole, it was used to announce things of importance. The pillar was used to broadcast community announcements. The pillar was a tool to proclaim. What is the reason for the family of God?
First To PROCLAIM
We’re here to share the good news. We’re to be a pillar in the community that points to Jesus Christ. We’re the pillar that people read in order to know how to find God. We together are the announcement that Jesus is alive and He is the only way of salvation. The church is not about us. The facility is not about us–it is us showing Christ off. It is us proclaiming the name of Christ. Send out people to proclaim Christ and impact others for Christ. It is not about our comfort, our ease, our accomplishments. We’re not reaching for the bench, but for greater playing time on this field of ministry.
As people come to our temporary homestead, this expression of Christ’s body–they’re to see our head. They are to see Christ. And as we go out from our homestead, we’re to bring spiritual food to the starving. And as we go out from this homestead, we will share the good news with those who need it.
Very soon, as we put the name of Jesus on a piece of land, with a tent and then coming building, we are saying, “All we do here is for Christ, and all who are a part of this church family belong to Him. And truly, all we care about is you knowing Him, living for Him and proclaiming Him.” We are the pillar that proclaims. The Gospel is first and foremost a message–the message that God saves sinners. You can’t save yourself.
No religion can forgive sin. No human can get right with God nor go to Heaven. No one can work your way to Heaven, but God chose to do the work. God sent his Son to suffer then die for your sin on the cross, then rise from the dead. And if in repentance you turn from your sin, hate it and it’s judged on the cross of Christ and by faith you completely give your life to Christ, you can be saved now and forever. But that good news should also be proven. Paul says the reason for the family being the pillar and support of the truth is also . . .
Second To PROVE
The Greek word support means to buttress, to back up. You not only proclaim Jesus, but you back the Gospel up with your life–individually sure, but especially our lives together corporately. You as a church. Philippians 1:27, “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” You don’t just lip Jesus, you live Jesus. How do we do that? Jesus said they will know you’re my family if you have what? Love for one another. And Jesus said the world would know He is real when they see our current unity. We prove Jesus is alive when we love each other with one heart.
Eighteen years is a long time to wait, but we have so much to look forward to. This wagon train has been an adventure. But I believe the Lord intends to use us in even greater ways than we can even imagine in our homestead. Ephesians 3:20 to 21, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Our Lord will use us greatly, as long as we depend on His strength and do all for His glory.
A. FBC is ALL for Christ
Are you ALL for Christ and ALL for His bride? We are far from perfect, we have many flaws, but this church family is ALL for Christ. We will teach His Word, from it develop sound doctrine and practice truth as best we can. There are some of you who’ve come to our church, benefit from it, but have no idea why and make no contribution to its health.
Today, you are called upon by your Lord to serve, to give, to pursue Christ, and to proclaim the Gospel. Will you worship Him today? You must not only hear the Word, but obey it. You must dependently practice the truth. Be a functioning member of a healthy church and serve, give, and plug in as family.
B. BELIEVE God for great things
BELIEVE He will use you, and BELIEVE He will use us. Pray, once the wagon train is over, God will use this coming homestead to impact this region, state, country, and world in even greater ways than you can even imagine. Talk about beginning churches, sending trained men, helping other churches, books, communication networks and other avenues we have yet to consider. Start praying your dreams for this church.
C. Commit to COME to Christ and BECOME like Christ
There is nothing more important than knowing Christ Jesus personally, and nothing worse than hearing from Christ, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” Make certain you are saved–you WANT to follow Christ, you’re WILLING to do anything Christ wants, and your heart desire is to WORSHIP Christ with your entire life. All in.
D. DETERMINE you will allow the Lord to DEVELOP you in every area
If you are not serving—start. Regularly giving 10%–begin. Sharing the Gospel—initiate. Helping—commence. Fellowshipping–instigate. Praying routinely–kick it off. Discipling or being discipled–launch in. Do not allow anything to hinder your obedience today to function as the Church.