THE CHURCH REDEDICATED
14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
— 1 Timothy 3:14-16, ESV
My early years in Christianity were spent in a church heavily influenced by fundamentalism and revivalism. Plenty of false piety and guilt were dished out every Sunday, followed by a lengthy “altar call.” The usual suspects would come forward, and since they were already professing believers and church members, their “decision” was always announced and celebrated as a rededication of their lives to Christ.
One lady came forward almost every Sunday. Often she was the only one. We thought she must have some deep, dark, sinful secret. However, we later learned she was shrewd and generous. She knew the Pastor would not stop the invitation until someone came forward, so she became the sacrificial lamb who brought the service to a close so we could all go to lunch!
Hyperbole aside, such heavy-handed methodologies have faded from view for the most part. The factors that manufactured them have proven shallow and counter-productive. But, let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
All Christians should profess their faith in Christ through baptism. All Christians should seek out, join, and be active in a local church. All Christians pass through stagnant or sinful phases and need to rededicate their lives to Christ. The church does well to highlight professions of faith and new church members, and some public forum is necessary. Rededications, however, are fit more for the prayer closet than a public presentation. Except for today. Today is rededication Sunday!
A Rededication of Two Things
Church means two things. She (the nouns we are about to discuss are both feminine, and the later is referred to as the bride of Christ) is a place and she is a people. Today we rededicate both to God.
“Kirk” is the English version of a German word for “church” that began to be used during the days of The Great Reformation. It refers to the building where Christians gather for worship. We often speak of going to church, which is not wrong when “kirk” is the interpretive term.
Buildings are inanimate objects, yet they speak loudly. High, vaulted ceilings speak of the transcendence and holiness of God, while low, flat ceilings speak of the imminence and love of God. Brightly lit churches speak of revelation, reason, and accountability, dark churches draw on emotion, feeling, and anonymity. Most of all, a clean, well-maintained house of God communicates a seriousness of purpose, while broken down, unkept buildings convey a sense of laxity and unconcern for God and the community.
On one hand we rededicate this building, this kirk, by doing the best we can with what God has given us for His glory and the good of all people. We rededicate ourselves to keeping her beautiful, clean, and functional, for God is glorious, Jesus saves, and the Christian life is abundant and eternal. Amen.
On the other hand, we rededicate much more than a building that belongs to God, we rededicate the people who belong to God. “Ecclesia” is the biblical word for “church” in the New Testament Greek language and it is transliterated in almost every other language. Before Christ the term was used to define any visible and viable assembly of persons engaged in a common purpose.
The highest rendering is not that we go to church, but that we are the church, the people of God, chosen by Him, redeemed by Jesus Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit. We assemble together every Lord’s Day for worship, and at this time and other times for discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and mission work. There is not a greater group on earth in which to belong, and it is the only group (along with the Old Testament saints), who will stand on the glorious new (heaven and) earth when Jesus Christ comes again.
Therefore let us rededicate these buildings, and more importantly our bodies, this day and every day, to be a true and living church for the glory of the true and living God. Amen.
A Rededication to One Thing
1 Timothy is the quintessential book on church order and, therefore, on church dedication and rededication. 1 Timothy 3:14-16 is the purpose statement of the book. It could have focused on many things, but under the guidance of the Holy Spirit it mentions one thing, one thing to be dedicated and rededicated to, “truth.”
Truth is the pillar and buttress of the church. Truth is the gravity and glue of the church. Without truth, the center cannot hold.
Without truth, the “grace, mercy, and peace” Paul offers in the preface (1:2) is meaningless. Most of professing Christendom (70% of Americans, one-third of the world) are not Christians at all. They have been deceived by cheap grace, think they’re too good for mercy, and live with a false peace. Truth is what they lack and truth is what they need.
Without truth, Paul’s emphasis on “faith” (15 times in 1 Timothy), “hope” (4 times), and “love” (7 times) can be redefined and ruin a church. Are all faiths equally valid? Is the Buddhist the same as a Baptist, a Muslim as a Methodist, a Bible-believing Anglican as a Scripture-shredding Episcopalian? Is the Unitarian hope valid that all of these faiths will wind up in the same Heaven? Is all love really love, not just in society, but according to Scripture, in the eyes of Almighty God?
The most monumental questions in life address faith, hope, and love. But the answers can only be found in truth, and the church exists to be the “pillar and buttress of the truth.” So, let us ask with Pontius Pilate (ref. John 18:38), “What is truth?”
Truth is the true and living God who has revealed Himself in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the truth” (ref. John 14:6). Paul writes here He is the one “manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” This gospel truth is not offered by other religions, nor nominal, overly liberal, or pharisaical forms of Christianity. The true church and true Christians must be dedicated and rededicated to the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Truth is the living, breathing word of God, the Bible. Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). If God breathed it, by His Holy Spirit through the personalities of His select authors, then it has to be true. The true church and true Christians must be dedicated and rededicated to the inspired, inerrant, infallible truth of the Bible.
We live in a world, created by God, which is in the process of completely turning its back on God, and now seems to be abandoning the concept of truth altogether. That’s because the two are inseparable. Lose God, lose sight of the truth. Or rather, deny God, and anything becomes true, any religion, any politics, any sexuality, any thing you please. But if everything is true, then nothing is, and it is you who are your own god, not the Lord.
But God has said, and it is true, “Be still, and know that I am God” (ref. Psalm 46:10). He is Creator and Revelator, Lord and Savior, Redeemer and Friend, Author and Finisher of the truth of the gospel and the Bible. We can turn, become more mainstream, change our focus, perhaps draw a bigger crowd. Or, we can rededicate ourselves to God, His gospel, His word, His truth.
Let the church be dedicated and rededicated, now and forever, to God, to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the Spirit-inspired pages of His holy word. Amen.