the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
In this twelfth lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will be looking at the metaphors used in the Bible to describe the Lord’s assembly. By studying these metaphors we will be seeing another aspect of the importance of the Lord’s assembly for every Christian.
Basically, a metaphor is used to describe a likeness that exists between two unrelated things.
An example of this is when Christ said “I am the door” in John 10:9. Although Christ is totally unrelated to a literal door, He uses this metaphor to describe the idea that it is through Him that we can receive access to eternal life (just like a door gives access to a room).
Here is a listing and short descriptions of the main metaphors used in God’s Word to reveal truths about His local assembly.
1. “The Pillar and Ground Of The Truth”
“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.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
The local assembly holds up (pillar) and supports (foundation) the truths of God’s Word. It is through the ministry of the local assembly that the truths of God are published and defended.
2. “The House Of God”
“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.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
The church is a meeting place for the Lord and His family. It is within the confines of the assembly of God that the Lord meets with His people in a very special way. As they worship, seek His face,and desire to serve Him; He, in turn, speaks to them through His Word.
3. “The Flock Of God”
“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.” (Acts 20:28)
“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: 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; Neither as being lords over [God’s] heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 5:1-4)
The metaphor of the flock teaches us many truths about the Lord’s relation to His local assembly. Here, the Lord is pictured as the “chief Shepherd” while His assembly is pictured as a flock of sheep:
1. The Lord feeds His assembly, as a shepherd feeds his sheep. – The church is to look to Him for their spiritual strength and nourishment.
2. The Lord leads His assembly, as a shepherd leads his sheep – The church is to follow the Lord and His will for their lives
3. The Lord protects His assembly, as a shepherd protects his sheep – The church is to rely upon Him for their spiritual warfare, realizing they are defenseless without Him.
4. The Lord died for His assembly, as a shepherd gives his life to protect his sheep. This allows the forgiveness of sins of the individuals within the assembly, as well as, the sins committed by the church as a local assembly. – Now we, as individual members and an assembly, should be committed to serve Him with all our beings, as living sacrifices for Him.
5. Human pastors are given the responsibility to watch over the Lord’s assemblies in His absence, and empowered and led by the Spirit are to feed, lead and protect the assembly.
Not only did Christ die for the individual members of a local church, but also He died for the church as an assembly. (see more about this under metaphor #6, Eph 5:22-31)
4. “The Body Of Christ”
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” (Romans 12:3-5)
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [were] the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where [were] the body? But now [are they] many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness. For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
Although the church membership is made up of individual members, we are to remember there is a unity that exists between those members, therefore we are to treat each other with respect and a willingness to minister to each other.
The individual members of the local assembly have specific tasks to fulfill within that assembly. When each of the members is submitted to fulfill the specific role each has been given, the church is a healthy church which will work together in unity for the cause of Christ. Every member is brought into the local body to contribute to the functioning of that body with the specific gifts and ministries that they have been given.
“And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church,
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)
Christ possesses the authority to rule over all, including His local assembly on earth. The church is to be in submission to Him. Christ, fills the assembly revealing Himself to the local church as they worship Him in spirit and in truth.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-15)
The offices of the local church were established for the strengthening, maturing and enabling of the members of the assembly. This spiritual growth of the assembly allows them to recognize and refute false teaching as well as become more holy as an assembly and individual Christians in that assembly.
“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:” (Colossians 1:23-26)
The church’s role is to proclaim the truths of the gospel message which will result in affliction and persecution of the assembly. This persecution should be accepted with joy realizing that Christ suffered for us as individuals and the assembly as a whole.
5. “A Candlestick”
“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks [one] like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and [his] hairs [were] white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes [were] as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance [was] as the sun shineth in his strength.” (Revelation 1:12-16)
“Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:19-20)
Here we see a vision John received in vs 12-16 and the interpretation of that vision in vs 19-20. In the interpretation, we find that the candlesticks in his vision represent the local assemblies of the Lord. Why is the assembly pictured as a candlestick? Because it holds forth the light of God’s Word in the midst of a sin darkened world around us. Also note the close relationship that Christ shares with His assemblies. They all surround Him picturing subjects who have entered the presence of a king awaiting His commands.
6. Every Local Assembly Will Someday Be A Part Of The “Bride Of Christ”
“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in [my] folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him].” (2 Corinthians 11:1-4)
Paul, as missionary, played a very important role in the founding of the church at Corinth. Here, he is telling the church that he has labored to given the church the truths of God so that they might remain faithful to the Lord. This would result in them standing before the Lord on the last day as a faithful bride awaiting to partake of a new level of communion with the Lord throughout eternity. Much like a bride on her wedding day is prepared to experience new forms of intimacy with her husband…
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed [are] they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation 19:7-9)
This takes place when all of the saints gather and commune with the Lord. At this future event, they will be a local assembled body of believers (in other words, a local assembly located in heaven). They will stand before Him, ready to be united with Him to enjoy a new level of communion, worship and service to Him…
“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,” (Hebrews 12:22-23)
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:22-31)
Here, the Lord’s leadership and authority over the local church is in view. The church should be in submission to the leadership of Christ, serving Him as His helpmeet. This is compared to the wife in a marriage being in submission to her husband as he leads the family to obey Christ above all else and then making decisions that put her needs and desires before his own as he loves her as Christ loves the assembly.
Note in this text we clearly see the purpose of Christ’s death for His assemblies described…
”even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,”
in other words, it is through His death that the church assembly can receive the forgiveness of the sins of the assembly and be sanctified and prepared for His use and to be spotless before Him on the last day. ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS THAT COME UPON INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIANS, AND LOCAL ASSEMBLIES, COME THROUGH THE WORK OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS. The cross of Christ is the channel through which all blessings flow.
In this lesson we have seen several truths about the Lord’s local assemblies presented to us:
It is the:
1. “The Pillar and Ground Of The Truth” – The local assembly holds up (pillar) and supports (foundation) the truths of God’s Word.
2. “The House Of God” – The church is a meeting place for the Lord and His family.
3. “The Flock Of God” – The Lord leads, feeds and protects His assembly and the Lord died for His assembly.
4. “The Body Of Christ” – A unity exists between the individual members of the assembly, arising from a joint need one of another. The church is to follow the directions of the Lord.
5. “A Candlestick” – The assembly holds forth the light of God’s Word in the midst of a sin darkened world around us and enjoys a close relationship with Christ.
6. “The Bride Of Christ” – The final gathering of believers before the Lord will be like a faithful bride awaiting to partake of a new level of communion with her spouse (the Lord). The Lord died so that the church could be sanctified and stand before Him spotless upon entrance into eternity with Him.
Why should we join with and support a local assembly of believers? Because of its close intimate relation with Christ and its six-fold unique role of service to the Lord.
May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.
For a free study guide for this series in .pdf format:
For a free study guide for this series in .docx format:
Alcohol abuse affects approximately 14 million Americans. This represents approximately 5% of our population. The effects of alcohol abuse in our country is clearly on display… 20 % of suicide victims are alcoholic, alcoholism is the third leading cause of preventable death in the US, over 2 million people drive under the influence in the US per year. These and many other statistics can be found at http://www.alcoholics-info.com/Statistics_on_Alcoholics.html.
After getting just a glimpse of the effects of alcohol on theUSpopulation, it becomes easy to understand while there is a consistent, steady call for “soberness” in our society. In today’s society the idea of “soberness” involves abstinence from intoxication, or in many cases, the complete abstinence from alcohol. “Soberness” is almost always used in the context of alcohol usage and abuse.
However, in the Word of God, the idea of “soberness” carries with it a slightly different meaning. In the New Testament to be “sober” is not used exclusively in relation to alcohol but it is used in many aspects of our lives. Also, the original language of the New Testament (Greek) being “sober” carries with it a variety of ideas:
- One of the Greek words for sober is a word that carries with it the ideas of “self control” and “moderation.”
- The other Greek word translated “sober” means “to be sensible”, “to be aware”, and “to be watchful”
Let’s see how the idea of being sober is explained to us in the Word of God.
2Cor 5:12-13; 1Thess 5:6-10; Titus 2:2-6; 1Pet 1:10-16; 1Pet 5:8-9
Being sober is referred to in five different texts in the New Testament.
In the first text, 2 Cor 5:12-13, we find this idea, “sober” is referring to a sound, self-controlled mind…
For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to [answer] them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.
Here, we find that Paul and the other ministers of the gospel did not try to defend themselves by explaining their sincerity and motives to the Church at Corinth. Instead, they chose to allow their life and message to speak for itself. Paul and the others allowed the church to decide on their own about the motives of Paul’s ministry.
For whether we be beside ourselves, [it is] to God: or whether we be sober, [it is] for your cause.
Paul then continued, if the ministers of Christ were accused of being out of their mind (“besides themselves” – Acts 26:24), they put up with this false accusation for God’s glory. Or, of people recognized that they were really of sound, controlled mind (sober) they were ministering out of a heart of concern and love for the church’s wellbeing
In this second text, 1 Thess 5:6-10, we find “sober” referring to the need for Christians to be watchful and alert.
Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
In the context, the Lord’s second coming is in view (1 Thess 5:1-5) Here we are told of the Christians need to be watchful (alert) against the sin and darkness of this world and to be watchful (alert) for the coming of our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul uses two examples of being unprepared and unsuspecting, sleep and drunkenness. In both cases, you have individuals who do not have keen senses, nor are they in full control of their actions, thoughts, and speech.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
How does a Christian accomplish this responsibility of watchfulness and alertness? By putting on the spiritual armor of God that enables us to remain faithful to the Lord while in the midst of a sin darkened world. It is this same armor that gives us the ability to be consistently watching for Him to come at the second coming. What is the driving motive for our watchfulness? Christ’s death on the cross for us and His promise of an eternity with Him.
In Titus 2:2-6, we find that to be sober presents the need to be sensible or serious.
The idea of being sensible and serious about our lives touches every age group and gender…
That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
Old men are to be keenly aware of their influence on the lives of others. As older men, who are held up as the wisest in society, they were to be to sensible about their outward testimony and take it very seriously.
Note all the other aspects of their testimony being described is outward in nature…
Grave – honest
Temperate – self-controlled
Sound in faith – doctrinally sound in teachings and beliefs
Charity – self-sacrifice for others, servant spirit
Patience – willing to suffer long for the sake of another
The aged women likewise, that [they be] in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach
Just as older men must sensibly take their testimony seriously; so too, aged women are to do likewise. Also, their outward actions are being emphasized in Paul’s instructions:
Becometh holiness – to be attractive based upon morality and separate from sin
False accusers – not to deceitfully defame others
Not give to much wine – No alcohol abuse leading to uncontrolled behavior, no drunkenness
Teachers of good things – Instructors of things pleasing to the Lord.
The older women were to teach the young women through their actions and words…
the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
The younger women were to take their testimony seriously as well. They may not be as influential in general society due to their lack of maturity; however, they are extremely influential in the lives of their families (husband and children). This is why they are to…
Love husbands/children – be willing to sacrifice themselves for their husbands and children.
Discreet – self controlled in mind and actions
Chaste – modest
Keepers at home – to guard, watch over, rule home
Good – morally upright and pleasing to God
Obedient to husband – to recognize and submit to husband’s authority/responsibility to God.
By doing all of these, the young woman isn’t the cause of the Word being spoken against or defamed
Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
After listing several times, the basic issues involved with being sensible and serious minded about our testimonies; the younger men are now instructed to follow the same basic principles that we have seen in the preceding teachings.
In our fourth text, 1 Pet 1:13-16, we find watchfulness and preparedness being a key aspect to being sober.
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
In the previous context, the person and work of Christ was clearly revealed in Old Testament prophesies. Based upon these miraculous OT revelations of Christ, the Christian responsibility is two fold:
Firstly, we are to serve Him in the midst of this sinful world. To do this we are to strengthen our weak and vulnerable areas and be watchful and alert to the temptations and workings of Satan in our lives.
Secondly, we are to be alert and watchful, as well as retain our confidence about the future promises He has given to us.
As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
By being watchful and prepared for service and His second coming we are children that are pleasing to Him. Also we are separating ourselves from this sinful world for His use. By doing this we can follow His example and strive for consistent holiness in all areas of our lives.
Finally, in 1Pet 5:8-9 we find being sober is referring to being sensible and controlled.
Be sober, be vigilant;
Here, the responsibility handed to the Christian involves being”
Sober – sensible, serious and self controlled
Vigilant – to be on guard and expectant
As Christians, we are to be sensible, serious, controlled and on guard because…
because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Satan is “out to get us” and destroy our testimony and service to the Lord. He is searching with care and deception trying to bring us to ruin.
Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
This is why we must solidly stand against him. We are to realize we are not alone in this fight, but Christians everywhere are being tempted and opposed in their service as well.
For those who are saved …
In our study we have seen the importance of living sober lives, which involves:
- Living controlled lives of moderation by…
- Keeping our minds and desires under control as we serve Him.
- Be serious and sensible about our testimonies for Him. We can do this by taking care to live Godly lives which include, but is not limited to, no drunkenness; it also includes honesty, love, patience, doctrinal soundness, modesty, and spiritual alertness, among others.
- Taking the threat of Satan and His workings seriously. He is out to destroy us we are to recognize His workings and affects in our lives and the lives of others.
- Living watchful, and alert lives that are…
- Against the sin and temptation of this world through the use of spiritual armor given to us by the Lord.
- Focused on and confident of the second coming of Christ.
Are you living a sober life of service to our Lord?
For those who have yet to be saved…
As you can see from our study, the only way to live a spiritually sober life is through the divine intervention of Christ alone. Without His presence in your life and His intervention through the indwelling Holy Spirit, none of us can lead a spiritually sober life. Do you desire His presence and intervention? Realize you have failed Him, and your sin is a great offense against Him, turn from your sin and turn to Him in faith, believing He will save you from your sins and submit to His Lordship for your life…
Matt 11:28-30 (KJV)
28) Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30) For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.
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