A Few Thoughts on 1 Timothy 3:15 and 2 Timothy 2:20

1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:20
Both these passages present to us the church in the same aspect, though in very different conditions. We have "the house," and the "great house." The foundations of " the house " is laid in pure grace. Paul was a minister, and himself personally a witness of this great and blessed truth. " Christ Jesus," he says, " came into the world to save sinners." (1 Tim. 1:1515This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15).) When we remember that the church is " the pillar and ground of the truth," and consider the materials out of which it is formed, it is the more marvelous, and makes it plain that grace, and grace only, is in action as to those who " by one Spirit are. baptized into one body."
The church's presence on earth, as the responsible witness for God, is what we have before us in these scriptures, and this is proved and enforced by the way in which Timothy is instructed as to how he ought to behave himself in it. We are the living stones of which the house is composed, but we are also in the house, having, like Timothy, to behave ourselves in a manner suited to Him who dwells there. In Heb. 3:66But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:6), we also read of the " house," and—again, in 1 Cor. 3:1616Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16), where it is termed the " temple." Both are based on redemption, though conduct is in question too. It is important to see that it is only consequent on redemption that God dwells with man. Ex. 15 plainly shows this, where the habitation of—God is anticipated by Israel as consequent on their redemption out of Egypt. " Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation," saw,. Moses and the children of Israel. We, too, have been redeemed and led forth by Him, " Who gave himself for our sins that he might deliver us from this present evil world." (Gal. 1:44Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: (Galatians 1:4).) We, who once—' were "blasphemers and injurious" (1 Tim. 1:1313Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. (1 Timothy 1:13)), are now by grace, transformed into vessels and living stones of that which is growing " into' an holy temple in the Lord," and hence the exhortation, " Be ye holy, for I the Lord your God am holy." He is holy, so must we be.
Then remark, it is the house of "the living God." Do we know Him thus? Are we journeying on through the wilderness in the consciousness that He is with us as He was with the children of Israel, meeting our daily need, as He did theirs, with manna fresh every morning, and making the flinty rock gush streams of refreshment all the way along. It is a great thing to walk with " the living God," and while having Him to turn to in every trouble and necessity, to remember that He is the holy Lord God.
The Lord Jesus was, and is, essentially the " holy One of God "-in all His words and acts absolutely such. We have to follow Him, the great mystery of godliness—God manifest in flesh-the One in whom all His nature and ways are brought to light so that we can know and delight in them. Justified in the Spirit-in all He did and said acting only by and approved by the Holy Ghost. Seen of angels-they marveled, and adored at the wondrous spectacle of the One who had created them, and at whose bidding they moved, walking in lowliness as man on earth. Thus He is, too, the transforming power of the soul that seeks true godliness-the only divine rule and standard of our walk and ways.
We all know how this transforming power has failed to work its proper effect on those who dwell in the house, and how defiled the house has become (1 Tim. 4:11Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (1 Timothy 4:1); 2 Tim. 3:11This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)); but this introduces us to our second portion (2 Tim. 2:2020But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. (2 Timothy 2:20), &c.), where we find the house has become "a great house "-an ominous change. Here we have vessels of divers kinds, but not all alike suitable for the Master's service. Some are of gold and silver, but some others of wood and earth; some to honor and some to dishonor.
Timothy is not now instructed how to behave himself in the house, but exhorted to purge himself from the vessels to dishonor that are there. How much rather would the apostle's heart have rejoiced to dwell upon the order of the house of his first epistle, than on the disorder referred to as characterizing the house of his second. How painful for him to have to exhort his beloved son to purge himself from corrupters lodged within. Yet there is comfort: vessels to honor still remain, and are subjects for exhortation. Such are those who follow "righteousness."-which it is important to see comes first, and leads on to the others-" faith, charity, and peace," calling " on the Lord out of a pure heart."
We cannot get out of this " great house," but the Holy Ghost has provided a remedy in it, in separation from all the evil that is around us. Still it should affect our hearts greatly, and humble us in the dust as those who are connected with, and bearing its shame, that the " house of God "-" the pillar and ground of the truth "of 1 Tim. 3:1515But 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), has enlarged in the "great house" of disorder and corruption, of 2 Tim. 2:2020But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. (2 Timothy 2:20).
Thus are we taught as to what the church was at the beginning: what it has become through human weakness; and what the Holy Spirit of God would have us to do as now being in it. We cannot root up the tares, they will continue to grow to the end, but we are bound to dissociate ourselves from all unsuited to His holy habitation, and to remember the word that says, " Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, forever." Psa. 92:55O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. (Psalm 92:5).
Croydon. C. M A.