“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 truth” (1 Tim. 3:15, ESV).
The church is the instrument to uphold truth in this world. It is the “buttress” of truth. Buttress is defined as “any external prop or support built to steady a structure by opposing its outward thrusts, esp. a projecting support built into or against the outside of a masonry wall” (Dictionary.com). Other translations state it thus.
“pillar and ground of the truth” (KJV, NKJV).
“pillar and support of the truth” (NASB).
“pillar and foundation of the truth” (NIV).
Therefore, the church upholds the truth like a buttress upholds a castle or city wall. In other words, it is the church’s duty to keep the truth from collapsing. No, the church does not act universally as an earthly-organized entity to accomplish this. Rather, since the church is made up of individual Christians, it is the responsibility of each to support the truth.
As those who are saved by truth, we must uphold it (1 Pet. 1:22; Jas. 1:18; Jn. 8:32). We are to speak the truth (Eph. 4:15). Our language and lessons are to be as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11). If we are not doing, who will?
Further, each congregation of God’s people has the obligation to be a “buttress of truth.” The elders, deacons, preachers, and every other member must support the truth; in word and deed (Titus 1:9; 1 Tim. 3:9; 2 Tim. 4:2; 2:2). When this fails, the cause of Christ is damaged. It can be weakened to the point that a breach is made in the wall; the truth collapses in a community or region. Is this not what happened in the Middle East? The Church began in Jerusalem and spread through the ancient world. There were once strong churches in Antioch, Ephesus, and Philippi. Where are they today?
There is no question that the truth is assaulted daily by the devil. The world around us is filled with immorality and error. Homosexuality is thriving socially and politically. Fornication and adultery are given prominence and praise. Materialism infests our society like a plague. Truth is mocked and scorned. Modest dress is maligned. Pure language is derided. It would be easy for us—us who are part of the pillar and buttress of truth—to wilt and wither under the constant barrage.
Sadly, many who are supposed to support the truth have given way. They either cannot face the ridicule or are lured by the pleasure of sin for a season. They no longer hold fast the faith. Instead of being immovable, they are tossed to and fro. The cause of our Lord has suffered greatly from such actions.
Here is our exhortation: Let us determine that in this new year this congregation will be a “pillar and buttress of truth.” If the Wall of Zion fails, let it not be here. Open your Bible, renew your strength; “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).