Transformed Church (Part 1)

I’ve chosen the title “The Transformed Church” because I believe a true church is a group of people who have experienced a realistic and noticeable transformation in their lives through the saving work of Jesus Christ in the hearing of the gospel.  The transforming work of the true gospel leads to godliness.  A church whose primary purpose is to “Be Holy, As I Am Holy” is a church whose goal is to bring glory to God.  It is the transformation from death to life in the believer that becomes the revelation of “the immeasurable riches of His grace”.

The Book of 1 Timothy was written by Paul to Timothy who was dealing with some concerns about false teachers in the church at Ephesus.  Paul, however, does not focus on the false teachings, but rather the consequences of the false teachings being lived out in the lifestyles of church members.  We become the transformed church by being people whose lives reflect the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

In dealing with false teaching, the Book of 1 Timothy offers several practical details about the proper inner workings of the church itself.  This includes the holy living of believers, proper behavior in corporate worship, the godliness and spirituality of church leaders, how church members should relate to one another, and the importance of the message of the gospel in the church.

1 Timothy along with 2 Timothy and Titus have appropriately been named the “Pastoral Epistles” because each one is addressed to people with leadership responsibilities in the church.  More than any other book in the Bible these New Testament letters offer some valuable insights into church life and function.  It is easy for churches to lose their focus and in doing so lose proper perspective in how they should function.  One thing that escalates this confusion in the church is false teaching and false belief.  Churches that are not grounded in the truth of the Gospel will likely get caught up in false teachings, false beliefs, false motives, and ultimately a false Christianity grounded in the traditions of men rather than the Word of God.    What they lack in spirituality they make up for in legalism.  Churches with this “my way or the highway” mentality abuse their pastors, reject God, worship religion, and become ultimately ineffective for the gospel and power houses for the evil one.  In Paul’s day these false teachings were leading to rumors, gossip, false assumptions, arrogance, conceit, and ultimately greed.  Paul’s solution to the problem was getting people back to the truth of the gospel.

In addition to these things, 1 Timothy also offers some of the greatest insights into the purpose of leaders in the church.  Numerous churches exist today that have completely failed to fully grasp the purpose of elders, pastors, deacons, and other leaders in the church.  I submit that the church planting movement has not only started but has thrived over the last ten years based on the fact that the traditional church has failed to function properly in regards to its leadership.  In most cases it is easier and more productive to start a new church than to change what has already been established.  In some cases it may reflect a level of cowardice in leadership who refuses to fight the tough battles for the sake of Godliness, but on the other hand there have been many who have fought hard and ultimately failed due to the unwillingness of the church to change.

Part of the process of rightly understanding the truth of the Gospel is understanding how the church and its leadership should functon.  Paul greets Timothy in the first verse of this letter by saying that he is an apostle by “the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.”  It is by God’s authority that Paul writes these things to Timothy and this same authority applies to us in the same manner.  Churches should exist and function in a way that reflects the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I believe discipleship is an important key to the right understanding of the truth.  In order for a church to function properly with godliness, its members should know and study the Bible.  Church members should know what 1 and 2 Timothy says.