Godly Edifying

1 Timothy 1:3-4 – As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

The business of the pastor-teacher is the “godly edifying” of the saints in “sound doctrine” (1Tim. 1:4, 10; 4:3; 2Tim. 1:9, Tit. 2:1). Giving heed “to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions” is a sure sign of failure when it comes the execution of the duties that attend the office (1Tim. 1:3). The work of the “good minister of Jesus Christ” is to “labour in the word and doctrine”, to “study”, to “give attendance to reading”, to “meditate”, and to “give [himself] wholly to [the doctrine]” (1Tim.2:15; 4:6,13,15; 5:17). His labor in these things is likened unto an “ox that treadeth out the corn” and it his business to “profit” from the soundness of truth, that he, in turn, might “teach others also” (1Tim. 4:15; 5:18; 2Tim. 2:2,14). His work is to “convince”, “persuade” and “answer” the questions that arise from both friend and foe (2Cor. 5:11; Col. 4:6; 2Tim. 1:9). This he is to do by the “manifestation of the truth”, all the while “commending” [his honest handling of the word] to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2Cor. 4:2). Such diligence in the task set before him is for his own salvation from doctrinal corruptness, and for the salvation of “them that hear [him]” that they might be established in the proper truth (1Tim. 4:16; Tit. 2:7). The design of this labor is unto the “godly edifying” of the saints (1Tim. 1:4). As the “good minister” faithfully communicates the “sound doctrine”, he “ministers” “much assurance” to his congregation by providing them with a comprehension of God’s will that is founded upon the rightly divided “word of truth” (1Tim. 1:4, 10; 4:3,6; 1Thess. 1:5; 2Tim. 2:15). When he speaks, questions are answered rather than “ministered”, and the end result is the edification and growth of the believers he oversees (1Tim. 1:3).

Integral to this “godly edifying which is in faith” is the doctrinal soundness upon which “faith unfeigned” must rest (1 Tim. 1:4-5). “Sound doctrine”, as defined by Paul, is that teaching which is “according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust” (1Tim. 1:11). It is in Paul’s epistles that we find the details of our relationship as the Body of Christ to this “glorious gospel of the blessed God” (1Tim. 1:11). As the apostle to whom the Lord gave “authority…for edification”, it is in the doctrine of Paul’s epistles that we will be “edified” in the manner that is “godly” and according to God’s will for us (2Cor. 10:8; 1Tim. 1:4). There is a “form of doctrine” found in the epistles of “the apostle of the Gentiles” that the Lord Jesus Christ expects us to submit ourselves unto and “obey from the heart” (Rom. 6:17; 11:13). It is composed of “the form of sound words which thou hast heard of [him]” and when communicated with “sound speech” it sets forth to us the “the truth which is after godliness” (2Tim. 1:13; Tit. 1:1,2:8). By this divine design for edification, the saints can be properly “edified” and “exercise[d]” unto the “godliness” that “God hath before ordained that we should walk in” (Eph. 3:10; 1Tim. 4:7). This is the purpose for which Paul left Timothy “to abide still”, and so long as we “abide” in a ministry role, we too must “charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1Tim. 1:3).

There are many spiritual teachers, however,who will involve themselves with teaching “other doctrine” (1Tim. 1:3). They too will present “a form” that promises “godliness”, but in so doing they will “[deny] the power thereof” by teaching “the law” and “frustrat[ing] the grace of God” (Gal. 2:21; 1Tim. 1:9; 2Tim. 3:5). The unlawful “use” of the law causes them to “swerve” and they will “put away concerning faith” (1Tim. 1:6,8,19). The end result is an inevitable “shipwreck” of doctrinal confusion that leaves the saints uncertain as to their position, condition and responsibility (1Tim. 1:19). It is imperative, therefore, that “the pillar and ground of the truth” maintain “the mystery of godliness” and know how to “behave” in view of it (1Tim. 3:15). This requires the transmission of “sound doctrine”, for that alone is given for the “godly edifying” of the saints (1Tim. 1:4, 10; 4:3; 2Tim. 1:9, Tit. 2:1). While it is the pastor-teacher who is given the “charge” of enforcing it, it is the responsibility of the saints to require and maintain it (1Tim. 1:18; 5:21; 2Tim. 4:1). “The church of the living God” is to be “the pillar and ground of the truth”, not the pastor-teacher (1Tim. 3:15). Therefore, we must personally “consider what [Paul] says” and in so doing the Lord will “give [us] understanding in all things” (2Tim. 2:7). “Godliness” is our edification goal, and if our doctrinal edifice is to be “sound”, we must be sure that we know how our Pauline “house” is to be built (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 1Tim. 2:2,10; 3:16; 4:7-8; 6:3,5-6,11; 2Tim. 2:20; Tit. 1:1).

The scripture divulges 3 analogies for spiritual edification. This framework is presented for the edification of all saints, whether in God’s program with Israel or His program with the Body of Christ. The doctrine that rests upon those frames is different according to God’s stated objective with both entities, but the structure of God’s building follows a shared pattern. The first analogy is nutritional; milk-to-meat (1Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12-13; 1Pet. 2:2). The second is constructional; foundation-to-superstructure (Rom. 15:20; 1Cor. 3:10-12; Eph. 2:20; Heb. 6:1). The third is maturational; babe/child-to-perfect man (1Cor. 13:11; 2Cor. 13:9; Eph. 4:13-14; Heb. 5:13; 6:1; 1Pet. 2:2). In all three, the progression from the elementary to the advanced is obvious. It is logical, reasonable and orderly and reflects the glory and wisdom of God. This is the divine design for edification, and variation from this doctrinal order of learning, whether in ignorance or arrogance, will always result in saints that, at best, are clouded in their understanding and superstitious in their walk. The structure of “godly edifying” is critical, and the saints would do well to “give heed” to God’s designed order (1Tim. 1:4). When you labor in your own edification through personal “study” and when you entrust the building of your spiritual house to a pastor-teacher, be sure that the builder knows what he is doing (2Tim. 2:15). The cost is great and “the time is short”, but “nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure” (1Cor. 7:29; 2Tim. 2:19). “Let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” (1Cor. 3:10).

Romans – Doctrine & Instruction of the “Faith” – “The Gospel of God” – Redemption

· I-II Corinthians – Reproof concerning Romans doctrinal errors.

o Carnality as a failure in relation to the Responsibilities of Grace.

“Beguiled” (2Cor. 11:3) – Leaven in Practice (I Cor. 5:6).

· Galatians – Correction concerning Romans doctrinal errors.

o Carnality as a failure in the Reinterpretation of Grace.

“Bewitched” (Gal. 3:1– Leaven in Doctrine (Gal. 5:9).

Ephesians – Doctrine & Instruction of the “Love” – “The Purpose of God” – Vocation

· Philippians – Reproof concerning Ephesians doctrinal errors.

o Practical failure in not exhibiting the “mind” of the Head (i.e. “the mind of Christ”) (Philip. 2:5; 4:2).

· Colossians – Correction concerning Ephesians doctrinal errors.

o Doctrinal failure in “not holding the Head” (Col. 2:19).

I Thessalonians – Doctrine & Instruction of the “Hope” – “The Trump of God” – Translation

· II Thessalonians – Reproof/Correction concerning I Thessalonians doctrinal errors.

o Practical & Doctrinal failures resulting from being “soon shaken (2Thess. 2:2).

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