The Church As The Guardian Of Truth
In modern times, when we speak of the work of the Church, we often think of several things: Evangelism, Preaching, Pastoral Ministry, and Christian community. These are all valid ministries of the Church, and we should focus on these things and do these things well. However, I want to propose something that we often do not think about: the Church as the guardian of truth. Let me explain what I mean.
We, as the Church, have been entrusted with a truth that the world does not have. Namely, we know Jesus Christ, who He is, what He has done for us, and we are striving to live in a manner that honors Him. Namely, we have the Gospel and strive to live our lives in accordance with it. This is significant, because the apostle Paul commanded his young protégé, Timothy, to guard the deposit of faith that had been handed on to him (2 Timothy 1:14). This command should be understood to extend to us today.
It is important to define my terms. By Church, I am talking about the Church universal, not simply a local congregation. While each local congregation provides a vital function, no one local congregation can fulfill all of the ministry responsibilities that are necessary to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The Church as a whole is the guardian of truth, not simply a local congregation. If someone doesn't have the truth about Jesus Christ, that person is not part of the Church. It's that simple. If a pastor or local Church is preaching a gospel other than what is found in Scripture, that pastor or local church is not Christ's. They are excluded from this definition.
I am also not suggesting that disagreements over other issues, such as politics, is evidence that someone does not have the truth. A person's political affiliation does not, in and of itself, tell us whether or not someone has the truth about Christ. This also extends to minor theological issues. Disagreements over minor theological issues, such as whether the rapture will happen before or after the tribulation, is not evidence that a person does not know Christ. In short, I am not talking about issues that are not at the heart of the Christian faith. Rather, I am talking about the truth that is at the heart of the Christian faith, that is preached in every Bible-believing church, and is encapsulated in the great creeds and confessions of the Christian faith.
So what am I talking about? I am talking about the truth that is encapsulated in the pre-Pauline creed of 1 Corinthians 15:3-5:
"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve."
The truth that the Church is to guard is that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven and is seated at the Father's right hand. This is the truth that the Church is to guard. It is this that we are to hold dear to our heart. This becomes even more important as the world continues to repudiate this truth. If we do not hold fast to this truth, no one ever will. So, I exhort each and every one of you who are reading this to guard the truth that has been entrusted to you. Do not let it go for anything in the world. It is our role, as the Church, to guard this truth and to pass it along to the next generation of the Church, and anyone who will listen.