Testimony to the Word of God, Part 6
by Fred T. Di Lella


We have heard with our ears, O God.  Our fathers have told us.  What work thou didst in their days, in the times of old…Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to my mouth.  I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children, shewing the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our father, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.[1] 

Thus, saith the Lord: 

I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain. (Zechariah 8:3).

In 1 Timothy 3:15 God declares that the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth: 

But 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. 

The Pillar and Ground of the Truth 

Note well the above words: “the church of the Living God is the pillar and ground of the truth.”  Tragically, the Papist church has perverted these terms in order to justify her tyrannical, ecclesiastical hierarchy.  Arrogantly, the church of Rome audaciously asserts that these expressions, “pillar and ground of the truth,” signify that the church[2] is the formulator of the truth. 

The terms, “pillar” and “ground” (1Timothy3:15), though, certainly do not mean that the church has the right to invent or contrive the truth.  The truth stands in the word of God.  “Thus, saith the Lord.  It is written!”  

The word “pillar” (στυλος) signifies a pillar, column, support. Pillars are often used to support or hold up the roof on a building.  When Samson pushed apart the pillars supporting the Philistine temple, the whole structure collapsed (Judges 16). 

The expression “ground” (cεδραιωμα) indicates a foundation or stay, something that holds up the entire building.  

Both these terms (“pillar” and “ground”) would have immediately brought to the Ephesian readers’ minds the massive, idolatrous temple of Artemis (Diana), which was one of the ancient wonders of the world.  This huge temple required 120 years of construction.  It had a foundational platform (“ground”) of 239 feet by 418 feet and 100 ornately inscribed pillars that were 60 feet high.  Just as the immense foundation and the mammoth pillars propped up and sustained the temple of Artemis and the tenets of her false worship (the inscriptions on the pillars),[3] the church is to teach, support, hold up, and defend the truth.  

In essence, then, an important, an imperative aspect of the church’s service is to be a custodian of the truth.  She has a critical responsibility to maintain the purity of the truth. Thus, the church is truly “the pillar and ground of the truth.” The early New Testament church took this mission very seriously. This is why we find the New Covenant church, from her very early days formulating creeds, confessions, and catechisms in order to promulgate and preserve the truth and also to condemn all error. 

In his Enchiridion (I.5) Augustine accurately and soberly sets forth the enormity of the issue and also the church’s responsibility and prerogative to promulgate and preserve the truth: 

“The heretics, although they preach the name of Christ, have herein no common ground with believers, but it remains the sole possession of the church.  For if we diligently consider the things that pertain to Christ, we will find Christ among the heretics in name only, not in reality.” 

In his Institutes of Elenctic Theology (II.VI.XII) Turretin also points out the critical function of the church in sounding forth and securing the truth: 

“We do not deny that the church has many functions in relation to the Scriptures.  She is: (1) the keeper of the oracles of God to whom they are committed and who preserves the authentic tables of the covenant of grace with the greatest fidelity, like a notary (Rom.3:2); (2) the guide, to point out the Scriptures and lead us to them (Is.3):21); (3) the defender, to vindicate and defend them by separating the genuine books from the spurious, in which sense she may be called the ground (cεδραιωμα) of the truth (1Tim.3:15); (4) the herald who sets forth and promulgates them (2Cor.5:19; Rom.10:16); (5) the interpreter inquiring into the unfolding of the true sense.  But all these imply a ministerial only and not a magisterial power.  Through her indeed, we believe, but not on account of her; as through John the Baptist the faithful believed in Christ, not on account of him (Jn.1:7) …”[4] 

But someone might say: “all I need is my Bible!”  

The following question should put to rest the arrogant claims of those who mistakenly ascribe to themselves the “all I need is my Bible” methodology: 

“With such a low view of the church’s mission as the pillar and ground of the truth, how can you possibly even be remotely sure that you actually do have all the holy Scriptures, and nothing but the holy Scriptures in your Bible?” 

Surely, the inner testimony of God’s Spirit is crucial.  Yet, we should be extremely thankful that the Sovereign God providentially preserved the genuine Scriptures through His church.  We should also be very grateful that “the church, the house of the living God” took her job very seriously and carefully canonized the Scriptures. 

The church’s stand for the truth and against all falsehood is (and has been) absolutely essential.   In the 1st and 2nd Centuries there were many venomous false letters and writings in circulation.  In addition, there were also heretics who called into doubt, and even rejected certain portions of the Bible. Every christian, therefore, should be very grateful that the church of the living and true God, in obedience to her God-given role as the pillar and ground of the truth, preserved the authentic Scriptures pure and entire for posterity. 

Heresies Would Arise 

As the whole word of God makes very plain, there were (and would be) many heretics, many strangers, many savage wolves seeking to wreak havoc among the Lord’s sheep.[5]  In the midst of the frequent intrusions by these apostates, the church has had to stand guard vigilantly for the truth.  She has been commanded by God to be the pillar and foundation of the truth, and, over and over again in her regular battles against the blasphemous perversions of heretics, the church has been compelled to function in this critical capacity (as the custodian of the truth).   The church has continually had to take an uncompromising stand for the truth and against all error. 

The church has known that God’s word is absolutely true, authoritative, and sufficient.  She has known that God’s word is not yes, yes; no, no.  She knew that the word of God says something.  She has known that the word of God is not a useless book. She knew that the Word of God is the truth.  Therefore, she has done all that she could to promulgate, defend, and preserve the truth.  She has counted the truth to be more precious than life.  Verily, she has “bought the truth and would not sell it” (Prov.23:23).  

The church has known that there is ONE body, ONE Spirit, ONE hope, ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father (Eph.4:3-6).  The church has also known that she is to be of one mind; of one heart; of one spirit; like-minded; of one voice; of one accord; of singleness of heart; minding the same thing; walking by the same rule; or, in a word, in genuine unity of the faith in the truth.[6]  The church is not to have divisions (different interpretations and practices), because there was only ONE body, ONE Spirit, ONE hope, ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father. There is ONE truth, and the Church is to be ONE in that truth. 

Therefore, having ample motivation, the church obeyed the Lord’s command to contend for the truth, to promote it, and to keep it pure and entire for themselves and the future generations. 

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed…Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong…Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing…If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings.  Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself…Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge…Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee…O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith.  Grace be with thee. Amen…Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus…And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also…Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness…I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…To Titus, mine own son after the common faith…Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince gainsayers…Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints…Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love…I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth…But that which ye have already hold fast till I come…Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard and hold fast, and repent.  If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee…Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.[7]


[1] E.g., Psalms 44:1; 78:1-8.

[2] I.e., the papist church, according to Romish fallacious folly.

[3]  It is also interesting to note that the temple in ancient Babylon had the code of Hammurabi inscribed on its pillars.

[4] Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Presbyterian and Reformed, p.90.

[5] See, for example, Jerem.5:30, 31; 23; Ezek.13; Acts 20:28f.; Rom.3:1-18; 1Corinth.15; Gal.1:8, 9; Phil.3:1-16.

[6] E.g., Psa.133; John 17:21; Acts 1:14; 2:1, 42, 46, 4:32; Eph.4:3; Phil.1:27, 30; 2:2; 1Pet.3:8.

[7] Galatians 1:8, 9; 1Corinthians 16:13 Philippians 1:27; 3:16; 1Timothy 4:16; 6:3-5; Proverbs 19:27; 1Timothy 6:20, 21; 2Timothy 1:13; 2:2, 15, 16; 4:7; Titus 1:4, 9; Jude 3; Revelation 2:4, 13, 25; 3:3, 10.


Rev. Fred Di Lella is pastor of Covenanted Reformation Church in TX which is part of The Biblical Reformed Synod of Christ the King.

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