By Kyle Pope
ear the ruins of the ancient
city of Ephesus there is a marble column which stands alone and desolate in a
grassy field. Aside from providing
a perch for birds and a photo opportunity for curious tourists it serves no
useful purpose. Once, this column
was one of one hundred and six other strong and majestic columns. In pairs they surrounded a shrine of
pagan worship and formed the famous temple of Artemis (or Diana). This monument to idolatrous faith was
once renowned and hailed one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. To the faith it upheld, men like
Demetrius the silversmith adhered.
With him, scores of others who gathered in the theater of ancient
Ephesus chanted for two long hours “Great is Diana of the
Ephesians” (Acts 19:23-41).
Now this lonely column no longer symbolizes greatness, but instead the
empty shadow of faith abandoned.
Bible pictures the child of God as a stone in the spiritual temple of God. I Peter 2:5 speaks of Christians as “…living
stones…being built up a spiritual house…” (NKJV). To the faithful saints in Sardis the
Lord promised “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple
of God…” (Revelation 3:12).
Using the figure of a pillar with a slightly different emphasis the
Apostle Paul, through the Holy Spirit described the church as “…The
pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15). The idea is that by clinging to faith
in Christ a person becomes a part of something stable and majestic. They are a
part of something eternal. They
uphold that which is true. They enjoy the hope of eternal communion with God.
many reject this honor. Rather
than accepting the privilege of participating in something incorruptible they
abandon their faith and grow weary of bearing the weight of truth. The Christian, like the pillar of an
ancient building must uphold God’s word. Though Jesus declares to us “…My yoke is easy and
My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30); and His apostles echo this
proclaiming “…His commandments are not burdensome” (I John
5:3) some imagine if they turn from Christ they can find a life with no yoke
and no burden. Without Christ to
rescue us, we are all bending and buckling under the load of sin! Not to mention the fact that “…By
whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage” (II
Peter 2:19). You see the ungodly
bear Satan’s yoke, they are not free from burdens altogether.
don’t reject their role of upholding and supporting something, they just
begin to support the wrong things.
In Paul’s day his struggles were less with those having no
religion than with those upholding false religion. He battled the Jews who rejected Christ (Acts 13:46), the
pagans who viewed him as an atheist (Acts 19:27), and unsound brethren who
sought to pervert the truth (II Timothy 2:17,18). Many who claim no formal religion support the gods of materialism
and sensuality. They flock to
their temples and pay the wages of their priests. By all appearances the
fortresses of false religion and carnality look more enduring than truth. Many a good brother or sister has
fallen out of place in God’s temple and become a building block in a
pagan temple because they lost confidence in the truth. If only these brethren could see that
modern paganism is no more enduring than ancient paganism!
can be done for these stones out of place?
Remember them in prayer. Paul
told the Corinthians “Now I pray to God that you do no evil…but
that you should do what is honorable…” (II Corinthians 13:7). While
we understand that God has granted to us all freewill, it is perfectly fitting
for us to pray to God that others may do what they ought to do. We pray that in God’s providence
circumstances or associations may bring them to their senses. We pray that
God’s word will work in their hearts. We can’t pray that God will forgive them in
unrepentance (I John 5:16). Yet we
should pray for their repentance.
Follow God’s word with regard to rebuke, restoration and if necessary
withdrawal. Luke 17:3 teaches “…If your brother sins
against you, rebuke him;…” Galatians 6:1 says “Brethren, if a
man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a
spirit of gentleness…”
Finally, II Thessalonians 3:6 charges “But we command you,
brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every
brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he
received from us.” We must
remember that these things are part of God’s plan of salvation to restore
Don’t allow their absence to set things off balance. If a pillar were
suddenly removed from a material building it would undoubtedly result in other
parts of the building being thrown off balance. This sometimes occurs in the Lord’s spiritual
house. Too much is at stake to
allow one member’s unfaithfulness to shake up the whole structure. We may need to move and adjust in order
to shift the weight, but too much disturbance over the lost member may cause
other parts of the building to fall.
Provide them with an example of faithfulness. Timothy
was taught “…Be an example to believers in word, in conduct, in
love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (I Timothy 4:12). A good example of faithfulness can go a
long way toward restoring an erring brother or sister. It is a quiet but steady beacon of
truth which reminds the fallen child of God of what they should and could be if
they choose to renew their commitment to the faith they once abandoned.
the sole remaining column left standing where the temple of Diana once stood,
so the child of God who has abandoned their faith upholds emptiness. They are spiritually alone. Their glory is fleeting. Their destiny is eternal
however, is a wonderfully transforming thing. Just as it can take an alien sinner and shape them into a
building block in God’s spiritual temple, so it can take the erring
Christian and make them a shining, majestic pillar in the temple of God. All it takes is deciding to
return. “He who overcomes, I
will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out on
more…” (Revelation 3:12).