Updated: Oct 30, 2022
In 1 Tim 3:15, Paul the Apostle refers to the true local church as:
“the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
In the seven letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation chapters 2 and 3, we find the Lord Jesus Christ telling us much of what the true church, "the pillar and ground of the truth,” should be like, great deal of which is nowhere to be found in vast majority of evangelical churches including Reformed Calvinist Protestant churches and the Mennonite denominations of EBMC and EMC. Unfortunately, and sadly, many Evangelical and Protestant churches do fit the characteristics of one of the churches described here in Revelation, that of the Church at Laodicea (Rev 3:14-21), a harlot church where practically everyone is unsaved, from the top down, but even worse, blinded to their lost and naked unregenerate estate.
If we are regulating worship by what God said, that is, giving Him what He wants, then we will keep the elements to those things that He said (Jn. 14:23-24). Adherence to the truth will always happen. These elements include the below from Revelation and the following: reading of Scripture (1 Th. 5:27; Col. 4:16; 1 Tim 4:13), the sound exegetical preaching of the whole Word of God (1 Tim. 4:6, 13-16; 2 Tim. 4:2; Matt. 28:20; Ac. 2:42; 20:7, 27; Ti. 2:15), the hearing of and responding to the Word of God (Jam. 1:19-20), going out and preaching the gospel to the unsaved (Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15; Pr. 11:30), disciplining according to Scripture (Matt. 18:15-17; 2 Th. 3:6-15), fervent personal and corporate prayer (1 Tim. 2:1, 8; Ac. 2:42; 4:23-31; Jam. 5:14-18), singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19-20, Col. 3:16; Matt. 26:30; 1 Cor. 14:26, 1 Tim. 2:1) and not worldly music which includes CCM (cf. 1 Jn 2:15; Jam 4:4; Eph 5:11), baptism by immersion only (Matt. 28:19), the Lord’s Supper of unleavened bread and wine (1 Cor. 11:23, Ac. 2:42), the teaching and preaching of sound doctrine alone (1 Tim 1:3; Ti 2:1), and the collection for the saints and ministers (Gal. 2:10; 1 Cor. 16:1-2, 2 Cor. 9:1-12).
Consider now the marks of a true pillar and ground of the truth local church through inspecting the seven church’s of Revelation collaboratively.
1. A local true pillar and ground of the truth church doesn’t tolerate unregenerate false pretending believers, or wicked persons (Rev. 2:2, 9, 20-22; 3:9, 15-20). This is further expounded and collaborated in other places of God’s Word such as Eph. 5:6-11; Gal. 2:4-5; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; Ti. 1:9-16; 1 Jn. 4:1; 2 Jn. 1:9-11. What the true church doesn’t tolerate—though sadly noted in majority churches today—is unconverted false believers who are primarily the product of easy-believism and quick-prayerism or some addition of works to grace, coupled with an absence of discernment concerning the vague and shady salvation testimonies accepted as gospel truth.
False churches tolerate anyone that comes with the title "church" because the leaders themselves are unsaved.
2. A local true pillar and ground of the truth church tests the life, doctrine, and claims of Christian leaders and teachers (Rev. 2:2). This is further collaborated in other places of God’s Word such as Titus 1 and 1 Tim. 3. Church leaders and teachers must be proven. Their doctrine consistently tested and measured by Scripture (Ac. 17:11; 1 Th. 5:21; 1 Tim. 1:3; 6:3; 2 Tim. 3:10; 4:3-4; Ti. 2:1; 2 Jn. 1:9-10) and the vigilant watchman and soldier of Christ is always on the alert for error and compromise and heresy and wolves in sheep’s clothing (Ac 20:28-30; Ti 3:10-11).
False churches do not abide in this extremely important truth because "niceness," and smiles and "friendliness" is apparently more important than the truth, or then obeying Gods Word. Furthermore, these churches are rampant with unsound doctrine and practice, and those that are actually truly born again in the midst, will separate from the heresy (cf. 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; 2 Tim 2:15-20; 1 Tim 6:3-5; 2 Jn 1:9-11; 2 Pet 3:16-17; Ac 20:27-30; etc).
3. A local true pillar and ground of the truth church is persevering in works, labour, faith, love, witness, service, patience, tribulation, suffering, and not fainting— by keeping God’s Word, and watching for His return (Rev. 2:3, 10, 13, 19, 26; 3:2-3, 10-11). They do not deny the faith and Christ’s name but hold fast to Christ and His truth; they keep His Word which means all His words (Rev. 2:13, 25; 3:8, 10-11). They do not get offended over Christ or His Word “when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word,” (Matt 13:21) which would demonstrate stony soil (unsaved professors), nor does the “care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word” revealing an unsaved thorny condition (Matt 13:22). They are the good ground upon where the seed falls, not the wayward, stony or thorny soils, which are lost, because they come to understand the Word and repented and were gloriously saved, followed by evidence of fruitfulness (Matt 13:23; Col 1:4-6).
False churches are filled with stony and thorny souls. You could rightly label them all as Thorny Evangelical Church or Stony Reformed Calvinist Church.
4. A local true pillar and ground of the truth church doesn’t tolerate doctrinal error and does hate what God hates (Rev. 2:6, 15; cf. Ps. 119:104, 128; Heb. 1:9). The standard for permitting false doctrine in the true local church is zero-tolerance (1 Tim. 1:3; Gal. 5:9) which consequently means sound doctrine is pursued at all costs (not superficially or with lip service, but truly by digging into the Word, rightly dividing the Word and believing what it literally says), and separation is actively and consistently practiced and commanded, and true unity is therefore embraced and practiced. The leaders take their responsibility serious which is primarily to protect the flock from error and danger (Ti. 3:9-11; Ac. 20:28-30), but so does the church as a whole, confronting those who bring in false teaching and sin (Rev. 2:2, 6; see also Ac. 15:1-2, 30-31; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; Gal. 2:4-5; Phil. 3:17-19; 2 Jn. 1:9-11).
False churches do not practice or preach personal or ecclesiastical separation from the world, from sin, from doctrinal error. Instead of confronting error and false teachings/teachers, they entertain and embrace them, quote them, sell or rent out their books, and attend their conferences and churches. They do that because they are one and the same, two peas in a pod (Am 3:3).
5. A local true pillar and ground of the truth church overcomes sin, Satan, and the world which is a church of truly converted believers. Though there will likely always be unsaved people in the congregation, the goal is an assembly of only regenerate people. Overcoming happens at and through salvation. Sin and the flesh is overcome at salvation (Rom. 6:1-23; 7:4-6). The world is overcome at salvation (1 Jn. 5:4-5). The devil is overcome at salvation (1 Jn. 2:13-14: 4:4; Rev. 12:11). So the true Biblical church, the house of God and the pillar and ground of the truth, is one made up of only true born again believers, which are overcomers. Overcomers are made through preaching the one true and unadulterated gospel/salvation and truth of God’s Word expecting nothing less than true conversions, for all these things are overcome at salvation (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21).
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.“ (Rev21:7)
That happens at salvation, when we inherit all things and become God’s son and He our Father.
False churches do not overcome. They do not know victory from the world, from sin and from doctrinal error, because they have never been regenerated, which is when these things are overcome. The overcomer is the true convert of Christ, but false churches do not yield true converts of Christ.
6. A local true pillar and ground of the truth church practices personal and ecclesiastical separation in line with Scripture — refusing to befriend and conform to the immorality and fashions and things of the world (Rev. 2:24; 3:4, 8; Jam. 4:4) thus not loving the world and separating from it (see Jn. 15:18-20; 17:14-16; I Jn. 2:15-17), and separating from sinful things such as bad music (incl. CCM) and gender indistinctive clothing, but also from false teachers (Rom. 16:17; Gal. 2:4-5; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; Ti. 3:10-11; 2 Jn. 1:6-9) and false pretending “believers” including false pastors (Rev. 3:15-19; cf. 3 Jn 1:9-11). They separate also from other church’s that believe and practice contrary to God’s Word (Rom 16:17-18; 1 Tim 6:3-5; 2 Jn 1:9-11; Am 3:3).
False churches are non-separating churches. They not only do not believe in separation, they despise and abhor it, thus reject it. So it comes as no surprise that these churches are overrun with error, wirh worlfliness and wirh false professors.
7. A local true pillar and ground of the truth church keeps God's Word (Rev. 3:8, 10) which starts with a true Bible (which must be translated from the true Biblical text of the Hebrew Masoretic Text of the Old Testament and Greek Textus Receptus of the New Testament, and translated word-for-word only — which in the English language is found only in the Authorized King James, in German in the Martin Luther Bible, in Dutch the Stratavaleng, in Spanish the Reina-Valera, etc) and then sound exegetical interpretation and preaching (Pr. 22:20-21; 2 Pet. 1:20; 3:16-17).
False churches embrace and love every version of the Bible in English besides the King James Bible, the only true sword of the Lord in English. And that says absolutely everything.
8. A local true pillar and ground of the truth church is where true believers repent, they turn from and forsake any error and sin (Rev. 2:5, 16, 21-22; 3:3, 19). They know and understand this is required for the sweet biblical unity described and commanded in Scripture: Rom 12:6; 15:6; 1 Cor 1:10; 12:25-26; Ac 4:31-32; Eph 4:1-16; Phil 1:27; 2:1-4; 3:15-19; 4:1-2; Heb 6:12; 1 Pet 3:8-9. They repent because God is chastening them, which He does only to His children and all His children, and those that are without chastisement and thus repentance are bastards — they don’t belong to Him (Rev 3:19; Heb. 12:5-11; Pr. 3:11-12):
“My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”(Pr. 3:11-12).
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev. 3:19).
Other Things Scripture Says About the True Local Church, the True Pillar and Ground of the Truth
The Holy Spirit in Scripture has exalted the true local church in the following ways:
It is the only institution Jesus is building today (Matt. 16:18).
It is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).
It is the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15).
It is where Jesus is standing (Rev. 1).
It is the institution to which the Holy Spirit is speaking (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).
It is the recipient of the Great Commission and the headquarters for world missions (Matt. 18:15-17; 28:18-20; Ac. 11 and 13).
It is the centre for the discipline of professing believers (1 Cor. 5).
It is the institution through which we exercise our spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12-14) and provide Christian service (Ti. 2).
It is the institution for the training of true born again Christians (Eph 4:11-16; Heb. 13:7).
It is the institution for ordaining ministers and missionaries (Ac. 6:1-6; 13:3) and supporting them (Phil. 4:16; 2 Cor. 11:8).
It is the institution for corporate prayer (Ac. 12:5).
It is the institution through which God is to be glorified (Eph. 3:21).
It is God’s church (Ac. 20:28). The term “church of God” is used 13 times in the N.T. and always of the local church.
It is purchased with Christ’s blood (Ac. 20:28).
It is Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:27).
A true church recognizes and stands fast upon only two “ordinances” (1 Cor. 11:2): the baptism of believers by immersion/dipping (not sprinkling or pouring as harlot churches do, which isn’t “baptism”) upon the profession of their salvation in Christ (Col. 2:12; Ac. 8:36-38; Matt. 3:8) and the keeping of the Lord’s Supper of unleavened bread and unleavened juice (1 Cor. 11).
Reject and turn from false churches, which include but not limited to all evangelical ones, all reformed Calvinist churches, all Catholic Churches, all Protestant churches, all Pentecostal churches, all cultish churches (such as Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons) and majority baptist churches (especially those belonging to denominations such as the SBC and Baptist Union churches, but also majority of IFB churches).
All the above are harlots of the Antichrist church (Rev 17-18).
And God warns "from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." (Rev 18:4-5)
"The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead." (Pr 21:16)