|Volume 19 Number 3 March 2017||
What is Right with the Church?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
“What is right with the church?” is an interesting question. At first, I misread the inquiry and thought that it read, “What is the right church?” Actually, some of the responses to either query would be the same.
First, the church about which one reads in the Bible originated in the mind of Almighty God before the creation of anything.
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:8-11 NKJV)
If one is referring to the church about which we read upon the pages of inspiration, one thing that is right with the church is that it originated in the mind of God. In addition, only that church is the right church. This ought to be obvious, in part, because the church of the Bible was the only church that existed for hundreds of years before the establishment of the Catholic Church and hundreds of years later with the development of denominationalism as the outgrowth of the Reformation Movement. The divine origin of the church of the Bible from the mind of God speaks to both questions, “What is right with the church?” and “What is the right church?” The church of the Bible is distinctive; it is unique.
Secondly, the church of the Bible is the spiritual body of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Aside from belonging to our Lord, the body of Christ is the body of the saved (Ephesians 5:23) to which Jesus adds the saved (Acts 2:47). Being the body of the saved means that it is the right church as well as denotes what is right about the church.
Thirdly, the church is the right church and what is right with the church is when it worships God correctly or “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). The church is right and the right church when it practices the five acts of worship recorded upon the pages of the New Testament (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 14:15; 16:1-2).
Fourthly, the church of the Bible is right and the right church because it teaches and preaches God’s Word faithfully (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 4:1-2). Unapologetically, the church is right and the right church because it teaches New Testament doctrine about salvation (Mark 16:16), Christian worship, Christian living (Titus 2:12), Christian service (Titus 2:14) and the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9-10; Colossians 3:16).
Jesus Christ will return someday to retrieve His church (John 14:1-3). Manmade churches, which did not originate in the mind of God, do not qualify for that retrieval. Churches that are not comprised of the saved to which our Lord added them do not qualify for retrieval by Jesus Christ. Our Lord will return to retrieve those who worship the Heavenly Father according to divine instructions (Revelation 2-3). Jesus is coming back for His followers who faithfully teach and practice what the New Testament reveals about salvation, Christian worship, Christian living, Christian service and Christian doctrine.
The church as God intended it is perfect—complete, unique and flawless. That is what is right about the church as well as the right church. Of course, implementation of divine instructions by mortals is a different matter—fraught with human frailty. Yet, that does not excuse mankind from trying to practice righteousness (Romans 6:1-2). In spite of sins that sometimes enter the lives of the children of God, through penitence (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9) and if they “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7), God applies His grace (Ephesians 2:8) and mercy (Titus 3:5), nevertheless. The church as it is composed of feeble humans is acceptable to God through our obedience (Hebrews 5:9) despite our lack of perfection (Romans 3:10, 23).
New Jerusalem Coming
Down from Heaven
Louis Rushmore, Editor
I read the article on New Jerusalem, and I was wondering how you would explain Revelation 21:2 where it says that the holy city, New Jerusalem, would be coming down out of heaven. Thanks.
The person pondering “New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven” refers to a previous Question & Answer in the February 2017 edition of Gospel Gazette Online (http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2017/feb/page14.html#article2). Aside from repeating information contained in the previous article, we turn specifically to providing an explanation for the phrase, “…New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…” (Revelation 21:2 NKJV).
Last month, I contrasted the earthly home of literal Jerusalem with the heavenly home to come, figuratively a spiritual Jerusalem. Earthly Jerusalem, a place of bodily habitation, will be replaced with a figurative or spiritual Jerusalem, a place of habitation for spirits.
“…New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…” doubly identifies the origin of this eternal abode of righteous souls—“out of heaven”—“from God.” As such, the phrase also confirms the spiritual nature of the New Jerusalem, since “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God [Heaven]” (1 Corinthians 15:50) and “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). Hence, the “New Jerusalem” is figurative or spiritual and not a literal city in which humans in their physical bodies will abide on a physical earth, which will be utterly destroyed—even to the eradicating of the smallest building blocks of creation (2 Peter 3:10-11).