|Vol. 13 No. 9 September 2011||
“For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him” (Genesis 18:19). God made a covenant with Abraham. In that covenant, God made specific promises if he would keep his part of the covenant. Abraham’s part was to walk before God and be perfect (Genesis 17:1), and to circumcise every male child born in his house (Genesis 17:10-13). God promised Abraham:
Betty Burton Choate
Satan is the vigilant, never-resting enemy of God. The Scriptures clearly state that before the creation, God knew that man would fall, and He made the complete plan for his redemption: through “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). What would the death of Christ accomplish? It brought together His followers, in one body, as they are called out of the world and born through the waters of baptism into the family of God, which He calls “the church” (John 15:19; Ephesians 1:10; John 3:3,5).
Colossians 1:18 declares, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” The book of Ephesians is rich with definitive statements of what it means to be “in Christ.” Certainly, there is no salvation outside of Christ, and Ephesians 1:22-23 underscores the statement made to the Colossians: “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
God’s plan from before the creation was to call people out of the world, washing them clean of their sins in the blood of His Son, and bringing them by that birth into the body of Christ — the church of Christ — separate from the contamination of the world.
The oneness and the glory of that sanctified body fill the remaining pages of the New Testament. The church itself is the culmination of God’s work of redemption throughout the ages. The actual inheritance of Christ is “in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). We are intended to be the glory of Christ, the fullness of Christ. We — Christians, the church — are the end result of God’s entire work of the ages! What a beautiful and triumphant picture!
However, Satan must work to destroy, malign or at least confuse the identification and understanding of the church, in order to prevent sinners from entering that refuge of salvation. What has he done? First, through false religious leaders, he tells the lie that we can be saved, as individuals, without belonging to any church — and he makes the claim without any authority to support that promise. Then, he says that churches started by men, and governed by men’s rules, are under the umbrella of “the church” as described in the New Testament, even though Christ warned, “In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9; 7:21-23).
There are false teachers today, even in the church, who are audacious to the point of opening the doors of fellowship to all “believers,” regardless of the name they wear, religiously, or the doctrines they teach and practice. Beware (1 John 4:1)!