Page images

become corrupted by sin. As their own sin made the presence of God unendurable and necessarily drove them out, so "every branch in Christ that bringeth not forth good fruit, the Father taketh away." There are, then, no unholy branches in the Christ-vine. “For if the first-fruit [Christ] be holy; . . . so are the branches." Rom. 11:16.

Persons belonging to the different religious organizations that men have founded, it is said, ought to be holy; but all the members of God's church are holy. When members of a modern sect are judged unworthy of membership, it is in the power of its rulers, by some course prescribed in their discipline, to expel such; but when men become unfit to dwell in the body of Christ, they thereby forfeit their membership, and, so to speak, expel themselves. God's church is self-adjusting. “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not." "He that committeth sin is of the devil.” 1 John 3:6, 8.

By the act of sinning he transfers himself from the family of God to the family of Satan. “As the root is holy, so are also the branches." Therefore the unholy are not branches at all.

The chief end of man's existence is to worship the Lord. But how must a holy God be worshiped? Answer: “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." Psa. 29: 2. “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; fear before him all the earth." Psa. 96:9. The same in substance is required by the Savior in the absolute demand, “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth." Since God's church is on the plane of spiritual worship to God, it is holy in his sight.

The church is also seen to be holy unto God because he walks in the midst of her. Where two or three meet in my name, there am I in the midst of them.' And I will manifest myself unto you as I do not unto the world.' These and similar statements show a social communion between God and his people in the new Jerusalem, which is the church of the first-born; and holiness is just as essential now to the enjoyment of the society of God as it was when its loss drove Adam and Eve from his presence.

But still more strikingly does the holiness of God's church on earth appear when we consider it as the actual dwelling-place of God. “In whom ye also are builded together for a habi


tation of God through the Spirit.” “As God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them.” Can any person conceive of God dwelling in any other than a holy temple? Nay, “the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1 Cor. 3:17. Neither can a few unholy ones pass under cover of the general holiness of oth

Had there been a thousand holy men in Eden, they would have intensified rather than decreased the fire of God's holy presence and would have made the place all the more unendurable to the sinner. So no hypocrite can smuggle himself into the awful temple of God's presence. To the unholy God is a consuming fire.” “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." Psa. 1:5. There never was nor ever can be a sinner or unholy person in the church, which is the body of Christ. Such characters may and do assemble with the church, and may seek to pass for members of the body, and where the church is deficient in discerning, such may actually pass undetected, but they are not in the church.

The foregoing is apparent when we consider what constitutes membership in any society. First, the conditions and process of becoming a member must be met; and, secondly, the name must be entered on the roll of membership. Therefore the class-book of any sect decides who are and who are not its members. No matter how much a man may affirm his membership, if his name is not recorded in the classbook, his claim is false; and no difference how vile a character may be, if his name stands on the book, he is a member, even though the society be ashamed to confess the fact. Now, it is by these same two tests that we define membership in God's church. First, all must enter through Christ, the only door, and by the process of salvation (John 10:9; Eph. 2:18); for there is no other possible admittance. Second, he must have his name in the Lamb's book of life; for there is no other enrollment of the names of all the household of God. Thus no one can enter except by obtaining salvation, and all that are thus born of God do not commit sin, but are “holy brethren”; and, furthermore, no sinner or hypocrite has deceived God and got his name written down in heaven, and whosoever commits sin and does not continue to overcome, that man's name is blotted out of the book of life. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (Ex. 32:33); but “he that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life." Rev. 3:5. There are, then, no sinners' names continued on the book of God's church, nor names of any who have been overcome by the devil or any evil agent. There is not an unholy member in the church of God. She is a “spiritual house, an holy priesthood," “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). Yea, saith her Lord, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” S. of Sol. 4:7.


Though great and popular counterfeits of the church have been formed on earth, which are very mutable in all their elements; though it is true that the real membership of God's church may increase and decrease in numbers, and that during the middle ages the saints were trodden down and so worn-out by the persecuting powers of darkness that but few remained on earth to keep alive the holy seed; yea, and though it

« PreviousContinue »