Page images
PDF
EPUB

High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever." This text teaches the fact that Christianity was to continue eternally. The same we have in Luke 1: 31, 33: “He [Jesus] shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." The kingdom and the church are in some respects identical. They are inclusive of each other. Christ established the everlasting kingdom of God, planted his church in the earth, and began his reign of righteousness and salvation in the beginning of this dispensation; and the above texts assert that his kingdom and his reign are to continue forever. Therefore the perpetuity of the church is assured.

In the Book of Revelation, chapter 12, the pure church of God is brought to view under the symbol of a woman clothed with the sun and having the moon under her feet, etc. That woman was the primitive church arrayed with the light of salvation, purity, and holiness, and with the authority and the power of Jesus Christ, her husband. Verse 6 says: “The woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Verse 14 reads, “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” This wilderness signifies the obscurity into which the true church went and in which she remained during the dark reign of apostasy. Although during the Dark Ages there were true disciples of Christ that never embraced the absurdities of the Roman church, among whom we mention the Cathri, the poor men of Lyons, the Lombards, Albigenses, Waldenses, Baudis, etc., yet “the living church retired gradually within the lonely sanctuary of a few hearts, and the external church was substituted in its place, and all its forms were declared to be of divine appointment.”—D’Aubigne's History of the Reformation, book I, chap. I. “There existed at that dark period, when 'all the world wondered after the beast,' a numerous body of the disciples of Christ who took the New Testament for their guidance and direction in all affairs of religion, rejecting the doctrines and commandments of men. Their appeal was from the decision of councils and the authority of popes, cardinals, and prelates to the law and the testimony, the words of Christ and his apostles.”—History of Romanism by Dowling, page

272.

Thus the church of God existed during the reign of popery, and in the place prepared of God she was nourished and kept alive “for a time, and times, and half a time.” During this long period, however, she was largely in obscurity, symbolized by “wilderness." Though the church was largely obscured during the reign of apostasy, being hidden under the human rubbish and creeds of men, and though during the reign of Protestant sectism her members have been scattered in the various so-called Christian societies, so that really the true church has not shone forth in her visible beauty; yet she has existed, and thus has been perpetuated that true Christianity and church which Christ established in the earth; and in these last days the same church is coming up out of the wilderness and returning to the unity, purity, holiness, organization, and oneness of primitive days. Thus is fulfilled the prophecy in Solomon's Songs 8:5: “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?" Christ is the one who is leading her out.

So in these last days the church of God, in her gathered condition, is a visible organized body of believers, distinct and separate from all the religious bodies of human origin; and she is the same church, the bride of Christ, the identical woman that was seen in symbol (Rev. 12:1) in her primitive glory, and afterwards nourished in the wilderness, or state of obscurity, during a long period of apostasy, and now again brought back to the apostolic plane, looking fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.

Figures in which the New Testament Church

is Presented.

A number of figures are used in the New Testament in presenting the church of God, and by these it is brought to view in all of its different phases. The first of these that we will consider is

A BODY.

Salvation constitutes us members of the church of God, and to those who have thus been saved out of the world and sin the Lord has given certain names or titles to distinguish them from others. In the New Testament God's people are termed Christians, disciples, brethren, saints, friends, and pilgrims. Each of these terms has its special signification.

We are termed Christians to signify that the people of God are like Christ-demonstrate his character, life, and disposition to men. We are termed disciples, a word which means learners, to signify that the moment we are saved we enter the school of Christ and are taught of God. We are termed pilgrims to signify that this world is not our final destiny; that we are traveling

« PreviousContinue »