Secularization has become militant. Christians have become apathetic and absent. Will the church continue? When Christ returns will there be a church on earth for his glory? With the continued secularization of our world will there be any room left for the spiritual?

The Church Has Eternal Roots

The existence of the church finds its origin in the eternal purpose of God and the perons of Christ. The church will continue to exist because it has eternal roots. The church is described as the “eternal purpose of God” (Eph. 3:11). This “eternal purpose” helps us to understand why the church now exists. “Since the church now exists, it must always have existed in the mind of God as an idea or form. Since the church owes its existence to the eternal idea of God, then its origin and perpetuity are guaranteed.”[1] The body of Christ exists in time, yet it is timeless. Timelessness is a necessary attribute of the church “since the body of the Church is made up of the men who have been from the beginning of the world until its end.”[2] Augustine explained this union:

 However, now if we turn our attention to ourselves, if we think of His Body, how that we are even He. For if we were not He, “Forasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of Mine, ye have done it unto Me,” would not be true. If we were not He, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” would not be true. So then we are He, in that we are His members, in that we are His Body, in that He is our Head, in that Whole Christ is both Head and Body.[3]

A tree planted by water has deep roots for its foundation. The church has its roots in eternity. No stronger or more certain foundation could there be. One ancient writer said, “And the Books and the Apostles declare that the Church existeth not now for the first time, but hath been from the beginning: for she was spiritual, as our Jesus also was spiritual, but was manifested in the last days that He might save us. Now the Church, being spiritual, was manifested in the flesh of Christ.”[4]The church of our Lord is not an afterthought. The church is not an accident or a plan B. The church is not an afterthought. It is an eternal thought.

The Church Has Christological Roots

“The church is the body of Christ” (Eph. 1:23). The church “cannot be torn away from him and will last as long as even the head itself, which cannot exist without the body.”[5] The church’s relationship with Christ is demonstrated by how he “intimately identifies himself with it (Acts 9:4). The church is the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12–27; Eph 1:23; 4:12; 5:23–32; Col 1:18, 24; 3:15), the dwelling place of his Spirit (Rom 8:9, 11, 16; 1 Cor 3:16–17; 6:11, 15–17; Eph 2:18, 22; 4:4), and the chief instrument for glorifying God in the world.”[6]

The church is rooted in the eternal person of Christ. Therefore the existence of the church is guaranteed by the existence of Christ himself. The church is guaranteed because it is the bride of Christ (Eph. 4:15, 16; Hos. 2:19). The church has an eternal covenant with the eternal God (Is. 59:21; 61:8; Jer. 31:31). The church enjoys promise that the gates of Hades will not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18) and that Christ will be present with the church to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). The church will continue as long as death continues (1 Cor. 15:25-26). This is why the church is described as the kingdom without end (Dan. 2:44; Lk. 1:33).

The Church Will Stand

The origin and perpetuity of the church are guaranteed because both are rooted in the eternal person and purpose of Jesus Christ. Christians can be confident in God’s eternal purpose, but we cannot become complacent. Christian, you are a part of God’s eternal purpose. You are tied to the person of Christ. You are the bride of Christ. Because we are the church, we have the responsibility to be zealous for His cause. We should be like Jesus and the Psalmist who said, “zeal for your house has consumed me” (Psalm 69:9). This zeal is funneled through and given purpose by good theology (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Our work is not only with God, but it is also providentially empowered by God (Philippians 2:12-13). Good church, let us be at work for God.

 

Footnotes

  [1] Aquinas, Summa Theologica.

[2] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, n.d.).

[3] Augustine of Hippo, “Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament,” in Saint Augustin: Sermon on the Mount, Harmony of the Gospels, Homilies on the Gospels, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. R. G. MacMullen, vol. 6, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), 509.

 [4] Joseph Barber Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers (London: Macmillan and Co., 1891), 91.

[5] Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, ed. James T. Dennison Jr., trans. George Musgrave Giger, vol. 3 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992–1997), 42.

 [6] Mark Dever “The Church” in A Theology for the Church. (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2014), 603.