Fred E. Dennis
The church is a divine institution. Jesus said: “I will build my church.” (Matt. 16:18.) He is the only one that has a right to speak of it as “my church.” When men say “my church,” they are not thinking clearly. We have hundreds of religious organizations in the world started by men. There is no salvation in any human institution, be it religious, fraternal, social, or political.
The church is valuable because of what it cost. It cost God his Son, and it cost the Son his blood. The church was made possible by the blood of Christ. We are bought with his precious blood. Paul told the Ephesian elders that the church was purchased with the blood of Christ. (Acts 20:28.) And the same inspired man wrote to the church in Corinth telling it that we are bought with a price. (1 Cor. 6:20.) We do value things somewhat in proportion to what they cost. Thus we should look upon the church. We have not been redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but by the precious blood of Christ. (1 Pet. 1:18, 19.) Our souls are valuable in the sight of God.
The church is valuable because salvation is in it. There is no salvation for any of us outside of Christ. There is no salvation in any other name other than the name of Christ. (Acts 4:12.) The same thing that saves us makes us members of the church. Just as fast as we are saved the Lord adds us to the church. (Acts 2:46, 47.) We are saved just as fast as we obey God. I had a dear soul to request baptism at my hands one time, but she said she did not want to be a member of the church of Christ. Of course she was not ready for baptism. No one is ready for baptism with such a conception of the plan of salvation. We must get it into the heads of people that when they do the things that God commands them to do, that will save them and make them members of the church. And if we do the things that will save us, it will make us all members of the same church. Doing something else will make us members of something else, but it will not save us.
The church is in the saving business. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17.) Sometimes people will say that the church never saved anyone. We may grant that, but the saved are in the church. Christ is the Savior, but he is the Savior of the body, and the body is the church. (Eph. 5:23; Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18.)
The church is valuable because it wears the name of Christ. No other organization or institution has the divine right to wear the name of Christ. He called it his church. Paul, in writing the different congregations of the church, spoke of them as the churches of Christ. (Rom. 16:16.) What a grand privilege to be in the church that honors Christ as its head and wears his name. The faithful wife loves to wear the name of her husband. The church is the bride of Christ and faithfully wears his name. The Christian wants no other name but the name of Christ. A faithful wife would wear no other name but that of her husband. So a faithful Christian wears no other name but the name of Christ. It is an honor to wear that name. We should be jealous of the name. We stand before the world as representatives of Christ. We should be careful to leave no wrong impressions. About the only impressions that some have of Christ are the impressions that they get from us. How careful we should be!
The church is the only kingdom that will stand forever. The kingdoms of men rise and fall. They are here today, but in a few hundred years they have fallen. The God of heaven set up a Kingdom that shall never be destroyed. (Dan. 2:44.) The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matt. 16:18.)
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Heb. 12:28.)
In the clashing and destruction of empires today the humble Christian can rest assured that the kingdom of Christ will stand forever. It cannot be moved. The thing for us to do is to be true and faithful to the God of heaven. He has power to take care of his own; and, thanks be to God, this he will do. We must not get discouraged too much. Every soul that we bring into the kingdom that remains faithful to God is one less for Satan and his kingdom. We must be true to the King.
We are now in the kingdom. Before the kingdom was established, Jesus taught his disciples to pray for the kingdom to come. That prayer was in order then. It is not now. The kingdom has been here for nineteen hundred years. Paul wrote to the Colossian brethren after this manner: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” (Col. 1:13.) I am sure that all will agree that it would not be possible to be translated into a kingdom that did not exist. Yes, the kingdom was in existence in the days of Paul, and folks were being translated into it.
The old apostle John said he was in the kingdom: “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 1:9.) He said that he was a brother in the kingdom. It would be pretty hard to be a brother in something that did not exist! If there was no Masonic Lodge, it would hardly be possible to be a “brother” in it. Of course I use this simply to illustrate.
We are living in the last age. When Jesus comes again, it will not be to set up a kingdom, but it will be to deliver one up to the Father. (Eph. 5:27.) Christ is now reigning. Jesus is coming again; but when he comes the next time, he is coming without an offering for sin. (Heb. 9:27, 28.) “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor 15:22-26.) Please note, “then cometh the end.”