Jerry C. Brewer
The church of Christ, which is the kingdom of God, is eternal and its nature transcends all things temporal. Its laws, ideals, subjects, and mission are not earthly, but heavenly. Jesus made that pronouncement at his trial before Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).
Having an eternal nature, the church’s mission is different from the kingdoms of men. It is neither social, political nor racial. Social engineering is not the province of the kingdom of God. Jesus didn’t give his life for racially balanced congressional districts. He didn’t die to provide every adult a minimum wage, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, food stamps, the right to vote, medicare, social security, job security, affirmative action, human rights or free eyeglasses. Those issues have been appropriated by the religious world in the same fashion that the Medieval church ruled in the affairs of kings. Denominations have abandoned any pretense of the divine mission of the church in our day.
The Social Gospel emphasizes the temporal things of life and omits eternal, spiritual matters like the terms of pardon, salvation, right moral living, and worshiping God as He directs in His word. The social gospel is more concerned with social security than eternal security and social welfare than spiritual warfare. Their humanistic priorities are redrawing congressional districts rather than taking the soul saving gospel to a lost world, and psychoanalysis instead of soul-searching sermons. Its adherents have exchanged the Bread of life for temporal loaves and fishes, the Water of Life for broken cisterns of humanistic philosophy and eternal glory for thirty pieces of silver, paid at minimum wage. The Social Gospel’s agenda is social and civil from top to bottom and its structure rests on the shifting sands of social change rather than the Rock of salvation.
But the kingdom of God—the church which Christ established on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in in Acts two—is an eternal entity containing all of the world’s redeemed. It is that which Christ saves and for which He will return at the last day:
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:23-27).
The church is His instrument upon the earth to carry the soul saving gospel to the world’s lost (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). Its destiny is not a better life here—though life here is made better by it—but eternal glory with the Father.
To be in Christ is to be in His church. Denominations say, “The church doesn’t save” and is therefore unnecessary to salvation. In one sense they are right. Christ is the Saviour, but the church is the saved. “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body” (Eph. 5:23). The church is that which Christ saves and one cannot be saved outside of it. One may as well argue that Noah could have been saved outside of the ark as to say one can be saved outside of the church.
We learn from the New Testament that in order to have the blessings of salvation in Christ, we must believe in him (John 8:24), repent of our sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38), confess our faith in Him (Acts 10:32-33; Rom. 10:10; Acts 8:37), and be baptized into Him for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38) where His blood cleanses us from all past sins. Having done that, one is then in Christ and, thus, in His church which is the kingdom of God.