“THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH”
THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
Marvin L. Weir
There are many glorious truths that we can know about the church of our Lord because divine revelation has revealed them to us. The church has always been a part of the eternal plan of God. The apostle Paul records, “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him”(Eph. 3:9-12).
Not only has God always intended that the Lord’s church exist, but He knew that it would be the place where salvation is located. Salvation is IN Christ (2 Tim. 2:10), but Christ has promised to save only His body, the church (Eph. 5:23; 1:22-23). It is therefore imperative that all men willingly submit to the gospel “for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek”(Rom. 1:16). The Bible plan of salvation is as follows: all must hear God’s Word (Rom. 10:17), believe (Mark 16:16), repent (Luke 13:3), confess Christ (Rom. 10:10), and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Bible baptism is a burial [not a sprinkling] (Rom. 6:4) and is the final submissive act that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:27).
One who genuinely obeys the Gospel plan of salvation becomes a member of the kingdom — the church, the body of Christ (Matt. 16:18-19; Col. 1:18; Acts 2:47). But what is the future of the Lord’s church? To a great extent, the future of the Lord’s church is up to you and me. It is true that the church of our Lord will always exist in this world, but its members will determine just how effective each local body will be.Jesus commands those who follow Him to be the saltof the earth and the lightof the world (Matt. 5:13-16). To young Timothy, the apostle Paul said, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth”(1 Tim. 3:15). Children of God are to behave differently from the world as they live on this earth! As a member of the body of Christ, a Christian has the obligation and responsibility to fulfill the requirements of membership. In this sense, the future of the church depends entirely upon the attitudes and actions of its members. We know well of the willingness of Christ to give and sacrifice so that we might have eternal life (Rom. 5:8-10). Do members today feel compelled to give and sacrifice so that the Lord’s church might be glorified? Peter reminds the Christians to whom he wrote, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light”(1 Peter. 2:9). It was also Peter who admonished, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:1-2).
The future of the Lord’s church today is not nearly as promising as it was in the 1950s. Fifty or sixty years ago the church was growing, members were convicted and willing to sacrifice for the cause of Christ, and most congregations believed the essentiality of 1 Corinthians 1:10 (unity). They also believed the truth stated in Ephesians 4:4-7. Very few members of the church of Christ sixty years ago believed instrumental music to be a matter of preference or that there were Christians in man-made churches!
What is the future of the church as far as you are concerned? Can the church depend on you? Will you be an asset or a liability to the cause of Christ?
Each member of the Lord’s church needs to ask himself the following questions:
If everyone attends services as I do, would the doors of the church building remain open?
If everyone’s interest were as great as mine, would there even be a Gospel Meeting?
If everyone prepares and studies as I prepare and study, would there be any Bible classes taught?
If everyone did as I do during the song service, would there be a sound heard?
If everyone’s attitude toward the authority of the Scriptures were as mine, would the Bible even be consulted or needed?
If everyone stands for truth as I do, would truth ever prevail?
If everyone opposes false teaching as I do, will false teaching ever be confronted or stopped? Brethren, are we interested in glorifying God or self?
Will we support preachers of truth and mark preachers of error? The future of the Lord’s church depends on you!