The Last Reformation eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 160 pages of information about The Last Reformation.

[Sidenote:  Apostasy possible]

We have shown the characteristic, spiritual features of a New Testament congregation in its normal condition; also the possibility of deviation from that standard.  A practical question is, How far could such a congregation lapse into an abnormal state and still be a church of God?  Or, Can a church as a body backslide?  The church at Ephesus evidently was on the verge of such an apostasy.  Therefore in the special message addressed to it in Revelation the Lord said:  “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place” (Rev. 2:  4, 5).  So also the church at Laodicea.  “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot:  I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art luke warm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:  15, 16).

[Sidenote:  The line of distinction]

The physical body may experience the mutilation of some of its members and still survive, but there is a limit beyond which death will ensue.  So also the spiritual body may survive the encumbrance of a few false members.  From the general facts and principles already adduced, however, we may safely assert that a local church is a church of God only so long as it is able to function properly as a body.  As long as the Spirit of God is in the ascendency, so that the people of God as a body manifest the power of God, maintain the truth of God, are filled with the Spirit of God, and are actually used by the Spirit in performing the works of God, so long they are the church of God.  Whenever another spirit gains the ascendency and the divine, spiritual characteristics are lost to view, then is brought to pass the saying that is written, “I will spew thee out of my mouth.”  Beyond that time they may continue their formal services, singing hymns, saying prayers, and making speeches; but the real message of God describing their condition is, as was true of Sardis, “Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Rev. 3:  1).  Such dead congregations are no longer a part of the true church and are unworthy of the recognition of spiritual congregations.

CHAPTER IV

THE ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH

[Sidenote:  The fact of organization]

We have already shown that the words of Christ “I will build my church” have a deeper meaning than the simple preaching of the kingdom.  They imply the formation of an organized structure against which even the gates of hell should not prevail.  They can signify nothing less than the visible establishment of the church among men as the concrete embodiment of the divine kingdom or family.  The church, then, as made up of local congregations, is an institution of divine appointment.  This is shown by the words of Christ in Matt. 18:  17, according to which it sometimes becomes necessary in admonishing and disciplining trespassers to “tell it unto the church”; and the appellation “church of God” is frequently applied to individual congregations (1 Cor. 1:  2, et al.).

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Project Gutenberg
The Last Reformation from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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