The Church Is God’s Idea
There is good reason to believe that the plan of salvation is the greatest evidence of the wisdom of God in the history of the universe. Who can fully appreciate the magnitude of the challenge God faced? One impossibly difficult question follows hard upon another.
What provision can He make for the forgiveness of sin without weakening the requirements of His immutable law? How far can He go in making eternal life attractive and the consequences of disobedience repugnant without violating man’s freedom of choice? What part will the recipient of salvation himself or herself have to play in order to receive the gift? How can He provide for both reconciliation and restoration? What will be the “rules of engagement” with which Satan will be made to comply?
The solution which God devised—this holy thing called “the plan of salvation”—can be understood in its essentials by a child, but its outer limits cannot be grasped by the brightest angel mind, and is certainly beyond the reach of the most gifted mortal. Paul exclaims, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33).
The centerpiece of that plan, of course, is the life, death, resurrection, and high-priestly ministry of Jesus. It includes the powerful assistance of the Holy Spirit and the angels. If the plan works, the weakest, the most degenerate, the most rebellious of human beings can be restored to perfect harmony with God. The profligate can be made pure, the self-indulgent self-denying, the greedy generous. God can “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).
But wait! Here is a perfect plan, something to make the whole watching universe stand on tiptoe, but by what means shall it be communicated to the lost? After Jesus sets it all in motion and returns to heaven, what agency will be given the practical task of advertising the offer? Who will protect the plan from counterfeits, from false saviors, from heresies and heretics? Who will nurture the faith of the newborn? Who will shelter the weak and seek after the wayward?
The answer is found in Ephesians 3:10 where Paul says it is “through the church” that this good news is to be made known. The church is God’s idea. God saw that what man needed was a support group, an extended family, a learning center, a social fellowship, a training school, a place of worship—all in one. So God put it all together and called it ekklesia, which is the Greek word meaning “a calling out,” “a place of assembly.”
Those called out of the world of evil and error would have a place to be called into. There the lonely would find friends; the homeless, a place of refuge; the disinherited, a family; the sick, a place of healing.
“The church of God below is one with the church of God above. Believers on the earth and beings in heaven who have never fallen constitute one church” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 366).
No organization on earth antedates the church, and most organizations to some degree mimic it. It is in the church that the great controversy between Christ and Satan is to be consummated. The church, marshaled under the blood-red banner of Immanuel, will be led to victory against the hosts of darkness. The gates of hell shall not prevail. Amen!
Lee Roy Holmes, retired Seventh-day Adventist pastor, college Place, WA
This article is an excerpt from Lee Roy Holmes book, The Church That Will Not Fall.