I’ve invited several people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.
(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)
Today’s post was written by Mark Hanson, who has founded a ministry, Sheepfold Ministries, concerned with preparing the Church for increasing opposition and resisting the inroads of wickedness in governmental systems. He writes at the Rabel WebPaper as part of the work of Rabel Christian Civil Liberties.”
The Faithfulness and Love of God to Us and to His Church
In the first part of this two part series I covered the Sovereignty of God, both as it relates to us as individuals and to the Church. I made the case that God is ultimately in control and is, indeed, the Sovereign Lord (Habakkuk 3:19).
In this second part, I want to focus on two of God’s other vital characteristics: His faithfulness and His love.
Jesus was very clear that He would not allow anything to defeat His Church. Whatever we as a Church may go through, whatever trials we may face, even what can appear as an existential threat to the Church, cannot in fact bring about the demise of the Church. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says that His Church is built upon a rock, a sure and firm foundation. Although using Peter’s name to refer to the rock, and although the birth of the Church did come about through the preaching of Peter upon Pentecost, this reference by Christ to the Rock also inferred that the firmness of the Church is sure and that Christ Himself preserves her. Jesus declared that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Matthew Henry (1662 – 1714), the great commentator on the Bible, puts it that: “Christ promises to preserve and secure His Church.”
Jesus did not say that we, or the Church, should have it easy. He is clear that the battle is one that is fierce and intense, even stating in Matthew 11:12 that “the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence.” We will face great trial. My belief is that the Church will remain present in the world through the Great Tribulation: it cannot be wiped from the world whilst this age remains. But Christ is faithful, and even in the midst of the intense trial of that period, Christ has promised us, and His Church, that “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).
Peter wrote his first epistle to the elect as a time was approaching that is now known as the “little tribulation”, a time when the Church faced the severe and intense persecution from the Roman Emperor Nero, and has come to be regarded by some as the model of the Great Tribulation because many of the foretold signs of the end of the age were manifested in a partial way during that time.
In Peter’s letter he writes: “You, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:5.) Peter reassured the elect that whatever they were about to go through, God’s power kept them, God would remain faithful to them, and that God would not allow His Church to be destroyed.
Jesus loves the Church, and He will remain totally committed to His Church. As we look again at the messages to the churches in Asia contained in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, we can see not only Christ’s sovereignty over the churches, but also His great love for them. He shows this love in the midst of giving what some may consider harsh warnings: He does not simply state what those churches and some individuals are doing wrong, but provides an admonition and exhortation to repent and overcome. They are encouragements in order that the harm may not come but instead the churches may grow in their communion with Christ.
To conclude, God loves us as individuals and as His Body. Christ’s Church is His Temple, and His love for her is “the love of Christ which passes knowledge.” God has the authority and power to preserve, keep and even bless the Church, and us as individuals, whatever the circumstances, even during times of great hardship, trouble and persecution. In the present uncertainties in the world, only true believers and the true Church can know the “peace which passeth understanding.”
Look to Christ! The Rock of Ages!