A Glorious Church
Don’t you love the way God uses a multi-pronged approach when teaching us His ways? Many times, I have been amazed at the way that I will hear the same truth from different people as well as in what I read in the Bible and elsewhere. This helps to get my attention and cement the new truth in my heart.
Our walk with God is a pilgrimage, a journey. Proverbs 4:18 says,
The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. NIV
Commenting on this verse, Derek Prince says:
The righteousness of the Bible is a path. And we enter into that path through an encounter with the Son of Righteousness, the Lord Jesus Christ. And when He shines into our lives, that’s like the first gleam of dawn. It’s the beginning of light.
And then, as we move on in that path, the words are beautiful: “The light shines ever brighter till the full light of day.”
If you are walking in the path of righteousness, today’s light is brighter than yesterday’s and tomorrow will be brighter than today’s. So do not settle down and say, “I’ve arrived,” because that’s a mistake, that’s a deception. The path of righteousness leads us always on until we come into the full light of the noonday sun and to the full and final revelation of God in eternity.
As we continue to progress in our walk, God gives us new revelation which challenges us and makes us more like Jesus. In my own walk, I have recently been challenged concerning my thinking regarding End Times.
We live in a world which so often focusses on the negative. The Media is driven almost exclusively by what is bad and many people find it depressing and hopeless. Thankfully, as Christians we have a brighter hope of an eternity in the presence of God.
How many of us, though, live with a resignation that things are going to get worse and worse until eventually, Jesus will come back and sort out the problems? We know that ultimately only Christ’s rulership can solve the world’s issues – there is no politician or leader who can do that. Only Christ’s authority can deal with this world’s brokenness. But, let us not forget that Jesus has vested that authority in us, His church.
In Rediscovering God’s Church, Derek teaches us from Psalm 110 –
The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! (Psalm 110:1-2)
I believe that all three Persons of the Godhead are represented in the first two verses of Psalm 110. In the first verse, we read that God the Father says to Jesus the Son, “Sit at My right hand.” Then, in the second verse, we see that God the Holy Spirit stretches forth the sceptre of Christ’s authority from Zion, the assembly of His people, and says, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies!” Sometimes, we are so conscious of the enemies that we forget that Christ is already ruling. His enemies have not all been subdued under His feet yet, but He is ruling supreme in the midst of His enemies – right now, through us! The Holy Spirit extend the sceptre of Christ’s authority over the nations, kings, and rulers of this earth. And He does this out of the assembly of God’s people who are met in divine order through prayer, the ministry of the Word, and the gifts of the Spirit.
We need God’s grace to shift from the back foot of defensiveness against the enemy to the front foot of extending Christ’s authority in a world which so desperately needs Him.
One of the influences that has helped me shift my thinking on this is reading the manuscript of a new book of Derek’s teaching which is being released later this year called Living a Salt and Light: God’s Call to Transform Your World. The content is taken from a “re-discovered” series of messages given at a conference in 1968 but the teaching is as fresh and up-to-date as if it was given today.
The book is focused on the concept that by exercising Christ’s authority in the world, we are not just “salt and light”, but we are “the salt and the light” – if we do not do the job, then it will not get done. If we do not do the job, then Christ will not return.
The Lord has greatly challenged me through this new book to be more proactive in prayer and intercession, teaching and preaching, seeking to be active in the gifts of the Spirit as well as proclamation and spiritual warfare. Each one of God’s people has a role to play. Each person will have greater emphasis in certain areas according to their giftings and that too can change through the years and the seasons.
Getting back to Rediscovering God’s Church, the last chapter is one of great victory – The Glorious Church. The end of time will not be an anti-climax for the church, it will be a timewhen the church has within it, “the manifest, visible, tangible, personal presence of almighty God.” Derek says in that final chapter:
A church that is permeated with the presence of God attracts people. When people sense it, they will say, “What is here? I’ve never felt anything like this. It’s different. What do these people have that I don’t?”
That is the glory of God, and it is awesome. When the glory of God was revealed to Israel, the people bowed with their faces to the ground:
When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; His love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3 NIV)
God’s presence was so powerful that no one could remain standing. This is the kind of church for which Jesus is coming.
Christ …loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word… (Ephesians 5:25-26)
Jesus redeemed the church by His blood so that He might sanctify it by the pure water of His Word. The blood and the water of the Word are both needed to make the church ready for the coming of the Lord. I always honour the blood of Jesus. His blood paid the redemptive price by which we are bought back out of the hand of the devil. Then, after we have been redeemed by the blood, it is the purpose of God that we should be sanctified and cleansed by the washing of the water by the Word. His purpose is clear:
…that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. (verse 27)
Therefore, here are three signs that identify the church that Jesus will come for:
1. It is to be glorious.
2. It is to be marked by the manifest presence of God in its midst.
3. It is to be spotless, holy, and without blemish.
From the Scriptures, Derek paints for us a beautiful and glorious picture of the church. Let us avail ourselves of the water and the blood that we might be ready for the return of our Lord.
Lord, we thank-you that you have called us to be part of Your solution in this world. Help us to prepare ourselves for the return of Christ by exercising the authority which you have given us. Help us individually and corporately always to be on the front foot, extending Christ’s authority in the areas you have called us to work. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.