Christ and The Church
The history of the Church, the period of her earthly path, is surely included between the resurrection and ascension of the Lord into heaven, with the coming of the Spirit from heaven to earth, and her own resurrection and ascension to meet the Lord in His descent from heaven into the air, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-19. The former gave her existence and set her on the pilgrim path; the latter will close her wilderness journey and bring her to the Father’s house (John 14:3).
Her resurrection, like that of her Lord, will be a “resurrection from among the dead” (Mark 9:10). This will be its character. It will be elective, and it will be for heaven. For the raised saints, together with those who will “go without dying,” are to ascend together to meet the Lord in the air, and “so shall they be ever with their Lord.” And this indeed is the sure position and place of the church, the out-called saints of the present dispensation. It is this that characterises them. In life, in glory, and in rejection, they are one with Christ. The word to Saul on the Damascus road, as he persecuted the saints, “Why persecutest thou ME?” (Acts 9:4), made this known. And the words of the Spirit in the Epistles seal the great mystery, that Christ and the church are no more twain, but one (Eph. 5:30). And as surely as in the present, “he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17) and “We are members of His body,” so in the hour of the first resurrection, His members shall be found in His image, with and like Himself.
Already they are redeemed and raised together with Christ (1 Pet. 1:19; Col. 3:1), and the Cross which they own, has brought them nigh to God (Eph. 2:13), and within the veil (Heb. 1:10). Severed from the world (Gal. 6:14), they are brought without the camp “unto Him” (Heb. 12:12), to share His rejection and bear His Name and shame. Do we esteem it an honour to share the reproach of Christ, in a world that had no place for Him, other than a felon’s cross? O the glory of that Cross! Angels would embrace it, clasp it, cleave to it, and count it an honour to stand with a Christ “despised and rejected of men,” beside it. But His blood-bought church, who owes her all to that Cross, what of her? Is she ashamed to own it, to bear its brand, to share its scorn? Art thou, O my soul? It is vain to talk of “being made conformable” unto Christ’s death (Phil. 3:10), if we shrink from and shirk identification with that lone and awful Cross. It is sheer hypocrisy to sing—
“Thy reproach and Cross I love,”
if I stand aloof and afar off, when His Name is disowned and His truth dishonoured. If the heart is right with God, who ever honours His Son can never be neutral to His claims, nor lightly esteem His Word. The church is called to be Christ’s witness, His representative here in the world, where once He was rejected. And if she be true to Him, truly for Him, and not for another (cf. Hos. 2:3), she—and you and I as part thereof—will surely share His rejection and bear the brand of His Cross, openly and joyfully without flinching in shame, or fleeing for fear.
Article series: Our Glorious Lord“He is Altogether Lovely” Christ, the Motive in Service
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