Presenting A Glorious Church
After stating that Christ "loved the church, and gave Himself for it:", the apostle Paul reveals the Lord's ultimate plan for His people - the church. This purpose is stated in Ephesians 5:26, 27 - "that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish". My purpose in this article will be to point out features revealed in the Scriptures that are descriptive of that glory.
The church is, and will be, glorious because of its builder. In Matthew 16:18, after Jesus recognizes and commends Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ - Messiah - sent from God, Jesus states "that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." While there is no record of Christ building any earthly structure or edifice; what He built was an entirely new entity in the history of mankind. The church He built is a spiritual building composed of living stones (1 Peter 2:5) - people who have dedicated themselves to His service. Every Christian in the world, in every time frame since Pentecost, is a part of that building. They are a part of something divine, much larger than themselves, and are thereby part of the plan of God for all time and eternity.
The church is glorious because of its incomparable strength. In Daniel 2:44, in revealing the meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel prophesies the following: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." In a later revelation Daniel "saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" - (Daniel 7:13,14). Psalm 24:7-10 describes in beautiful language the scene as Jesus returns in triumph and strength to His Father in heaven. An old song states that "The kingdoms of earth pass away one by one, but the Kingdom of Heaven remains; it is built on a rock, and the Lord is its King, and forever and ever He reigns."
The church is glorious in its destiny. In 2 Corinthians 11:2 Paul wrote "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." Parents and grandparents make many plans for children and grandchildren. They lovingly plan and provide for their future and pray that all will go well in their lives. We are destined for a glorious future when we faithfully follow Christ. We are promised a place where there is no sin, no heartache, no suffering or pain. There we will enjoy the presence of God and the redeemed of all the ages forever and ever.
The church is glorious in its ultimate beauty. The thought of redeemed people, free from every sin and impurity of thought and action, with God reigning over us, is presented in God's word. In Revelation 19:6-8 - John "heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of many thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." This beautiful picture takes us to the glorious moment when the bride of Christ is brought to Him for the ultimate consummation of our eternal union with Christ forever!
The church is glorious because its divine mission is clearly revealed in God's word. The mission is stated by Paul to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:14,15 - "these things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." To uphold and proclaim God's truth as revealed in His divine word - what a mission! In life, worship, service to God and to one's fellow man - in every aspect of our earthly existence - we have a mission from the Almighty One. There is no higher calling than to be a member of the Lord's divine arrangement. To be called out of sin into salvation is an amazing transformation! We should be thankful every day to be a living part of God's eternal plan!
E.E Hewitt, in the beautiful hymn, "For Christ and the Church" has expressed the glory we should give to God for Christ and the church:
"For Christ and the church let our voices ring,
Let us honor the name of our own blessed King;
Let us work with a will in the strength of youth,
And loyally stand for the Kingdom of Truth.
For Christ, our dear Redeemer,
For Christ, the crucified;
For the church His blood hath purchased;
The church, His holy bride."