|The Church An Extension of Christ
by E.H. Jack Sequeira
We come now to our final study of the church as the extension of Christ. When Jesus established His church, He intended it to be the most powerful force on earth for good. For this to happen, He promised the Holy Spirit. His task is to baptize all believers into the body of Christ, guide them into all truth, and empower them to fulfill His mission.
All this can only become a reality when we, as Gods people, fully understand the everlasting gospel, the truth as it is in Christ, and surrender from the heart to all its claims on us. This, as we saw in our last study, is what faith is all about: trust and obey.
This is what growing up into Christ is all about. And when the church finally reaches maturity, it will at last make its ultimate impact on this world. The earth will be lightened with the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 18:1:
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor.
When this happens, the gospel will not only have been preached but also witnessed into all the world. There will be no excuse for anyone to be lost and the end will then come.
When Christ was on this earth, the Bible tells us that there was nothing about His outward appearance that made Him different from His fellow man. But when it came to His life, the things He did and said, His actions and behavior reflected God. That is why Jesus could say to Phillip, He who has seen me has seen the Father. This is how the apostle Paul explained it to young Timothy. 1 Timothy 3:16:
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
This same manifestation is what God would like to manifest in the Church, the body of Christ. Acts 1:8:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Only through the power of the Holy Spirit will we be able to produce true witnessing and the ultimate goal Christ has for His church. John 15:26-27:
When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
...The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
When Christ was on this earth, He witnessed to the world the agape love, the wisdom, and the glory of the Father. This same love, wisdom, and glory is to be reproduced in the church as the extension of Christ. Yet today what we are mostly witnessing to the world is the life of the flesh: strife, division, jealousy, and carnality. No wonder the church is making very little real impact on the world.
But the time, I believe, is come when we must all put self aside and let the Spirit take over. All around us are signs that this cursed world is heading for destruction and mans only hope is turning to Christ. How can they do it if all they see in the church is what they see in the world? Gods plea to His people at this time is, Come out of her my people and have no part in her selfish ways. The spirit of which Paul speaks must now take over in our lives, individually as well as corporately. So that we may all say in unison what he declared to the Galatians. Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Remember, in the Great Controversy, it is Christ who is on trial. The big issue is: Can He produce a people who can live above their selfish, egocentric natures so that they reflect the self-emptying life of Christ? Is the gospel powerful enough to do this? The answer is yes. Revelation 14:12:
This calls for patient enduranace on the part of the saints who obey Gods commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.
When this happens, when this earth is lightened with the glory of Christ through His church, then the final showdown between Satan and Christ will take place, the war of Armageddon. Revelation 16:12-16:
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dired up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.
Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
This is not a political war but a spiritual war. The clear proclamation of the everlasting gospel will polarize the human race into only two distinct camps: those who have taken their side with Christ and those who have deliberately and ultimately rejected Him and come under the banner of Satan, the prince of this world.
At that time, Gods people will be plunged into a time of trouble that has never been experienced by any generation in the past. It is referred to in Scripture as the great tribulation. Listen to how two of the Old Testament prophets describe this time of trouble. Jeremiah 30:7:
How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.
At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people everyone whose name is found written in the book will be delivered.
There is much speculation and confusion as to what the issue will be in the time of trouble. Many Adventists think that the issue will be sinless living. As a result, their emphasis is very legalistic: You must overcome all sin in order to prepare for this great time of trouble, because you will have to live without a intercessor during this time (based on Ellen G. White).
But the fact is that the time of trouble will take place after probation closes, after the judgment of the believers is over, after Christ has vindicated the saints and declares to them, Let him who is holy remain holy (Revelation 22:11). Besides, the prophet Jeremiah describes that this time of trouble is like the time of Jacobs trouble. And Jacob stands for or represents all those whose faith endures to the end in spite of opposition and persecution. Genesis 32:22-28:
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacobs hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, Let me go, for it is daybreak.
But Jacob replied, I will not let you go unless you bless me.
The man asked him, What is your name?
Jacob, he answered.
Then the man said, Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.
What then is the issue in this final showdown between Christ and Satan, between the body of Christ, the church, and the world under Satan? The answer is found in the Old Testament book of Romans. Who is the gospel prophet of the Old Testament? Isaiah. Isaiah 54:5-8:
For your Maker is your husband the Lord Almighty is his name the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit a wife who married young, only to be rejected, says your God. For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlastaing kindness I will have compassion on you, says the Lord your Redeemer.
Faith in Christs righteousness is what the issue will be all about. Not our righteousness but our faith in Christs righteousness is what will be tested in the great tribulation. Can God produce a people whose faith is unshakable even though the heavens fall? By this I mean, can God produce a people who know Him so well and whose faith is so grounded in the truth of His agape love and redeeming grace that nothing whatsoever can shake that faith not persecution, not the treat of death, not even the feeling that God has forsaken us, just as Christ felt on the cross?
When Satan fails to destroy our faith, when he is defeated by Gods people who are fully and completely established on the platform of righteousness by faith alone, then he will become so angry that, in his fury, he will do something that God has not permitted him to do: kill the saints. He will pass a decree that at midnight all those who are loyal to Christ must be put to death.
But before this decree is about to be carried out, there will be a great earthquake, the heavens will be departed as a scroll, and the sign will be seen by all of the second coming of Christ. At that time we will vacate the caves we have been hiding in and those who came to kill us will take our places. Note what they will say. Revelation 6:15-17:
Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?
The church will triumph at last and Christ will take us to heaven. And all those who have come out of this great tribulation will sing a new song, the song of deliverance, referred to as the song of Moses. The words of that song are in our Scripture reading. Revelation 15:2-4:
And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.
It is my sincere prayer that everyone here will be included in that great heavenly choir singing praises to our Lord and Saviour.