GOD’S ETERNAL CHURCH
Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:….” The word “eternal”, Hebrew, QEDEM or QEDMAH, carries with it the idea of “the front, of place…or time (antiquity); often used adv. (before, anciently, eastward)” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, p. 312). The idea here is an existence prior to time as one knows time. The Hebrew word is also translated “aforetime” (Jeremiah 30:20), “ancient” of time (2 Kings 19:24), and so on. Truly, God existed prior to the events of Genesis 1. The word of God states a number of things about God’s thinking in and after Genesis 1. What was God thinking and saying prior to creation?
The Ephesian letter informs one that God was neither hibernating nor dormant “before the foundation of the world.” Prior to creation, “he hath chosen us in him.” (Ephesians 1:4). God’s plan for all was “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” (Verse 4). Verse 5 says God “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” This was done “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Verse 6). This ETERNAL PURPOSE included Him making “known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself:….” (Verse 9). Verse 10 tells one, “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.”
Having set forth these things, Paul now speaks of “the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 3:9). This “mystery” of “the manifold wisdom of God” was to “be known by the church.” (Verses 9, 10). NOTICE! All of this was “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Verse 11). WHAT!!! God, in eternity, prior to creation would act, as He had PURPOSED, to save lost man by JESUS through the CHURCH. In other words, God would at some time create, but the one He would create would go out of the way, becoming unrighteous, unprofitable, sinful (Romans 3:10-23), being dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-3), leading to eternal death. (Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:46). So, God “gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, 17). God PURPOSED to do this through Jesus and the church BEFORE creation. (See chart).
THEN!!!, “in the beginning God”, ELOHIM, plural, including the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:1, 2; John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1, 2), the godhead (Colossians 2:9), “created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1; 2). Sinless man (Genesis 1:27, 31), as God had foreseen and predicted prior to creation, sinned. (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12). Immediately, God enacted His eternal purposed plan to bring Jesus into the world, saying to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” God destroyed all living things upon the earth, including the earth, by the universal flood. (Genesis 6-8). Not long thereafter, God gave a PROMISE to Abram (Genesis 12:1-3), who would later be called Abraham (Genesis 17:5ff). God continued to unveil his PURPOSED, mysterious plan to redeem (buy back, ransom, rescue) lost man by Jesus Christ through the church. This purposed and PROMISED plan was kept alive through the faithful seed of Abraham, Isaac (Genesis 26:15), Jacob (Genesis 28:10-15), and others, culminating in Jesus, as will be seen. The PROMISE is alive during this period of Bible history.
Later, God continued to unfold His purposed and promised plan to save man through Jesus and the church through the avenue of PROPHECY. Micah, around 862 BC, prophesied the coming of the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, also called Zion, in the last days, with world-wide appeal, or all nations flowing into it. (Micah 4:1, 2). Some one hundred twenty years later, around 742 BC, Isaiah prophesied the same thing. (Isaiah 2:2-4). Daniel, around 603 BC, would set forth the same message, using the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, calling it a “kingdom.” (Daniel 2:1-44). God’s revelation of the king’s dream to Daniel all but gave the exact date of the coming kingdom or church. Babylon fell, and was replaced by the Mede-Persian Kingdom. They were replaced by the Grecian Kingdom, which lost power, and was followed by the Roman Kingdom; it divided according to Daniel’s prophecy. (Daniel 2:40-43; Luke 3:1, 2).
Jesus was born during the weakened Roman kingdom. He and others began PREPARATION for the coming church or kingdom God had purposed before the world was founded. John the Baptist, immerser preached of the coming kingdom. (Matthew 3:1, 2). “Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17). Jesus sent “his twelve disciples…forth…saying…preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 10:1-7). Jesus “appointed other seventy also, and he sent them two and two” to “say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” (Luke 10:1, 9). It was so nigh that Jesus told some who were standing there with Him, that they “shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power.” (Mark 9:1). This happened on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:1ff). AFTER the death of John the Baptist, the baptizer or immerser (Matthew 14), Jesus promised to build His church and give the keys of the kingdom to the apostles. (Matthew 16:13-19). All that is left to complete the eternal purpose of God to save lost man by Jesus through the church is buying it. On Calvary, Jesus gave His precious blood to complete the transaction. (John 19:18, 34; Acts 20:28). Upon completing the purpose of God, Jesus said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30). He had done His part.
That which God had purposed in eternity before He created the heaven, earth, and man, is about ready to begin. Following three days in the grave (Matthew 12:40; 27:63), Jesus triumphantly bruised the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15), and declared Himself to be “the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Matthew 28:1-6; Romans 1:4) “very early in the morning upon the first day of the week.” (Mark 16:1). There was no delay! After “being seen of them”, his apostles, for “forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:1-3), Jesus ascended, “was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight…into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11). Ten days later, on the day of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15, 16), the purposed, promised, prophesied, prepared church became PERFECTION; it was established, and people were added to it. (Acts 2:41, 47). The kingdom would come with power (Joel 2:28-32; Mark 9:1), and it did (Acts 2:1ff). It would begin in Jerusalem, Zion (Isaiah 2:2-4), and it did. (Acts 1:4, 8, 12; 2:5, 14). The Lord’s house would be established in the last days (Isaiah 2:2-4), and it was. (Acts 2:17-21; Joel 2:28-32). All nations would flow unto it (Isaiah 2:2-4), and they did. (Acts 2:5-12). The law or word of the Lord would go forth (Isaiah 2:2-4), and it did. (Acts 2:3, 4, 11, 16-36, 38-40, 42). The establishment of the eternally purposed church shows that Jesus was neither a liar nor a false prophet. Some who heard Jesus speak (Mark 9:1), not only saw the fulfillment of His promise, but may have called upon the name of the Lord, being baptized (Acts 2:21; 22:16), to become members of the kingdom, the church. (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Everything from eternity to Pentecost points forward to the coming church, kingdom. Every reference after Pentecost points back to that day, showing the church in the present and future. Observe that the church is spoken of as being alive on Pentecost, and following that day. Acts 2:41 shows that some were added to the church on that day. Acts 2:47 speaks of others being added to the church following Pentecost, “daily.” Later, there were churches at Antioch (Acts 11:26), Caesarea (Acts 18:22), Cenchrea (Romans 16:1), Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, and many others. Colossians 1:13 shows that God’s eternal purpose to build the church was in His mind from eternity, and not set up as an emergency measure. The fact that some had been “translated…into the kingdom of God’s dear Son” shows that God’s plan to set up the kingdom did not fail. Further, the words of “John, who am also your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom…” (Revelation 1:9), demands the kingdom’s existence in AD 70 or AD 96. Jesus did what He said He would do, that is, establish His church (kingdom) shortly, and people would be added to it. (Matthew 16:13-19, 28). Jesus’ words to Nicodemus were not empty and meaningless. (John 3:1-5). In all of this, it is clear that God’s plan was eternal, and it was not changed, certainly not to have to go to a second emergency plan.
The kingdom of God will exist upon the earth until time shall be no more, until the earth is destroyed by fire (2 Peter 3:7-10), “the end.” At “the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24), the kingdom will continue to exist in a PERMANENT state as “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:11). While some churches may cease to exist due to sin (Revelation 2; 3), the faithful church, the bride of Christ, will never end. Are you a member of the church God purposed to build before the creation of Genesis 1? If not, and if you understand what you read (Acts 8:30) and believe with all your heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Acts 8:37), are willing to repent (Acts 3:19), you can be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 22:16; Romans 6:1-5). The final step of baptism will put you in Christ and the church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:22, 23), with the Lord adding you. (Acts 2:47). You will be “delivered from the power of darkness, and…translated…into the kingdom of his dear Son.” (Colossians 1:13). It will be up to you to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, living soberly, righteously, and godly (Titus 2:11, 12), seeking things above, putting to death evil desires and actions (Colossians 3:1-5), understanding that you must “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), while understanding “when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10), and that we are saved by grace through faith when we do what God has commanded. (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Dear studious reader, the church is not a second thought of God; it existed in His mind prior to the foundation of the world, exists today, and will continue as eternity rolls. Jesus is the head of the body and King over His kingdom. (Ephesians 5:23; Revelation 17:14). Get in it. Stay in it. Live eternally in it.