“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
The Word of God declares that the Church of Jesus Christ is something unique and special. Despite its faults, and failures, the Church is essentially glorious. The Church can be nothing less than marvelous because the glory of God dwells in the midst of His people. Moreover, the love of God is manifested towards the Church, who in turn responds to tender affection. The Psalmist said, “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of Thee, O city of God” (Psalm 87:2,3).
Unfortunately, there are individuals within the sphere of Christendom, who do not think of the Church as being glorious. The critics of the Church unite from within, and from without, to belittle, degrade, and strip the Church her essential glory. Classical Dispensational theology, for example, teaches the Church is a parenthetical part of the plan of God, an apostate organization, doomed for great failure during a “Laodicean Age”. In contrast, Jesus has promised “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18), while acknowledging its needs for exhortation, and greater sanctification, and faithfulness (Eph. 1:6).
Nevertheless, the Church remains strong and stable, and set apart for the Master’s use. Consider what makes the Church unique, and glorious.
First there is the matter of sound doctrine. In the midst of a people that live on images and symbols, the Church has the substance of the gospel, which is rooted in reality. The Church alone can, and does set forth basic Bible doctrine, which tells of the ruin of man, the redemption of sinners, purchased by Christ at the Cross, and the regenerating work of God the Holy Spirit. Those who are not interested in sound doctrine might find themselves wishing they had been interested.
Many years ago, in March of 1992, I spoke to a lady in Dallas, Texas. Her twenty-year-old daughter wanted to be baptized into the Mormon religion, and the mother was alarmed. Mom began to frantically search to find out what the Bible had to say about sin, salvation, heaven, and hell. Suddenly she wanted sound doctrine.
God’s people should always be very concerned about knowing sound doctrine. The Psalmist was hungry for the Word of God, and said, “I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments” (Psa. 119:131).
Second, there is the matter of worldliness. The Bible commands Christians to love neither the world nor the things that are in the world (1 John 2:15). A missionary once wrote, “I looked for the world, and found it in the Church. I looked for the Church, and found it in the world.”
It is difficult to provide a comprehensive and universal definition of worldliness. To some, the word “worldliness” is associated with certain forms of amusements, which are to be avoided, such as bowling, shooting pool, playing cards, going to the movies, dancing, or mixed swimming.
Others associate “worldliness” with a specific style of music such as rock or rap.
For some, “worldliness” is associated with dressing in a sensual manner, or in such a way as to reflect rebellion against parental authority. On the way home from church one time, I saw a young man with orange hair that was spiked. He was making a personal and social statement.
Let me suggest that inappropriate entertainment, certain forms of music, provocative dress, and acts of rebellion are the fruits of worldliness, which is in itself a philosophy of life contrary to the will of God. Theologian and professor R. B. Kuiper makes this observation. “The most outstanding sin of ancient Israel was that, instead of upholding its distinctiveness as Jehovah’s chosen people, it was ever and anon imitating its heathen neighbors. That sin is rampant in the world today.”
It is a matter of statistical survey that many Church members are not found to be much different from those outside the sphere of professing Christendom. The same movies are watched, the same books are read, the same schools are attended, the same language is used, and all the rest. However, there is a chance for the Church to be different.
If the world is characterized by greed and violence, pride and prejudice, anger and willfulness, then let the Church be characterized by giving and grace, humility and holiness, peace and preferring others better than ourselves. In matchless and marvelous grace God has chosen a generation of people to be different. The Church exists to be a trophy of redeeming grace. The Church is the supreme purpose of creation, redemption, and ultimate glorification. In the Garden of Eden, the gospel promise was made. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
In the centuries to follow individuals looked backward to the promise given and forward to the promise being fulfilled. And so, it was that, by faith Abel offered unto God an acceptable sacrifice (Heb. 11:4).
By faith Enoch walked with God and pleased Him (Hebrews 11:5).
By faith Noah became a preacher of righteousness (2 Peters 2:5),
By faith Abraham believed God, and it was charged to his account for righteousness “and if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).
God does have a people, a chosen generation, made up of the redeemed of all the ages, that Christ loves and for whom He died. Christ died that He might sanctify, and cleanse the Church ,with the washing of water, and 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” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Here then is a tremendous truth. If you know Jesus Christ as personal Saviour, if you have confessed yourself a sinner, and called upon the name of Jesus, if you have been obedient to the Lord in baptism, and are following Him, then you are part of that chosen generation. God has chosen you to be different. God is calling you not to love the world. And God is commanding you to repent if there is love for the world in your heart. For those who want to repent, for those who want to be sanctified afresh, for those who want to get back to the narrow path of righteousness, then take the steps towards spiritual recovery by the power of the Holy Spirit.