The Spread of the Church

MEMORY SELECTION: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself … and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us.” —II Corinthians 5:19-20

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Acts 1:6-8; II Corinthians 5:16-20

TO RECONCILE means to bring back into harmony and friendship; and in the sense in which it is used in this passage, it carries the thought of being brought back into communion and favor with God. We know that in due time the whole world of mankind will be restored to divine favor. That, the Scriptures inform us, is the eventual and far-reaching objective in the plan of God.

During the present Gospel Age only a few have heard the message of reconciliation and have responded in a favorable way. As they have responded, consecrated their lives in full submission to the divine will, and have become covered with the robe of Christ’s righteousness, they experience restoration to divine communion. The footstep followers of our Lord, sometimes spoken of as the bride of Christ, and otherwise known as the church, are no longer condemned by God’s justice as are the remainder of the human race, but are justified by God because of their faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. They are, therefore, reconciled to God through the ransom sacrifice of his only begotten Son, who left his former estate as a spirit being, for the purpose of becoming a perfect man, to die as the corresponding price for father Adam.

The “merit” of Jesus’ sacrifice, however, has not been applied for the world of mankind as yet, but has been presented only on behalf of the members of Christ’s sacrificial body, the bride of Christ, who have the privilege of sharing in the sin offering during the present age. The followers of our Lord Jesus, in the words of the great Apostle Paul in this week’s memory selection, become “ambassadors for Christ.” They, as ambassadors, are commissioned to spread the glad tidings to others.

This does not mean that the ministry and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and the devoted lives of consecrated men and women who have lived all through the Gospel Age have been to no avail. To the contrary, the very fact that the world in general has not understood God’s arrangements and has, instead, rejected both the message of reconciliation and those who have endeavored to the best of their ability to tell it out, has served to test these consecrated ones and their faith. Our Lord Jesus was tested and proven under adverse circumstances, and those who follow after him are similarly tested—recognizing the arrangement whereby the servant is not above his Master.

In the divine plan there is a period of an entire thousand years in which the world will then have ample opportunity to learn of truth and righteousness and those things that so gladden the hearts of the “hearers” during the present nighttime of sin and death. At that time the merit of Christ’s ransom sacrifice will be applied toward Adam’s sin and the sins of the whole world of mankind. It will not be until that future period of a thousand years, called in the Scriptures “times of restitution,” that the present message of the church will be understood on a grander scale than many professed Christian people living now realize.

Isaiah, long ago, prophesying of that glorious kingdom of righteousness, describes some of the conditions which will distinguish that future day of blessings. He tells us that “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them: and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” (Isa. 35:1) When the curse is lifted, the earth too will rejoice and yield her increase. Then, he continues, “The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.”—vss. 5,6

Although it is true that the deaf and blind and others who have lost their capabilities will have those faculties restored to them, there is an even deeper meaning in Isaiah’s prophecy, in that men will see and hear with mental understanding, and they will praise God by singing aloud.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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