“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Isaiah 2:1-5 (2): The Nature Of The Church (Russell Dunaway)
Isaiah 2:1-5 (2): The Nature Of The Church
In our last article, we observed that the prophet Isaiah foretold the establishment of the church, and that his prophecy was fulfilled on Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. But Isaiah said some other things about the church of the Lord that I hope we can see in this article. Isaiah prophesied concerning the nature of the church as well as the establishment of the church. Isaiah said, “It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills.” I understand, and hope you understand, that Isaiah was not saying that the church would be established in some literal mountain top or on some literal hill top. Isaiah is using a figurative language to show that the church was to be exalted in its nature, that the church was to occupy an exalted position in the heart of man. The church of the Lord is the only institution known to man which is completely spiritual in its nature.
In Luke 17, when the Pharisees questioned Jesus concerning the coming of His kingdom, Jesus answered them saying, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall ye say, Lo here! or Lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Jesus is simply saying that the kingdom of God, the church, is not a material kingdom built with man’s hands, but that it was to be a spiritual kingdom. The kingdom of God can only exist in the lives of those who have had the seed of the kingdom, the word of God (Lk. 8:11), sown in their hearts. The kingdom of God is within. It dwells in the heart, the love, and the affections of its members. We are obligated to God to give the church the exalted position in our hearts that He gave the church in the Word of God.
In Matthew 13:44-47, Jesus taught that the kingdom of God ought to be the most important thing in our lives. He compared it to a merchant seeking after goodly pearls who, when he had found that one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and purchased that pearl for himself. Again, Jesus said that the church was like a treasure hid in a field which, when a man hath found it, he sells all that he has, in order to purchase that field. The church ought to be more important to us than all the material things in the world combined. It is to be exalted in our lives to the position that God gave it in the Bible.
God exalted the church. We ought to keep it that way. Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth . . . but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19-21). If you do not love the church, I can tell you the reason why. It is because you have not placed your treasure there. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The church must be exalted!
Isaiah continued his prophecy saying, “. . . all nations shall flow unto it.” The church is universal in its nature. The Law of Moses was for the Jew and Jew alone. But the gospel of Christ was universal — “all nations shall flow unto it.” Under the law of Moses, the Gentile was separated from God and without hope (Eph. 2:12). But God’s eternal purpose for the church was to include the Gentile as well as the Jew. What God has provided for the Jew under the gospel of Christ, He has provided for the Gentile. Many people think that God has something for the Jew when this life is over that He does not have for the Gentile. Such is not the case. In Ephesians 3:6 Paul said, “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel.” What God has provided for the Jew, He has also provided for the Gentile. Everything past, present, and future is available to the Jew and to the Gentile alike. In Christ, the Gentile is a fellow heir of the promise God made to Abraham in the past. He is a fellow member of the body of Christ in the present. He is a fellow partaker of the promise of eternal life in the future. The Gentile will receive the same reward as the Jew. Therefore, Jesus commanded, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” The Church is responsible for carrying the gospel into every nook and cranny of the earth. Any man in any comer of the globe is subject to the same terms of the gospel as you and I. It is our responsibility, as members of the church, to carry that gospel into all the world. Are we doing that? We read in Colossians 1:23 that in Paul’s day, the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven. They had no radios or televisions. They had no printing presses or newspapers. They had no cars or planes. But they did the work God gave them. And we shall stand and give account unto God if we fail in the meeting of our responsibility.
Isaiah continued his prophecy saying, “Many people shall go and say, Come ye, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He shall teach us of His ways . . . . ” The church was to be a taught or instructed church. No man can become a member of the church of the Lord except he first is taught the will of the Lord. Under the law of Moses, a man was born into a covenant relationship with God by his physical birth. Then, he was taught to “know the Lord” (Heb. 8:9-11). Under the New Covenant, the gospel, a man is first taught to “know the Lord,” and then by the “new birth” he is able to enter into a covenant relationship with God (John 6:44,45). It was through the teaching of the apostles on Pentecost that the church was established. No man can become a child of God today except he first is taught the will of God.
Isaiah continues, “. . . and we will walk in his paths.” The church is an obedient church. It is not enough to be taught the will of God. Man must obey the will of God to become a child of God. On the day of Pentecost, after the apostles had taught those Jews, the Jews rendered obedience to the Gospel of Christ (Acts 2:37-41). Learning God’s will was not enough. God’s will had to be obeyed (Matt. 7:21-27; Jas. 1:19-22). The church is made up of an obedient membership.
Isaiah continued his prophecy: “And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into prunning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” The church is peaceful in nature. Before the death of Christ, the law of Moses stood as a wall of separation between the Jew and the Gentile. But Jesus died in order to make peace between the nations. Paul declared in Ephesians 2:13-16:
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who were sometimes afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”
Jesus fulfilled the law of Moses in His death, and took it out of the way by nailing it to His cross (Col. 2:13). In place of that law, Christ established a new man, the church, in which both Jew and Gentile could be reconciled to God and live forever at peace with God. In Romans 5:1 Paul said, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” A man does only one thing when he obeys the gospel of Christ; he makes peace with God. When a man obeys the gospel of Christ, he is no longer an enemy of God, but makes peace with God. No man can live at peace with God outside the church. It is only in the church that the peace of God which passeth all understanding can be made available unto man. In Romans 14:17 Paul wrote, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” There can be no peace without happiness. There can be no happiness without righteousness. When the righteousness of God fills the lives of men and women, they will be happy, and when happy, they will live at peace with God and with their fellow man. The church is presented in nature.
— Via Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 6, pp. 169-170, March 15, 1984
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermon)