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its fruits. This assumes, of course, that during the centuries there has been a departure from this standard.
No reformation since apostolic times has covered all this ground. All the reformations taken The church itself together fall far short of this the real object standard. They have been refof reformation
ormations only in part, each movement simply placing special emphasis on particular doctrines, or ordinances, or personal experiences. Hence the need of further reformation. The present movement embraces all the truth contained in all the previous reformations of Protestantism. But it does not stop there. It stands committed to all the truth of the Word of God. It goes straight to the heart of the reformation subject and reveals the pure, holy, universal church of the apostolic times as made up of all those who were regenerated, uniting them all IN CHRIST; in the "church of the living God,” which church was "the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15); the church that was graced with the gifts of the Spirit and filled with holy power.
The true apostolic church has been largely lost to view since the early Christian centuries, when a general apostasy dimmed the light of truth and plunged the world into the darkness of papal night. In modern times the term “church” as applied to a general body of religious worshipers is usually employed in a restricted sense, specifying some particular organization, as the hierarchy of Rome or the aggregation of local congregations constituting a Protestant sect. By a natural reaction from the Romish extreme, wherein the church and church relationship are exalted above the personal relationship of the individual with his God, many · teachers now incline to an opposite extreme, which makes little of the church as an institution, substituting therefor a sort of “loyalty to Christ," individualism, subversive of true New Testament standards.
The church is not to be exalted above the Christ, nor is it a substitute for the Christ; but in the The me church light of New Testament teaching Scripturally we must regard the true church as important
the instrument—the divinely appointed instrument used by the Holy Spirit in carrying forward the work of Christ on earth. Jesus himself said, “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). At a later time we read, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).
If Paul were living today, he also might despise the “church” idea in its narrow sectarian sense. But from the apostle's words, it is very evident that he regarded the church as it existed in his day as an institution crowned with glory and honor, the concrete expression of Christ and his truth. “God hath set some IN THE CHURCH,
first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1 Cor. 12:28). “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith ... that we .:. may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [of the body, the church, Col. 1:18] even Christ” (Eph. 4:11-15).
Inasmuch as God set in the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, gifts of miracles, of healThe church as a ings, etc., we must regard the divine institution church as originally instituted as being more than a mere aggregate of individuals associating themselves together for particular purposes. We must recognize the divine element. This company was the host of redeemed ones whom Christ had saved, in whom he dwelt, and through whom he revealed God and accomplished his work on earth. It was his body-the organism to which he gave spiritual life and through which he manifested the fulness of his power and glory.
Any reformation that has not for its object the full restoration of the New Testament church, can not be a complete reformation, but must be succeeded by another. In this respect the church subject is fundamental and all-inclusive. To emphasize a mere "personal-union-with-Christ” theory to the disparagement of the divine ekklesia, is Church relationship to evade the real issue. Jesus devs. individualism clared, “I will build my church,” and that church was an objective reality, which was not intended to be concealed under highsounding theological verbiage nor dissipated in glittering generalities. It is true that Christ himself must be presented as the ground of our hope and salvation and as the object of our personal faith, love, and devotion; as “the way, the truth, and the life”; but we must not forget that there is also a revelation of the way, the truth, and the life in the church of Christ. The apostles preached Christ as the divine “way”; but when men believed on him, he straightway “set the members every one of them in the body”- the church (1 Cor. 12:18). “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). They preached Christ as the personification of "truth.” But they also taught that the gospel was a special “treasure” committed to the church for dispensing to the nations. Paul said that God hath “committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19). Therefore he could represent the church of God “as the pillar and ground of the truth.” They preached him as “life," but he was also the life of the collective body of believers as well as of individuals. He dwelt in his church. He was its life, and through
it he manifested himself in the only form in which, since the incarnation, he can be fully exhibited to men.
The fact that Romanism has stressed the church” idea, parading before the world as the Avoiding
church an organic body devoid of extremes
true spiritual life, a mere corpse, is no reason justifying a view which, ignoring the practical church relationship taught in the New Testament, talks glibly of an ethereal, intangible, ghostly something which, without a body, lacks all practical contact with men. The Bible standard is the proper union of soul and body. It is certain that, as in apostolic days, such union is necessary to the proper exhibition of the divine life and absolutely essential to the full accomplishment of the divine purposes in Christ's great redemptive plan.
Christ, the life of his spiritual body, and the life-giver, remains the same in all ages. Hence the church body is the part that has been disrupted and corrupted by apostasy and sectarianism, and is therefore the sphere of reformatory effort. And while reformation pertains to historical Christianity, it implies, as we have already shown, a return to the primitive standard. Therefore, before proceeding to describe particularly the present reformation, we must give attention to the constitution of the apostolic church, the divine original.