by Constantine Olson
When we speak of God's congregation we mean God's church. She is called that because she has been created through God's grace and belongs to God. The church was born on Pentecost and she will live in eternity. On Pentecost Day, the Holy Spirit was received. It was given to dwell in the church forever. Thereby, the church has been "The Temple of the Holy Spirit". With this label the church assumes a particular position in the world and before God. She increases with those who become saved. She has a condition for membership life in God and love is her uniting band. Christ is her head and she is the body of Christ.
It is the goal of this church, that we will talk about now. We shall look at this goal from three points of view: her sanctification, her work and her glorification.
The sanctification (helgelsen) is God's church's health and beauty. Through sanctification she shows that she does not belong to this world, but comes from God. The sanctification reveals, in an ardent (innerlig) way, God's free grace and the believer's mind. Justification lays the foundation for the Christian life and the sanctification completes it. Justification is birth and sanctification is upbringing. Justification gives or attributes and sanctification seeks. It says: "Try to obtain sanctification without which nobody can see God." Only through sanctification can the private person as well as the church keep from being infected by the world. Only in this way does the doctrine and the faith have any value as they carry fruit in sanctification. Through the holy words the Holy Spirit shouts to us: "Be holy as I am holy, Lord your God." And Paul writes: "God has selected us in Christ before the laying of the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unpunishable before Him." Therefore, in the human's ethical completeness the goal of salvation; and this we should with all our heart and prayer and faith, seek, to attain.
But just as important as it is to justify itself, the church should be active for its Lord and Master. Yes, they are inseparably joined for the spiritual life as breathing air and lungs for the bodily existence. Hear what Jesus says about His disciple's activity: "I have chosen you and I have commanded that you should go forth and bear fruit, and that your fruit shall remain, so that whatever you pray about to my father in my name, He will give you". Life and activity belong together. Love of Christ empties itself in love to the lost humans. A real Christian has both brotherly love and universal love. It is impossible for an awake Christian to be insensitive when he sees the love of Christ and the human suffering and distress. The Macedonian cry still sounds: "Come over here and help us!" And Paul shouts: "The love of Christ compels me!" And then he threw himself in the work with an enthusiasm that was something to behold. The church's program is to preach the gospel for all creation. It is also her commission to send out and to further the gospel to a dying world. And the most beautiful sight on this earth is a church, that burns of eagerness for the salvation of souls and that exclusively lives for the honor of its Lord and Master. We wish this church such a distinction during her pilgrimage on this earth. She shall herself thereby gain the most marvelous harvests.
A sanctified and active church shall also be a glorified church. It is God's intention with all His children to glorify them. The work and activity belongs to this time; the sanctification belongs to both time and eternity; glorification belongs to eternity. Then everything will be new. Christ shall change our earthly bodies so that they will be like His glorified body with the power with which He is able to conquer all. We will get anew heaven and a new earth and a new Jerusalem, which would be dressed up as a bride for her bridegroom. We would be like Him because we shall see Him as He is. When Christ, our life, is revealed we will also be revealed with Him in glory. Yes, God shall be all in all. Here is fight and struggle, there is victory and honor; here is prayer, there is praise; here are enemies, there are only friends, here we walk in faith, there in beholding.
"Oh, may nobody be left behind in this dark world." You dear God's children, you dear God's church, see how the glorious everlasting crown awaits you as you meet in heavenly splendor! Your and my glorification is the goal with the creation, providence and salvation. May God, our Heavenly Father, win this goal with all his children, is our prayer and wish! Then a real jubilee takes place. For winning this goal, names above, God has given His church the Word, the prayer and the communion. In the word, God speaks to her; in the prayer she speaks to God; and in the communion God meets the church so that He may give and she receive. The one who often uses those symbols of grace shall receive a rich entrance in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's eternal kingdom. Let us receive all that is given us in Christ here and we shall be glorified with eternal splendor there.
"People of Israel, fix the road signs. Put up the signs that show you the way home. Watch the road. Pay attention to the road on which you travel. People of Israel, come home. Come back to your towns."
Quoted from "THE EVERYDAY BIBLE"
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