The Future of the Church
William B. Murrell
We must look at the future of the Lord's church from the standpoint of both time and eternity. It looks forward to a glorious existence in eternity; but the outlook, while on earth, is sometime not so glorious.
God prophesied in Daniel 2:44 that the church "shall never be destroyed," a nd "it shall stand forever." It is a "kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Heb. 12: 28). A careful study of Heb. 12: 18-29, and II Peter 3:8-13 will convince any thoughtful reader that every material thing about which we know will be destroyed. Not only this earth, but the sun, moon, and the stars will also be dissolved. The whole Universe will pass away, but one thing shall remain -- the church purchased by the blood of Christ. When the end shall come, Christ "shall deliver up the kingdom to God" (I Cor. 15:24).
The future of the church, therefore, is to spend eternity with God in heaven. Of course, you understand this is only for those who are faithful, for the unfaithful will have been gathered out of the kingdom at the judgment, and cast into the lake of fire.
The Apostle Paul predicted the great falling away of the church in II Thess. 2:1-12, and I Tim. 4: 1-5. All of our readers are aware of the fact that this falling away came just as predicted. There has not been just one falling away of the children of God; history has a way of repeating itself. The children of Israel fell away and returned repeatedly. Such is also (and will continue to be) the history of Christianity.
The first great falling away of the church began among its leadership (Acts 20:28-30). All others begin at the same place. It takes men of influence to lead men either to, or away from the Lord..
Predicted Apostasy Comes
The first falling away resulted in the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church. Men trying to reform the apostate church established many Protestant Denominations. But there were also restorers as well as reformers--men who preached, "Let's go back to the Bible. Call Bible things by Bible names; do Bible things in Bible ways." Their motto was, "Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; and where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent."
But the great restoration movement was not a century old before apostasy raised its ugly head again. The great digression of a hundred years ago took more than half of God's people away into another apostate church--the Christian Church.
Today, is history repeating itself again? About the middle of this century, certain men began to say 'Where there is no pattern" we are at liberty yet to act. We have a pattern in the New Testament, and we must follow it (Heb. 8: 5). The church has no divine authority to act where there is no divine pattern.
As long as God has had people on this earth, from the Garden of Eden until now some have fallen away. There could hardly be a greater apostasy that that of the first and second centuries. However, the one into which we are headed in the 20th century seems far greater than the one of the 19th century.
In I Samuel 8:5, the cry was "make us a king to judge us like all the nations." The aim of many congregations of the Lord today seems to be, "let us work, worship, and play like the denominations."
The church that does not follow the word of God will fall away, and lead its members into eternal perdition. But those who are faithful to the lord will "meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thess. 4:17).
Truth Magazine VII: 3, pp. 11