Study 8 THE SEVEN-FOLD GLORY OF THE CHURCH
(Scripture Portion: Psalm 87)
The Church is distinctively a New Testament revelation, and the epistles of Paul tell us much about the glories of the Church. For example, in Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV) we find the expression “a glorious Church”; but link this up with Psalm 87:3, and let the “city of God” represent the Church, then read the rest of the psalm and discover the glories of the Church that are mentioned – at least seven. The word “Selah” at the end of verse 3 means, “Pause, and think of that!” So the psalmist is saying, “Glorious things are spoken of the Church. Pause and think of them!”
1. THE CHURCH HAS A SURE FOUNDATION
Read verse 1. In the N.T. the Church is pictured as a temple, a building, with Christ as “a chosen and precious corner stone”, and the members of the Church as stones in the building (1 Peter 2:6). The first essential in any building is the foundation. Our Lord told a parable to illustrate this truth – Matthew 7:24-29. Now read verse 1 of this psalm; compare it with Psalm 24:1-2, and notice the contrast. The foundation of the earth is insecure (like the sea – Psalm 24:2); but the foundation of the Church is secure – it is built upon the mountains.
What is the sure foundation upon which the Church is built? Turn to Matthew 16:13-18 and in particular notice our Lord’s words to Peter just after his confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). He said, “You are Peter (petros, a piece of rock, ‘a little rock’), and on this rock (petra, the rock bed itself) I will build my church; and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (verse 18). The rock upon which the Church is built is the person of Christ Himself. The Church is built upon its founder, the divine Son of God – not upon Peter – see 1 Peter 2:4, and look up 1 Corinthians 3:11. “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.”
2. THE CHURCH IS THE SPECIAL OBJECT OF GOD’S LOVE
Read verse 2. God loves everybody (John 3:16; Romans 5:8), but in a special way He has set His love upon “Zion”, His Church. Look up Ephesians 5:25-29. Isaiah 62:4 contains a strange name with a wonderful meaning: “Hephzibah” – “My delight is in her”. That exactly expresses His attitude to His Church.
There is a significant contrast in verse 2 between “the gates of Zion” and “the dwellings of Jacob”. Here is a spiritual application of this contrast: the Lord loves us when we are in our “dwellings”, but His love is specially upon us when we assemble ourselves together in “Zion” for worship and for service – look up Matthew 18:20; Hebrews 10:25. Let us who love the Lord and want to please Him be as regular as possible in our attendance at His house (Luke 4:16)
3. THE CHURCH CONSISTS OF ALL WHO ARE TRULY BORN AGAIN
Look at verses 4, 5 and 6. The true Church (Ecclesia, called-out assembly) consists of all who have been called out of the nations (Acts 15:14), and have been baptised into the body of Christ by the operation of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). The visible church has many within it who merely profess but do not possess Christ (2 Timothy 3:5). Within the visible church is that invisible company who have been truly born again into God’s family (John 1:12-14), who are described in verses 3, 4 and 5.
- 1. They are gathered out of all nations – verse 4. This is what the Holy Spirit is doing in this dispensation or age of grace: He is gathering out an elect company from all nations, and these by the miracle of the new birth are made one in Christ (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:14-15 and 4:5, and compare Revelation 5:9).
- 2. All types of people are in the Church – verses 4 and 5 – “this one and that one”. How wonderful it is to sit at the Lord’s Table and remember that all over the world others gather in a similar way to worship the same Lord, to remember the same death, and to rejoice in the same great salvation – rich and poor, nobles and common people, who have been proud, rebellious, worldly – all saved by Jesus Christ and brought into His Church!
Have you been born again? Are you a member of the true Church?
4. THE GROWTH AND COMPLETION OF THE CHURCH ARE CERTAIN
Look at verse 5 (last part), and compare Matthew 16:18. How wonderful to know that the Lord Himself is building His Church and that nothing will prevent Him from completing the work! Many forces are arrayed against the Church, as well as many from within, but the Lord has declared that He will build it, and He will not fail! Look up Acts 2:47 – it is still happening! – and read Philippians 1:6.
5. ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH ARE ETERNALLY SECURE
Look at verse 6. Why will the Lord “write in the register”? Why does the Lord register us? First, to find out how many; and second, to see if all are there! The scriptures make it very clear that all who are truly Christ’s are eternally Christ’s – look up John 6:37; 10:28-29; 17:12. In that great day, “When the roll is called up yonder”, will you be there?
6. THE PRAISE AND WORSHIP OF THE CHURCH IS VERY ACCEPTABLE TO GOD
Look at verse 7(a), and compare it with 1 Peter 2:5. There is only one institution upon earth that can offer spiritual sacrifices of worship and praise which are acceptable to God, and that is the Church. We must be in the Church (born again) before we can worship God acceptably.
7. THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH IS THE SOURCE AND SPRING OF ALL HER SUPPLIES
See how the psalm concludes. Christ is the Head of the Church and the supplier of all the needs of every member of His body – look up Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:15-16; Colossians 2:9-10. Yes, there is all that we need for time and eternity in Christ!