Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 1, 1949

God's Plan For The Church


It should readily be seen from even a casual study of the New Testament that the church has a divine purpose in the world, and that purpose has been fixed by the will of God. God not only had a definite purpose in the world, and that purpose has been fixed by the will of God. God not only had a definite purpose in mind in building the church, but he gave to the church a definite character, message, and plan, so that this purpose might be fulfilled. Subversive elements today are at work within the church to corrupt all of these. Whether unthinkingly or maliciously, efforts are being made to prostitute the church from the high and holy purpose to which God assigned it, and cause it to serve carnal aims and ends sought and desired by men.

When the church turns from its divinely designed mission to serve humanly designed goals, no matter how worthy those goals, it means a corruption of God's plan for the church and the frustration of God's purposes with the church. To the extent that such efforts are successful, strength for the fulfillment of divine tasks is diverted to serve human aims, and God's will is not done on earth as it is in heaven. God is robbed of service, and the spiritual good of man is defeated.

God's scheme of things has not been arbitrarily arranged for God's own satisfaction alone, but rather to serve man's greatest spiritual good. Christ died for this very reason; the church was divinely designed and planted on the earth with the same goal in view. God's ways are better than man's ways—as much higher and better as the heavens are higher than the earth. (Isa. 55:9.) Men must be confident of God's wisdom and the rightness of God's ways, and if they are, they will be satisfied to allow God's ways to remain unchanged and to allow them to serve the purposes for which they were designed.

It is just as much a breach of faith in God and his word and loyalty to his will to divert the strength of God's church to meet human aims, as it is to try to accomplish divine purposes through human methods. It is the duty of every servant of God and every Christian to keep the church true to the mission God gave it. This is as much our duty as it is our duty to wear the name God has given, believe and teach the doctrine God has revealed, and worship as God's word directs. God's wisdom cannot be accepted and followed in any other way.

Jesus prayed that if there was any other way to serve the will of God, he might be spared pouring out his soul unto death upon the cross, dying as a sinner separation from God. But there was no other way; and he submitted himself to God's way that God's purposes might be served. The Lord could have turned aside from the part and place in the scheme of redemption which God had assigned him, and the Jews would have accepted him and proclaimed him as their king. He was unwilling for one moment to forget that he had come to seek and save the lost, and he refused to use the power God had given him for any other purpose. When the devil tried him in the wilderness, he demonstrated his unwillingness to use the power of God to serve his own needs in securing food for his body, or even to secure control of the kingdoms of the world. We have no more right than did he to use God's divine plan to meet our own human needs and purposes.

Sometimes men are selfish enough to be willing for the church to be used in the furtherance of their own individual interests. Men who are in business sometimes expect their place in the church to be advantageous to them financially, and actually complain and even forsake the Lord and the church when such is not the case. Others become dissatisfied when they do not attain the notice and social prominence they think they have the right to expect in the church. Some have been known to quit and turn back to the world when the people in the congregation were not as friendly and attentive as they thought they should have been. Still others will turn back from their duty in the church of the Lord when they are not given the pre-eminence in the church they desire, and cannot have their own way and rule over the affairs of the church. All such dispositions and demonstrations indicate that some do not seek in the church to serve the Lord's will and please him, but rather are subverting his will to their own will, and his purposes to their own desires.

In John's gospel we read of a vast multitude who followed the Lord until he taught something they didn't like, and they "turned back and walked with him no more." Some of them were evidently following him out of curiosity, some for the loaves and fishes, and some with the hope of political reward in what they thought would be an earthly kingdom which they supposed he was to establish.

All of that seems bad enough, but it is small in comparison with the efforts men are making today to divert the interest, attention, and strength of the church away from spiritual matters. A deliberate and studied effort is being made in these days to cause the church to serve various human causes and purposes, such as secular education, social and domestic problems, recreational and pleasure-seeking programs, humanitarian welfare projects, community and civic good, and a multitude of other worldly projects—projects which within themselves may be entirely worthy, but which do not constitute any part of the purpose or mission for which the wisdom and will of God planned the church.

— Roy E. Cogdill