The Gospel and the Church: 10. The Church

1The church of God has its origin in God Himself, in Whose eternal and unchangeable counsels it was hidden before the foundation of the world. There it had its existence before it was revealed to the “sons of men” in God's own appointed time, and entered into visible existence on this earth.
On reading, in God's presence, such portions of the New Testament as the Epistle to the Ephesians, we have a similar impression to what we experienced when in the solitude of the night we observe the firmament—these worlds of light—which none can number. How beautifully that effect has been expressed by the inspired pen of the Psalmist,
“ When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained: “
“ What is man that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that Thou visitest him? “
Keeping the eyes fixed on those starry worlds above, one feels dwindling away and shrinking into such insignificance as if one were a drop of water in the ocean or a grain of sand on the seashore. Oh! the stupendous grace of God, Whose sun turns dew-drops into jewels, to pick up such atoms as we, and make them objects of His divine counsels of glory, grace, and wisdom, all to center in Christ, His beloved Son! Well may we exclaim, with the apostle of the church: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!... Of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever and ever... glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
But God's thoughts, counsels and works are but the expression of what He is. “God is light” and “God is love.” Light and love cannot be hidden. They must manifest and communicate themselves. Light shines out and surrounds itself with light. And love shines out and surrounds itself with love. Both must have an object and a sphere for their activity.
What is God's sphere of activity?—Heaven and earth. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
What are His objects?—Christ and the sons of men.
“ In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
“ I was daily His delight... and My delights were with the sons of men.”
And what is the sum and great end of God's counsels?
“ That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him; in Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will; that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.”
The sphere, where God now makes His glory shine forth from His throne, is not this earth but heaven. There He exhibits before His heavenly hosts the beauties and glories of His beloved Son, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost is God from eternity. Before the visible heaven and earth were, He was Jehovah's daily delight—
“ The LORD possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth; while as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth: when He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the deep: when He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth:... then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth: and My delights were with the sons of men” (Prov. 8:22-3122The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. 23I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 24When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. 25Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: 26While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. 27When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: 28When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 29When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: 30Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; 31Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. (Proverbs 8:22‑31)).
“ In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
Yes, He, the “last Adam”, the “second Man”, Who is “the Lord from heaven”, wanted (even in heaven, where He was daily the object of the Father's delight and of the homage of countless hosts of angels) an object of His love and delight.
THE “FIRST MAN ADAM” AND THE “LAST ADAM”.2
Adam, the earthly type of the perfect heavenly Man, found himself, for a time, in a similar position. He had been placed in the garden of Eden planted by Jehovah Himself. It was a scene of perfect human happiness, for God had made the paradise, and sin was not yet known on earth. No groan was heard to disturb the peaceful harmony which characterized that scene. Everything there was light, life, and happiness, in the first bloom of untainted creative beauty, fresh from the hand of its Maker. In that paradise God placed Adam, the man created after His own image, to be chief, center, and head, over all the lower creation—the figure of Him Who was to come. Adam was to have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowls of heaven, and every beast of the field. The Lord of lords and King of kings, Who had bestowed such a power on Adam, His vassal-king on earth, and assigned to Him the beautiful “Garden of Eden” for his royal residence, Himself had installed him in his place of honor, and brought the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air to Adam to see what he would call them, and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field.3 But for Adam there was not found an help meet for him
Never since that day has there been, nor will be again, such a coronation-scene on this sinful earth until the great millennial coronation morning dawns, when He Who is the last Adam, under Whose feet God has subjected not only the earth, but the heavens also, will appear as “Lord of lords and King of kings” to reign over this earth.
But He will not come alone. The church—His bride, “the Lamb's wife” (most precious title!) will come with Him, to reign with Him over the blissful and peaceful millennial earth. It is that happy moment for which the whole creation, subject to the bondage of corruption for man's sake, groans and travails in pain together until now.
It was not so with Adam in the lovely garden. of Eden. There was a king, but no queen to share the crown with him. When the “sons of God (i. e. angels) above in the heavens “shouted for joy” on looking upon that perfect scene of earthly bliss and beauty, they had one common interest and motive for joy, even the glory of God that made their hearts beat with one common impulse. Even the “morning stars” (i. e. angels) “sang together” when that bright creation-scene sprang into existence. They had fellowship in their joy. But man was alone amidst that lovely scene: alone in his power — alone in his honor—alone with his thoughts—alone with his heart. Each of those numberless creatures subject to Adam's dominion, from the eagle in mid-air down to the singing birds on the trees; from the roaring lion down to the bleating lamb feeding peacefully at his side (as it will again at a not very distant happier age), and lower down to the mute inhabitants of the waters—each had its mate to share the enjoyment of its new existence. “But for Adam there was not found a help meet for him.” He was alone in the midst of a paradise. There was a void in his heart with all the abundance of that beautiful garden around him. There was no kindred heart to share and respond to his feelings; no kindred spirit to understand end enter upon his thoughts and to take sweet counsel with; no countenance to be the mirror of his own and to reflect his smiles of happiness; no familiar voice to answer to his, or join in sweet harmony with his voice of praise and thanksgiving, when Adam looked up from the paradise around him, to the heavenly residence of his divine Liege-Lord above, the Father of lights, from Whom every good gift and every perfect gift cometh. Adam knew what light was; for the sun and the moon and the stars of heaven declared the glory of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment and is the “Father of lights”. But he knew not what love was; for in the wide universe around him there was nothing to draw out the love that gives itself for the beloved object, loses itself in it, and shares everything with it. But the blessed God, Who is not only light but also love, knew it.