[forthright] The Paradox of the Church

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From: Forthright Magazine <ba@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 14:23:46 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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Oops! No, Mike Brooks did not capitalize all the
words in yesterday's article! I hit the Ctrl K
key by accident. Sorry about that! Go online and
read the good version of "Let It Rain" at
http://forthright.antville.org/stories/850940/
Also, check out Today's prayer: Rejoicing always
at http://forthright.antville.org/stories/865460/
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GUEST COLUMN

The Paradox of the Church
by Hardeman Nichols

When a congregation is established according to
the divine pattern of the New Testament, it is
composed of elements of perfection and
imperfection. Since it is a divine institution, it
deserves respect and appreciation. Everything that
such a church is and does, as authorized by God,
is divine. God’s part is perfect. He has designed
a perfect plan of salvation and a perfect system
of worship (2 Timothy 3:16,17). The Bible is its
only guide, is "the perfect law of liberty" (James
1:25). The church has a perfect Savior who holds
before us his perfect goal for our life, saying,
"Follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).

But here is the paradox. Man is not perfect, nor
does he perfectly follow the Lord. The human
element in the church is as imperfect as its
members. The church would have been an imperfect
institution if it had been designed only for
perfect people. It would have no members at all,
"For there is not a just man upon the earth, that
doeth good, and sinneth not" (Ecclesiastes 7:20,
KJV).

Its perfection is retained by the way it deals
with our imperfections. It does not overlook sin
but believes the grace of God is perfect in
dealing with it. And it must distinguish between
the penitent and rebellious, between the humble
weak and willful reprobate. God now "commandeth
all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). The
church believes that Christ promises pardon for
all imperfect beings who, in godly sorrow for
their sins, penitently seek mercy and forgiveness.
His invitation is to imperfect men. When one
repents and is baptized, Jesus forgives his sins
and adds him to his church (Acts 2:38,47).

The church offers strength to help us in our
weaknesses, courage when we are faint-hearted,
comfort when we are sad, and "joy unspeakable and
full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8), along the way. Its
call is to all men to come and be saved. Its God-
ordained teachings and services restore lost
humanity back to God. Thanks be unto God for his
perfect church and its wondrous benefits to
imperfect men.

Thanks to The Voice of Truth International, Vol 3,
page 54.

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