Scripture, as we have noticed, uses many different names and descriptions of the church to teach us what the church is and to help us love the church. The number of these names and descriptions shows how important the church is in God's eyes and ought to be in ours.
There are, for example, a whole list of names in Hebrews 12:22-24. In that passage the church is called "mount Sion," "the city of the living God," "the heavenly Jerusalem," and "the general assembly and church of the firstborn which are written in heaven." She is also the holy nation of the NT (I Pet. 2:9).
From this we learn that Israel and the church are one. Israel is the church of the OT and the church is the Israel of the NT. The names that are used to describe the capital of Israel, the city God chose as His own and where He established His dwelling place (Ps. 68:16, Ps. 132:13-14) are the names used in the NT for the church. This is also in Revelation 21 where in showing John the city of God, the new Jerusalem, the angel shows him "the bride, the Lamb's wife" (vss. 9-10ff, comp. Eph. 5:32).
There is a kind of cumulative witness here. That the church is the vine (compare Jn. 15:1-6 and Psalm 80), the temple and house of God (Eph. 2:20-22, I Tim. 3:15), mount Sion, Jerusalem, and the city of the living God, ought to teach us that the church is everything that Israel was in the OT.
Before we speak more of this, however, we wish to point out the importance of these names. That the church is described as a city or nation or kingdom, remind us that she is a spiritual commonwealth with a king, law, custom, and language all her own. Her members are citizens of a kingdom with all the rights and privileges of citizens. In that kingdom they are protected from their enemies and well governed by the King of kings.
The church was and is, however, a spiritual kingdom and nation and city. Her walls are salvation, and her gates praise (Is. 60:18). Her keys are the preaching of the gospel and the exercise of Christian discipline (Matt. 16:19, 18:15-20). Her foundations are apostolic and prophetic teaching - nothing less than the Word of God itself (Eph. 2:20-22, Rev. 21:14).
That the church is further described as the fortress mountain, Sion, serves to show us that under the rule of her King, she is invincibly strong (Ps. 48:12-14). How could she be otherwise with such walls and gates and foundations and keys? No wonder the gates of hell cannot prevail against her (Matt. 16:18).
This is seen only by faith, however. In the eyes of the world the church is a small and despised remnant, a little flock (Luke 12:32), a cottage in a vineyard, a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, a besieged city (Is. 1:8). Only by faith is it evident that she is "comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners" (Song 6:4, 10). Let us, then, by faith walk about Zion, tell her towers, mark well her bulwarks, and consider her palaces. It will always be evident that God is her God! (Ps. 48:12-14).
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 25
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
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