Read: Matthew 28:16-20, Matthew 16:13-19, Acts 13:1-4
Our teacher wants us to study this lesson very carefully, because many deny its truth in our day. Especially all those who have adopted Arminianism as a correct interpretation of the Bible, tell us that the church is gathered by individual people accepting Christ as their personal Savior and letting Jesus come into their hearts. They try to tell us that Jesus wants to save everyone and died for everyone, but only those who accept him will actually be saved. This is a dreadful lie which has affected the church.
There are several truths we have to learn if we are to master this lesson.
The first truth we must learn is that the Son of God . . . gathers unto Himself . . . a church . . . ,” The gathering of the church is the work of the Son of God. In other words, God himself gathers his church, which he has chosen, but does so through his Son, Jesus Christ.
But the Son of God not only gathers his church; he also defends and preserves it. The church has many enemies and they are much stronger than the people of God. It is a miracle, performed by Christ, that the church is not destroyed (Luke 12:32). It is a miracle, performed by Christ, that the church is preserved (John 10:28-30).
The Son of God gathers his church “by His Spirit and Word.” Christ uses means to gather His church. He uses the means of the preaching of the gospel (Rom 10:13-15). But the preaching of the gospel is effective and saves only those in whom the Spirit works, for only those come to Christ whom the Father draws (John 6:44, 45).
The Son of God gathers his church “from the whole human race.” He does not gather them from the nation of Israel alone, as in the old dispensation, but he gathers them from every nation, tribe and tongue (Rev 5:9, 7:9, 14:6). It is truly a catholic church that Christ gathers.
Christ gathers his church “from the beginning to the end of time.” Already God began gathering his church immediately after Adam and Eve fell. My pastor of years ago, Herman Hoeksema, would say, “Adam fell into the arms of Christ.” From that moment, on the church was being gathered, even in the darkest days of the history of the church, the Son of God was gathering, defending and preserving his church. Seven thousands were preserved through the dark and evil days of Ahab and Jezebel.
The gathering of the church will end with the conversion of the last elect. Christ cannot come again until the last elect is born and saved. But Christ is so eager to come to the rescue of his church that when the last elect is brought to faith and the church is complete, Christ returns.
I am and forever shall remain a living member of that church.