A perfect garden and a tree laden with forbidden fruit. A lie believed and a choice made. Mankind deceived with cataclysmic consequences. Oh, how the enemy of God must have clapped his evil hands in glee. In one fell swoop he had successfully separated the Creator from His prized possession, the crown jewel of all creation, the man and woman created in the very image of God, now lost to Him forever and beyond redemption. Wrong!
The Omniscient (all-knowing) One already had a plan:
“The Lord God said to the serpent,… ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike you head, and you will strike his heel.’” Genesis 3:14-15
A smelly, dusty barn and a newborn baby lying in an animal trough. Wise men follow a star never seen before or since, and confide in an evil, insecure king. Helpless women wail in horror and sorrow as Herod’s soldiers mercilessly slaughter every boy child two years old and under in the City of David, Bethlehem. Yes, the enemy had gotten wind of God’s plan to save mankind and he was not having that. The One born to be the Savior of the world must not be allowed to live, and in the murder of the innocents the enemy believed he had won. Wrong again!
“…behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.’ When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt…” Matthew 2:13-14
But now behold the Man! Nailed to a Roman cross stark naked, in the most brutal and shameful form of capital punishment. Beaten beyond recognition; innocent blood now dripping from the thorns pressed into His forehead; from the huge nails in His hands and feet; from the flesh on His back torn apart by thirty-nine punishing lashes.
Rejected and abused by the very ones He came to save. Betrayed, renounced and abandoned by the twelve men He had poured His life and truth into continually for three years. Lifeless now and laid in a tomb hewn into the rock that was meant for another. Surely now, the enemy had finally won.
And see the former followers of John the Baptist, the former fishermen, the former tax-collectors…they had all abandoned lucrative careers when Jesus said, “Come follow me.” What would they do now? How could they face the “I told you so(s)”; the shame of returning to their former life labeled as failures, all their hopes dashed to pieces, and nothing to show for the past three years but a dead leader, and religious leaders gunning to kill them too.
Oh, how the kingdom of darkness must have celebrated and rejoiced as that huge stone was rolled into place in front of the tomb and sealed, as the Roman garrison took up their positions to guard it. The enemy of God had finally won? My youngest child would say, “Wrong again, suckaaaah!”
“And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said…’” Matthew 28:2-6
He is alive for evermore! The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead put such a ‘beat down’ on the enemy of God and his cohorts you would think he would just give up and accept defeat. Not so.
“Be well balanced(temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger] seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset – rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.” I Peter 5:8-9 The Amplified Bible
Knowing his destruction is inevitable, the enemy has redoubled his efforts against a new target, God’s prized possession, the universal church of Jesus Christ; those who have believed that…
“…God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17
The Gaither Vocal Band sings a timeless song titled, The Church Triumphant, and the most classic rendition includes my hands-down favorite poem of all time, God Has Always Had A People.
God Has Always Had A People
Many a foolish conqueror made the mistake of thinking that because he had forced the Church of Jesus Christ out of sight, that he had stilled its voice and snuffed out its life.
But God Has Always Had A People
The powerful current of a rushing river is not diminished because it is forced to flow underground. The purest water is the stream that bursts crystal clear into the sunlight after it has fought its way through solid rock.
There have been charlatans who like Simon the magician, sought to barter on the open market that power which cannot be bought or sold.
But God Has Always Had A People
Men who could not be bought and women who were beyond purchase.
Yes, God Has Always Had A People
There have been times of affluence and prosperity when the Church’s message was nearly diluted into oblivion by those who sought to make it socially attractive, neatly organized and financially profitable. It has been gold-plated, draped in purple and encrusted with jewels. It has been misrepresented, ridiculed, blotted and scorned.
These followers of Jesus Christ have been, according to the whim of the times, elevated as sacred leaders and martyred as heretics. Yet through it all, there marches on that powerful army of the meek; God’s chosen people that can’t be bought, flattered, murdered or stilled. On through the ages they march.
The Church, God’s Church Triumphant, is Alive and Well!
Now listen child of God. It’s alive!
Discouraged pastor, it’s His Church and it’s alive!
Lonely missionary, sow your seeds with confidence! It’s alive!
It’s alive my broken-hearted friend!
Old saint, you’re not alone and forgotten, the Church is alive!
Busy mother, cast your cares on Jesus! It’s alive!
It’s alive, young student. You’re not alone in serving the Lord!
Faithful father, there’s rest in the Lord! The Church is alive!
Cynical skeptic you haven’t killed God with your noisy unbelief.
He is Alive!
So family of God raise your hands and praise the Lord.
For the Church, God’s Church Triumphant is Alive and Well!
“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes: there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’” Revelation 21:3-5
…just living the thing.