Will Christ’s Church Prevail?

Posted by on Apr 9, 2014 in Theology

Marcus-J.-Serven-252x183Christians sometimes wonder, “Will the church of Jesus Christ be able to survive the relentless onslaught of those who oppose it during this current age?” Here is a confidence-building quote from John Calvin (1509-1564) which takes into account the promises of God that are found in the Bible. Based on the eternal kingship of Jesus Christ, Calvin forcefully argues,

John Calvin

John Calvin

Therefore, whenever we hear of Christ as armed with eternal power, let us remember that the perpetuity of the church is secure in this protection. Hence, amid the violent agitation with which it is continually troubled, amid the grievous and frightful storms that threaten it with unnumbered calamities, it still remains safe. David laughs at the boldness of his enemies who try to throw off the yoke of God and his Anointed, and says: “The kings and people rage in vain…, for he who dwells in heaven is strong enough to break their assaults” [Ps. 2:2, 4]. Thus he assures the godly of the everlasting preservation of the church, and encourages them to hope, whenever it happens to be oppressed. Elsewhere, speaking in the person of God, David says: “Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool” [Ps. 110:1]. Here he asserts that, no matter how many strong enemies plot to overthrow the church, they do not have sufficient strength to prevail over God’s immutable decree by which he appointed his Son eternal King. Hence it follows that the devil, with all the resources of the world, can never destroy the church, founded as it is on the eternal throne of Christ…Thus it is that we may patiently pass through this life with its misery, hunger, cold, contempt, reproaches, and other troubles—content with this one thing: that our King will never leave us destitute, but will provide for our needs until, our warfare ended, we are called to triumph. Such is the nature of his rule, that he shares with us all that he has received from the Father. Now he arms and equips us with his power, adorns us with his beauty and magnificence, enriches us with his wealth. These benefits, then, give us the most fruitful occasion to glory, and also provide us with confidence to struggle fearlessly against the devil, sin, and death. Finally, clothed with his righteousness, we can valiantly rise above all the world’s reproaches; and just as he himself freely lavishes his gifts upon us, so may we, in return, bring forth fruit to his glory.” (Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2:15:3 and 2:15:4)

Calvin reasons that since Jesus Christ is our eternal King, Christians can be supremely confident that the fleshly rulers of the earth will not prevail against Jesus Christ and his church. Yes, there may be setbacks from time to time, but the words of Jesus Christ our eternal King give us certainty and determination to keep moving forwards by faith. Jesus emphatically proclaims to his disciples, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

During this Easter season, then, let us remember that Jesus Christ reigns and rules over all the earth (Psalm 24:1; Luke 17:20-21; Revelation 20:2-3). Moreover, let us remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is expanding his eternal kingdom and that the enemies of his church will not prevail (Luke 10:17-18 and 11:18-22; John 12:31-32). Glory Hallelujah!  

—Pastor Marcus J. Serven