The ecclesia (Church) is a participatory community of the followers of Jesus Christ, built upon the proclamation of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom, nurtured under leadership of those called by God, situated in a particular time and place, demonstrating the power of God, for the glory of God and the salvation of many.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Pe 3:9)
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Ps 145:18).
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
Throughout the bible we get an image of God as an all-powerful being, loving and merciful, willing to do whatever it takes to reach those who are far from him. His plan is global. His passion is cosmic. His dedication is relentless.
Yet the image of Him that many have in the Netherlands is of a god who loves weakly from a distance, who forgives reluctantly, who is proud and unwilling to humble himself for the sake of those whom he loves. It is no wonder then that many Christians look at me with skepticism when I use words like “all” and “none”. Now pay attention very carefully. It is the Lord’s will that none should perish! It is his will that all should repent. The Lord is near to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18) God is in passionate pursuit of every soul that is far from him. (Luke 15) The image of God that many have is not the God we come to know in the scriptures!
As we have seen above, the gospel is the message through which the Holy Spirit calls, convicts and saves souls. The Church is built upon and entrusted with the proclamation of that gospel. This means that the primary means through which God will save our friends, family and neighbours is through you and me , through our passionate echoing of the Holy Spirit’s call, “be reconciled to God!” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
No more of this half-hearted unbelief in the God of the bible. Did he or did he not make man in his own image? Did he or did he not show mercy when man deserved to die? Did he or did he not unfold a plan throughout ages and generations, ultimately culminating in his self-sacrificing, self-initiated death on a cross? And did he or did he not deal the final blow to death itself when he rose from his grave? Do you truly believe that the God who would do all that has somehow lost his love or his power to save?
Away then with this doubt and skepticism in Christ’s blood-bought Church. No obstacle is too great for our God. If we do not see many coming to faith in Him, I suggest that the problem is not on heaven’s side but on ours. We must ask ourselves: are we praying for the lost ones we know? Are we praying and looking for opportunities to share the gospel? Are we letting go of our fear and pride and actually telling those around us about God’s love for them and trusting God to move through us in power as we proclaim that message?
The Church exists to glorify the God who gave himself and to bring the good news of that gift to every corner of this earth.