always failed to confine growing religious sects within the sanctuary or the home. God, it is said, is the place where spirits blend. In rising toward him, man necessarily passes beyond the limits of his own individuality. He feels instinctively that the principle of his being is the principle of the life of his brethren also, that that which gives him safety must give it to all.? Rothe held that, as men reach the full development of their nature and appropriate the perfection of the Savior, the separation between the religious and the moral life will vanish and the Christian state, as the highest sphere of human life representing all human functions, will displace the church. ?In proportion as the Savior Christianizes the state by means of the church, must the progressive completion of the structure of the church prove the cause of its abolition. The decline of the church is not therefore to be deplored but is to be recognized as the consequence of the independence and completeness of the religious life? (Encyc. Brit., 21:2). But it might equally be maintained that the state, as well as the church, will pass away when the kingdom of God is fully come. See
<430421> John 4:21 ? ?the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father?; <461524>1 Corinthians 15:24 ? ?Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power?; <662122>Revelation 21:22 ? ?And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb, are the temple thereof.?
B. The church, unlike the family and the state, is a voluntary society.
(a) This results from the fact that the local church is the outward expression of that rational and free life in Christ, which characterizes the church as a whole. In this it differs from those other organizations of divine appointment, entrance into which is not optional. Membership in the church is not hereditary or compulsory.
(b) The doctrine of the church, as thus defined, is a necessary outgrowth of the doctrine of regeneration. As this fundamental spiritual change is mediated not by outward appliances but by inward and conscious reception of Christ and his truth, union with the church logically follows, not precedes, the soul?s spiritual union with Christ.
We have seen that the church is the body of Christ. We now perceive that the church is, by the impartation to it of Christ?s life, made a living body with duties and powers of its own. A. J. Gordon, Ministry of the Spirit, 53, emphasizes the preliminary truth. He shows that the definition ? the church, a voluntary association of believers, united together for the purposes of worship and edification, is most inadequate, not to say
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