Has God Abandoned His Church?

Acts 20:30



Every few years there are men who arise as self-appointed prophets, “speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30), declaring that men and women should abandon the church of Christ and follow them, asserting that God has abandoned his church. These men (without exception to my knowledge), while asserting that the Lord God has ceased to work through local churches, very humbly offer themselves and their own organizations as replacements. A few years ago a radio preacher urged his hearers to never again attend the services of local churches, declaring…


“The Bible tells us that for almost 2000 years after Jesus died on the cross those who believe in Jesus, if possible, were to be members of a church. But now we learn from the Bible that God is no longer saving people through the churches. The Church Age has come to an end…God commands in his Lawbook, the Bible, that the true believers are to leave their church. This is because God’s righteous judgment is upon all local congregations…The Bible teaches that at this present time that it is outside the churches that God is saving a great multitude of people.”


Nothing New


This is nothing new, but just a rehashing of old, and often repeated, heresy. Without question, the judgment of God is upon Babylon, all false religion and false churches. But our God has not abandoned his church (I mean by that faithful, gospel preaching, local churches), and never shall, so long as the world stands. It is to this church that the risen Christ declares, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).


Our Master committed to his church, not individual believers or to the religious organizations concocted by men, the ordinances of the gospel, the keys of his kingdom, and the great commission. Local churches are the instruments by which the Lord God is pleased to maintain and spread the gospel generation after generation. “The house of God, which is the church of the living God, (is) the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Local churches ordain, send out, and support gospel preachers (pastors, teachers, evangelist, and missionaries). The ascension gifts of Christ are gifts to his church (Eph. 4:8-16).


Yes, by all means, the Lord God uses individuals according to their gifts to build his kingdom and nurture his people; but he uses them collectively, as members of Christ (the Head) and of one another in the body of Christ (the church), the building fitly framed together, the temple of the Lord. It is the local church (all true gospel churches) which is “a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:20-23).


The Son of God promises to meet with sinners upon the earth in only one place, and that place is the gathered assembly of people, if only two or three, who gather in his name to worship him (Matt. 18:20. It is here, in the assembly of his saints for public worship, that he teaches, instructs, edifies, and comforts his saints by the preaching of the gospel. It is here that he calls out his elect, by the same blessed means.


No, salvation is not in the church. Salvation is not in the ordinances of public worship. The church of God and the gospel preacher cannot convey grace and salvation to anyone. No such idolatrous pretenses are made by God’s church or his preachers. But let no one imagine that God has abandoned his ordained means of grace, his ordained instrument by which he works in this world. In fact, the Holy Spirit specifically tells us that one sure indication of apostasy, of departing from the faith, is the abandonment of the assembly of God’s saint for worship (Heb. 10:25-29).


There are multitudes who are anxious to tear down anything. They appear to be uniquely gifted for the work of tearing down. I ask anyone who has observed the efforts of such self-appointed prophets, historically and in modern times, ― What do their efforts come to? It is not my purpose to condemn those men. Like you and me, they stand or fall before their own Master. My purpose is to warn my readers not to be duped by them. They arouse masses for fleeting moments, only to see the masses blown away by the winds of time. They blaze for a brief time in the public eye and fill the air with excitement about some new thing. But, in the end, they leave nothing behind them but the ruins of shipwrecked souls.


Forsake Not


Forsake not the church of God. By all means, come out of Babylon, abandon every form of free will, works religion; but forsake not the church of God. Those who labor together in gospel churches have achieve permanent usefulness. The blessing of God is still upon Zion. She is still that strong city whose walls and bulwarks God has appointed for the salvation of his elect (Isa. 26:1-2). It is through the church that our God sends the benediction of grace and peace in Christ upon the sons of men. I am delighted to hear of any man preaching the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ. If Christ is preached, I rejoice, remembering the Master’s words, “Forbid them not! He that is not against us is for us.” But any who would use their influence to tear down the church of God in this world use their influence for evil and not for good. It is written with regard to every true gospel church, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy” (1 Cor. 3:170.

Don Fortner