Many are the figures used in Scripture to present to us the full and rich truth concerning the Church of God. That Church is likened to a flock of sheep beloved and protected by the Shepherd. She is presented as a beautiful temple in which the living God dwells by His Spirit. We see her as the royal bride of Christ who enters into an intimate and endless life of fellowship with Christ. The figure of a vine with its branches and its fruit also appears upon the pages of Holy Writ to represent the inseparable and intimate connection between Christ and His Church. But the most beautiful and richest of all these figures is that of the human body. “Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.” I Corinthians 12:27. “So we being many, are one body in Christ, and everyone members one of another.” Romans 12:5. “And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1:22, 23.
In order to appreciate the fact that there is in the world a definite attempt to give that Church heart failure, we ought to consider what is implied in this truth that the Church is the body of which Christ is the glorified Head. First of all is implied that there is in that Church a definite number of members and that to add one or to take one away would deface and mar the Church. It would no longer be perfect. This same truth is implied in the figure of a temple. It has a definite number of stones and cannot receive one more without marring its beauty, even as it will mar its beauty to remove one from out of the wall. A flock of sheep may be indefinite as far as number is concerned, and a vine may have an indefinite number of branches. But the body which God gave us—and which is a figure of the Church of Christ—was designed with a definite number of members. A perfect body will have just exactly so many, no more, and no less. For that reason it is that election is the very heart of that Church. Take election away, substitute man’s philosophy of Arminianism according to which our will determines the number of members in the Church in the day of Christ, and you have killed that Church as a body. You have given it heart failure! The membership of that Church does not depend upon our choice in time but God’s predestinating grace in eternity. Take away election, and you will not even have a Church, to say nothing about a body. What is a body without lungs? What is a body without part of the brain? And will God receive (from man??) a body, perfect in all detail, complete with all its members, if the whole constituency and membership of that Church depends upon a corrupt sinner, who must accept or reject Christ, the Head?
Then too, a body is an organism consisting of many members and yet of a definite number of each variety. All is not eye. There are members besides the heart. There is a diversity of kind and a definite number of each kind. Here again the figure of the temple parallels that of the Church as a body. Different types of material go into a building according to the work they must perform and where they are located. The foundation is concrete, but the roof would not be made of such a heavy material. And in the body there is such a wonderful variety of definite members, each placed where it will serve the head best. The ear is where it will catch the sound. The eye is in its elevated place to see where the feet will go. The hands are placed on the ends of arms of a certain length—from fingertip to fingertip with the arms stretched straight out from the sides of the body will almost to the inch be equal to your height—so that they can serve every external part of the body. And did this all happen as a process of evolution? Nay, the living God designed it all for us. His wisdom is to be seen in the eye which no motion picture camera can fully duplicate, the ear which all of our electronics cannot match, the brain that makes the computer and cannot be made by the electronic computer. It did not just happen. It was designed. And God’s Church likewise does not just happen. It was from all eternity designed by God to be such a perfect body. Men are not going to determine its size and whether it will actually have ten “fingers” and not eight or thirteen, two “lungs,” two “kidneys,” one “heart” and the like. Therefore, again, cut out the heart of election, deny that God chose each and every member and predetermined its place and the certainty of its being gathered into that body, and you have killed the Church and made a ridiculous conglomeration—at best—of members, that might result in feet and legs connected to shoulders without the essential elements and organs between. We say at best, because, if we hold to the truth of total depravity in God’s Word there would be no body at all. No one would step forward to assemble himself in that body. Jesus meant it when He said that “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” John 3:3. Not being able to see he would not travel to that kingdom to include himself in its citizenry. He would have no interest in being a member in a body which he does not believe exists. And until God works and regenerates him, he has no interest at all in that Church and Kingdom. Since it is God Who acts first and regenerates, it is also God Who determines who is going to be regenerated. “No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day,”John 6:44. Take away that truth, tear out of the Church that heart of sovereign election, and you have a dead mass, dead in sins and trespasses without any interest in coming to Christ, being utterly incapable of seeing with its mind’s eye that there actually is a Kingdom of Heaven and an exalted King thereof.
Then also, all the members of a body have their place and work, and, enjoying one life, work together harmoniously to serve the head. Your heart and lungs serve every cell of your body. Your hands take care of the eye and gently remove the cinder that has gotten under the eyelid. Your digestive system likewise serves every cell and muscle, but the hand and mouth serve that digestive system. And so we could go on and on. Did all this come about by chance? No believer is foolish enough to say that through a process of trial and error the members gradually adapted themselves to such work and for a time performed contrary actions. Let one organ get out of order for just a short while, and the whole structure is threatened with death. Listen to the Word of God, “For Thou hast possessed my reins: Thou has covered me in my mother’s womb . . . . Thine eyes did see my substance yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13, 16. God took great care in making our bodies and designed them in inscrutable wisdom. Does He do less for the Body of Christ, the Church which He loved even unto death?” Take away that heart of the Church, election, and you have no living organism with all the parts adapted to each other, designed with specific work to function with the other parts and complete in every detail.
As the Son of God gathers that Church—and He goes to seek and to save that which was lost, rather than as Arminianism has it that the sheep seek Him and find Him—out of every nation tongue and tribe, do the various nations and tribes determine how many of this kind and how many of that kind of member will form this perfect Church? Or do we take the position that the Church will not be perfect, that is, will not be exactly as God wanted it? Having planned with the grandiose idea of a great and glorious Church, must He in the day of days be satisfied with a mediocre building that must be adapted to the kind of material that was willing to place itself at His disposal? Will He weep in the day of Christ—as the Jews did—when He sees that this temple is not nearly as beautiful and big as He had wanted it? Well, cut out the heart of the Church, election, and you will have a dead mass of charred and crumbled material. You will have the temple that fell in ruins in Adam and a rubble heap out of which there is nothing to salvage. You have—in your own mind, for in reality you can never do that—killed the Church! It lives because of that truth of sovereign, eternal and personal election from before the foundation of the world. It is one thing to be afraid of heart failure. It is another thing to cause it and to desire it.
We have not said anything new. We have not coined the phrase that “Election is the heart of the Church.” Men have known for years that the Church Fathers spoke that way in ages past. And students of theology can know and do come in contact with this statement in their study of both the history and the doctrine of the Church. But there is someone else who not only knows that men, have spoken that way of the doctrine of election and that in ages past men cherished that truth, considered it to be a cardinal truth of Scripture and were guided by it in all their theology, but one who also knows that it is absolute truth. There is that arch adversary of the Church, Satan himself, who has always wanted to kill the Church from the very beginning. No sooner did the Church appear through the regenerating grace of God in Adam after the fall, and God Himself predicted a battle proceeding forth from enmity between the devil and the Church. Therefore Cain killed Abel; they sought to kill Enoch, and God took him away from them and beyond their grasp; Herod sought to kill the Christ-child and the Anti-Christ will seek to wipe that Church off the face of this earth.
Many and varied are the ways in which Satan has through the ages sought to put an end to the Church of God. Many and subtle will be his ways in the few remaining years of this present world. But one of the chief and most logical methods of killing that Church is to cause her to have heart failure. Such a fierce and relentless attack upon the doctrine of election throughout the ages and gaining momentum again in this present day and age is simply mute testimony to the fact that Satan realizes the extreme importance of this doctrine. This, surely, is one truth of God that Satan cannot allow you and me to believe. And if he can only wipe out belief in it, he can destroy that Church in your mind and heart and life. He is not afraid of a church designed by man, whose size, membership, material, appearance, or failure to appear, depends upon men. Such a temple will never be “to the praise of the glory of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:6. A church that is the product of the depraved mind of man and that comes into being because of the will and desire of an unregenerated man (who cannot see the kingdom of heaven) is just exactly what he wants. As long as there is none of God in it and it is according to the wishes and likes of the man, whom he has deceived with the lies Satan is pleased to have such a church in existence. That church exists for his satisfaction. It does not have in it the fear of the Lord. It does not live from the principle and confess that “. . . of Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” It postulates that this church is of Him, if we let Him; is through Him if we will help Him by taking the all-important initial step, which God cannot or for some strange reason will not force us to do (because He will not trample upon our sovereignty??) and stepping down from His own sovereignty lets us decide what His Church will be like, and whether indeed there shall be such a Church at all; and that is unto Him if we will put the finishing touches on the work of Calvary. It will be then a Church of Him, if it is of us; a Church through Him, if it is also through us; and a Church unto Him, if it is also unto our glory. That is where heart failure brings the Church. Take away that heart of sovereign, eternal, personal election and you have a church that at best is the joint product of God’s will and man’s, of God’s power and man’s, and for God’s glory provided man wills to let it rob him of his glory. And then you have no church at all. Fallen, unregenerated man will answer God as Adam did and blame the whole mess in which we are on God for having created the woman. We will want nothing to do with any of His works. The cross will be foolishness to us. We have no will for a Church which that God designs, no strength to help Him build and gather it and object strenuously to a kingdom wherein He is all in all.
Satan has his reason for attacking the heart of the Church. He knows that heart failure means the death of the Church. As in paradise he still seeks to turn man away from God, and deceive man further in the lie that he can be like God to decide such important matters as the membership, size and constituency of the Church, the body of Christ. In His fear we are on our guard against his craftiness and deception. Listen to God, not to Satan.