Some Thoughts on "The Church"

by C;. H. Mackintosh (1820 - 1896)

(From Notes on Genesis, [Chapter 24.pp 222-223], G. Morrish)

        If Israel had walked with God according to the truth of the relationship which He had graciously brought them, they would have continued in their peculiar place of separation and superiority; but this they did not do, and therefore when they had filled up the measure of their iniquity by crucifying the Lord of life and glory and rejecting the testimony of the Holy Ghost we find the Apostle Paul is raised up to be the minister of a new thing, which was held back in the counsels of God while the testimony to Israel was going on. "For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery ... which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets, [New Testament prophets, tois hagiois apostolois autou kai prophetais] by the spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel." (Eph. iii. 1-6.) This is conclusive. The mystery of the church, composed of Jew and Gentile, baptised by one Spirit into one body, united to the glorious Head in the heavens, had never been revealed until Paul's day.

         Of this mystery the apostle goes on to say, "I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power."  (Ver. 7.)  The apostles and prophets of the New Testament formed, as it were, the first layer of this glorious building. (See Eph. iil, 20.)  This being so, it follows as a consequence that the building could not have been begun before.  If the building had been going on from the days of Abel downwards, the apostle would then have said, "the foundation of the Old Testament saints."  But he has not said so, and therefore we conclude that whatever be the position assigned to the Old Testament saints, they cannot possibly belong to a body which had no existence, save in the purpose of God, until the death and resurrection of Christ and the consequent descent of the Holy Ghost.  Saved they were, blessed be God! saved by the blood of Christ, and destined to enjoy heavenly glory with the church, but they could not have formed a part of that which did not exist for hundreds of years after their time.