“What, then, is the Church in the world? It is God’s institute of praise, God’s institute of prayer, and God’s institute of prophecy.”
~G. Campbell Morgan (1863–1945)
From the sermon entitled “The Holy Spirit through Christ, in the Church, for the World” three institutes of difference are set forth.
This is the positive impact and purpose of the Church in the world. And in a world that has, certainly of recent times, found much to criticise in God’s holiest vessel, these three institutes are ever important. Then again, the Church has always been an easy target; which is plain verification of the gospel truth relating to the Persecuted Church.
But I digress. What is the Church’s purpose in the world? It is represented in these three:
1. The Institute of Praise
That which separates us from the world is the mode of praise in a world more apt to complain. It is unbecoming for the Christian to complain as the world complains. Their complaint, in the form of lament, becomes as a prayer to God.
Instead of virulent complaining, and of lamenting like the world does, we are to find room for praise in all circumstances; not for the circumstances, themselves, but for the fact of God. Merely the fact of God is worthy of the respect of praise.
The first difference the Church makes in the world is that it praises God.
2. The Institute of Prayer
Upon many mysterious bindings the world is given to despair where we, the Church, are called to pray. This is a simple yet profound difference.
Prayer is the uncommon answer to all our ills. Where we are burdened, worried, betwixt or confounded we meet our lack by casting our troubles into the furnace of the Lord. There, in the moment of release, we are healed. The Church is an image to the world of faith and healing through prayer.
Prayer also serves the practical end of providing hope to the world in times of catastrophe. How quickly the world turns to the Church when tragedy strikes! And, typically well, the Church responds.
The second difference the Church makes in the world is that it prays.
3. The Institute of Prophecy
As the prophets of antiquity so faithfully did, in the Old Testament tradition, the Church has a unique function to advise the State. And in maintaining a separateness from the State, this holiest vessel of God’s, by the Holy Spirit, sits serenely upon the knife’s edge. The Church helps to balance morality, even though issues of State are not its domain. The Church must influence the world, but not, as a rule, politically; though there are times when the Church must intercede.
Having no formal role can be delicate, because only the Church can reveal to the world the will of God.
The third difference the Church makes in the world is that it reveals the will of God.
Praise, prayer, and prophecy are three activities bearing the revelation of God in the world.
By praising we have a way past complaint, by praying we have a way superior to worry, and by prophesying we have a way of speaking God’s revealed truth to the world.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.