Death of Saints
The Treasury of David records: “I think the death of the saints is precious in the Lord’s sight, because they are taken from the evil to come; they are delivered from the burden of the flesh; ransomed by the blood of the Redeemer, they are his purchased possession, and now he receives them to himself. Sin and sorrow for ever cease; there is no more death, the death of Christ is their redemption; by death he overcame him that had the power of death; therefore, they in him are enabled to say, ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ . . . [I]n it he often sees the very finest evidences of the work of his own Spirit upon the soul; he sees faith in opposition to sense, leaning upon the promises of God. Reposing upon him who is mighty to save, he sees hope even against hope, anchoring the soul secure and steadfast on him who is passed within the veil; he sees patience acquiescing in a Father’s will – humility bending beneath his sovereign hand – love issuing from a grateful heart. . . . [I]t draws out the tenderness of surviving Christian friends, and is abundant in the thanksgivings of many an anxious heart; it elicits the sympathies of Christian charity, and realises that communion of saints.”
Fellowship With God
God created man to fellowship with Him. God had already fellowshipped within the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—but it was His will for more. Sin separates man from God. For fellowship, the sin must be eliminated. God provided for that through His Son. He made the condition faith. We must believe His Word, the Gospel, and Jesus Christ. I could say, “or Jesus Christ,” because you don’t believe in Jesus and not believe in His Word or the Gospel message. God must be believed, like Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto Him as righteousness. God will save those who believe though. Fellowship is regained through justification by faith. We have peace with God. The plan then is to go to be with Him in glory where we fellowship with Him forever. Again, this is only for those who believe in Jesus Christ. Fellowship, which will include bringing glory to God, is the purpose and plan, enabled by God, the condition, faith. Today we have that through the Word of God and in prayer.
The Church Building
The emphasis on the building for a church originated in Roman Catholicism. We know from the New Testament that congregations met in houses. We don’t read, if you meet in a house, that will be very bad and the church will never grow if you do that. However, today people don’t think you are a church or have a church without a building. If you meet in a home, to many that would mean that it isn’t even a church. There is pressure especially on young congregations to spend money on a building, so that it will look established, look solid – look like a church. Roman Catholicism takes a position on the Old Testament and the kingdom that treats the church like Old Testament Israel, which had a physical temple and priests. Roman Catholicism put more and more emphasis on the building. There is a different emphasis now more in line with the spirit of the age. It’s nice for a church to own property and have its own building. If it has one, it should take care of it in representation of the Lord and in honor to Him.
Jesus Is God
Paul wants to establish his apostleship at the beginning of Galatians, because his authority has been attacked by false teachers. They are preaching a false gospel and part of their strategy was to undermine the true gospel by assailing its messenger. In the very first verse of Galatians Paul wants to establish the divine quality of the epistle, and he writes: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)” They were saying his apostleship was only human, nothing from God. Paul says it was “not of men,” in an emphatic repetition, “neither by man,” and then the contrasting, “but by Jesus Christ.” Paul makes a strong statement of the deity of Christ by contrasting Jesus from men as divine – not of men, but by Jesus Christ. If Paul was an apostle not of men, but of Jesus Christ, He is with great emphasis saying that Jesus is God. It doesn’t make any sense otherwise.