The church has not failed in this gospel age, nor will she fail. The church is the Lord’s body, the instrument through which He subdues all things to Himself (Ephesians 1:20–23). The resurrected Christ is presently seated at the Father’s right hand, a position of great power and authority. As per Psalm 110, Jesus is to occupy this position until the Lord makes His enemies His footstool (v. 1), that is, until He defeats and puts them under complete subjection. That text is quoted four times (Mark 12:26; Acts 2:35; Hebrews 1:13; 10:13). First Corinthians 15:24–28 deals with the same theme, citing Psalm 8:6. Jesus will not return until, “after destroying every rule and every authority and power” (v. 24), He is ready to deliver the kingdom back to the Father. Thus, the work being accomplished in this gospel age is that of subjecting all things to the authority of Jesus Christ.
Commenting on Psalm 8:8 (“putting everything in subjection to him”), Paul observes, “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (Hebrews 2:8). Two things are true: what one sees in today’s church culture leads to a conclusion that the church is in trouble. The church does not appear to be militant and triumphant. It is divided, compromised, weak, neglected, discouraged, and diminished. She has little authority over her own members, let alone the culture she is to influence with light and truth. However, this is just what Paul said: “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” Nevertheless, it is clear that everything is subject to Jesus and is fully in His control.
In the demonic territory of Bashan in the shadow of Satan’s mountain, Hermon, Jesus informed the disciples that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not be able to stand against the church’s advance (Matthew 16:18). There are periods when this could be observed but not generally in church history. Jesus was not mistaken. Perhaps we are looking at it wrongly.
The wisdom of heaven does not look like success to those who are the wise of this world. “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). This statement is supported by a quote from Isaiah 29:14 in which the Lord states His determination to destroy the wisdom of the wise. From this proposition, Paul lays out an argument to prove this to believers living in a city that prized the wisdom of the Greeks. He concludes his argument by showing the natural man regards the things of the Spirit as foolishness (2:14).
The wisdom of this world has its origin with the god of this world, Satan. Thus, the wisdom of God looks like foolishness because God intends to bring victory under the nose of Satan without his notice. Using Isaiah 64:4 as his basis, Paul proves this: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him—” (2:9).
To be continued.