Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 19, 1958

The Perfection Of God's Plan

Jerry F. Bassett, Willits, California

Jesus came to earth to do the will of the heavenly Father in completing the plan of the ages. That plan was the redemption of men from sin, and the fulness of that plan is found in Christ Jesus. "Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." (Eph. 1:3-4.)

Jesus Christ is the fulness of God's plan, but notice the actual work done by him in setting that plan in motion. Christ promised to build his church, which promise he kept through his death, burial, and resurrection. (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2.) The church is his body, and is composed of saved individuals. (Acts 2:47; I Cor. 12:13,27.) While it is understood that Christ is the fulness of God's plan, and being the divine son of God is perfect in every respect, it is also necessary to understand that the church is the fulness of Christ, (Eph. 1:22-23) and from the standpoint of the Work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in bringing it into existence is also perfect.

The church was planned in the mind of God. (Eph. 3:10-11) it was purchased by the sacrifice of Christ. (Eph. 5:15-27) it was taught and organized by the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 3:1-5.) It is a divine institution, and while, and as long as, it exists as it was planned, purchased, and made to exist and function, it reflects divine perfection.

There are four distinct areas in which the perfection of the church is seen. The first of these is worship.


"But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23-24.) God did not intend that man should worship him by every device and fancy of the human heart. (Acts 17:22-31.) Worship of God is from the heart, and is therefore spiritual. Furthermore, men must worship God in truth and that means by that which is revealed in Christ for he is "the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6.) When men worship God through the son they do so by the truth. Speaking of the relationship of the church to God in its worship aspect Paul said, "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord." (Eph. 2:21.) In Christ the church is the temple of worship where God is worshipped in spirit and in truth. It is obvious that worship in spirit, (from the heart) and in truth, (by that which is revealed in Christ) obviates and excludes the inventions of human wisdom. Failure to observe this principle will always result in a corruption of the worship of the church. Instrumental music, incense burning, and image worship are all examples of corruption of worship. They are such because their introduction into worship necessarily requires going beyond that which is written, and constitutes a forfeiture of the truth quality of true worship. The worship of the church is perfect because it reflects the handiwork of God whose works are all perfect. (Deut. 32:4.)


The doctrine which the church is charged with supporting through preaching and meticulous observation is also a product of divinity and hence is perfect. Christ said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32. The truth of which he spoke is the doctrine that was delivered by inspired men. (John 16:13; Mark 16:15-16; Rom. 6:17-18.) James spoke of this doctrine as "the perfect law of liberty." (James 1:25.) Jude said it was "the faith once delivered." Jude 3. Peter said that the divine power of God "hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness." (II Pet. 1:3.)

Paul tells us clearly the means by which the doctrine was delivered and the purpose in it being delivered instead of devised by man. In I Cor. 2:12-13, he wrote, "Now we have received, not the spirit which is of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in works which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." This is the means of delivery; men verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit. In verses 4-5 of the same chapter he wrote, "and my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." This gives the purpose of the delivery in lieu of human devising; it excludes for ever man's wisdom from God's scheme of redemption. Failure to recognize the perfection of the doctrine is to open a breach in the wall of Zion through which the creeds of men can gain access. "But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8.)


It is not consistent with good reason to think that God would plan the church, give his only begotten son to purchase it, send the Holy Spirit to direct men in organizing and teaching it, and then be content to let such a glorious institution expend its energy in the pursuit of every trivial activity imagineable. Neither is such an idea consistent with the teaching of the New Testament.

The eternal purpose of God toward man is salvation. (Eph. 1:3-5) but the church is the reflection of his wisdom in fulfilling that purpose. (Eph. 3:10-11.) The church is the body of Christ in whom are all spiritual blessings. (Eph. 1:3, 1:22-23); it is the body of reconciliation. (Eph. 2:16); it is the body of which Christ is the saviour. (Eph. 5:23.) The church was built, and exists for the salvation of men. To be consistent with this fact the work of the church must be spiritual in nature.

After referring to the works God had ordained for men in establishing and organizing the church Paul then designated the fields of endeavor within which those who performed these works or offices were to exert their energies. (Eph. 4:11-12.) These fields of endeavor are outlined as, "perfecting the saints," (teaching and strengthening the church) "the work of the ministry,' (the many day to day things that must be accomplished such as care of worthy and needy saints) "the building up of the body of Christ," ASV (the spreading of the borders of the kingdom through proclamation of the gospel.)

These three phases constitute the work of the church. All three are consistent with the spiritual nature of the church because each is spiritual in objective, viz., to turn men from the power of Satan unto God, to strengthen them in that new relationship, and since saints still living must serve God while clothed in a fleshly body, to minister to the needs of the flesh when such is necessary.

The intervention of the mind of God in prescribing the work of the church as well as the ones to do the work again prohibits the introduction of human wisdom, thus avoiding the pitfalls of the mortal mind. "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ." (Eph. 4:14-15.)

On every hand can be seen today the evidence of failure in recognizing the perfection of God's plan of work for the church. All over the country the energy and resources of churches are being wasted by engaging in works which the word of God does not authorize. God's eternal purpose in the church is salvation from sin, not release from the boredom of life through recreation, the ascent of the social ladder through charming gatherings, or the cultivation of the intellect through guest speakers from the fields of secular education. In their own place such things are fine, but that place does not come under the work of the church.


The fourth phase of perfection is to be found in the organization of the church. Since the church is a working, functioning institution it is understood that there must be a systematic organization for this to be possible. Institutions of any sort do not function without an organization adequate to their work. This is also true of the church. But what is the organization of the church, and hence its unit of function?

There are two uses of the word "church" in the New Testament which must be considered. The first is the reference to the church universal which means the body of Christ as composed of all the saved. Examples of this use of the word are found in Matt. 16:18; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23. These refer to the church as an organism, not an organization. They describe the church in terms of relationship to Christ not in terms of function.

Function is provided for in organization and the organization is found in the second use of the word church which refers to the local congregation. Examples of this use of the word are Rom. 16:16; I Cor. 1:2; II Cor. 11:8, Gal. 1:2. The local church is organized to function. It has facility for oversight, servants, and teachers. (Acts 14:28; 20:28; I Pet. 5:2; Phil. 1:1; I Tim. 1:3.) Moreover, elders who are responsible for oversight are so instructed that it is clear that their authority begins and ends with their own local congregation. (Acts 20:28; I Pet. 5:2.) This fact absolutely forbids any confederation of the work of various churches under one eldership. God intended for the church to function through local congregations; each congregation being autonomous and under the oversight of a plurality of elders.

Notice once more that this specificity by divine revelation rules out the injection of human wisdom. The organization of the church is adequate to the work God gave it. To say that the organization is not adequate is to say that God gave the church a mission to perform without providing the organizational strength through which to do it. Failure to recognize the wisdom of God in the organization of the church is to take a fatal step down the path of apostasy. Disrespect for this phase of perfection is the pebble that started the avalanche that came to rest in Rome in the early centuries of the church. It is the point of the wedge that split the church only a few short years ago and was manifest in the American Christian Missionary Society. The organization of the church is adequate to the performance of every phase of its work. Any attempt by men to expand on this organization through sponsoring elderships under which the funds of many churches are centralized, or through extra-organizations either within or without the local congregation constitutes a flat denial of the perfection of the organization of the church as God planned it because his word does not contain authority for such.


God has never permitted men to serve him on the basis of human wisdom. This is a lesson that the Bible emphasizes strongly. (Isa. 55:8-9; Jer. 10:23; I Cor. 4:6; II Tim. 3:16-17; I Pet. 4:11.) It is a lesson which men have had to reckon with down through the ages, but which many unfortunately are not willing to accept. But the fact remains and God still demands recognition of it. Consequently, the church is not left to the fancy of man for it reflects the mind of divinity. Therefore, let it be said with Paul, "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Eph. 3:21.)