THE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY
OF THE CHURCH BEFORE GOD
The book of Ephesians reveals the church which God has purposed in eternity. Chapter five tells how the church will be a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle or any such things, holy and without blemish. Then chapter six speaks of the practical work of the church, the spiritual warfare.
When we read Ephesians 6:10-12, we realize that the work and responsibility of the church is spiritual warfare. The opponents in this warfare are not flesh and blood, but spiritual beings whose dwelling is in the air. Let us read verses 13 and 14. "Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore." Here we are told that we should stand, not that we should attack. The spiritual warfare is defensive, not offensive, because the Lord Jesus has already fought the battle and won the victory. The work of the church on the earth is simply to maintain the Lord’s victory. The Lord has already won the battle, and the church is here to maintain His victory. The church’s work is not to overcome the devil, but to resist him who has already been overcome by the Lord. Her work is not to bind the strong man—the strong man has already been bound. Her work is not to let him be loosed. There is no need to attack; simply guarding is sufficient. The starting point of spiritual warfare is standing upon the victory of Christ; it is seeing that Christ has already overcome. It is not dealing with Satan, but trusting in the Lord. It is not hoping that we will win the victory, because the victory has already been won. The devil can do nothing.
The church’s work and responsibility is spiritual warfare. It is a matter of the conflict between God’s authority and Satan’s power. We come now to see the relationship between the church and the kingdom of God.
Some people think that the kingdom of God simply concerns the matter of rewards. This is too low of an estimate of the kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus once explained what the kingdom of God is. He said, "But if I, by the Spirit of God, cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matt. 12:28). What is the kingdom of God? It is the overthrowing of the power of Satan by the power of God. When the devil is unable to stand in a certain place, the kingdom has come to that place. Wherever the devil has been cast out, wherever the work of the enemy has been displaced by God’s power, His kingdom is there.
Revelation 12:9-10 says, "And the great dragon was cast down, the ancient serpent, he who is called the Devil and Satan, he who deceives the whole inhabited earth; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ, for the accuser of our brothers has been cast down, who accuses them before our God day and night." We must pay attention to this word "for" in verse 10. The kingdom of God could come, "for" Satan had been cast down. Satan lost his place and could no longer stand there. At that time there was a loud voice in heaven saying, "Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ." Whenever Satan leaves a place, it is because the kingdom of God is there. Wherever the kingdom of God is, Satan cannot be there. This shows us clearly that in the Scriptures, the first, essential meaning of the kingdom of God is in regard to dealing with Satan.
(The Glorious Church, Chapter 3, by Watchman Nee)