Finding Safety in the Church
And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord God. Ezekiel 13:9
Suggested further reading: Hebrews 10:19–25
“The Holy Spirit admonishes us not to conclude that people are true members of the church because most of them seem to excel other people. For just as the chaff lies above the wheat and suffocates it, thus hypocrites bury the sons of God, whose number is small. Hypocrites also shine forth in their own splendor, and great numbers of them seem to make them exclusively worthy of the title of the church.
Hence let us examine ourselves, searching whether we have the living root of piety and faith, which are those interior marks by which God distinguishes his children from strangers, or hypocrites.
This passage also teaches that nothing is more formidable than to be separated from God’s flock. We cannot hope for safety unless God collects us into one body under one head. When we safely reside in Christ alone, we cannot be separated from Christ without falling away from all hope of safety. Christ will not and cannot be torn from his church that he is joined to by an indissoluble knot, as the head is to the body. Hence, unless we cultivate unity with the faithful, we are also cut off from Christ. Nothing, then, is more fearful than to be separated from God’s people, and therefore from Christ.
Psalm 106:4 says, “Remember me, O God, in thy good will towards thy people: visit me with thy salvation.” When the author of the psalm prays this way, he acknowledges that we will have true and solid happiness when the Lord embraces us along with the rest of the faithful. For God’s good will toward his people is that fatherly kindness by which he embraces his elect.
If God thinks us worthy of his fatherly favor, then we may be truly confident of safety.
For meditation: In a day when many Christians are focused only on their own individual relationship with God, this passage reminds us of the importance of the church. The church is not just a means to advance our own walk with God, but a divinely appointed institution. Connecting with the church is therefore not an option, but a requirement for true believers.”
John Calvin and Joel R. Beeke, 365 Days with Calvin (Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books, 2008), 142.