Everett Ferguson wrote, “God gave a person, then a proclamation, and then a people. This is the historical and theological order.”/1
People in the religious world get themselves into trouble doctrinally when they forget this profound truth. They run ahead of themselves and forget their priorities in terms of Biblical authority. We must be very attentive to God’s plan.
First, God gave a Person.
The Bible is permeated with this person, the Son of God.
- He is God in the flesh (John 1).
- He is God with us (Matthew 1:23).
- He is the one who changes the world (Romans 12:1-2).
God knew man would need a Savior (John 3:16). Before time began, his plan was enacted (Ephesians 1:4) with power and beauty. He left the pristine realm of heaven to come to earth to die for our sins (Philippians 2:5-11).
Maintaining his position as God (Colossians 2:9), Jesus took the role of a servant and gave man salvation.
“For when we [mankind] were still without [sufficient spiritual] strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6, NKJV).
Second, God gave a Proclamation.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
The depths of this verse stagger the mind. Jesus is the Word that was settled before time began. Man is helpless to change God’s truths (Psalm 119:89; Galatians 1:8-10; 1 Corinthians 4:6). We must submit to the Word in deep humility (James 4:10).
Salvation and the Church come through the Person (Acts 2:37-38; Romans 5:8-9; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Romans 10:17). The Word, the Truth and the Church all fall into the spiritual unit of the Godhead. Man is helpless to alter anything within that realm.
Third, God gave a People.
We are added to the Church, the body of Christ (Acts 2:47; Ephesians 1:22-23). We become members of the Lord’s family and must submit completely (Ephesians 2:19; John 14:15; Hebrews 11:6).
We cannot do anything without Christ (John 6:68; 14:6; 15:5). His fellowship is all that matters (1 John 1:3). We must fully comply with the will of the Person and the Proclamation, if we will be saved. There is no other choice.
1/ Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), xvii.