What happened during the dark ages? God says that he always has a remnant. Can you share your thoughts on the subject? Does Romans 11:5 apply to every generation? -- Oswald Chu (Toronto)
Paul is showing from the O.T. scriptures that there is a remnant of faithful Jews even in his own day. (Yet notice how a true Jew is defined, early on in Romans 9.) I hesitate to apply this verse to church history, tempting as that is!
Now if you are asking me whether true Christianity ever died out, I think this is possible. The true continuity lies not in the people (or the institution of the church), but in the gospel message itself. As in the Parable of the Sower, the word is seed, and wherever it is planted, good things can happen.
Unfortunately, the record of church history is incomplete. Often those in power suppressed dissenting groups, and even expunged the record of their presence from the annals that would otherwise have described their efforts at reform. Of course, I would like to think that "God has always had a people," and this may well be true. But I cannot prove this.
On a positive and faithful note, let me conclude my response with a stirring piece by this very title (by Bill Gaither):
"God has always had a people. Many a foolish conqueror has made the mistake of thinking that because he has driven the church of Jesus Christ out of sight, he has stilled its voice and snuffed out its life. But God has always had a people. The powerful current of a rushing river is not diminished because it's forced to flow under ground. The purest water is the stream that bursts crystal clear into the sunlight after it has fought its way through solid rock. There have been charlatans who, like Simon the magician, sought to barter on the open market that power which cannot be bought or sold.
But God has always had a people. Men who could not be bought and women who are beyond purchase.
God has always had a people. It has been misrepresented, His church, ridiculed, lauded and scorned, these followers of Jesus Christ have been escorted to the edge of the grace, accorded the whims of time, elevated as sacred leaders and martyred as heretics, yet through it all there marches on that powerful army of the meek, God's chosen people who could not be bought, murdered, martyred or stilled.
On through the ages they marched, the church, God's church, triumphant, alive and well. And the church lives today despite constant attack and corruption and counterfeiting. It lives because it is sustained by resurrection power."
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