Proverbs 12:7 ESV
The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand.
The house of the righteous is a remarkably resilient institution when considered under the lens of world history and a remarkably fragile one when considered under the lens of most men’s lifetimes. After all, is not the church- that is, the true believers whom God has called to Himself-, is not the church perpetually under assault, perpetually out of favor with the world as a whole (save for a few brief and brilliant periods in some small places), perpetually plagued with false teachers and lazy members who would rather go along to get along than actually live out their Christian duty?
Chesterton, to generously paraphrase, once said that the greatest testament to the Roman Catholic church was that an institution so dreadfully mismanaged had survived so long and so strong and whatever your opinion on the Roman Catholic church, the argument has merit. How could an institution survive so many lies unless its backbone was made of truth? The Roman Catholic church has at least part of the truth, and therefore it survives. The catholic church, under the meaning used in the Apostle’s Creed, has the essential truth of the Gospel within it, in a way the Roman Catholic church cannot match, and that catholic church is therefore indestructible.
The tale we see with our finite and time- bound eyes, however, is a different tale. It does not present a bounding series of escalating victories. The house of the righteous, taken to mean the entire body of believers, faces a world unendingly and desperately inimical to it and seems at most times to be losing. Of course, the key word here is ‘desperately’. The wicked will be overthrown, as so many have been before them. Even the most deluded know this in the depths of their hearts and in their secret dread. They fear God and therefore refuse to even consider the truth they cannot entirely forget: that He exists, and they are as naught before him. The house of the righteous has a Redeemer mightier than all else, and for all the world will rage and leverage its overwhelming might against God’s elect, the slightest servant of God will, in His name, be a house built on rock, which the waves detest and yet cannot move (Romans 8:31-39; Matthew 7:24). In the end, whether that be in this world or the one to come, all the wicked face the judgement of God, which is no easy thing (Isaiah 66:24).
Though troubles assail us and dangers affright, \ Though friends should all fail us and foes all unite, \ Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide, \ The promise assures us, “The Lord will provide.” When Troubles Assail Us by John Newton, 1775
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