W. Austin Gardner
There is no such thing as privilege without responsibility, and responsibility always involves accountability. The church with all her power and privilege stands always under the judgment of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The individual believer will one day stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to be judged for the things done in the body (2 Cor 5:10). “Each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done” (1 Cor 3:13).
The church as a corporate body is constantly under the judgment of Jesus Christ her Lord. In every age and in every place she is required to be a thing of beauty and glory in the earth (Eph 5:27), always showing forth the praises of Him who called her out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9).
Her worship and witness are all to be carried on in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in the energy of the flesh or the wisdom of man. When she fails in her responsibility, she is in danger of losing not only her future reward but also her present role as salt and light in the world.
The seven letters to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2 and 3 give ample evidence of the probationary status of the church in all ages. She is constantly under the ail-seeing eye of her living Lord.
It is He who evaluates her work and witness. Each letter begins with the expression: “I know your works.” Rewards are promised to those who overcome, warnings are issued to those who are disobedient or delinquent. Indeed, one church—Ephesus—was in danger of having the candlestick removed altogether (Rev 2:5). Each letter ends with a solemn warning: “He who has an ear, let him hear.”
J. Herbert Kane, Christian Missions in Biblical Perspective