Since the Reformation, four chief theories, and these inclusive of all other theories of revealed theology, have currency in Christendom,–the Papal, the Zuinglian, the Lutheran, and the Calvinistic…The Papal theory of theology, like the ancient mythological theory of the universe, scarce pretended to have any foundation other than in mere human fancies and its general prevalence among more modern theory…The Zuinglian, taking as the central principle of its structure the truth that the word of God alone can be any authoritative rule to the conscience, developed from that point a true, in opposition to a counterfeit gospel’ yet a gospel too easily perverted by reason of its tendency to exalt the rational man of earth into a centre of the spiritual system…The Lutheran theory, taking as its central principle the justification of the sinner by grace alone through faith…as the centre, to whom the rational man of earth…is attracted, and around whom he revolves. Calvin, whilst perceiving that the central truths of both Zuingle and Luther were indeed great truths…beheld not only the rational man revolving around the mediatorial Sun of righteousness as his true centre, but also that man and his Central Sun revolved again around a still profounder centre, even the Eternal Purpose of God, fixed in the counsels of eternity before the world begun.
Of this system of theology the eternal purpose of God is, ideally, the great central truth…The revelation of Himself experimentally to the souls of his people is but the manifestation of the love wherewith he loved them before the world began…so that the doctrine of the Decree and Predestination of God is not so much a doctrine of Calvinism—one distinct truth in a system of truth—as a mode of conceiving and setting forth all the doctrines which make up revealed theology.
Now, pursuing then hint already suggested touching the connection between the system of theology and the idea of the Church, and taking this theory of Calvin as correct, a sure and reliable central point will be found for the doctrine of the Church, likewise, in the eternal purpose of God…It is set forth as a distinguishing feature of the purpose of redemption, that it is to save not merely myriads of men as individual men, but myriads of sinners, as composing a Mediatorial body, of which the Mediator shall be the head; a Mediatorial Kingdom, whose government shall be upon His shoulders forever; a Church, the Lamb’s Bride, of which He shall be the Husband; a bride who beautiful portrait was graven upon the palms of his hands, and whose walls were continually before him, when in the counsels of eternity he undertook her redemption…
It will be perceived, therefore, that the primary and fundamental conception of the Church of God has its germinal source far back in the purpose of God, and that the Church naturally and necessarily grows out of the very form and mode of the scheme of redemption for sinners, as it lay in the Infinite Mind. As the purpose was to redeem not only elect sinners, but a body of elect sinners,–an organic body with all its parts related to each other, and the Mediator himself the head thereof—it is manifest that in that purpose is involved ideally the Church as an elect portion of the race under the Headship of the Messiah, and distinct from another and reprobate portion of the human family.
Stuart Robinson, The Church of God As An Essential Element of the Gospel
That’s pretty good stuff. But, seriously, we should take the gospel from its churchly contours and fill up football stadiums and big tops, or broadcast it on the radio and TV and inter-web. That is, if we really want to be effective. Now, where’d I put that blessed mirror? It was here a minute ago and I swear I saw my face in it.