Monday, August 10, 2009

The Holy Catholic Church

For some time now, it has been my intention to write about the catholic church "The Church is catholic" Not Roman Catholic but catholic i.e. universal. Below is a message by a pastor that fits my thinking. You may remember an earlier post regarding the Apostles Creed. Pastor Stewart in the article below explains more fully the meaning of the phrase in the Apostles Creed " I believe in the holy, catholic church" This is important because it's Scriptural and the Church of Jesus Christ is not a denomination. His church is made up of His elect.

Ephesians 4:4-6 declares, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” The outstanding feature of this text is its repetition of the word “one.” Seven times that numeral is used: thrice in verse 4, thrice in verse 5 and once in verse 6. Not once does this text use dualities or pluralities. It does not speak of two hopes or three faiths or four baptisms. It is “one” and only “one” right the way through: “one body,” “one Spirit,” “one hope,” “one Lord,” “one faith,” “one baptism,” “one God and Father of all.” This is a remarkable emphasis on oneness.

But what is the main thought which forms the organizing principle of these seven “ones”? It is the first “one” of the text: “There is one body” (v. 4). The one body is the church, as the context teaches. Moreover, the “one body” is to be taken together with “one Spirit.” Not only is “one Spirit” prominent in the preceding verse (v. 3) and next in the text (v. 4), but it is also joined to “one body” by the conjunction “and”—the only “and” between any of the seven “ones.” Moreover, “one body, and one Spirit” is somewhat separated from the five later “ones.” So it comes down to this: the main idea is the “one body, and one Spirit” (v. 4), which is further developed by the five succeeding “ones” (vs. 4-6).

In what sense is the church spoken of as “one body” in Ephesians 4:4? It is not referring to the various instituted churches. They are not numerically one; they are many. They are not doctrinally one; they differ among themselves. The “one body” in the text is the invisible organism of the church—all those who live out of Jesus Christ crucified, all the elect of all ages and nations, who are beloved of God who alone sees the heart. This invisible organism—the “one body”—is what we confess in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe an holy, catholic church; the communion of saints.”

The invisible organism of the church is called a body because it consists of many parts with various roles and functions, like a human body which has tendons and ears and knuckles and kidneys and a duodenum, etc., with all its multitudinous parts joined together into one harmonious whole. The body of the church is alive, like a human body, for it is united to Jesus Christ, the head. God’s invisible church is one body—and must be one and can never be two or more— because it is predestinated as one body, with all the elect having their own particular role, you included, believer. It is redeemed as one body, for Christ died for the church and gave Himself for her (5:25). It is glorified as one body forever and ever in the new heavens and new earth.

Ken Clouse
NEMRS Lay Administrator

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