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re: Church of God

De Maria's picture

Noshic,

The discussion in the 2 Tim 3:16 thread in the Biblical studies is suffering a severe case of topic drift.

So, hopefully, this will help ameliorate the problem.

Anyway, I think more than one person has asked this question. Perhaps it is interesting enough to warrant its own thread. You said:

I must state that I've found this discussion very intense and thought-provoking (despite the diversion into the subject of prophets vs apostles- which I couldn't exactly understand the relevance of)
May I though ask a humble question? What is the Church of the living God?

From a Catholic perspective, the Church, has multiple meanings.

The Church is the Body of Christ.
This is the Body of Believers all over the world. I believe this is the definition with which you are most familiar. Or at least, the one you accept.

The Church is the Household of God.
This is the Body of Christ plus the host of heaven. We believe the Church of God extends into heaven. Or perhaps it is vice versa. The Church of God extends from heaven onto the earthly plane.

The Church is the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth.
This is what we call the Magisterium. The Teaching Church. Whose doctrines will always uphold the truth.

The Church is also the local congregation.

And, of course, the Church is also the building in which we congregate for prayer.

I always understood it to be the body of true believers through the ages, the invisible church which is present within and outside the organized church(es), as opposed to any one institution that qualifies as the pillar and foundation of truth.

Well, Jesus only made one Church. So, I believe there is only one true Church.

For we know that within each visible church, and even among those in authority there, there are some who are wolves in sheep's clothing. Some of them we may know by their fruit, but ultimately only God who examines the motivations of our heart can identify His true church.

You've mixed apples and oranges in that statement. It is a classic case of non sequitur.

The first part of your statement reads:
1. For we know that within each visible church, and even among those in authority there, there are some who are wolves in sheep's clothing.

But that has nothing to do with the second part of your statement:
2. Some of them we may know by their fruit, but ultimately only God who examines the motivations of our heart can identify His true church.

Thus giving the impression that the true Church of God will have no sinners. But Jesus said that there would be weeds in the wheat (Matt 13:24-29). I believe that means that the sinners will be mixed in with the righteous in His Church until the day of judgement.

And I believe He's also able to separate those who might follow an errenous doctrine through an honest error of judgement or lack of clear understanding, from those who stick to error for reasons of material gain, power, loyality to family or tradition rather than God, rebellion, pride or prejudice. Let me add that this last remark is not directed at anyone in particular- perhaps more at myself- for I still have a tremendous lot to learn.

Everything is possible with God.

Welcome to the discussion.

Sincerely,

De Maria

JeffLogan's picture

Please allow me to

Please allow me to strengthen your argument, Dan.

Dan wrote - Truly spiritual people know they need the Savior every day and that they must come to the throne of grace because there is no illusion of sinlessness possible on this earth.

There is no illusion of sinlessness in this world, there is a reality in Christ Jesus.

    14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
    15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
    16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
    17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

    2 Cor 5:14-17 (KJV)

Don't view this as something you must do for yourself, the Jews fell into that trap. Rather, view this as something Christ has done for you and believing it you shall receive it by faith. Not by your own works to do right, but by faith in Jesus Christ and everyone of His promises.

We don't enter into the rest which Jesus promises because we don't believe with full faith. We believe God can make us better people but we don't believe God can actually transform us into His likeness. The Jews failed to attain to the righteousness of God as well because of their unbelief. They did not mix their efforts to obey God with faith. We, however, are aware of their mistake and we cannot afford to remain doubtful as to the promises of God. Otherwise, we will not enter into God's rest either.

Just because we try to obey and fail doesn't mean that God cannot make new creatures of us. We need to have faith. We try to be good and fail but where has Jesus ever failed? Then why don't we depend upon Him rather than ourselves. He has already proven He can live a sinless life and He has promised us, through exceeding great and precious promises, that we may be partakers of His divine nature and escape the lusts in the world.

We know we cannot obey two masters. So if Christ dwells in our hearts by faith then who is our Master? It is not sin. Sin has no power over us if our carnal nature is dead. We must put that nature to death every day and by faith believe that Christ has given us a new nature which does not answer to the desires of our sinful natures but responds to the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

If you get tricked or deceived and fall into sin then ask Jesus to forgive you and believe He does. But don't ever think this is how is must be. If we would keep ourself in Christ by trusting Him and not at all to self then we would not be overcome by temptation. But we focus on our own inabilities rather than Christ's abilities. We focus on our faults and weaknesses and the little sin which overcome us instead of keeping our eyes on Christ who never fails. When we look away from Christ to trust to our own efforts then we are easily overcome and we fall into sin.

So, yes, there is no illusion of sinlessness on earth but there is a reality in Jesus Christ. We must fight the fight of faith and not be tempted to focus on our own weakness. If we keep trying to overcome by our own efforts then we must continually fail. The carnal nature cannot be brought into submission to Christ (Rom 8:7). But our new nature, our spiritual nature, is born of Christ. We must every day reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive unto God. And in faith step out and follow in Jesus' footsteps.

Jesus gave His life to restore to us our freedom of choice. We need not remain slaves to sin any longer. Jesus has given us to freedom to choose Him. We must choose to obey God every day. But even though we choose to obey God we cannot fulfill our obligation. We must depend upon Jesus to give us strength. We choose and then seek strength from Him. And by faith, if we believe He will do the things He has promised, it shall be done unto us according to our faith and in fulfillment of His promise to us.

So the truly spiritual saints are thus only as they partake of Christ's divine nature. They have not one lick of goodness of which to boast. Without Christ they would be reprobates. But as they receive Christ on a daily basis to reign in their hearts by faith then they are enabled to live and walk in the spirit of life.

Therefore, while the church consists of saint and sinner both are desperately wicked unto themselves. The difference is that the saint has the spirit of Christ dwelling in them by faith and has reckoned their old man of sin to be dead--having died with Christ on the cross. But the fact that they must daily die to self is a constant reminder that without Christ we are all worse than reprobates. We are so dependent upon Jesus--but that is a good thing.

----------------------------------------------------------------
“The path of true piety is so plain as to require
but little political direction.” --George Washington,
re: absence of "Jesus Christ" in U.S. Constitution.

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. -Proverbs 18:2 NIV



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