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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

The One True Church of God

De Maria writes - Well, Jesus only made one Church. So, I believe there is only one true Church.

Understandably, this "one true Church" of which De Maria speaks, is his church, the Catholic Church based in Rome.

I think we can by example learn a new principle which may allow is to discern the True Church of God.

The Jews had envisioned themselves as the rightful descendants of Abraham by virtue of their fleshly lineage and claimed heaven, no demanded it, as their own. But Jesus and Paul both explained a mere fleshly connection to Abraham would not qualify them as Abraham's true children. Rather those who have faith in Jesus Christ are the rightful offspring of Abraham.

    They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. --John 8:39 (KJV)
      The Jews claimed privileges based upon their fleshly heritage. Because they could trace their lineage back to Abraham they were confident they were the chosen of God. Although Jesus acknowledged them as descendants of Abraham according to the flesh it is obvious He didn't count them as children of Abraham in a spiritual sense.

      This next verse will help highlight this distinction.

    For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. --Romans 9:6-8 (KJV)

      And, one more verse will help establish that it is not by natural means but by faith that we become the true children of Abraham.

    Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. --Gal 3:7 (KJV)

We must use this same principle if we are going to discern the true church of God. God's true church cannot merely claim to have descended from the apostolic church. Merely showing a physical succession from one person in the church to the next over the years is no guarantee of acceptance with God. We have already demonstrated this using the example of the Jews. God is not bound to honor us simply because someone God honored happened to be our ancestor. No, what God accepts is faith. Therefore, we must exhibit the same faith as our ancestor if we are going to be counted as children in God's eyes. Therefore, we must search the scriptures to define that faith which is acceptable with God; for that is where we find the most accurate record by virtue of the fact that it is the inspired Word of God and God cannot lie.

The RCC church envisions itself as the only true church of Christ by claiming a demonstrable succession from the Apostle Peter's bishopric. Yet this claim is based on a traceable lineage rather than faith. Based on the principle we learned from the Jewish example we must throw this claim out as invalid.

If we apply the same principle Jesus applied to the descendants of Abraham to the Scriptural church we end up with a spiritual church of Jesus rather than a fleshly one. That is, only those who have the faith of Jesus are the true spiritual church of Christ. There is no basis for making this claim through a mere fleshly lineage that may or may not be traceable back to Peter. The Jew's tried to make that claim by demonstrating their traceable heritage to Abraham but Jesus and Paul both shattered that pipe dream.

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“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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