The Church of Christ assuredly has lived, and will live, as long as Christ shall reign at the right hand of the Father. By his hand it is sustained, by his protection defended, by his mighty power preserved in safety. For what he once undertook he will undoubtedly perform, he will be with his people always, “even to the end of the world” (Mt. 28:20)… we worship and adore one God, and Christ Jesus the Lord, as all the pious have always adored him…(The Church is recognized by this) mark, namely, by the pure preaching of the word of God, and the due administration of the sacraments.1
People call that the Christian church which is not the Christian church, and that which is the Christian church is often not acknowledged as such…Whenever you hear or see the Word preached, believed, professed, and lived, do not doubt that the true ecclesia sancta catholica, a Christian holy people, must be there, even though their number is very small. 2
- The purpose of the church in short is to:
- Preach pure doctrine
- Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine
- To care for the orphan and the widow
- Administer Communion
- Administer baptism
- To pray
- To worship
- To make disciples of all nations
The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
- The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the
law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children; and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
- Unto this catholic visible church Christ has given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting
of the saints in this life, to the end of the world; and doth by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.
- This catholic church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. And particular churches, which are members thereof, are
more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.
- The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a church on earth to worship God according to his will.
- There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof. 3
- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Prefatory Address to King Francis I of France.
- Luther’s Works, 23, 285″ The Church Effeminate, John W. Robbins Page 11
- Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter XXV: Of the Church