Lord’s Day Twenty-One

Question 54

The church is an assemblage of persons brought together, not by chance, but called out of the kingdom of Satan by the voice of the Lord, and by the preaching of the gospel for the purpose of hearing and embracing the word of God. [It is] a congregation called together in a particular manner, and for a particular object.

The triumphant church triumphs with the angels in heaven and will at length obtain a complete triumph after the resurrection; the militant church fights in this world under the banner of Christ against the devil, the flesh and the world, that is, against sin and its effects.

Nicene Creed – broadens the description of the church: “one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”.

  1. One: one confession or body of basic doctrine universally held to be true within the true church. Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were 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. See also LFBC Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Church Creed.

  2. Holy: righteousness imputed to us on the basis of Christ’s obedient life and finished propitiatory sacrifice; Philippians 3:8-9 that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; also, consecrated to a holy purpose and set apart from the ungodly.

  3. Catholic: without respect to time, place, language, ethnicity, or any other consideration. The church began with Adam and Eve, exists without interruption to the end of time. Particular congregations, local church bodies, part of the one church predestined by God to salvation.

  4. Apostolic: holding to the doctrine of the apostles as delivered to us through sacred Scripture.

Question 55

Communion – mutual participation, held in common. Mutual participation in the Gospel on the basis of common possession of Christ and His benefits.

  1. United to Christ who is the Head of the body; effected by the Holy Spirit who conforms the elect to the image of Christ.

  2. United also with one another under the headship of Christ; pictured in John 15 and the image of the vine. By union to the true vine, Christ, the elect participates in all the benefits necessary to their salvation: reconciliation, redemption, justification, sanctification, life, salvation.

  3. Participation in the various ministry gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit to individual members for the benefit of the entire church body. Gifts are given for the work of the ministry and the edification of the saints. Edify: the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)

  4. Nature of gift distribution implies a mandate to faithfully use the gifts given for the glory of Christ and the benefit of the body, exercised within the context of the church.

So what is it that God expects of the militant church? And how has He equipped her for the work? We should first and foremost follow Jesus’ example – Acts 10:38 God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. See also Romans 8:19-23.

Lists of spiritual gifts are not comprehensive of every ability God has given to His people; they are not even exhaustive of ministry gifts. Every “asset” God has provided to us is to be used for His glory, His people, and His cause which is to ultimately prevail against sin. Considering Jesus’ example, thirty-two miracles in which created order was subdued/overruled for the good of mankind, six which addressed spiritual issues – demon possession (4) and forgiveness of sins (2). See the full table here.

For a good example of how one individual put his God-given talents to work for the world at large see The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists, Dr. Raymond Damadian.

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