Sunday, January 11, 2015

Visible Church, Invisible Church

visible church, invisible church

The community of God’s people on earth has always proved to be somewhat mixed in its constituency. Not all who are nominally and outwardly members are necessarily in true and living communion with God. 

It is necessary to draw a very clear distinction between the Catholic or Universal Church which is invisible, and consists of the whole members of the elect that have been, are or shall be gathered in, and the visible Church which also is Catholic or Universal, and consists of all those throughout the world who profess faith in Christ whether or not that faith is genuine.  

Read More: What is the Church?

The Apostle Paul distinguished between those who were true Jews and those who merely conformed to Jewish rites (Romans 9:6-13). 

There are numerous indications from the teachings of the Lord and from the New Testament generally, that the visible community of God’s people is likely to be mixed and not wholly pure in its membership. Experience shows that not all who appear to respond to the Gospel invitation are in fact genuine converts to Christ (Matthew 13:47-49; 22:9-14). 

The Lord Himself warned His disciples of a coming day when the genuineness of their profession would be put to test (Matthew 7:24-27). He showed that not mere acknowledgement of Him, or even participation in His service was a guarantee of genuineness and final acceptance in God’s sight (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 13:23-30). In the parabolic teaching the Lord showed how Satan’s strategy is to plant tares among the wheat, and both will grow together until harvest (Matthew 13:24-43). In the final analysis, only God Himself knows those who are His. The Lord Himself recognizes the true Israel which is to be found within the nominal Israel. 

In the teaching of the Lord the most solemn emphasis is placed on the inevitable separation which ultimately will be made between the merely nominal and the truly genuine disciples even though they temporarily may appear to be one in the visible community of His professed followers. Even the purest Churches on earth are likely to become subject to some admixture of truth and error (First Corinthians 13:12; Revelation 2:2). Mankind must not think of the visible Church and the invisible Church as being two distinct Churches, but as different aspects of the one Church as it is viewed from the human or the divine side.
While this distinction between the visible and invisible Church has to be recognized, it is nevertheless the responsibility of the visible Church to see as far as is humanly possible that those who are added to it are genuine believers. The ideal of a pure Church may be unattainable, but it should remain the ideal. The invisible Church ought to be the pattern for the visible. It is the responsibility of the visible Church to realize as far as is possible, the perfections of the invisible so that its membership shall consist only of true believers.

More on this next week

God bless you all

No comments:

Post a Comment