What is a "true church"?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by IfbReformer, Jul 31, 2003.

  1. IfbReformer

    IfbReformer
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    Many of my IFB brethren throw this term around alot. If you teach anything differently than they teach your church is not a "true church".

    So this begs the question, what Biblically is a "true church"?

    Because if a "true church" is one that teaches every doctrine and holds to every standard as your particular local church does then yours would be the only "true church" because no two churches are indentical on every standard or doctrine.


    I believe a true church body of believers joined together in covenant relationship whose members have all trusted in Christ as their Lord and Savior.

    The Gospel is the core to any true church - do they believe and preach the true Gospel as recorded in the scriptures?

    Do they believe that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh and that his sacrifice on the cross was the only sufficient payment for the sins of man? That salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone?

    They may be in error as far as other doctrines concerning the nature of inerrancy,prophecy, church structure and the like. But they are still a "true church" but they are a "true church" which is in error.

    Where do you draw the line at what is a "true church" and what is the opposite of that a "false church"?

    Now seperation is a whole other matter. I would seperate from other churches over many more doctrines than just the Gospel. But I would not call them "false churches" I would say they are churches which teach the Gospel but are in error or disobedience in other matters of doctrine and faith.

    IFBReformer
     
  2. Walls

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    Amen [​IMG]
     
  3. Monergist

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    How many of those IFB brethren consistently follow a biblical pattern of church discipline? Wouldn't that have something to do with being a true church?
     
  4. I Am Blessed 24

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    The 'true church' is the one the Lord will come for to be His bride. It is compiled of ALL believers, not just one denomination.
     
  5. Sherrie

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    Yes Sue.

    We are one body with Christ Jesus. He is the "True Church".

    Sherrie
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    In my Scofield Reference Bible (KJV1769) the good doctor says that the "true" church is the mystical group of all people saved from the cross to the rapture.

    How many people have been misled by proliferation of that teaching?

    A "true" church is just exactly what we see in the Bible. A true church at Corinth. Another true church in Ephesus. And one in Rome. And a number throughout Galatia.

    A local assembly of baptized believers meeting together to follow the ordinances and obey the great commission.

    Nothing more. All believers, Dr. Scofield? They are called the "Body of Christ" or the "Bride of Christ". But never called the "true church".
     
  7. Artimaeus

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    Something to consider.

    § 100. The Visible and Invisible Church.

    Comp. vol. VI. § 85, and the literature there quoted.
    A distinction between real and nominal Christianity is as old as the Church, and has never been denied. "Many are called, but few are chosen." We can know all that are actually called, but God only knows those who are truly chosen. The kindred parables of the tares and of the net illustrate the fact that the kingdom of heaven in this world includes good and bad men, and that a final separation will not take place before the judgment day. Paul distinguishes between an outward circumcision of the flesh and an inward circumcision of the heart; between a carnal Israel and a spiritual Israel; and he speaks of Gentiles who are ignorant of the written law, yet, do by nature the things of the law," and will judge those who," with the letter and circumcision, are transgressors of the law." He thereby intimates that God’s mercy is not bounded by the limits of the visible Church.
    Augustin makes a distinction between the true body of Christ, which consists of the elect children of God from the beginning, and the mixed body of Christ, which comprehends all the baptized. In the Middle Ages the Church was identified with the dominion of the papacy, and the Cyprianic maxim, "Extra ecclesiam nulla salus," was narrowed into "Extra ecclesiam Romanam nulla salus," to the exclusion not only of heretical sects, but also of the Oriental Church. Wiclif and Hus, in opposition to the corruptions of the papal Church, renewed the distinction of Augustin, under a different and less happy designation of the congregation of the predestinated or the elect, and the congregation of those who are only foreknown.
    The Reformers introduced the terminology "visible" and invisible" Church. By this they did not mean two distinct and separate Churches, but rather two classes of Christians within the same outward communion. The invisible Church is in the visible Church, as the soul is in the body, or the kernel in the shell, but God only knows with certainty who belong to the invisible Church and will ultimately be saved; and in this sense his true children are invisible, that is, not certainly recognizable and known to men. We may object to the terminology, but the distinction is real and important.
    Luther, who openly adopted the view of Hus at the disputation of Leipzig, first applied the term "invisible" to the true Church, which is meant in the Apostles’ Creed. The Augsburg Confession defines the Church to be "the congregation of saints (or believers), in which the Gospel is purely taught, and the sacraments are rightly administered." This definition is too narrow for the invisible Church, and would exclude the Baptists and Quakers.
    The Reformed system of doctrine extends the domain of the invisible or true Church and the possibility of salvation beyond the boundaries of the visible Church, and holds that the Spirit of God is not bound to the ordinary means of grace, but may work and save "when, where, and how he pleases." Zwingli first introduced both terms. He meant by the "visible" Church the community of all who bear the Christian name, by the "invisible" Church the totality of true believers of all ages. And he included in the invisible Church all the pious heathen, and all infants dying in infancy, whether baptized or not. In this liberal view, however, he stood almost alone in his age and anticipated modern opinions.
    Calvin defines the distinction more clearly and fully than any of the Reformers, and his view passed into the Second Helvetic, the Scotch, the Westminster, and other Reformed Confessions.
    "The Church," he says, "is used in the sacred Scriptures in two senses. Sometimes when they mention ’the Church’ they intend that which is really such in the sight of God (quae revera est coram Deo), into which none are received but those who by adoption and grace are the children of God, and by the sanctification of the Spirit are the true members of Christ. And then it comprehends not only the saints at any one time resident on earth, but all the elect who have lived from the beginning of the world.
    "But the word ’Church’ is frequently used in the Scriptures to designate the whole multitude dispersed all over the world, who profess to worship one God and Jesus Christ, who are initiated into his faith by baptism, who testify their unity in true doctrine and charity by a participation of the sacred supper, who consent to the word of the Lord, and preserve the ministry which Christ has instituted for the purpose of preaching it. In this Church are included many hypocrites, who have nothing of Christ but the name and appearance; many persons, ambitious, avaricious, envious, slanderous, and dissolute in their lives, who are tolerated for a time, either because they cannot be convicted by a legitimate process, or because discipline is not always maintained with sufficient vigor.
    "As it is necessary therefore to believe that Church which is invisible to us, and known to God alone, so this Church, which is visible to men, we are commanded to honor, and to maintain communion with it."
    Calvin does not go as far as Zwingli in extending the number of the elect, but there is nothing in his principles to forbid such extension. He makes salvation dependent upon God’s sovereign grace, and not upon the visible means of grace. He expressly includes in the invisible Church "all the elect who have lived from the beginning of the world," and even those who had no historical knowledge of Christ. He says, in agreement with Augustin:, According to the secret predestination of God, there are many sheep without the pale of the Church, and many wolves within it. For God knows and seals those who know not either him or themselves. Of those who externally bear his seal, his eyes alone can discern who are unfeignedly holy, and will persevere to the end, which is the completion of salvation." But in the judgment of charity, he continues, we must acknowledge as members of the Church "all those who, by a confession of faith, an exemplary life, and a participation in the sacraments, profess the same God and Christ with ourselves."
    Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.
     
  8. mortenview

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    Just a few quick notes, from memory as I am at home and I have much notes on this at my office and the hour is late.

    In the Bible, the word "church" is always used (1 exception) as a local visible assembly. It is NEVER used in nay way, shape or form, as an invisible church. The one exception mentions "heathen temples."

    Churches are always mentioned in the Bible: Church at Corinth; Ephesus; Sardus; etc. the "churches" (plural) in Galatia.

    You may find notes in a reference Bible or in a commentary re/invisible church - BUT it is not in the Bible.

    Similiary: The church (local visible assembly) was started BEFORE Pentecost by Jesus Christ Himself, when He "called out" from all of His disciples, 12 Apostles and with them, He began/started, the 1st Local N.T. Church.

    As for the Bride of Christ, as someone posted to earlier; it is NOT ALL Christians; but ALl who are saved and Scripturally baptised.

    To get to Scriptural Baptism; you must have a Scriptural Church. That leaves out a lot.

    The Universal, Invisible Church Theory (that's what it is - a theory) is Roman Catholic in origin and not Bible
     
  9. IfbReformer

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    You sound like a Baptist Brider. Do you know a Pastor Morten from Kentucky? A friend of mine is a Baptist Pastor(and still leans a bit toward Baptist Bridism even though he won't admit it) and his Pastor was Pastor Morton - I think he was around Lexington Kentucky.

    Still Baptist Bride theology falls flat on it face when first compared with the Scriptures, and then compared with history.

    IFBReformer
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    An unfortunate overlooking of passages such as Matt 16:18, Eph 5:24, Col 1:18, and Col 1:24. It seems rather patently obvious that the church is the body of Christ and Christ only has one body, the one that he gave himself for. He does not have multiple bodies. He said he would build his "church," not his "churches." Additionally, the theology of church membership and salvation mitigates against your deficient view. All of the truly saved are members of the body of Christ; yet we would be kidding ourselves to the largest degree to think that every member of a local church is indeed truly saved.

    While harping on things not taught in the Bible, here is one that you cite. This is nowhere found in Scripture.

    I think that Christ and Paul would be rather offended at your calling them Roman Catholic. Their teaching about the church's invisible nature predates the RCC by several centuries. A change in your notes at the office is in order.
     
  11. Bartimaeus

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    Pastor Larry,
    Last night my wife got sick and I almost had to take her to "the hospital". (true by the way, she's fit as a fiddle now, thank the Lord). Just because I said "the hospital" does not mean there is a universal invisible hospital that we can go to. I mean't a local visible medical center that gives treatment to the sick. If your folks get sick I want you to take them to the universal invisible hospital for care. When the Lord Christ said "the church" he was speaking of the church as an institution. It is very clear. Every time in the scriptures a letter is written to "the church" it has a specific locale or isolated group of people it is designated for. Revelation 2&3 are good examples. Why weren't those letters written to "the church"? The Lord wanted each local visible body to receive, that's why.
    Thanks ---------Bart
     
  12. Gunther

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    Hey Pastor Larry, remember that one passage in Ephesians 1:22-23 where Paul says, "And He put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all."? Yeah, that is a good one.

    Perhaps Paul did not understand the doctrine of the church.
     
  13. Bartimaeus

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  14. Bartimaeus

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    Wow! Isn't it a wonder that Paul said, "......who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church". I guess he forgot that there was one universal invisible church that he could have addressed here and I guess he was messed up in his doctrine of the church. I guess not! His perfect opportunity to address the ghost that you portrait and he didn't do it. So....?
     
  15. Bartimaeus

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    The reference on that last scripture is I Cor 4:17. I hope and pray you can see through the protestant doctrine and gain by the light of the scripture.

    Thanks ------Bart
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    This is irrelevant and does not deal with Scripture in the least. I do not deny the existence of the local church. In fact, I affirm it. And through posting here, I have learned that my view of hte local church gives it a higher priority than most others. However, that does not deny the simple biblical truth that Christ only has one body. What can be hard about that? It is not a hospital, a hotel, a car dealership, or any other thing. It is a unique organism created by Christ. The closest analogy might be your family. Even though I have moved away from my parents and have my own family, I am still a part of theirs. The fact that we see each other only once or twice a year and the fact that we live 700 miles apart, that fact that we have different houses in which we live ... these facts do not change the fact that we are still family.

    The fact that letters were written to local churches does not prove your point. The fact that in those letters, Paul refers to their unity with other believers proves mine.

    Your post did not deal with the Scripture I cited, the Scripture that talks of "the church," rather than "the churches."

    The truth is that Christ only has one body. The local church is a visible manifestation of the body.
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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  18. Pete Richert

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    Bartimaeus,

    Perhaps you can consider that the word is not used the same in every context.
     
  19. Bartimaeus

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    Quote by Pastor Larry
    "[/QUOTE][/qb]An unfortunate overlooking of passages such as Matt 16:18, Eph 5:24, Col 1:18, and Col 1:24. It seems rather patently obvious that the church is the body of Christ and Christ only has one body, the one that he gave himself for. He does not have multiple bodies. He said he would build his "church," not his "churches."

    I will endeaver to deal with the list of verses you have given.
    1) Matt 16:15-18
    He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
    And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
    And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    First of all, the word church here is either going to be literalized or spiritualized. What you do with it will identify you with persons, past schools of thought and teaching. If you spiritualize this word then you must answer why would the word church be spiritualized when Simon is not spiritual, the Lord Christ is not spiritual and the word Rock is an O.T. type and metaphor of Christ. (I Cor 10:4) The Law of First Mention in proper biblical hermaneutics gives us the word church here first in the scripture. Although an O.T. reference is made in Acts 7:38 ("the church in the wilderness"). That "church in the wilderness" was a visible local body. It was not a universal invisible body. When Christ uses the word church in Mt16, the only explanation we have a right to is the literal interpretation. Did He not build His church in the time of his earthly ministry? He had to because of His reference to the local visible body (church) in Mt 18, "take it to the church". The Lord Christ was speaking of the church founded and set up as He ministered to the lost, (in the time of the gospels). This could not possibly be an invisible ghost as you describe. Spiritualizing lends to spiritual lies as Origin and Alexander did in Egypt in their famous schools. Mind you I am not name calling. Name calling is for those who have no Bible for their positions. The greek language definition does not support an interpretation of the word church as an ephemeral, shadowy entity. It supports visible local assembly.

    2) Eph 5:23-25
    For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
    Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
    Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

    Once again, we have the same mistake in interpretation as on the last mentioned verses. The word church is spiritualized by the Universalists and there is no scriptural precedent to do so. I will tell you why. The word church here is to be literalized as the example of the husband and wife. If you spiritualize the word church and say that we have foundation for believing in a universal invisible church, then we must also say we have foundation for a universal invisible husband and wife. Inconsistency is to be refused. Consistency requires the literal interpretation of the word church. To run to the word "body" now and use it as a crutch does not hold water. "You have a hole in the bucket, dear Liza". The Lord gave us the Bible definition of the word body in Col 1:24, ...."for his body's sake, which is the church:". He gave us the Bible definition of the word church in Eph 1:22-23,"...over all things to the church which is his body...". It must be agreed that the two words are exactly interchangable and mean the same. (Working with both third and forth references now) You might suggest that the body cannot be many different bodies with one head as described in Col 1:18, yet we see that Paul gives us the example of the headship of Christ over men in I Cor 11. Christ is the head over many men as stated and can be the head over different bodies as defined as the church.
    I believe you sidesteped the reference in I Cor 4:17, "as I teach every where in every church". Why did he not use his "universal invisible" reference? Let me give you another. I Cor 7:17, "And so ordain I in all churches". Another fine opportunity for Paul to refer to his "universal invisible" church. Riiiiight!
    Now one last. I gave you Rev 2&3. You said it just showed the unity of all believers. I'll show you another from the same text. Rev 2:1, "...who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;". No universal invisible church there. Do you have any answers to what I have stated? Give me scripture please.

    Thanks -----Bart
     
  20. Pete Richert

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    I repeat my ealier statement.

    Perhaps you can consider that the word is not used the same in every context.

    Noone disagrees with you that the passages your present speak of a church as a local body of believers. The reason Paul does not try to teach the universal church at those points is because that is not his purpose. He can teach whatever he wants. Arguments from silence prove nothing.

    But anyway, I am wishing a response to pastor Larry's ealier question, repeated here for convience.

    If your answer amounts to paraphrasing it to "Christ gave himself for all churches" or "all believers in Jesus Christ" then we agree with each other, and this is all simply a debate in semantics. I just happen to think that in this case "the church" = "all churches". I don't care if you call it universal, invisible, visible, or corn-fed. I wish to ephesis that Christ gave himself up for all believers.

    Let me tighten the question. If someone becomes a believer by reading a tract he finds on the ground, yet has not joined a local church that day, has Christ given himself for him, or does that not become the case until he gets membership somewhere?
     

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