Where is the church?

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by MikeS, Aug 3, 2003.

  1. MikeS

    MikeS
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    A few questions:

    Where is the church which is "the pillar and foundation of truth"?

    How can I belong to this church?

    How do I know I belong to the "right" church (the one that's the pillar and foundation of truth)?

    How does this church pass on the truth to us?

    What authority does this church have?

    How does it execute its authority?

    What is the purpose of this church in God's plan?
     
  2. Helen

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    If you are born again and in Christ, you are in His church, no matter where you worship. If you are not born again (and therefore not in Christ), it does not matter what church you belong to, it will not be what you are looking for.
     
  3. MikeS

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    OK, but why would I care if I were in His church or not? What does it mean to be in His church? From what you say, it seems to be superfluous, to be nothing more than an automatic result of being born again and in Christ. Does His church serve any purpose, or is it simply another way of saying a person is born again and in Christ?
     
  4. Helen

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    I think Paul and Peter have the answer for you:

    Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
    Ephesians 2:19-22

    As you come to him, the living Stone -- rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him -- you, also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
    1 Peter 2:4-5
     
  5. MikeS

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    So then, being in the church is really no more than a bookkeeping detail? When I am born again and am in Christ I get moved from column A to column B?

    I was going to work with the "citizen" analogy, but I only understand what it means to be a citizen of a visible country, with visible boundries, laws, traditions, authorities. I don't know what it means to be a citizen of an invisible "country," just as I don't know what it means to belong to an invisible church which is nevertheless the pillar and foundation of the truth, through which "the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known."

    One more question: why did God switch from a visible people in the Old Testament, to an invisible people in the New Testament?
     
  6. John Gilmore

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    The answers to all your questions are found in the Bible and in (The Augsburg Confession) :

    Where is the church which is "the pillar and foundation of truth"?
    How can I belong to this church?
    How do I know I belong to the "right" church (the one that's the pillar and foundation of truth)?
    How does this church pass on the truth to us?
    What authority does this church have?
    How does it execute its authority?
    What is the purpose of this church in God's plan?
     
  7. Helen

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    So then, being in the church is really no more than a bookkeeping detail? When I am born again and am in Christ I get moved from column A to column B?

    I was going to work with the "citizen" analogy, but I only understand what it means to be a citizen of a visible country, with visible boundries, laws, traditions, authorities. I don't know what it means to be a citizen of an invisible "country," just as I don't know what it means to belong to an invisible church which is nevertheless the pillar and foundation of the truth, through which "the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known."

    One more question: why did God switch from a visible people in the Old Testament, to an invisible people in the New Testament?


    Let's start with the last first. Everything in the OT is a physical picture of a spiritual truth. Just like the Tabernacle of Moses was a copy of the true Tabernacle in heaven, or spiritually. God has given us the physical to help explain the spiritual -- a good example of this is Jesus' parables.

    We are primarily spiritual beings. We are made in the image of God. In John 1 we find we are given the right to become children of God when we believe (and this, biblically, means a WHOLE lot more than mental acknowledgment!):

    Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God -- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
    John 1:12-13

    Later, Jesus explains to Nicodemus, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." (John 3:3)

    Being born physically is a picture of what must happen spiritually. In His last discourse, Jesus gives another picture:
    "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener...I am the vine; you are the branches...This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (from John 15)

    In Matthew 12, Jesus used the picture of the family:
    "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and moter." (v 49)

    Consider also, His words in Matthew 18:20: "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

    His church is not a building, not a human organization. Nor is it simply a matter of 'bookkeeping.' It is a matter of those who are His being radically changed, bit by bit:
    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
    Romans 8:28-30

    He has, thus, taken on the responsibility of changing those who are His, of welding them into a unit -- a family, a temple, a vine -- these are the pictures He uses to help us understand. Can we help in this process of transformation? No. We can make it more difficult for ourselves by being stubborn at times, or resenting His discipline, but we cannot 'help' God in His work.

    When a person is born again in Christ, it is about as far from a 'bookkeeping detail' as you can get. It is death and a new life. Right after the Flood, God said to Noah, "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even tough every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood." (Gen. 8:21)

    Now, compare that with these words from Paul:
    What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too, may live a new life.

    If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we now that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we shoul dno longer be slaves to sin -- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

    Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

    In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    Romans 6:1-11

    I have seen a little of what Jesus is doing with those who are His in my travels. No matter what country or culture I am in, and even when I do not speak the language, I recognize -- and am recognized by -- other born-again Christians. There is something there I cannot explain, but which I recognize -- a light, a joy, a peace... and we know each other. We are being built, spiritually, into a unit. We are not what we were, living only for ourselves. We have been changed, and now live for Christ. And in Him, we are being made into one -- a unit, a church, a growing vine, a family. Many pictures, one incredible transformation in the process.
     
  8. PastorGreg

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    Mike,
    The context of I Timothy 3, from where your first question comes, is clearly dealing with the New Testament local church - this is the pillar and ground of the truth. God has committed to the local church the custodianship of His truth. You join it by immersion upon testimony of salvation. It is the right one if the Bible is its authority in matters of faith and practice. It passes on God's truth through faithfully teaching, preaching, and discipling. It has the authority to baptize, conduct the Lord's supper, discipline wayward members, handle disputes (even legal ones) among its members - in fact its founder claimed all authority was given unto Him in heaven and in earth. Its purpose is to glorify God as He uses it to fulfill the great commission in this age. It is truly a glorious organism.
     
  9. Carson Weber

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    Hi Helen,

    You wrote, "We are primarily spiritual beings. We are made in the image of God."

    I disagree wholeheartedly with you. Angels are primarily spiritual beings, and Animals are primarily physical beings. Humans are primarily spiritual and physical beings. We find our uniqueness precisely in the fact that we are a combination of rational spirit and physical matter; this is the whole purpose for the General Resurrection. We will regain our bodies, which will be transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ into Resurrected Flesh.

    I've noticed that a great deal of Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christians have come to disregard the Incarnational Principle. In the New Covenant, we do not see a "doing away with" the visible and physical. We see a transformation and elevation of that which is visible and physical into the supernatural and eternal.
     
  10. CatholicConvert

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    Helen and Greg --

    First of all you didn't answer the questions as Mike laid them out. This is typical of Protestant reactions to Catholic apologetics -- toss out a little snippet of "truth" and expect the world to bow to your wisdom.

    The context of I Timothy 3, from where your first question comes, is clearly dealing with the New Testament local church - this is the pillar and ground of the truth.

    BALONEY!!!

    Let me say it again

    BALONEY!!!!! :rolleyes: [​IMG]

    This concept of the "local church" was UNKNOWN to the Early Church. If the local church existed as you delusional IFB's think it did, then St. Paul would never have left Jerusalem to discipline the parishes he established. They would have been autonomous and would have told him to go pack his papers and leave. What a load!!!

    Furthermore, it breaks every type/antetype of the eklessia we find in Scripture. Ah, but what's that compared to the autonomy of a good old rebellious independent, "nobody tells ME what to do" assembly, right? Hierarchy and authority, those were for the OT, right?

    Sure....

    You guys have a real problem, because God has establised ONE kingdom and ONE Church, not a hundred thousand little independant assemblies, many of which do not even agree with each other.

    God has committed to the local church the custodianship of His truth.

    REALLY!!! Well that is news to me, seeing that when I was a deluded IFB member, I regularly heard other IFBer's skinned alive from the pulpit as "apostates" "infidels" etc. because they didn't agree with OUR interpretation of the "truth." If this is God's way of establishing ONE TRUTH and ONE CHURCH, I would say that He has failed miserably.

    You join it by immersion upon testimony of salvation.

    Wrong again. Jesus taught that you get in by making a covenant with God. It is called the "New Covenant" in His Blood and you must be baptized to enter it. No testimony is required. You can baptize a baby into the Church based on the faith of the parents as the covenant heads over the child.

    It is the right one if the Bible is its authority in matters of faith and practice.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    O Lawdy!! STOP IT PLEASE!!! I am about to die I am laughing so hard!!! Every IFBer claims the Bible as it's authority and THEY CAN'T EVEN AGREE on everything. Then there are the Evangelicals, the Pentecostals, the Seventh Dayers, etc. etc. etc. You gotta be kidding!!! Find the truth IN THAT MESS!!! God has to have a better plan that that!!

    It passes on God's truth through faithfully teaching, preaching, and discipling. It has the authority to baptize, conduct the Lord's supper, discipline wayward members, handle disputes (even legal ones) among its members - in fact its founder claimed all authority was given unto Him in heaven and in earth.

    So in other words, the IFBer's can be TRUSTED BEYOND DOUBT to pass on the truth of Christ as He gave it, from generation to generation, but the apostles and their disciples apostatized from almost the minute Christ left the earth -- right. Those who heard the Word from Jesus' lips failed to protect the truth, but IFBer's ALWAYS maintain, keep, protect, and pass on the truth? You guys are more noble than the apostles and those who came after them who were WILLING TO DIE TO PROTECT THE FAITH???

    YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING!!!

    Its purpose is to glorify God as He uses it to fulfill the great commission in this age. It is truly a glorious organism.

    It's purpose, as defined by the Early Fathers, is that it is the "womb of heaven". Those who have been adopted into the family of God by grace are "little gods" who are being brought to glory through the ministration of the Sacraments and the disciplines of the Church which grow them in holiness. That was the destiny of Adam and Eve. That is the destiny of all believers.

    "God became man so that man might become god."

    St. Athanasius.


    And in doing so, in bringing "many sons to glory", God is glorified.
     
  11. Helen

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    Carson:

    Gen. 1:27 -- So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.

    John 4:24 -- God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.

    Regardless of what the Roman Catholic church says, Carson, I'll stick with Bible, thanks. We are spiritual beings living in physical bodies. The kind of body we have in the new creation is something I don't know about yet. But as I age now, I can almost feel my spirit reaching up while I can guarantee my body is in the process of turning back into the dust from which it came -- and, to be honest with you, a little faster than I had expected.

    Catholic Convert -- if your faith is showing through your character on that post, I think that is a very good reason to avoid Roman Catholicism! If I had not thought I answered Mike's questions, I would not have used the passages of Bible I did. Nor do I consider them 'snippets of truth,' but rather expressing the truth as God has shown it to us in His Word. I don't think I was showing 'my' wisdom, but rather God's. And yes, there will come a time when every knee shall bow to His wisdom!

    You stated that the concept of the local church was unknown to the early church. Excuse me, but when Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he was writing to the local church in Corinth. When he was writing to the Ephesians, he was writing to the local church in Ephesis. When he was writing to the Galatians, he was writing to the local church in Galatia, etc. etc. The epistles themselves show that the concept of local churches was very much a part of Christianity from the beginning.

    When you denigrate 'autonomous' churches and believers, you are, by the way, insulting the Holy Spirit, who indwells born again believers and raises us up into the image of Jesus Christ Himself (John 8:9, 28-30, Phil. 1:6, etc.) You seem to think that God cannot do His work without man's help. That is simply not true. God is very capable of working with each individual person and church. The telling point is how much each person and church pays attention to Him. And that includes both you personally and the Roman Catholic church.

    It is when we see man break away from God and go it on his own, with or without human structure behind him, that we see horrors like the Crusades and Inquisitions, both products of the Roman Catholic church, a very human and very faulty institution.

    By the way, baptism is for the believer. It is not the way one enters the spiritual family of God, for nothing a person not born again can do can ever please God, including baptism (Isaiah 64:6 and Romans 8:8, among many other verses). Baptism is a public testimony regarding the change that has already taken place within. And, since it represents baptism into DEATH (Romans 6), it cannot possibly save.

    And you may laugh at the statement that the Bible is the authority, but as God's Word, that is how all born-again believers accept it.

    You laughed about finding the truth in a church. No, don't look in a church. Look in the Bible and look to Christ. HE is the Truth.

    Can any man be trusted beyond a doubt about anything? No. Only God can be trusted that way. Nevertheless, He has used men to pass on His Word. Still, the Holy Spirit is a direct gift from Him to those who are His.

    You talked about dying to protect the faith. If you read Foxe's Book of Martyrs, you will see that a great many believers were killed by your church in their determination to stay true to their faith in Christ. Others are still dying today in China, India, and Islamic countries. Are any Roman Catholics? If so, not very many. Roman Catholicism is very, very plastic and seems to be able to accomodate itself to all kinds of world systems.


    You then quoted:
    "God became man so that man might become god."

    St. Athanasius.


    to which I respond, "That sure sounds a lot like Mormonism! No wonder so many ex-Mormons are comfortable with Catholicism and so many ex-Catholics are comfortable in Mormonism!"
     
  12. Kathryn

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    Helen:
    The Catholic Church is persecuted in every country you named. Here is just a partial list from China:


    http://cardinalkungfoundation.org/prisoners/index.html


    Prisoners of Religious Conscience
    for the
    Underground Roman Catholic Church in China

    The following is a list of persons known to the Cardinal Kung Foundation to be Roman Catholics who are confined for their religious belief and religious activity. This list is by no means complete, because of the difficulties in obtaining details. Accordingly, many cases of arrest were not reported here.

    Updated: July 19, 2003

    (Underground) Roman Catholic Bishops In Prison or Under House Arrest or Under Strict Surveillance In Prison


    1) Bishop AN Shuxin 安樹新, Baoding 保定, Hebei 河北 – Arrested in March, 1996.
    2) Bishop HAN Dingxiang 韓鼎祥, Yong Nian 永年, Hebei 河北 – Arrested on or about
    December 1, 1999.
    3) Bishop JIA Zhiguo 賈治國, Zhengding 正定, Hebei 河北 – Arrested May 20, 2003.
    4) Bishop SHI Enxiang 師恩祥, Yixian 易縣, Hebei 河北 – Arrested April 13, 2001.
    5) Bishop SU Zhimin 蘇志民, Baoding 保定, Hebei河北 – Arrested October 8, 1997.
    He has disappeared. His whereabouts are unknown. Dead or alive unknown.

    Under House Arrest or Under Strict Surveillance
    1) Bishop FAN Zhongliang, S.J. 範忠良, Shanghai 上海 – Under strict surveillance.
    2) Bishop LI Side 李思德, Tianjin 天津, Hebei 河北 – Confined to the top of a mountain
    under primitive conditions.
    3) Bishop LIU Guandong 劉冠東, Yixian 易縣, Hebei 河北– Paralyzed. Under strict surveillance
    4) Bishop YANG Shudao 楊樹道, Fuzhou 福州, Fujian 福建 – Under house arrest.
    5) Bishop ZENG Jingmu 曾景牧, Yu Jiang 余江, Jiangxi 江西 – Under house arrest.

    (Underground) Roman Catholic Priests In Prison or In Labor Camps

    1) Father CHEN Guozhen, Baoding, Hebei - Arrested July 1, 2003
    2) Father KANG Fuliang, Baoding, Hebei - Arrested July 1, 2003
    3) Father LI Jianbo 李建波, Baoding 保定, Hebei 河北– Arrested April 19, 2001.
    Sentenced to 3 years labor camp.
    4) Father LI Shujun, Baoding, Hebei - Arrested, July 1, 2003
    5) Father LIN Daoming, Fuzhou, Fujian - Arrested May 3, 2003
    6) Father LU Xiaozhou, Wenzhou, Zhejiang - Arrested June 16, 2003
    7) Father MA Shunbao 馬順寶, Baoding 保定, Hebei 河北 – Arrested March 31, 2002.
    Sentenced to 3 years labor camp.
    6) Father PANG Guangzhao, Baoding, Hebei - Arrested July 1, 2003
    4) Father PANG Yongxing 龐永興, Baoding保定, Hebei 河北 – Arrested December, 2001.
    Sentenced to 3 years labor camp.
    5) Father WANG Limao 王利茂, Baoding 保定, Hebei 河北 – Arrested March 24, 2002.
    Sentenced to 3 years labor camp.
    6) Father WANG Zhenhe 王振和, Baoding 保定, Hebei 河北– Arrested March 1999.
    Has been detained for 4 years. Not sentenced.
    6) Father YIN Joseph, Baoding, Hebei, Arrested July 1, 2003
    8) Father YIN Zhengjun 尹正軍, Baoding 保定, Hebei 河北 – Arrested January 2001.
    Sentenced to 3 years labor camp.
    7) Father ZHANG Chunguang 張春光, Baoding 保定, Hebei 河北– Arrested April, 2000.
    Has been detained for 3 years. Not sentenced.
    6) Father Zhang Ruipin, Fuzhou, Fujian - Arrested April 12, 2003

    Status Unknown. May be still in prison or in labor camp
    1) Father DONG Yingmu 董英牧, Baoding 保定, Hebei 河北– Arrested during
    Christmas season, 2002.
    2) Father FENG Yunxiang 馮雲祥, Fu An City 福安市, Fujian 福建 – Arrested April 13, 2001
    3) Father Gao Yihua 高依華, Shang Chen Tang 上陳堂, Jinfengzhen township 金峰鎮,
    Changle County長樂縣, Fujian 福建 – Arrested August 19, 2000.
    4) Father SHAO Amin 邵阿敏, Wenzhou 溫州, Zhejiang 浙江 – Arrested September 5, 1999


    God Bless
     
  13. Kathryn

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    10-Sep-99 -- EWTN News Brief

    PRIESTS, NUNS KILLED IN EAST TIMOR PROTECTING REFUGEES

    DARWIN, Australia (CWNews.com) - Priests and religious in East Timor have been killed by
    Indonesian-backed militias as they sheltered refugees in their churches, according to missionary
    news agencies reporting from the troubled territory.

    The Misna news agency reported on Wednesday that about 100 people, including three priests,
    were killed at a church in Suai. Caritas Australia reported on Thursday that the director of the
    aid agency in East Timor, Father Francisco Barreto, had been killed by militias in Dare. Other
    Catholic sources said six nuns of the Canossian order in Baucau were believed to be dead and
    four more from Dili were also missing.

    Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, invaded mainly Catholic East Timor in
    1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognized by the United Nations. On
    August 30, the region held a Jakarta-proposed referendum to allow Timorese to choose either
    autonomy within Indonesia or full independence. After the pro-independence results were
    revealed on Saturday, anti-independence militias, armed and backed by Indonesia's military,
    went on a rampage killing hundreds and forcing thousands to flee the former Portugese colony.

    About 100 people and three priests were killed when militias attacked 2,500 refugees trapped
    in a church compound in Suai, according to reports from Misna and the United Nations. Local
    parish priests Father Tarcisius Dewanto, Father Hilario Madeira, and Father Francisco Soares,
    Caritas Australia spokesman Ann Wigglesworth said. "They were massacred inside the church
    ... these militia .. are just going round killing and looting and showing no respect to any human
    being or the Church or anything," said Wigglesworth, who knew at least one of the priests.

    Father Barreto was killed in a separate incident in Dare, Caritas was told. "Father Barreto was a
    gentle and peace-loving man," Caritas Australia chairman Bishop Hilton Deakin said in a
    statement. "These murderous attacks on the Church are part of a much wider unjust genocide.
    When Catholic Church members, who have offered relief and refuge to East Timorese, are
    struck down, we realize there is no respect for any life in East Timor," Bishop Deakin said.

    Meanwhile, the UN said it will evacuate its 160 locally employed East Timorese staff to
    Australia, while keeping its compound in East Timor open as a refuge for East Timorese fleeing
    violence. "The important thing is to maintain a symbolic presence. We're still there, we haven't
    abandoned, we've not pulled out," UN spokesman David Wimhurst said.

    10-Sep-99 -- Church News
     
  14. Doubting Thomas

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    Umm..what about 1 Peter 3:21? This verse talks about baptism that "now saves us". :confused:

    PS: BTW, good work with the Creation-Evolution forum. Keep up the fight. [​IMG]
     
  15. Kathryn

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    Helen, you say:
    I think the confusion comes about because you and others read and hear that Christians are being persecuted, and you assume that this means "real" Christians and could not possibly mean Catholics. Catholics are Christians, and Christians are being persecuted.

    The Catholic "Church" in China is being persecuted. The real Catholic Church under the Pope is illegal in China. It's clergy is imprisioned or in exile. The government has set up a false "Catholic Church" that is legal and not under the Pope. This is persecution of the Catholic Church. Many Cardinals, bishops, and priests, have been killed, imprisioned, or in exile. Practicing Catholics in China risk their lives to be part of the underground real Catholic Church.

    God Bless
     
  16. Helen

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    Kathryn I apologize. Of course you are right. I am afraid I was angry with CC's attitude and was not doing the thinking I should have. Thank you for setting the record straight.
     
  17. Kathryn

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    Helen: Your apology is accepted. [​IMG] I hope you have some time to continue to join us here.


    God Bless
     
  18. MikeS

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    But there are dozens of "local churches" where I live, and they all teach different doctrines. Let's assume there are 50 local churches near me, each having some doctrinal differences with all the others. At least 49 of them must be teaching error, right? Maybe all 50! So how can I find the church which teaches all truth and no error?
     
  19. Singer

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    No, there are actually 51 churches in your example.....don't forget the RCC that
    would be among them; also claiming their doctrine.

    How can the RCC so brutally demolish the "Whosoever Believes in me" statement
    anyhow?
     
  20. MikeS

    MikeS
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    I haven't mentioned the RCC or its claims. I'm simply trying to learn the non-Catholic answer to the questions. If, as you seem to imply, it doesn't matter which church one attends, then by implication every single one of the doctrines on which any churches disagree (i.e. 99% of the teaching of any church) don't matter. Is that your position?
     

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