The History of the idea of the Church – Ephesians 5:22-33

   It’s Tuesday, April 14, 2020 and you are listening to COVID-19 # 24.

   Welcome and thank you for joining me for today’s shows.

   So, how are you? Hope you are doing well.

Announcements:

  1. You Can trust God to write your story – Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
  2. How to Pray – R.A. Torrey
  3. Moring with Tozer – A.W. Tozer
  • Devotional challenge – Are you in the Word daily? If so, where are you reading, and what is God teaching you?

Today in the News:

  • NPR – Governors team up to reopen – NY, Calif, and their surrounding neighbors announced they will coordinate how and when to ease restrictions.
  • Antibody tests need to be in place for 2nd coronavirus wave, CDC director says. They are saying that we might be hit with a second wave in the Fall.
  • A volunteer firefighter in Indiana recently had the surprise of a lifetime. Charles Calvin, of New Chicago, Ind., told WGN 9 he withdrew $200 from his checking account at an ATM last weekend.

He glanced down on his receipt and noticed a few more zeroes than usual. He told the station his bank account balance was $8.2 million.

Calvin was supposed to receive $1,700 from the stimulus payments going out to Americans to help assist those impacted by the coronavirus.

The volunteer firefighter said he ran his card through the ATM again to make sure it was accurate, and there it was: he was a millionaire.

Calvin told the station that he immediately called his bank to report his new-found wealth, but by the time they investigated, the money was gone.

Pause for Prayer:

  • Praise – our Easter service at the Ranch
  • Bob Ahsmuhs to be admitted to hospital. Pray for Theresa.
  • Pray for Tom Spann and wife, Sharon.
  • Shut-in’s
  • Emergency workers
  • Kevin Ward and local SL police dept.
  • National leaders’ response to reopening society

Our WORD from the Lord is found in Ephesians 5:22-33,

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Today I want to have a word with you about: The History of the Idea of the Church (Let’s talk about the Church).

  • In the fourth century the focus was upon the Nature of the Church
  • In the Middle Ages the struggle over the bishop of Rome helped separate East and West, and later caused great struggles among theologians in the West.
  • Later Jan Hus, John Wycliffe, and other medieval non-conformists pressed the doctrine of the invisible church in which Christ, not the pope, was head.

   Throughout the history of the church there have been questions that have risen about the Church.

   I. Is the church visible or invisible?

   What are examples of visible churches?

  • Churches mentioned in the New Testament are examples of visible churches – Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica, Rome.

   Why do we need visible churches? For the world to see Christ in God’s people. Living testimonies of changed lives.

  • Is the visible church the only way a church can be defined?

   Can we not also speak of the invisible church? The church that God sees. The invisible church is comprised of all true believers, whether or not they are in the visible church, and excluding those in the visible church who are not genuinely converted. Many people are in churches (visible) but are not truly converted.

   Protestants have championed the distinction between the invisible and visible church.

  • Used to explain why the visible church does not share the unity prayed for by Christ (John 17). The visible church is sadly mixed and divided.
  • By nature the invisible church is united.

   The idea of the invisible church was actually before the Protestant Reformation with men like Wycliffe, Hus, and even Augustine.

   The idea is not that there are two churches, but that there are two aspects of the true church.

   II. Is the church local or universal?

   This was another discussion that was significant in church history. A lot of discussion centered in on the distinction between the local church and the universal church. That church which is composed of all Christians throughout history is the universal church. On the other hand the local church is simply the local assembly of Christians.

  1. Christians have historically accepted that both of these usages are found in the New Testament. Two significant disputes, however, have raged concerning this dichotomy.

   For all the churches around the world – are there prescribed order and polity for the universal church, as there is for the local church?

  • Roman Catholic Church maintains a universal order exists.
  • Greek Orthodox and many protestants groups maintain that structures have developed which are allowed and useful though not mandated in Scripture (national assemblies, conventions, archbishops).
  • Congregationalists, like Baptists, have maintained that the New Testament prescribes no structure for the universal church. Although they do not have problems in cooperating with churches that are like-minded.
  1. Can one legitimately refer to something as a church if an order or structure for it has not been set down in Scripture? This controversary was known as “landmarkism,” named after Proverbs 22:28: “remove not the ancient landmark which your fathers have set” (KJV). This became a movement and exercised great influence among Baptists in certain parts of the United States.
 
   III. Is the church Militant or Triumphant?
  • The church militant refers to Christians alive now, who therefore remain engaged in battling the world, the flesh, and the devil – Ephesians 6:10-18.
  • The church Triumphant refers to Christians now in heaven, removed from the combat of spiritual warfare and fully victorious – 2 Corinthians 5:8; Hebrews 12:1. 
   IV. Can you distinguish the true or false church?

   How to distinguish the true from the false led to a clearer definition of the true.

  • The Catholic church argued that it was the true, visible church according to Petrine succession through the bishop of Rome [pope], based on Jesus’ words to peter in Matthew 16:17-19. Jesus said, On this ROCK (pointing to himself) I will build My Church.
  • The Protestant Reformation stated, “Not the pretended chair of peter, but the teaching of Peter was the real mark of apostolicity.” The Reformation made the gospel, not ecclesiastical organization, the test of the true church.
  • John Calvin criticized Rome’s claims to be a true church on the basis of apostolic succession.
  • The Reformation introduced the notae ecclesiae, the marks of the church: the right preaching of God’s Word and the right administration of the ordinances.
  • Beginning with the Reformation, then, Protestants have believed that an individual, local congregation should be regarded as a true church when the Word of God is rightly preached and the ordnances of Christ are rightly followed. If both were present the true church had been found.
   V. Is the church organizational or Organic?

   In the early church Christians presented their unity as a bulwark against heretics and schismatics. Stand together against wrong teaching.

   Issues arose however that rent the visible unity of the church – Nestorianism, Monophysitism, and papal supremacy.

   Much division arose over the understanding of the gospel.

   VI. Is the church found in Denominations?

   Denominations arose around the 17th century, although their roots are earlier.

  • Arose out of false doctrine.
  • Arose from understanding of the Scriptures.

   Most of the denomination popularly known in America today initially grew up in the United Kingdom, Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, and a belief in believer’s baptism are all derived from Queen Elizabeth I’s England (1558-1603).

   English government did not tolerate any congregations outside the established church until the late seventeenth century.

   The three old denominations as they were called, were the Presbyterians, the Congregationalists, and the Baptists. These three joined the established Episcopalians.

   In the 18th century the Methodists were born.  John Wesley a Revivalist within the Church of England. (Desire to use new methods in reaching lost people).

   Dutch and French Reformed Churches or German and Scandinavian Lutheran groups.

   America because the primary laboratory for scores of denominations of Christian churches coexisting.

   These groupings of churches largely retained their doctrinal and practical distinctives, and new ones have emerged since then.

   Why new denominations today? Why can’t we all come together? Why have denominations?

  • Doctrinal purity/issues
  • Church government
  • Sexuality
  • Modern unbelief in mainline denomination

   Promise Keepers Movement – Bring down the walls. It was my walls they wanted to bring down. Not the walls of those leading the conference.

   Well remember that I am in touch, so you be in touch. Reach out to another member of SLBC. Pray for them, or send out a post card.

   And as always, Walk with the King today, and be a blessing.