Therefore, this one body cannot be identified with one existing organization since a claim by one organization that it is the true church means the others are lost. c) The church is universal as well as local A group of believers may either be small or big. All these make the universal church. The local church can be defined as the universal church taking place at a particular place. The universal church includes true believers who are in heaven and on earth. Therefore, the local church comprises of those on earth only and may include both the mere professors and true believers. As seen earlier, the church means one body of true believers regardless of circumstances and location. d) Church membership The members of the church are all true Christians in the present age. Being a member also means continuing the work of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit through evangelism. Evangelism is not a man’s work but Christ’s work through the Spirit. We can preach, call men to believe and baptize them but only through Christ the spirit, who can add a soul to the body of Christ. e) Metaphors’ for the church and descriptive images The scripture uses a very wide range of metaphors and images to help us understand the nature of the church. The writers of the New Testament used metaphorical descriptions in their literature. Some of the metaphors in the New Testament for the church are: • The church is united by Christ’s body and thus it is the Body of Christ. The Christ is the head, and we are members of one body. Apostle Paul’s describes the church as a metaphor of the Christ’s body. We can say that the church does not comprise a physical building nor is it an association or denomination but a spiritual body where every believer is a member. Paul the apostle develops the analogy of the body of Christ along three aspects; unity, Harmony and diversity. The body of Christ unites all believers, regardless of race or tribe and brings harmony among them. • The Family of God • The church is the Bride of Christ • The vineyard of God. The church is viewed as the branches on a vine. The Vine is Christ. • The Temple of God which is not built with stones but with people who are the living stones • The Flock of God. The church is viewed as a flock of sheep as the Christ is the shepherd. • A Holy Priesthood. Here, the church is viewed as a place that can offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. f) Distinguishing characteristics of the church (The Marks of the church) For years, several questions have been raised on what makes it necessary to have a church. How can people recognize a true church or what are the marks of a true church? Basically, there are two marks of a true church. The Augsburg Confession, a statement of faith by Lutheran defined a true church as a congregation of saints where gospel is spread in the right way, and sacraments are correctly administered (Hahn 120). Therefore, the two marks of a true church are faith and rightful administration of sacraments (Shepherd 6). In the view of Luther, the Roman Catholic Church has been the visible church that is a true church as it descended from Saint Peter and the Apostles. Many churches which are liberal protestant churches are false churches today. The Mormon Church is a false church as it holds no major Christian doctrines in
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Name: Institution: Professor: Date: Scott Hahn's: A Father Who Keeps His Promises 1. The nature and functions of the church 1.1The Nature of the Church There are several aspects of a church that reflect its nature. a) Church is invisible yet visible. The way God sees the church made up of those who genuinely belong to Christ is the invisible church (Hebrews 12:23)…
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