Tuesday, August 18, 2009

8/19- Finding the True Church

(Calvin visiting a family in their home)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his 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. (Ephesians 2:19-21)

From this the face of the church comes forth and becomes visible to our eyes. Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution, there, it is
not to be doubted, a church of God exists [cf. Ephesians 2:20]. For his promise cannot fail: “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” [Matthew 18:20].

Thought: Calvin identified the marks of the church as the Word and Sacrament. John Knox added right discipline to the marks of the true church. Reflecting back, perhaps Knox was being too strict. The real mark of the church is the presence of the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit has tied himself to His Word, and the sign and seal of the Spirit are the sacraments. Jesus said he was where His people are gathered in His name. Moltmann adds that Christ is also present whenever we “help the least of these” (Mt. 25), or going into all the world spreading the good news (Mt. 28:20- Lo I am with you always). It is always hard to quantify, box up, or even label the Holy Spirit. It is a bit like Jesus said about the Spirit, ‘the wind blows where it will.” The Word rightly preached is a bit subjective to us (though perhaps objective to God). The sacrament rightly administered is also a bit nebulous. It is hard to draw exact boundaries, and I contend that it might be hard to do so. For example, we might think that the Lord’s Supper with coke and candy bars may not be a “rightly administered” sacrament. But what about white grape juice and saltines? The Word rightly preached is vague enough. Sometimes a sermon is badly preached but was good doctrine. Sometimes bad doctrine is greatly preached. Lines are hard to draw. The Spirit blows where it wills, yet though the boundaries are not exact, the boundaries are real. It is more like a porous membrane, but a membrane nonetheless.

Prayer: Thank you Lord, that you define the Church and make it holy. Help us to make your Church holy by how we reflect your glory.

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