Friday in the Last Week of Ordinary Time

The Nicene Creed

One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic

We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church

It is the greatest scandal of the Christian faith that the Church of Jesus Christ is so divided; indeed, this division has often been the blight of missionary efforts as pagans scratch their heads over the infighting and contradictory claims among the several branches of the Church.  At the same time, there have always been heretics in the Church and Paul suggests there always will be (1 Corinthians 11:19).  But as far as believers are concerned, our Lord prayed “that they may become perfectly one” (John 17:23).  Until that perfect unity is realized, we must content ourselves with a mockery thereof in what theologians refer to as the “invisible” church—as if there were such things as invisible Christians.

Yet, there are marks of the Church of Jesus Christ which the Creed bears out which are not debatable:

1) The Church of Jesus Christ is ONE.  The Church is Christ’s body, and our Lord cannot have more than one body.  Obviously that body transcends space and even time; that is, more saints are in heaven than are on earth.  But the Lord knows those who are his (2 Timothy 2:19; John 10:14), so that there shall ever be “one flock, one Shepherd” (John 10:16).

2) The Church of Jesus Christ is HOLY.  It is made up of those who have been set apart unto our Lord’s service, those for whom the Lord laid down his life (John 10:15), those who have been washed, sanctified, and justified “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).

3) The Church of Jesus Christ is CATHOLIC. We do not mean Roman Catholic, but we do mean that the Church of Jesus Christ is that church of believers which has remained true to the apostolic teaching down through the ages in the face of heretics and even persecution.  It is closely related to the word, “orthodoxy,” meaning “right worship of doctrine.”  To sum: That is catholic and orthodox which the Church has always taught at all times and all places.

4) The Church of Jesus Christ is APOSTOLIC.  No church can claim to be true which is not based upon the teaching of the apostles which makeup the New Testament.  Today there are people who attempt to drive a wedge between Christ and his apostles, namely because they don’t like some things that Paul said.  The Creed makes it clear that the Church is founded upon the teaching of the Apostles who were those especially chosen, taught, and commissioned by our Lord to preach and teach his word.  We can allow no daylight between the apostolic doctrine and any one of the New Testament writings since the apostolic doctrine comprises the whole of the New Testament writings—to wit, each and every book was written by an apostle or someone closely related thereto!  Thus, orthodoxy and catholicity are intricately tied to apostolicity upon which unity and holiness stand.

Thus, the Church of Jesus Christ is that group of believers crossing over time and space who have been set apart unto him and who strive to conform themselves to the image of His Son as that doctrine and way of life has been revealed in the apostolic writings (i.e., the New Testament), the understanding of which has ever been taught by the Church in all times and places.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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