The Nicene Creed summarizes the church: “I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church”
Picking it up with ‘holy’ we began looking at three building metaphors last week in Ephesians 2:19-22 that describe the holy church. Our next metaphor is ‘a holy temple.’ In the Old Testament, the Jews had to worship at a physical building, the temple. With the death and resurrection of Jesus, Christians no longer are restricted to worshipping at a physical location. John 4:23 reads “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth…” Further to this the Bible teaches that all believers are temples of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor 6:19) Thus instead of worshipping at a temple, all followers of Jesus carry the Holy Spirit with them and are together, the church, a holy temple.
Our final building metaphor is ‘a holy dwelling.’ The Apostle Paul gives the analogy that each believer is an individual stone, yet all the stones are placed together into a building. It’s interesting to note that the Bible does not consider the concept of a lone wolf Christian. One can be a Christian and choose not to go to church, but this comes at a cost to both the individual and the body of Christ. The building is weakened when a stone is missing. Each stone is designed and shaped by Jesus the master craftsman. Each one fits into the blueprints and each one is needed. Together all believers make up the holy dwelling, the home of the Holy Spirit, the Church.
Finally the church is catholic. This simply means that the church is universal, or all encompassing. There are billions of Christians around the world and all are part of the body of Christ. The church is universal in that it is both visible and invisible. It is visible in that we can see the members of the church, the people, and we can observe certain activities of the church and its members. It is invisible in that the church is also spiritual and there is much going on in the spiritual realm that we cannot physically observe.
What is the church? We may summarize: 1) The Church is one: One lord one church. 2) The Church is apostolic: It is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. 3) The Church is holy: Believers are temples of the Holy Spirit and together make up the holy Church. 4) The church is catholic: it is universal (exists everywhere, all the time) both visible and invisible.
Until next week,