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Page 204

  • Profession - Confession; declaration; testimony by one's words and actions
  • are spiritually united to Christ the Head of the Church. This view of the church is termed the "Church Invisible"; it is not invisible to God, but as a spiritual body, it is invisible to man.

    The second view of the church emphasizes man's perspective. Man sees all those who outwardly separate themselves from the world to gather together to worship God. Man cannot look into another's heart, but can see another's outward profession of faith. He sees all those who are outwardly called by the Spirit and are in an external relationship with God's church. The church gathering, worship, preaching, sacraments, ordinances, and government all have an outward, visible aspect to them. This view of the church is termed the "Church Visible"; it is visible to man.

    The following chart distinguishes Church Visible from Church Invisible membership according to their differing characteristics.

    CHURCH MEMBERSHIP - THE CHURCH VISIBLE
    CONTRASTED WITH THE CHURCH INVISIBLE
    Characteristic Church Invisible Church Visible

    1. Membership

    The inwardly (effectually) called; those to whom God's Word has been savingly applied - the saved only

    The outwardly called; all those who hear God's Word - the saved and unsaved

    2. Relationship to Christ

    Inward and spiritual - saving

    Outward and visible - non-saving

    3. Relationship to God's Covenant of Grace

    Saving, eternal, unbreakable

    Non-saving, temporary, breakable

    4. Separation from the world to worship God

    Inwardly, in the new nature; by grace, obeying the inward call to worship God in Spirit and in truth

    Outwardly; obeying the outward call to worship God

    5. Entrance method

    By spiritual birth and saving confession; the inward reality of baptism - entrance into the Church Invisible with all its benefits

    By natural birth (born of church parents) and by personal confession; the outward reality of baptism - entrance into the Church Visible with its benefits

    6. Privileges

    Eternal and saving - regeneration, conversion, justification, sanctification, and glorification

    Temporary and non-saving - placed under God's Word (the means God does bless to save sinners), and the teachings, prayers, and government of the church

    204

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