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Page 206

 

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?

Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

- Romans 2:28-3:2

 


Both the Roman Catholic and the Baptist views attempt to make God's spiritual, invisible church on earth visible, but by emphasizing opposite aspects. Which aspect of the church on earth is emphasized and which is ignored by each group?



When will the Church Invisible become visible? Why?



Why does God place the soul of man within his body? Why does God place the "soul" of His church within its "body"?

error of emphasizing the Church Visible as the essence of the church is another example of overestimation. In this view, receiving the visible sacrament is of greater importance than the invisible application of its truth by the Holy Spirit; outward confession and penance to the visible priest supercedes inward confession and repentance before the invisible High Priest of His church; visible membership in, and obedience to, the Church Visible and its leaders are stressed more than invisible, spiritual union with, and obedience to, the Head of the Church. These errors reverse scriptural priorities. The essence, core, and deepest meaning of God's church is the saving, eternal, spiritual one - the Church Invisible.

An opposite error is to undervalue the Church Visible. The Baptists, for example, deny an outward covenant and church relationship altogether. To them the church is only the Church Invisible only the elect. Adults become members after personal confession of saving faith. This view ignores or minimizes the following: the scriptural references pertaining to an outward covenant or church relationship (as listed on a previous chart in this chapter); the inclusion of children as visible members of God's church; the truth that God desires to work His inward, invisible blessings of grace through His outward, visible means of grace; and that men, as church officebearers, can only properly judge that which is visible to them - the outward confession of faith and life style of their church members, not that which is invisible to them - the inward, spiritual workings of the soul.


    "I do not understand this," Beth told her teacher. "How can there be one church, yet one part is spiritual and another part is physical, one part invisible and another visible? How can the spiritual part be inside the physical part? It seems to me that it must be one or the other."

    Beth's teacher thought for a moment and then replied, "Beth, are you one person or two?"

    "One," Beth replied.

    "Yet you have a spiritual aspect and a physical aspect, do you not? You have a soul that is invisible to man, although visible to God, and a body that is visible. The Church Visible is the outward body of the church, but the Church Invisible is its heart, its spiritual life. The spiritual part lives inside the outward part until the end of time."

    "What will happen at the end of time?" Beth asked.

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