158 – Visible Churches


VISIBLE CHURCHES
  § 158. In a tropical sense all those who have and hear the Gospel and profess the Christian religion, true believers and hypocrites together,1 are called the visible church, and in the same synecdochical sense every particular community or local congregation gathered about the means of grace and professing the Christian faith is termed a visible Christian church,2 since, wherever the Gospel of Christ is preached and His sacraments are administered, the Holy Spirit is active, works regeneration, builds and preserves the invisible church of God.3

1. In a tropical sense all those who have and hear the Gospel and profess the Christian religion, true believers and hypocrites together,…

  Matthew 13:47–48 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

  Matthew 25:1–2 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

  Matthew 22:2, 11 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son. (11) And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment.

 


2. …are called the visible church, and in the same synecdochical sense every particular community or local congregation gathered about the means of grace and professing the Christian faith is termed a visible Christian church,

  Galatians 1:2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia.

  Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

  III John 9:10 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

  Revelation 3:13–18 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: These things said the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.


3. …since, wherever the Gospel of Christ is preached and His sacraments are administered, the Holy Spirit is active, works regeneration, builds and preserves the invisible church of God.

  Isaiah 55:10–11 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

  Luke 8:11–15 Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the Word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the Word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.


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