Seventh Sunday after Trinity – Tuesday
Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify it. —Ephesians 5:25-26.
The one “Holy Christian Church,” of which we speak in the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed, is the “Communion of Saints,” that is to say, all Christians on earth, or the sum total of those who truly believe in Jesus Christ, and in such faith are sanctified by God. Hence, only believers truly belong to the Church, but all believers without distinction. They are the Church which Christ has loved, for which He gave Himself, which He sanctified through faith by the power of the Holy Ghost, working in and through the Gospel.
This Church is not a visible congregation or organization, whose names and full membership might be given, but an invisible, spiritual group, which the Lord only knows, names, and counts, since only the Lord can tell, with certainty, who believes in Christ and, therefore, belongs to Him. “The Lord knoweth them that are His” (II Timothy 2:19). The Church is the kingdom of God, Christ’s Kingdom of Grace. And Jesus says: “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, Lo, there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).
Faith, which makes us members of the Church, the kingdom of God, is within us and is known to the Lord alone. The Church is but one. There is but one kingdom of God. It is but “one Body and one Spirit” (Ephesians 4:4). The Church is holy. Christ has sanctified It through His righteousness given unto It, and received by It through the working of His Spirit through the Word. So, It is “holy and without blemish” before God, through grace (Ephesians 5:27). It, furthermore, is a Christian Church. It is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). And this Church is the spiritual bride of Christ, to whom, to whom alone, all eternal promises are given.
Now “examine” yourself, whether you are “in the faith,” whether you are a part of this Church; “prove” your own self (II Corinthians 13:5).
PRAYER – I believe in Thee, my dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I am Thine; I belong to those Who are Thine, to Thy Church. But I cry to Thee: Help my unbelief! O Thou great Shepherd and Bishop of my soul, keep me, and let me be and continue to remain Thine own unto my dying breath, and then take me home, yes, home to Thee, into Thy secure dwellings. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, Thy pow’r make known,
for Thou art Lord of lords alone;
defend Thy Christendom that we,
may evermore sing praise to Thee.
(Hymn 261, st. 2; TLH)