A Community United
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 21
What do you believe concerning “the holy catholic church”?
I believe that the Son of God through his Spirit and Word, out of the entire human race, from the beginning of the world to its end, gathers, protects, and preserves for himself a community chosen for eternal life and united in true faith. And of this community I am and always will be a living member.
What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?
First, that believers one and all, as members of this community, share in Christ and in all his treasures and gifts. Second, that each member should consider it a duty to use these gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.
What do you believe concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?
I believe that God, because of Christ’s atonement, will never hold against me any of my sins nor my sinful nature which I need to struggle against all my life. Rather, in his grace God grants me the righteousness of Christ to free me forever from judgment.
A Community United
Wednesday, May 17: Ephesians 4:1-16
The Catechism teaches that Biblical Churches are “united in truth faith.” It goes on to state that “believers one and all, as members of this community, share in Christ and in all his treasures and gifts.” What are the implications of this teaching for today’s Church? First, we profess the unity of the Church. Paul states: “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and in all and through all (Ephesians 4:4-6). Second, we practice the unity of the Church. Again, Paul states: “be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Let’s not miss the relevance of these two Biblical themes. God is working in and through us. He is not at work in this world because of us. As self-impressed we may be with our distinct names, branding and vision, we are one and the same community with one and the same call. So, let ask ourselves some hard questions. Should Churches be in competition with each other? Is the contemporary Church the happy “solution” to the traditional Church? Does it really matter which Churches are the 50 fastest growing in the United States? Why are these questions even significant? Consider these Biblical alternatives. Shouldn’t Churches serve as the pillar and foundation of truth for the sake of the world? Shouldn’t they share a united witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ? Shouldn’t such commitment to truth and witness be rooted in our common identity, character and purpose in Christ? Yet, many Churches appear to be more Church-centered than Christ-centered. What’s the difference? The former bears witness to itself. The latter bears witness to Christ. I was happy, therefore, when our Church exchanged her vision statement for a new identity statement. It was an intentional decision to unite in the person of Christ rather than within the limitations of the spiritual interests of people. The Church does not exist for the Church. She exists for Christ. Let’s do whatever we can to live in Him, unite in Him and bear witness to Him. It is true the world needs the Church. But that is only true if the Church is rooted in Christ alone!
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn