Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Church: Visible or Invisible?

This was today's devotional thought from "Dial Daily Bread" by my good friend, Robert Wieland. I thought it was relevant to my recent posts on baptism, indoctrination, and church membership. Please take a few seconds to read these few paragraphs and share your thoughts.

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Someone asks: Are we sure that the Bible teaches that God's "church" is a visible organization, and not an invisible number of scattered believers?

The only times we read that Jesus mentioned His "church" were twice--Matthew 16:18 and 18:17. He used the word ecclesia, which means "called out," a people designated and separated from the world, defined and denominated in a form that the world could recognize as an entity. The apostles called ancient Israel a "church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38), and we read that Israel was a visible organization that the world could see as God's denominated people. In Matthew 18 Jesus outlined what should be done if a member in the church disgraces its name--he should be disciplined. Unless the church is organized, this cannot be done.

Paul thought of a beautiful illustration of what the church is--it's a "body." "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular ... in the church" (1 Cor. 12:12-28).

Possibly the reason for this person's question is the problem of apostasy and worldliness in the church, which is discouraging to a thoughtful, sincere Christian. Please think about Jesus: He is even more pained by this than you are. Be joined to Him by faith, share His heart burden for His church. It's the great crisis of the ages. He wants to lead her to repentance, not to ruin.

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 25, 2005.
Copyright © 2010 by Robert J. Wieland.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.
Please forward these messages to your friends and encourage them to subscribe. The "Dial Daily Bread" Web site resides at:

To subscribe send an e-mail message with "subscribe" in the body of the message to:

1 comment:

Andrey said...

While I certainly agree that the "invisible church" is a bit vague. I don't think that it would be the correct definition. Church is and will be visible in one way or another.

The question however is whether the church is only contained in institutionalized version of it. There's no clear Biblical indication and guidelines to what to be considered church, and what is not.

It's quite clear that the early church was nothing like the church we have today. Not even close. The church example that we find in Acts is actually more reminiscent of the French communes than modern church establishment. People joined in and shared everything. It was not a rule, but rather understanding and a way of life.

I don't believe that the remnant church will be an organization like we think of the Adventist "church" is. When I say Adventist "church" I don't think of people in the pews who collectively make it the church. Generally, when we refer to Adventist Church, we refer to religious corporation that somehow became disembodied from the people who comprise it. And it is very unfortunate.