6.5 The church of Jesus Christ and the churches as institutions

In its historical manifestation, the church of Jesus Christ will not completely live up to the commandment of oneness, holiness, universality, and apostolicity. The main reason for this is that for a long period of time the Apostle ministry was not active at all, and that, since the nineteenth century, it has only been able to unfold to limited effect. The multiplicity of "Christian churches" is conditioned by cultural, social, and historical differences, as well as the great diversity of human interpretations of the one gospel, the one Holy Scripture. Despite these differences, the church of Christ does not remain concealed or inaccessible. It is most clearly revealed where the Apostle ministry, the administration of the three sacraments to the living and the dead, as well as the proper proclamation of the word are present. It is there that the Lord's work of redemption [1] is established, in which the bride of Christ is prepared for the marriage feast in heaven. Binding elements between the individual Christian churches [2] are baptism, the common profession of Jesus Christ, and belief in Him as the only Lord and Redeemer, as Holy Scripture testifies of Him. Christian tradition states that only true believers can be assigned to the invisible, concealed church, in contrast to those who, though baptised, neither believe in Jesus nor profess Him as their Lord (Revelation 3: 1).

Church–as a fellowship of faith, hope, and love–can only be experienced in the first place by the baptised who live their faith and profess Jesus as their Lord. Thus the church of Christ is not only present where the Apostle ministry is active, that is in the Lord's work of redemption to prepare the bride. It is also present in other churches where Christian faith is manifest in active love for one's neighbour, in the clear profession of Jesus Christ, and in the sincere endeavour to follow Christ. This includes those Christian denominations where worship and the praise of the triune God occur in divine service, and in which oneness, holiness, universality, and apostolicity are to be found in various forms and to varying degrees.

Where the Apostles in the New Apostolic Church today work to prepare the bride of Christ for the return of her Lord, all the means required for this are available, despite all imperfections. The redemption work of the Lord will be completed within the church of Jesus Christ.

SUMMARY

In its historical manifestation the church of Christ will not completely live up to its oneness, holiness, universality, and apostolicity. (6.5)

The church of Christ is most clearly revealed where the Apostle ministry, the dispensation of the sacraments to the living and the dead, as well as the proper proclamation of the word are present. It is there that the Lord's work of redemption to prepare the bride of Christ for the marriage in heaven is established. (6.5)

Binding elements between the individual Christian churches include baptism, the profession of Jesus Christ, and belief in Him. Through the baptised who live in accordance with their faith, the church can be perceived as a fellowship of faith, hope, and love. Thus the church of Christ is also visible in the churches in which oneness, holiness, universality, and apostolicity are present in varying forms and to varying degrees. (6.5)

[1] The term "Lord's work of redemption" is generally understood to mean Jesus' saving act, which has already been completed. When this term is used here, it refers to that part of the church in which Apostles are active in imparting those gifts of salvation that serve to the preparation of the firstlings, the bride of Christ.

[2] The World Council of Churches formulates the elements that bind all churches together as follows. Churches are those which "confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

See also