The church of Christ explained
The church of Christ. What is it? And how does the New Apostolic Church fit into this concept? On two separate occasions recently, the term moved into the focus.
Inside or outside? That was the core question of a divine service in Dieburg (Germany) recently in which District Apostle Bernd Koberstein was placed into retirement. Here, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider outlined the term only briefly.
A detailed response was provided in the spiritual part of the International District Apostle Meeting last November in Dortmund (Germany). And it was from this paper that District Apostle Koberstein quoted a central message at his official retirement reception at the beginning of February, to which representatives from other Churches and from the world of politics had been invited.
Only God can see the sincerity of an individual’s faith
The Chief Apostle based his explanations during the District Apostles’ conference on the image of the body of Christ. This is how Apostle Paul describes the church in the epistles to the Colossians, Romans, Ephesians, and Corinthians.
- The head is Jesus Christ. The church is at His service.
- The members have different functions, but they work together and serve one another.
- The development is based on the will of God.
So, who belongs to it? “The church of Christ is comprised of all those believers who belong to Christ through baptism, faith, and profession.” The church of Christ must not be confused with a concrete institution from the great diversity of Christian churches.
“Among others, it consists of Catholic, New Apostolic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians, yet it cannot be equated with the Catholic Church, the New Apostolic Church, the Protestant Church, or the Orthodox Church, nor even the sum total of all of these churches,” the Chief Apostle said. Nobody knows which Christians actually belong to the church of Christ. “Only God can see the sincerity of an individual’s faith.”
God always gives the necessary gifts
“Jesus Christ has equipped His church with the Apostle ministry,” it says in the essay. “It is through the Apostle ministry that believers have access to the fullness of salvation.” It goes on to say: “In addition to the Apostle ministry, God has also equipped the church with other gifts and spiritual services.”
For centuries following the death of the Apostles of the early church, the Apostle ministry was no longer personally occupied. Nevertheless, God continued to provide for the church of Christ. “The Holy Spirit continued His activity of salvation by equipping the members of the church of Christ with the gifts required for the proclamation of the gospel, the deepening of knowledge, and the development of the church.”
Called to a special service
“Belief in the living Apostles of today and the gift of the Holy Spirit is a gift of grace that God grants those whom He has chosen for this purpose,” the Chief Apostle expounded. However, “the church of Christ consists both of those baptised with water and those who have been reborn out of water and the Spirit.”
The members of the body of Christ who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit are not better than others. They have merely been chosen to fulfil a special service: “They have been chosen to fulfil a special service: they are to announce the imminent return of the Lord, to testify of the activity of living Apostles, to give room to the Holy Spirit within themselves, to acquire divine virtues, and to thus prepare themselves for the return of Christ.”
Fulfilling our common mission
“We are deeply grateful to all Christians, past and present, who have placed the gifts they have received from God into the service of Christ and His church.” These are the concluding remarks by the Chief Apostle, which District Apostle Koberstein also quoted. “As members of the body of Christ, it is the concern of all New Apostolic Christians to fulfil the mission they have in common with all other Christians, namely to profess belief in Jesus Christ and proclaim the praises of God in both word and deed.”
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