NOW, IT MUST BE ASKED, WHAT IS THE TRUE CHURCH?
The following is edited and adapted from THE TRUE CHURCH,by Bishop J.C. Ryle, (circa 1877)
1. The one true Church IS COMPOSED OF ALL BELIEVERS IN THE LORD JESUS — of all converted men and women — of all true Christians. In whomsoever we can discern the forgiveness of God the Father, the sprinkling of the blood of God the Son, and the sanctifying work of God the Spirit - in that person we see a member of Christ's True Church.
2. It is a Church OF WHICH ALL THE MEMBERS HAVE THE SAME MARKS. They are all born again of the Spirit; they all possess repentance towards God, faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, and holiness of life and conversation. They all hate sin, and they all love Christ. They worship differently, and after various fashions; some worship with a form of prayer, and some with none; some worship kneeling, and some standing; but they all worship with one heart. They are all led by one Spirit; they all build upon one foundation; they all draw their religion from one single book — that is the Bible. They are all joined to one great center — that is Jesus Christ.
3. It is a Church WHICH IS DEPENDENT UPON NO MINISTERS UPON EARTH, however much it values those who preach the gospel to its members. The life of its members does not hang upon Church membership, or baptism, or the Lord's Supper — although they highly value these things when they are to be had. But, it has only one Great Head — one Shepherd, one chief Bishop — and that is Jesus Christ. He alone, by His Spirit, admits the members of this Church, though ministers may show the door. Till He opens the door no man on earth can open it — neither bishops, nor presbyters, nor convocations, nor synods. Once let a man repent and believe the gospel, and that moment he becomes a member of this Church. It is a Church whose existence does not depend on forms, ceremonies, cathedrals, buildings, chapels, pulpits, fonts, vestments, organs, endowments, money, kings, governments, magistrates or any act of favor whatsoever from the hand of man. It has often lived on and continued when all these things have been taken from it. It has often been driven into the wilderness, or into dens and caves of the earth, by those who ought to have been its friends. Its existence depends on nothing but the presence of Christ and His Spirit; and they being ever with it, the Church cannot die.
4. This is the Church TO WHICH THE SCRIPTURAL TITLES OF PRESENT HONOR AND PRIVILEGE, AND THE PROMISES OF FUTURE GLORY ESPECIALLY BELONG; this is the Body of Christ; this is the flock of Christ; this is the household of faith and the family of God; this is God's building, God's foundation, and the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is the Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven; this is the royal priesthood, the chosen generation, the peculiar people, the purchased possession, the habitation of God, the light of the world, the salt of the earth; this is that Church to which the Lord Jesus promises "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," and to which He says, "I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
5. This is the only Church WHICH POSSESSES TRUE UNITY. Its members are entirely agreed on all the weightier matters of our faith, for they are all taught by one Spirit. About God, and Christ, and the Spirit, and sin, and their own hearts, and faith, and repentance, and necessity of holiness, and the value of the Bible, and the importance of prayer, and the resurrection, and judgment to come — about all these points they are of one mind. Take three or four of them, strangers to one another, from the remotest corners of the earth; examine them separately on these points: you will find them all of one judgment.
6. This is the only Church WHICH IS TRULY CATHOLIC. It is not the Church of any one nation or people; its members are to be found in every part of the world where the gospel is received and believed. It is not confined within the limits of any one country, or pent up within the pale of any particular form of outward government. In it there is no difference between Jew and Greek, black man and white, Episcopalian and Lutheran – Baptist and Methodist – Pentecostal and Presbyterian, but faith in Christ is all. Its members will be gathered from north, and south, and east, and west, and will be of every tribe and tongue — but all one in Jesus Christ.
7. This is the only Church WHICH IS CERTAIN TO ENDURE UNTO THE END. Nothing can altogether overthrow and destroy it. Its members may be persecuted, oppressed, imprisoned, beaten, beheaded, burned; but the true Church is never altogether extinguished; it rises again from its afflictions; it lives on through fire and water. When crushed in one land it springs up in another. The Pharaohs, the Herods, the Neros, the Bloody Marys, have labored in vain to put down this Church; they slay their thousands, and then pass away and go to their own place. The true Church outlives them all.
8. This is the Church WHICH DOES THE WORK OF CHRIST UPON EARTH. Its members are a little flock, and few in numbers, compared with the children of the world; one or two here, and two or three there — a few in this place and few in that. But, these are they who shake the universe; these are they who change the fortunes of kingdoms by their prayers; these are they who are the active workers for spreading the knowledge of pure religion and undefiled; these are the life-blood of a country, the shield, the defense, the stay, and the support of any nation to which they belong.
9. This is the Church WHICH SHALL BE TRULY GLORIOUS AT THE END. When all earthly glory is passed away then shall this Church be presented without spot or blemish before God the Father. Thrones, principalities, and powers upon earth shall come to nothing; dignities, and offices, and endowments shall all pass away; but the Church of the first-born shall shine as the stars at the last, and be presented with joy before the Father's throne, in the day of Christ's appearing. When the Lord's jewels are made up, and the manifestation of the sons of God takes place, Episcopacy, and Presbyterianism, Catholicism, and Congregationalism will not be mentioned; one Church only will be named, and that is the Church of the [FIRST BORN WHOSE NAMES ARE WRITTEN IN THE LAMB’S BOOK OF LIFE!].
IF WE DO BELONG TO HIS CHURCH, WHY DO WE BELONG?
The answer is (and is only that):
We belong because we were washed in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb. Only the blood-washed belong.
We belong because we were called according to His purpose.
We belong because we are a debtor to the love of God.
We belong because we know there are others who do not, and we wish to win them.
We belong because we want to walk with Jesus Christ, and because having so far walked with Him, we will follow no other! FOR HE IS THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH TO WHICH WE BELONG!
THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION
Samuel J. Stone - 1866
The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord, She is His new creation By water and the Word. From heaven He came and sought her To be His holy bride; With His own blood He bought her And for her life He died.She is from every nation,Yet one o’er all the earth; Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth; One holy Name she blesses,Partakes one holy food, And to one hope she presses, With every grace endued.The Church shall never perish! Her dear Lord to defend,To guide, sustain, and cherish, Is with her to the end: Though there be those who hate her, And false sons in her pale, Against both foe or traitor She ever shall prevail.Though with a scornful wonder Men see her sore oppressed, By schisms rent asunder, By heresies distressed: Yet saints their watch are keeping, Their cry goes up, “How long?” And soon the night of weeping Shall be the morn of song!’Mid toil and tribulation, And tumult of her war, She waits the consummation Of peace forevermore; Till, with the vision glorious, Her longing eyes are blest, And the great Church victorious Shall be the Church at rest.Yet she on earth hath union With God the Three in One, And mystic sweet communion With those whose rest is won, With all her sons and daughters Who, by the Master’s hand Led through the deathly waters, Repose in Eden land.O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we Like them, the meek and lowly, On high may dwell with Thee: There, past the border mountains, Where in sweet vales the Bride With Thee by living fountains Forever shall abide!
“I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b KJV).
THAT IS THE TRUE CHURCH – HIS CHURCH!
Dennis D. Frey, Th.D., President
Master's International University of Divinity
“I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18b KJV.
Build – to build a house, to erect a building – thus a metaphor to found or establish, to promote growth.
Church - a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly – the publicly called out ones!
Gates – a gate of the larger sort such as to a city or temple or prison – thus a metaphor for access or entrance into any state
Hell - Hades, the Greek god of the lower regions – used of the lower regions of wicked dead
Prevail - to be strong to another's detriment, to prevail against, to be superior in strength.
Paraphrase: My church consists of those whom I have called out to represent Me publically. I will add to their number, and satanically energized world views will be powerless to stop it from happening.
2.1 billion persons claim Christianity as their religion - roughly 1/3 of the population of the world!
We are the public expression of the called out ones – His Church – the only True Church. Our reason for being is to bring glory to God by promoting the work of Christ. We do this by acts of holy devotion, and lives devoted to holiness! The True Church - the called out ones - is the only organization that offers the promise of real hope to an otherwise hopeless world.
Clubs do not, fraternal organizations do not, philanthropic organizations do not, unions do not, religious societies do not, educational institutions do not, and most assuredly, governments do not.
Yes, these may offer help in various ways, and in and of themselves may promote some good, but they do not, and they cannot offer real hope. Only the True Church of Jesus Christ offers real hope!
Real hope is what our world cries out for, and opportunity for the Church to deliver that hope abounds as never before! Today there are more children conceived and born out of wedlock than ever before, and their only real hope is to be brought into the family of His Church.
Today there are more single women raising children than ever before, and their only real hope is to be brought into the shelter of His Church.
Today there are more young people in crisis than ever before, and their only real hope is to be brought into the protective circle of His Church.
Today there are more men without hope of a promising future than ever before, and their only real hope is to be brought into the promise-filled brotherhood of His Church.
For all, the only true source of hope is to be brought into His Divinely instituted, Divinely commissioned, and Divinely energized, Hades-gate overcoming community which is the world’s only hope – His Church – the True Church!
Now, it must be asked, What is the True Church? That will be the subject of the next teaching.
Dennis D. Frey, Th.D., President
Master's International University of Divinity
CONCLUSION - The answer to the question of universal
righteousness lies in the in the heart - a matter of the heart. We might even say that that is the heart of
the matter. For if God has created man
in His own image, that image must reflect not only the ability to do
righteously, but the desire as well - a willful desire to act righteously or
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the
lives of Cain and Abel. Abel's sacrifice
was not better than Cain's - Abel's desire was better. That is to say, his heart was right. This is why God said to Cain, "If you do well will not your
countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well sin is crouching at the
door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it" (Genesis
must master it."
The word for "master" is mashal מָשַׁל which is a primitive root verb (indicating action),
which means to rule or exercise dominion. To exercise dominion over sin is more a thing
of the heart than of the head - it is of the spirit.
This is precisely why
long ages later nothing about human nature had changed when David made this clear
in his Psalm of contrition: "The sacrifices of God are a broken
spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise" (Psalm
The Complete Jewish Bible translates this verse as: " My sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God, you won't spurn a broken,
chastened heart" (Psalm
Does this mean that God is not pleased with acts
of righteousness? Certainly not, but
God's nature, His attributes, His acts, come not from a mechanical
demonstration of truth, but from His lovingkindness. To truly reflect the image of God, we must
act from the heart - a heart that has been fully surrendered to the Image and
Person of God. This is why the advanced
knowledge and adherence to the Law of a high ranking and righteous leader of the
Pharisees while commendable, was yet incomplete, hence Jesus said to Nicodemus: "Truly,
truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of
God" (John 3:3).
Being born again requires an act of surrender,
and such an act is an act of the will.
That act does not save, but it makes salvation possible when it is an
act of faith - "nevertheless knowing that
a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ
Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by
faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law
no flesh will be justified" (Galatians 2:16).
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves, it is the gift of God" ( Ephesians 2:8).
Faith is an act of the will - otherwise there
would either be universal salvation or universal death. God has called us to righteousness but such
righteousness is to come from the a transformed heart. Does this business of the heart, the will,
faith, and righteousness seem all mixed up?
It should because it is. It is
all inextricably bound together in the mystery of being mortal yet mortal as an
image of the divine.
Human beings have been created capable of
knowing moral truth - right from wrong.
Human beings have been created capable of doing moral truth - of
choosing right or wrong. Human beings
have been created capable of choosing for the right reason, and the wrong
reason. Human beings have been created
capable of full surrender to their Creator, and capable of willful
rebellion. Human beings have been given
the truth - from natural law, the Noahide, and the Scriptures. The choice is ours, and we are without
now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins
are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like
crimson, They will be like wool" (Isaiah 1:18).
The astute student may have noticed that with
the exception of its use earlier in the reference to Romans 2:15, the word "conscience" has not been
used. The word as Paul employed it in
Romans 2:15 is συνείδησις
(soon-i'-day-sis) meaning the soul as
distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former
and shun the latter, commending one, condemning the other.
Based on the Greek definition of that word, my
lack of its use might be viewed as an oversight. To explain my reasoning for not using it,
let's take a look at the modern definition of the word.
a : the sense or consciousness of the moral
goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character
together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good (She had a guilty
b : a faculty, power, or principle enjoining good
acts guided by conscience
c : the part of the superego in psychoanalysis
that transmits commands and admonitions to the ego 1
The true (or original) meaning/understanding of
a word can be obscured by its common use or overuse. Notice: " c :
the part of the superego in psychoanalysis that transmits commands and
admonitions to the ego." 1
It may be argued that for the most part (at
least in English speaking Western culture), the word conscience means little more than the learned responses of the ego,
and as such is nothing other than a reaction to external stimuli since human
beings do not possess an everlasting and never dying entity of life - a
soul. In other words, there really is no
such thing as the conscience that is
innate, only learned, and for this reason the common understanding of the word conscience obscures its original meaning.
Therefore, I have chosen to avoid a
misunderstanding by avoiding the clash of terminology.
Finally, have we exhausted the subject of how
human beings know the moral difference between right and wrong? No, we have hardly scratched the
surface. Furthermore, this is not a
course on personal salvation, and certainly not even an introduction to the
doctrines of hamartiology and Soteriology.
Nevertheless, if you the student as you listened
to or read this lecture found yourself agreeing or disagreeing with certain
points, then you have given yourself your own proof that you are capable of
knowing moral truth, and making choices as to how you are willing to process
This confirms that both of us are responsible
for how (as an act of our own free-will) we choose to either obey or disobey
natural law, the laws of the Noahide, and the other laws of God as they have
been more fully revealed to us in the Scriptures - laws which are tutors
leading us to Christ, and then sending us as tutors to others.
we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us;
we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God"
(II Corinthians 5:20).
For a deeper study,
you are encouraged to consider enrolling in our 3 credit-hour academic course
"THE LAW OF UNIVERSAL RIGHTEOUSNESS: Natural Law, the Noahide, and the
Torah." You can check out all of our regular academic programs by clicking
this link: PROGRAMS.
Thank you for sharing time with me. I hope this brief post
will encourage you to want to learn more about the laws of universal
righteousness, and the manner in which God has implanted the awareness of right
and wrong within your own heart and mind.
Soli Deo gloria
Dennis D. Frey, Th.D.,