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One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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October 6, 2021 12:01 am

One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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October 6, 2021 12:01 am

Can Protestants affirm the Nicene Creed when it says, "we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church"? Today, R.C. Sproul explains these four essential characteristics of the church of Jesus Christ.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind.

The church is the only institution that I know of that absolutely requires. It should be a center to be a member so you might expect, the church fathers in describing the church to call it the one on the hallway, Catholic and apostolic church, but no fathers called it holy Nicene Creed uses a description of the church, but the meaning of its words and become blurred over time. For example the one to one true church that is the Catholic Church. A true Christian would say yes you may find it surprising Dr. RC Sproul will explain in this message from his series communion of saints.

As we continue our study now of the doctrine of the church. I want to take the opportunity to reach back into the pages of church history all the way back to the fourth century to get some insight into our understanding of the nature and the character of the church. I think most of you are familiar to some degree.

At least with the apostles Creed and then later with the Nicene Creed. Some of you use the Nicene Creed regularly in the liturgy of your church that magnificent grade that affirms the deity of Christ that he is God of God. In light of life that he is begotten, and not made in for us men and for our salvation has come down from heaven, and so on. But in addition to the marvelous teaching of the person and work of Christ, that we find in the Nicene Creed.

We also have a famous list of adjectives that the church in the fourth century used, to confess their concept of the church and those four adjectives that I want to look at in this session are these the Creed describes the church as one hallway Catholic and what apostolic church.

We believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic church.

Each one of these adjectives calls attention to something I think of great importance about the nature of the church.

Of course, at the time that the Creed was written in the fourth century, the unity that the church enjoyed was indeed an organizational unity. For the most part there was but one visible Christian church that was before the great schism and it was before the Protestant Reformation, which occurred in the 16th century, whereby the visible unity of the body of Christ was broken and dashed into literally thousands of pieces so we can no longer say with the confidence of the church fathers in the fourth century that the church is numerically one in the visible unified sense, but there still is a sense in which some unity of the body of Christ has been preserved in the first instance the unity is still found throughout Christendom whereby in spite of the points of doctrine with which we disagree.

And, by which our distinctives are determined there is still a certain core or Catholic or universal faith that we all embrace virtually every church in the world Council of churches, for example, in each one of its constituent creams or confessions testify, or at least profess belief in the substance of teaching found in the so-called ecumenical councils like the Council of Nicaea like the Council of Chalcedon and so on, which means simply this, that there is a common core of truth that every church for example the Trinity.

We all believe in the Trinity will believe in the deity of Christ, we all believe in the the work of Christ on the cross as an atonement. We may differ on various the sins of understanding of the atonement, but we believe certainly that the death of Christ was an atonement, and so on so that in its essential the church still shares one Lord, one faith and one baptism if you're baptized in the Lutheran Church and you decide to join the Methodist Church in all probability the Methodist Church will recognize the validity of your baptism in the Lutheran Church and from the Methodist, the Anglicans, and so on. Because we have one Lord, who is Christ. One face essentially, and one baptism, so there's at least that much unity that is been preserved across denominational lines. There's another point of unity that is important that goes back even in earlier times from the Nicene Creed to the apostles Creed when the apostles Creed talks about the church. It talks about the communion of saints, the communion of saints not to confuse that with the celebration of the Lord supper which we call a holy communion means saints points to something beyond that. But we have a communion and the word communion is almost a redundancy because we see the Lord for oneness in the word itself. The Latin unity and, of course, as a prefix may simply with so that in the fellowship of the church we are with you with other people and that is part of the oneness of the church will the second term that is used is the one I think that which people in our day and age have begun to be cynical there been so many scandals of prominent religious figures in the United States in recent years the some people have said if there's any institution that is not holy.

It's the church and I've heard the complaint registered frequently that the church is full of hypocrites. I remember one minister saying there's always room for one more that he said at the same time. He said if he ever did find a perfect church. Whatever you do don't join it because you'll ruin it because the church is the only institution that I know of that absolutely requires that you be a center to be a member so you might expect, the church fathers in describing the church to call it the one on the hallway Catholic and apostolic church, but no fathers called it only simple reason is because the word of God calls it holy believers in the New Testament are called the hag he wastes the sinks, which means the holy ones.

The word hag Diaz is the word that is part of the name of the Holy Spirit is the title of the Holy Spirit, and yet we wonder how can we be called saints. When we are so manifestly unholy. Paul writes to the Corinthians to the St. Seward Corinth stop all this fighting and stop all of this immorality that he's describing and combating there in the church and yet he still calls them St. is like a contradiction in terms, doesn't for sinners to be called holy. Well, as Augustine pointed out centuries ago. There are several reasons why the church is called holy. The first is because as an institution and as a group the church to recall is that body which is a Clay Sia that it is called out in the world and because God has separated this institution from every other human institution. He has consecrated and by consecrating it or setting it apart God has made it holy. The second reason why we call the church only because the church members who are truly Christians are people who are really indwelt by the living presence of the Holy Ghost.

In other words, the Holy Spirit descends upon the church upon the people of God and takes his dwelling place within them, and we know that every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Ghost, that doesn't mean that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit automatically conveys or confers perfection. We are not glorified. We are not yet perfectly sanctified, but insofar as the Holy Spirit dwells within us. We can be said to be the hag he oy the holy ones you see that often wondered why when we look at the way the Bible distinguishes among the three persons of the Godhead.

Why only one of the three is given the title as part of his name holy.

We know that God is holy but we don't speak of holy father and we know that the son is holy, but we don't talk about the holy son, but rather we speak of father son and holy spirit. Why because the emphasis in the ministry of the Holy Spirit as the third member of the Trinity is to make the people of God holy and so the spirit as he works in this institution is working by the means of grace that are concentrated in it to bring you through your sanctification right the third descriptive adjective here that we find is the adjective Catholic and again initially in the fourth century it was tacitly assumed there that the word Catholic meant Roman catholic because the headquarters for the church at that time was in Rome but notice that the crew didn't include that particular designation didn't have to but the word Catholic as most of you already know I'm sure simply means universal. And indeed the Church of Christ in the fourth century was universal in the sense that wherever the Christian church was found. Whether it was in Greece or in Italy or in England or wherever it was found. It was the same. What we would call the nomination. It was the same visible institution the same visible organization with the same structure and the same hierarchy so that the church could say where the bishop is there is the church now that catholicity in the visible institutional sense has been lost, although in the 16th-century part of the controversy between Rome and the reformers was precisely over this point what was wrong to do with the churches that were springing up that had broken away from Roman Catholic communion with the Lutheran Church in Germany and the Reformed Church in Switzerland and in Scotland. How was that to be handled in the state of Rome said these churches that were springing up in these nations were not true churches because they were not Catholic because they were restricted to one nation or to one locality and even still in our nation today my denomination. I'm a member of the Presbyterian denomination and is called the Presbyterian Church in America. It has no visible connection with the Presbyterian Church in Yugoslavia. If there is one, so that our church is national in its scope and in its boundary. Rome, however, remains international doesn't.

I was thinking today of what is the largest export from Italy. It's not spaghetti it's the Roman Catholic Church because that tiny little nation of Italy has an institution that is headquartered there that has its representatives all over this globe and this was one of the arguments that the church said in the 16th century against the Protestants you are local. We are Catholic and so the Protestants said yes, the faith that we embrace the one the Lord, the one faith, one baptism that is Catholic that remains universal and we still hold to the Catholic faith. The universal doctrine of Christ and of the Scriptures, and that catholicity is still a vitally important element of every church.

I'm a member of the Reformed Church and people speak them. It's all your present earnestly yes. All I know what that means is what's that mean this event made you believe in tulip the five points of Calvinism and I even know Presbyterians who think that Presbyterianism or reformed theology is the five-point account, so that's not true at all. Those are the distinctives. Those are the points that we hold indifference from other Christian bodies, but we have to be careful what we call ourselves because there three designations at least a go around the world today is the Catholic there's evangelical and there's the reformer of the Lutheran of the Methodist or whatever. Not everyone who is Catholic is evangelical but everyone who is evangelical is Catholic and not everyone who is evangelical is Lucerne or reformed, but everyone who is truly reformed is evangelical and anyone who is truly Lucerne is likewise evangelical to see how this works, that there's the catholicity which is the foundational essential doctrines of the Christian by that every Christian has to hold to, and there's the evangelical which means you believe in justification by faith alone. And then there your distinctives that the fine the various groups, but we don't throw away our catholicity. That is the universal truth of Christianity. When we embrace the particular domination that we do art finally and perhaps most importantly for our day.

The church is apostolic when I say that this is of vital importance for our day essay.

For this reason, I doubt if there has been any time in the entire history of Christianity were the integrity of the apostles has come more sharply under attack from within the church as in our own generation is in her own lifetime. When people attack the authority of the Bible what they are attacking basically is the authority of the apostles are Aeneas in the early church had to combat the heretics who were called gnostics and other groups, and these people said we are not going to follow the teachings of the apostles anymore. We have our own insight. We have our own knowledge. We have our own source of authority. We believe in Jesus, but we are not going to accept the authority of the apostle's it was if the say Jesus we like but it's all we can't stay in one irony is said to them, and rightly so, was that if you reject all if you reject the apostle then you reject the one who sent the apostle relays, and film the word apostle in its basic meaning in the New Testament means simply one who is sent, but in the technical sense.

If I send my son to the store for a loaf of bread I have not made him an apostle in the technical sense of biblical apostleship. There's another dimension to it to be an apostle in the narrow sense of the New Testament is not only to be sent, sent by somebody but to be authorized for that mission to speak with the authority of the one who sends you when irony is argued against the heretics.

The way he did.

He was merely echoing Jesus own argument with the Pharisees because the Pharisees said we are the children of God we believe God it's you, Jesus, that we are not going to accept, remember how diseases handle said father sent me this is the will of the father that you believe the one whom the father sent as a Jesus would not allow the Pharisees to have their cake and eat it too because Jesus was the first apostle. He was the one the father sent and said and the father sent him saying all authority on heaven and earth is given to you. So when Jesus says the father says one of the things Jesus said was with respect to the apostles after he commissioned them. Those who receive you receive me.

Those who will not receive you do not receive me. It frightens me, particularly in the militancy of some of the feminist. I have seen the apostle Paul.

So slander seen him called a male chauvinist egg I've seen it in print by women within the church saying we can't stand this narrowminded bigoted first century Jew called Paul we worship Jesus but not Paul. Beloved it can have Jesus without Paul. You don't know anything about thesis, except what you have learned so the testimony of the apostles. It was Jesus himself who said that the very foundation of the church is the possible now. The last controversy that I want to touch on lately is our time is getting away from us is with respect to this concept of the apostolic church. Some churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican church and others believe in an unbroken succession of the apostle was from the original 12 down to the present day in Rome, the Pope is considered the Vicar of Christ. He wears the shoes of the fisherman.

He is there in the basilica of St. Peter. He is the successor of Peter, who Robles was the first bishop of Rome.

And so they believe that the church is not authentically apostolic unless there is this continuum from the first century dumbfounded today that one can trace back to that starting point, a lot of the time to and and analyze that in any detail, but the Protestant churches of the 16th century who rejected apostolic succession said the authority of the apostles remains intact in the life of the church right here.

Here is how the authority of the apostles is expressed in the life of the church today through the sacred Scripture and so we conclude with an icing father that the church is one of the church is holy.

The church is Catholic and the church is still a clear and accurate description of the church historically and biblically. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind and all week. We are bringing you portions of Dr. RC Sproul series on the church is called communion of saints, the 20th century saw a dramatic decline of the biblical understanding of the church and receiving the results of the confusion. Dr. W. Robert Godfrey is the chairman of the board here at regular ministries, and his latest teaching series addresses this very topic. It's called the necessity of reforming the church in it. The causes to examine our own churches. What do we emphasize and visit biblical in six lessons. Dr. Godfrey reminds us of John Calvin's thoughts on why the church needs to be reformed the entire series addresses penetrating questions for all Christians today will be glad to send you the DVD for your donation of any amount you can find us or you can call us with your gift at 800-435-4343 the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century grew out of a realization that the Roman Catholic Church's priorities were different from those found in Scripture.

Men like Martin Luther and Calvin recognize that gap and work to bring the church back under the authority of Scripture. Dr. Guthrie's emphasis in this series is to remind us that we should be willing to examine our own methods in the church and be ready to change so we invite you to request the necessity of reforming the church or web address again is Renewing Your Mind.word phone number 800-435-4343.

We look forward to hearing from you and we thank you in advance for your generous donation who makes up the church.

Everyone who's been baptized were those who make a profession of faith. How can we tell.

I hope you'll join us for the crystals message titled wheat tears and waiting for the harvest next Thursday. Here on Renewing Your Mind

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