From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Church
We are not dreaming of a Platonic state, as some maliciously assert, but we teach that this Church does exist, comprised of truly believing and righteous people scattered throughout the whole world. And we add the marks: the pure doctrine of the gospel and the sacraments. This Church is properly the pillar of the truth (1 Tim 3:15) because it retains the pure gospel and what Paul calls the “foundation” (1 Cor 3:11), the true knowledge of Christ and faith. There are obviously many weak persons in the Church who build upon the foundation with stubble that will perish, that is, with useless opinions. Nevertheless, because they do not overthrow the foundation, they are both forgiven and also corrected.
Pulling It Together
You will find the Church wherever two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus (Matt 18:20), that is with faith in him, teaching the gospel, and administering the sacraments. Christ is the cornerstone of the Church, and the teachings of the prophets and the apostles are its foundation (Eph 2:20). The sign in front of the building is not proof, nor are its articles of incorporation. The Holy Scriptures are its charter and constitution. Faithful people are its structure. This holy temple, the Church, is the work of God’s Spirit. Therefore, the Church is primarily spiritual and theological, not physical, organizational, or historical. It is a living temple and all people with faith in Christ are its living stones (1 Pet 2:5).
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for making me a member of your household, through your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
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