We understand and appreciate the difference between a church denomination or congregation and the Church—the spiritual Israel, “the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints” (The Apostles’ Creed).
Through membership in our local congregations the Spirit strengthens us in the Christian faith through His Word and Sacraments; there we praise and worship Him together; there we gather with like-minded believers to encourage and build one another up in our holy faith.
Christ-believers understand their Lord’s directive to “go to church” (Colossians 3:16, Romans 10:17; Hebrews 10:25) as coming from His unconditional love for their spiritual welfare.
But let us consider that, first and foremost, we are at the same time members of His Church—“the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints”!
Membership in this Church (we distinguish it in this writing with the large case “C”) has many privileges.
The Church belongs to Jesus; it is His creation through the Holy Spirit.
As members of the Church, we also belong to Him. We are a part of the Body of Christ—which is “His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23). As part of that Body we are enabled to serve Him through Spirit-worked faith and love. As members of the Church we earthen vessels have the solemn honor, privilege, and responsibility to share God’s Word with as many as we can throughout all the world. Jesus authorizes us, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)!
As we go about this blessed work, let’s remember that Jesus is the very foundation stone upon which His Church is built. Having been “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20), we stand on the foundation of His Word in all its truth and purity, and we are entirely safe and secure in His loving hands.
As Head of the Church Jesus is watching over and guiding us safely through life to our eternal home. He is always with us, promising He will never leave us nor forsake us. He provides our every need of body and soul.
The Church is loved by Jesus with a perfect, unconditional, and never-ending love! That love was displayed in greatest measure when He shed His sacred blood on Mt. Calvary—“Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption…” (Hebrews 9:12).
Jesus also sanctifies and cleanses His Church. He has changed us from being creatures of sin and death into His reborn, believing children. “…But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God…”
(1 Corinthians 6:11).
Finally, Jesus also defends the Church with His almighty Word, keeping and preserving His believers as members of His Body.
These blessings are but part of the privileges of membership in “the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints”!
Membership in this Church can’t be bought or earned. It is totally a gift of God’s free grace. Knowing this, we will cherish such membership each and every day of our lives until we are called out of this earthly life into the glorious Church triumphant in heaven!