Catechism: The Church and Its Foundation

Chapter VII. The Christian Church

1. Why is this subject introduced at this point?

Because the church is the sphere in which the Spirit administers all the offices of Christ. On this account it seems better to place it under the administration of redemption than to give it a too prominent and independent place.

2. What is the range of subjects here?

First we must study the foundation of the church, with its notes or attributes, as a body or corporate institution; then consider it as a temple or sphere of worship; and finally mark its relation to the world as preparing it for the final kingdom.

I. The Church and its Notes

§ 1. Its Foundation

1. What evidence is furnished by the Gospels that our Lord purposed to found a fellowship or community?

The proofs of this take a threefold form.

(1) He spoke as come to set up the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven, or My kingdom.*

(2) Twice He called it a church; first, in its universality, I will build My church, and then in its congregational character, Tell it unto the church.

(3) At the end of His ministry He ordained institutions which imply and require a permanent organisation.

2. When was the church actually founded?

On the day of Pentecost. (1) Then the kingdom came with power;* (2) the church began as an ingathering upon and around the name of Jesus; and (3) the ministry and word and sacrament are first seen as united. Organisation commenced under the Holy Ghost, and flows on at once in the narrative.

3. What is the relation of kingdom and church?

The kingdom refers rather to the authority of Christ its King; the church, to the subjects of it gathered out of the word (ἐκ, καλέω): as the ancient people lived under a Theocracy, so we under a Christocracy; and as they were called the congregation, so we are called the church. The kingdom is one and always coming: the churches may be many in the one church, which is come.

This excerpt is from William Burt Pope’s Higher Catechism of Theology. Read more in Logos Bible Software or PDF (scans from Fred Sanders).