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Apostle's Creed 13: I Believe In The Catholic Church

By Pastor Phillip Howle

web posted August 21, 2013

RELIGION – Summer is coming to an end. School is back in session and attendance at churches will start picking back up. The next phase of the Apostles’ Creed is another affirmation of belief. “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church: the communion of saints:” I have always believed that actual practice shows what you really believe. I believe that over eating is bad for my health, but I still over indulge from time to time.

I believe that obeying the law is important, but I still speed occasionally. You see, the validity of my stated beliefs will be shown by my actual practices. So, before you go affirming this statement, do you believe in church? Do your actions show you truly believe in church?
What is interesting is that when you look at the creed, it speaks of the church before mentioning personal salvation (forgiveness, resurrection, everlasting life). St. Augustine, the greatest theologian in the first thousand years of church history, said there is no salvation outside the church. That sounds severe, but it makes sense when you consider that to be saved you become a child of God and you can't become a child of God without joining his family. The family of God will and should meet together, this takes place at your local church.
Please understand there is a misguided notion concerning church; that it is like an add on to the Christian life. This is not the case. When you look at buying a car, you can get all kinds of upgrades and extras. Leather seats, heated seats, dual climate control, and better speakers, are all things you can do without.  But church is essential. It would be like going to buy a car and telling the salesmen you don’t want the tires or transmission.  It is absurd.
Church is needed for spiritual growth in your life. Anyone who thinks Christian faith and life is so simple and easy that it can be a do-it-yourself at home job is either incredibly naive or amazingly conceited. I mean, I can get all the medical info I would ever need on the internet, but I am not going to try and remove my own spleen. Think about it, who of us is ready to forgive seventy times seven or to forsake all we have for the sake of Jesus Christ? Frankly, I need all the help I can get. Don't you? The church is God's gift to help people like you and me.

Now some of you are already thinking, you tried church and you found some jerks there. Maybe you had a preacher who was a jerk to you; maybe I have been a jerk to you. Please know that there are no perfect churches because there are no perfect people. It amazes me that people are shocked to discover there are sinners and hypocrites in the church.
The church is meant to be a hospital for sinners. Would you storm out of Edgefield Hospital mad because there are sick people there getting better? No, you expect to find that. Likewise you should expect to meet people who are sinners and are spiritually sick in church. Some of those people by grace are getting better and some, due to their choices, are getting worse but they are all welcomed in church.  There ought to be more sinners going to church not fewer. The church is people who hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6). They know their need and seek to fulfill it together.

Now, let me also mention something about the creed that some of you have already noticed, “I believe in the holy catholic church.” This gets some folks upset and some have even taken to revise the Creed to say "the holy Christian church." That is a concession to those who don't know the meaning of the original term: "Catholic." They think the "Holy Catholic Church" means "The Roman Catholic Church." The Catholic Church means the "whole church," the "universal church." The Roman Catholic Church is not the whole church. The Baptist Church is not the whole church. The Methodist Church is not the whole church. The whole church, i.e. the "catholic" church, is composed of all those who have been born again into God's family, regardless of their denominational label.

The last phrase says that we believe in a "communion" of saints. The word for communion is the Greek word koinonia. It refers to what we have in common. Specifically, what all saints have in common is sin, salvation, and service.
Paul said, "We are members of one another" (Ephesians 4:25).  This crosses denominational lines and looks outside the local church to the universal church. Now, on the issue of membership, Paul is not talking about a "time share membership." The church is not a resort you visit on special occasions. It is where you belong.
Also, one more thing many people will say that is "my church." I like this expression, but it means something different than to say "my car." "My car" means I own it and can do with it whatever I want. It belongs to me. "My church" doesn't mean it belongs to me. It means I belong to it and the church belongs to Jesus.

Praying For The Power and the Unity Of All The Churches In Edgefield County.

Pastor Phillip

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