Monday, August 16

I Believe In....The Communion of Saints

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (Ephesians 2:19-21 ESV)

"The glorious company of the apostles praise thee,
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee,
The noble army of martyrs praise thee,
The holy church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee..."
---The Te Deum Laudamus

I. All saints that are united to Jesus Christ their head, by his Spirit and by faith, have fellowship with him in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other's gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as to conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.

II. Saints by profession, are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.

---The Westminster Confession, Chapter 26. Of the Communion of the Saints.

From A Divine Cordial by Thomas Watson:
Do they love God, who hate them that are like God? Do they love Christ's person, who are filled with a spirit of revenge against His people? How can that wife be said to love her husband, who tears his picture? Surely Judas and Julian are not yet dead, their spirit yet lives in the world. Who are guilty but the innocent! What greater crime than holiness, if the devil may be one of the grand jury! Wicked men seem to bear great reverence to the saints departed; they canonize dead saints, but persecute living. In vain do men stand up at the creed, and tell the world they believe in God, when they abominate one of the articles of the creed, namely, the communion of saints. Surely, there is not a greater sign of a man ripe for hell, than this, not only to lack grace, but to hate it.

But you have come to Mount Zion,
the city of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem,
and to myriads of angels,
to the assembly and congregation of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven,
and to God, the judge of all,
and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect,
and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than Abel's does.

(Hebrews 12:22-24 NET)

But who is able to complete the roster of the saints? To them we owe a debt of gratitude too great to comprehend: prophet and apostle, martyr and reformer, scholar and translator, hymnist and composer, teacher and evangelist, not to mention ten thousand times ten thousand simple-hearted and anonymous souls who kept the flame of pure religion alive even in those times when the faith of our fathers was burning but dimly all over the world.

They belong to us, all of them, and we belong to them. They and we and all redeemed men and women of whatever age or clime are included in the universal fellowship of Christ, and together compose 'a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people,' who enjoy a common but blessed communion of saints.

---from Man the Dwelling Place of God, by Aidan W. Tozer

We all--believer now present worldwide, together with those who are already in the company of the redeemed in heaven and those believers who are yet to come--belong to each other. All together we are becoming a building, contributing collectively to the construction a dwelling place for God. The lives of the apostles and prophets form the foundation, and each generation of believers adds to the structure, building what must be a skyscraper by now. We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, knowing that what we are doing would be nothing without what they have already done, and that those who come after us--our children and their children--will continue to build up this abiding place for God.

I believe in....the communion of the saints.