1. The catholic or universal Church which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.(a)
(a) Eph. 1:10, 22, 23; Eph. 5:23, 27, 32; Col. 1:18.
2. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion;(b) and of their children:(c) and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ,(d) the house and family of God,(e) out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.(f)
(b) I Cor. 1:2; I Cor. 12:12, 13; Ps. 2:8; Rev. 7:9; Rom. 15:9, 10, 11, 12.
(c) I Cor. 7:14; Acts 2:39; Ezek. 16:20, 21; Rom. 11:16; Gen. 3:15; Gen. 17:7.
(d) Matt. 13:47; Isa. 9:7.
(e) Eph. 2:19; Eph. 3:15.
(f) Acts 2:47.
3. Unto this catholic visible Church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth by His own presence and Spirit, according to His promise, make them effectual thereunto.(g)
(g) I Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11, 12, 13; Matt. 28:19, 20; Isa. 59:21.
4. This catholic Church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible.(h) And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.(i)
(h) Rom. 11:3, 4; Rev. 12:6, 14.
(i) Rev. 2 and 3; I Cor. 5:6, 7.
5. The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error:(k) and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan.(l) Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth, to worship God according to His will.(m)
(k) I Cor. 13:12; Rev. 2 and 3; Matt. 13:24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 47.
(l) Rev. 18:2; Rom. 11:18, 19, 20, 21, 22.
(m) Matt. 16:18; Ps. 72:17; Ps. 102:28; Matt. 28:19, 20.
6. There is no other head of the Church, but the Lord Jesus Christ;(n) nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.(o)
(n) Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22.
(o) Matt. 23:8, 9, 10; II Thess. 2:3, 4, 8, 9; Rev. 13:6.
About the Study
For nearly 375 years, the Westminster Confession of Faith has been the standard of Reformed theology around the world. It is right and proper for Reformed Christians to study the Confession our ancestors wrought so many centuries ago.
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