Saturday, October 31, 2015
On November 1, we celebrate All Saints Day. This is a day for those of us in the Church to celebrate the lives of saints living and ones who came before us. They are the "great cloud of witnesses" mentioned in the letter of Hebrews. They are the early church fathers. They are martyrs of the faith. They are the pastors, Sunday school leaders, youth and children's ministry directors, grandparents, and friends who are faithful to Christ.
This celebration was a favorite of John Wesley and one he "peculiarly loved". It is a time we recognize and give thanks for the body of Christ which is His Church.
Now, we live in a day in which society, even some who call themselves Christians, have a low or negative view of the church. You might have even heard some say you don't need the church to be a Christian. This view is contrary to scripture and apostolic tradition.
So what is so special about the church? I will answer the question from the historic Nicene Creed. This was a statement of faith of the early church that distinguished the apostles teaching's handed down to the body of Christ from heresies. The confession of this creed states, "And I believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church."
First, the Church is One. Ephesians 4:4-6 says, "
Third, the Church is Catholic. This might unnerve some of you. However, another term that can be used for catholic is universal. The Church consists of people of all languages, races, and geographical locations. Galatians 3:28 says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." At one time, God's people were considered to be of one national race. Since Christ has come, salvation has come to all people of every nation, tribe, and tongue.
Lastly, the Church is Apostolic. Within the Church can be found the teachings of the apostles. Jude says, "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." There is no new revelation concerning Jesus Christ and the message of salvation. Ephesians 2:20 tells us the body of Christ is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus being the chief cornerstone.
What do some of our early church fathers, who we celebrate on All Saints Day, say about the church?