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Marks of the True Church

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  • gmw
    Marks of the True Church. [Marks of the True Church, from The Original Covenanter.] MARKS OF THE TRUE CHURCH. Excerpted from: THE ORIGINAL COVENANTER. VOL.
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 13, 2004
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      Marks of the True Church.
       
      [Marks of the True Church, from The Original Covenanter.]
       
      MARKS OF THE TRUE CHURCH.

      Excerpted from:
       

      THE
      ORIGINAL COVENANTER.
      VOL. III.    SEPTEMBER, 1883.    NO. 11.
      All sound divines distinguish between the visible and the invisible church; and they agree in distinguishing a true from a pure church. They also agree that on earth exists no pure or infallible church; also, that a true church may degenerate into a synagogue of Satan.

      Sound divines teach that "the visible church consists of all who profess the true religion, together with their children;" and that the invisible church comprises all who have been, are, or shall be united to Christ, and these only. They agree, moreover, that the true Christian church is to be known by certain marks, notes, or characteristics; and that these are three in number, namely, sound doctrine, a legitimate ministry, and the due administration of the sacraments. By these marks the true, visible church was recognized in the early ages of Christianity, and by all real reformers from the Romish apostasy. But in recent years the phrase, "true church," has been very generally discarded, and another—thought to be better—more charitable, has been substituted, viz., "an evangelical church." This so-called evangelical church has not hitherto been accurately defined, if, indeed, susceptible of definition. "All the evangelical churches" is language now so popular as to supersede the necessity of testing them by the old Scriptural marks. The nearest attempt to define an evangelical church is in these few words: "All that hold the Head." This is too vague, for the Romish Church is tenacious in holding the Head—a church which we believe would be excluded from the category of evangelical churches by most of those who use the popular language we have quoted.

      The first mark and test of a true church is sound doctrine: and it is true that holding the Head, Christ, is essential. For "whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father." 1 John 2.23. But yet in our time, as well as in the times of Arius and Socinus, there are many who freely use all the Scriptural names of the only Saviour, and still deny his supreme deity, just as did the older heresiarchs. Of course, all who refuse to "honor {325} the Son even as they honor the Father," must deny the doctrine of the Atonement, and to be consistent, reject all the other doctrines of grace. The erroneous views of Christ's person, offices, and work, are innumerable. Indeed, all the doctrines of supernatural revelation have been, and they continue to be, misrepresented or repudiated by professed disciples of Christ. Hence, the indispensable necessity of "forms of sound words," subordinate standards of faith, systems of doctrine by which to "try the spirits," in obedience to the divine injunction, 1 John 4.1.

      A legitimate ministry is the second mark of a true church. "God hath set some in the church." 1 Cor. 12.28; and "no man taketh this honour unto himself." Heb. 5.4. No doubt the apostolic commission, accompanied by the promise of Christ's perpetual presence, legitimates the existence of a permanent gospel ministry; but it does not involve authority for every church member to become a teacher. "Are all Apostles?" No, nor "teachers," any more than "workers of miracles." 1 Cor. 12.29. The official teachers appointed by our Lord were of two distinct classes, extraordinary and ordinary. Of the former class were apostles, prophets, and evangelists; of the latter, pastors and teachers. Eph. 4.11. The ordinary mission [commissionating, ordination] of a standing or permanent gospel ministry is through the joint action of their predecessors in office, with fasting, prayer, and imposition of hands. Acts 13.1-4. In this way only can ministers be said to be "sent forth by the Holy Ghost," and all who "climb up some other way are thieves and robbers—through covetousness making merchandise" of their deluded followers. 2 Peter 2.3. Of all such usurpers and deceivers we are expressly forewarned. 2 Tim. 4.3,4; 2 Peter 2.1.

      We admit that the Holy One of Israel is not limited by his own rules, but we are; and those regular ministers who countenance and co-operate with self-styled evangelists and revivalists, male or female, are chargeable alike with folly and criminality: with folly, in disparaging their own office; and with criminality in "strengthening the {326} hands of evil-doers." When a true church degenerates so far as to provoke the Lord to cast her off and remove her candlestick, he then uses extraordinary means, and enables his faithful children to recover their faithful guides. This he did and enabled them to do, by bringing Luther, Calvin, Knox, and others, out of apostate Rome. This extraordinary work of divine providence and grace, however, will by no means warrant to justify the irregular and extravagant pretensions of enthusiasts who claim to have had a divine [immediate] call like Saul of Tarsus. Even superior gifts will not prove a call to the work of the ministry; nor will the highest degree of intellectual culture; for many attain to this who are "the enemies of the cross of Christ." Neither will piety, of itself, fit one for the ministerial office, because a "mother in Israel" excels in godliness many or most of regular ministers. "Let your women keep silence in the churches—I suffer not a woman to teach." 1 Cor. 14.34; 1 Tim. 2.12.

      The due administration of the sacraments is the third and last note of a true church. Of course, it is requisite that these be well known, that they be not confounded with Rome's "five bastard sacraments, marriage, holy orders," etc. The only signs and seals of the New Testament, or [new dispensation of the] covenant of grace, are baptism and the Lord's Supper. These, the same in substance as circumcision and the passover of the Old Testament. In reference to the proper subjects of baptism, much ignorance and error prevail. In worldly things, common sense would say that only parties to a document have right to its seals. No one becomes a party by sealing a document. He affixes his seal because he is a party to the contract. All who are members of the visible church, and none else, are the proper subjects of baptism. But who are they? This question has been already answered, viz., all who profess the true religion, and their children. The membership of the church is not constituted by baptism, as is too generally taught and believed, not only by those falsely called Baptists, but by many others. The ignorant remark may be often heard, Such a one "was baptized and—joined the church," thus reversing the order of reason and Scripture. {327} The membership of the church is supplied and perpetuated chiefly by the birth of her own offspring, as is clear, Rom. 11.16-24. There was not a new church organized by the apostles, but the old church received new members by the accession of the Gentiles, and was thus perpetuated. In these two ways the church is still continued in the world, by birth and profession. It was because the hearers of Peter's preaching gave credible evidence of repentance, etc., that the first Gentile converts were received into the church. Acts 10.46; 15.7.

      There is a proverbial saying—"The blind are often bold enough." It has been often asserted that "circumcision was not a seal of the covenant of grace, but only a badge of national distinction," although Paul teaches the contrary in a variety of forms and in several of his epistles, especially in Romans and Galatians. He says explicitly that "the sign of circumcision was a seal of the righteousness of faith," Rom. 4.11; and calls the covenant of which it was a seal, "the gospel preached to Abraham," Gal. 3.8. Indeed we have seen the bold assertion in the writings of a Baptist of literary and theological pretensions, that, "God never had a church in the world till the time of the apostles!" He certainly did not understand the eleventh chapter of Romans, nor the testimony of the proto-martyr, Stephen, in the seventh chapter of Acts. Surely his eye had never caught these words of the thirty-eighth verse, "This is he that was in the church in the wilderness," etc., where he might have found that God had a church in the time of Moses. Oh! the blinding power of error. The exclusion of at least one-half of God's covenant children from the initiatory seal and privilege of his covenant, and so treating them as Heathens and Publicans, may render it questionable whether the other half constitute a true church.

      On the other part of this mark of a true church, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper and its due administration, still greater controversy and more heretical opinions prevail. Besides the corruption and the profanation of the ordinance by the idolatrous Romish mass, few Protestant churches exemplify its {328} due Scriptural administration. In this ordinance Christ is evidently (although symbolically) set forth "crucified." Gal. 3.1. In it Christ our passover is "sacrificed." 1 Cor. 5.7. The stewards and the guests at this feast are required to possess certain qualifications in order to its due administration. The Bible knows nothing of what is called "open" or "catholic communion." [communing with those of other denominations.] And even those who are bold enough to deny the substantial identity of circumcision and baptism, will hardly refuse that the Lord's Supper comes in the room of the Passover, seeing the latter is expressly called by the same name, "the feast, the passover." Among the many directions given by the Lord in the due observance of the passover, we notice the strictness of this one, "There shall no stranger eat thereof. A foreigner and a hired servant shall not eat thereof;" and still more explicitly—"No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof." Exod. 12:43,45,48. "Behold this is the law of the house" under the New Testament dispensation. Ezek. 43.12. Nevertheless, many or most Protestant and Presbyterian churches disregard these divine injunctions, to manifest their superior piety and exuberant charity, as though sinful mortals could be more charitable than the God of love and mercy. Only a few days ago, came into our hands the published answer of a Presbyterian pastor to the question, "May an unbaptized person be admitted to the Lord's Supper?" After "beating the air" by a profusion of irrelevant matter, he, at length with seeming hesitancy, answered in the affirmative! Then, to illustrate and strengthen his position, in selecting among the unbaptized, he fixed upon a Quaker. He could not deny the children's bread to pious Quakers. But where could he find the pious Quaker who would ask for the bread? Quaker piety is of such sublime and spiritual nature, feeding on ambrosial nutriment from the "light within" as to supersede such "carnal ordinances." Then the result would be that the Presbyterian's charity would in fact be a temptation to the Quaker to violate his conscience: and what sort of charity is that?

      The reader may see from the foregoing remarks, that the characteristics of a true church agreed upon by reforming {329} divines, are now cast aside and very generally discarded. It may also be said that our views, as above outlined, are too strict; and to make them appear so, they will be misrepresented and caricatured. If so, we will only fare as our fathers did at the hands of time-servers. They were represented as requiring a "faultless and sinless ministry." They replied—"We seek not a sinless but a faithful ministry." So we seek not a pure, but a true church—a church that may be known by sound doctrine—a legitimate ministry, and the due administration of the sacraments. No, we do not expect a pure church on earth, for he who knoweth the end from the beginning has told us (and we believe his word reliable), that tares will be found among the good seed until the harvest, which is to be reaped by the angels. Matt. 13.26,30. But there is to be another harvest besides the final one, and also an awful reaping time, when rebellious nations shall be utterly destroyed; and, in addition, a tremendous vintage, when the clusters of the vine of the earth shall be cast into the great wine-press of the wrath of God—an apostate church. Rev. 14.15-19.

      Now it was in view of this intervening harvest and vintage, together with other cognate events, trying the patience and faith of the saints, and evidently predicted, that learned and godly servants of Jesus Christ framed and fixed those landmarks of a true church. But besides those marks more general, the Scriptures contain many other more specific and distinctive characteristics of God's people, of which we notice a few. They are described as an "afflicted and poor people." Zeph. 3.12; James 2.5; Rev. 2.9; as "men wondered at," Zech. 2.8, teaching principles "hurtful to kings and provinces," Ezra 4.15, "customs not lawful to receive, neither to observe," Acts 16.21, "turning the world upside down," Acts 17.5: "a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men," 1 Cor. 4.9. These are only a sample of the traits of character by which the true church of God has been distinguished [either by God, or by her enemies] in all ages. Now where is the church of our time which answers to these Scriptural tests? The church which Christian distinguished from the "flocks of the companions" {330} as his flock, Canticles 1.7,8, he addressed in the days of his flesh thus: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12.32. Christ's little flock, "the flock of slaughter," (Zech. 11.4) is distinguished from the companions very conspicuously by two marks. Whereas the votaries of Antichrist are marked in their forehead—"or in their right hand," Rev. 13.16, Christ's flock are both marked and sealed, Ezek. 9.4; Rev. 7.3, and "upon or in their foreheads" only. The former parties "are arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls"—the "attire of an harlot." Rev. 17.4; but the latter party are arrayed in "fine linen, clean and white." Rev. 19.8.

      "The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High"—"I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them." Dan. 7.27; Rev. 20.4. Sic factum sit.

    • A Mighty Fortress
      Dear friend and group members. ‘Tis a pleasure to address to all ye this first post. May our dear Lord and Saviour bless ye all. I am the Pastor of a tiny
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 14, 2004
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          Dear friend and group members.

          ‘Tis a pleasure to address to all ye this first post. May our dear Lord and Saviour bless ye all. I am the Pastor of a tiny secluded orthodox Lutheran congregation in Argentina. We are in fellowship with an independent congregation in Mexico and have some friends & fellows in the States & England, men and families currently meeting in home churches: Lutheran outward bodies are entirely rotten, thus, though it may seem pretty upsetting to say, afterwards many years seeking for, we believe there is not more an external or visible true Lutheran church in the worldwide.

          I hope expose some comments related to this good preceding post, now from a Lutheran insight. I hastily want say that I am very acquainted with the Presbyterian church, and that recently I have discovered two excellent websites, ‘covenanter’ & ‘true covenanter’, whose materials are a blessing to all us.

          As our friend in Christ have said, the we can talk about a ‘visible’ or outward church, and on a ‘invisible’ church; I prefer call her a Hidden church or congregation of the Lord (following Luther), namely, the full communion of all true believers, the elects of God. Why Hidden? Hidden, since she is perceived not by sight, but you can only believe her. We can say a same thing about the Ministry: you cannot see it, you only can believe in this Office, that is the Office of Christ bequeathed on the Apostles and thus came from them on all their successors, elders, pastors or bishops, -a same Office-, in the natural and ordinary functions. I may agree that it not exists on earth a ‘pure’ (i.e., or Donatists) church, since in the congregations, mixed with true saints, may be, and frequently are, hypocritical and fake & false believers, mixed.

          How we are 5 points Lutherans and hold to Covenant theology, I well may also stand with the proposition "the visible church consists of all who profess the true religion, together with their children." In general we agree with orthodox Presbyterian and I personally found the 1560 John Knox’s Confession as excellent and very close to our beliefs. Nevertheless, as Lutherans, (and recalling our old fights against Popedom arrogance pretending that the Antichrist Pope is the King over all churches ‘of divine right’ de iure divino) we still hold that the Lord Christ is not a New Moses, this is, he has not imposed a legal church rule on His Congregation. Thus, we believe that there is not outward church rule of divine right in the Christ’s Church, since Christ himself rules His Church by Word and Sacraments. For us Sacraments are not ‘sacerdotal ordinances opere operato’; we believe with Augustine that the Word joined to the humble elements make the sacraments, and that these are not solely tokens and seals of Grace to the covenanted but also means [vehicles] of Grace to the elect. With Dr. Twisse and Beza we believe that regeneration of Infants may well precede or join the Baptism, if we are pondering paedobaptism. Turning to church rule, we believe that Christians assembled around the Word & Sacraments, and the Office of the Ministry, later on choose the best manner of church government, this is, the more adequate for preach the Word, Baptize and assemble for the Table of the Lord.

        Here I post our Theses on Church. Comments shall be welcome.

         

        (A1) The Church (Una Sancta) is the communion of all believers. All who truly believe in Christ despairing of their own righteousness belong to this one church. (Eph. 2.19f) This we confess in the Apostles’ Creed when we say: “I believe in one holy Christian church, the communion of saints.” AC. VII; VIII.

         

        (A2) Therefore, the Una Sancta is hidden under the Cross until the end of the world. Hence, the communion of saints cannot be seen, but solely believed. This Church cannot be confused with any outward or external ecclesiastical form.

         

        (A3) This church, nevertheless, is found wherever the Word of God is proclaimed in all purity and the Sacraments are administered according to their divinely institution. The Holy Spirit gathers the church through these means. We may be certain that the Word of God will not return empty but will accomplish what pleases God. (Is. 55, 11) AC VII.

         

        (A4) God has given His church the commission to preach His Word, administer the Sacraments and especially the power to forgive and to retain sins. This is called the office of the keys. The believers are commissioned to use the keys privately [individually] and collectively. (Jn. 20, 21-23; 1 Peter 2, 9) Treatise §§ 24.

         

        (A5) God wills that Christians come together in assemblies to use the means of grace pure and unaltered as well for their own benefit as to let the unity among them be recognized, and to bring the Gospel of salvation in Christ to others. (Jer. 23, 28; Jn. 8, 31f; Acts 2, 42; Ps. 133,1; Matt. 28, 19f). These assemblies, the churches, congregations or local communions, later shall choose outward manners or constitutions of church rule (congregational, Presbyterian, synodical, consistorial, bishoprics, etc.) able for the ongoing of Word and Sacraments. These same assemblies [local congregations] are the first foundational units where the Church appears, originated by a creative act of the Holy Ghost through the Word. Solely in this intelligence we can say that they are divinely ordained.

         

        (A6) the Word of God is the single authority in the church. Where this Word is spoken it is as valid as if the Lord Himself had spoke from heaven. (Lk. 10, 16) SA. B 2,15; Treatise §§ 42; Apol. 7, 28. Christ Himself through Word and Sacraments rules the church.

         

        (A7) Christians are called by the Lord to congregate in an orthodox church, namely, that church which teaches God’s Word without error; and they fervently would avoid all false teaching churches. (Matt. 7,15; 1 Jn. 4,1; Rom. 16, 17; Titus 3, 10-11).

         

        References: AC (Augsburg Confession); Apol. (AC’s Apology ); Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope.

         

        We also teach that the Marks of the true church are their right preaching of the Word as Law and Gospel, and the administration of the Sacraments according to the institution of Christ. How we (in particular) teach that the Word ‘comes’ with the Office (of the Ministry, the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments) we may welcome the sound Ministry as a Mark as well. Concerning the Ministry, the AC says that men must have a ‘rite vocatus’, a proper and right call for preach the Word, etc. The church (local congregation or delegated committees, etc.) makes this call. When we talk about the church calling, we intend say all the members of the congregation, laymen and Ministers. The assembly makes the choice, the Ministers or doctors of the Word examine the incumbents, give approbation, and later they impose their hands while the Assembly proffers her “Axios!”, Well Done, Is right!” This way ALL in the congregation take part in the call to the Ministry. We believe this is the Scriptural manner. But if for some reasons, as it occurred in Reformation times, apostate bishops or pastors refuse ordain orthodox men to the Ministry, then the Kirk, as possessor of the Keys, is able for make a call, since the Gospel is above all laws. When the Ministry is restored, then the regular methods continue. I don’t want bothering you posting here additional Theses on the Ministry.

         

        We have and confess the same Doctrines of Grace mentioned by our friend in his post. We also agree with him in the doctrine of closed (or protected) communion. Concerning the Holy Supper, we don’t believe it is ‘symbolic’ if with this is intended ‘spiritualise’ its meaning. Spiritualism has been harmful from old in the Christian Church. We still join Luther in this, we hold the naked text, This is My Body; This is My Blood. We think is better avoid try to rationalize or ‘provide explanations’ about. We believe that the Lord says--and we do that He commanded us to do. I truly appreciate Calvin’s efforts to get a statement of Concord and personally think that he was close to get it. Nevertheless he used too many words and finally failed. Anyhow, he was really close to the old Lutheran doctrine, may be he did it in a better way that Melanchton with his continued ‘changes’ to the AC. , the traitorous Luther’s fellow. Possibly a final agreement among Remnant Lutherans and Remnant Presbyterian could well be got on these words:

         

        ‘…And thus we utterly damn the vanity of those that affirm sacraments to be nothing else but naked and bare signs. No, we assuredly believe that by baptism we are engrafted in Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his righteousness, by the which our sins are covered and remitted; and also, that in the supper, rightly used, Christ Jesus is so joined with us, that he becomes the very nourishment and food of our souls. [3] Not that we imagine any transubstantiation of bread into Christ's natural body, and of wine in his natural blood (as the Papists have perniciously taught and damnably believed); but this union and conjunction which we have with the body and blood of Christ Jesus, in the right use of the sacraments, is wrought by operation of the Holy Ghost, who by true faith carries us above all things that are visible, carnal, and earthly, and makes us to feed upon the body and blood of Christ Jesus, which was once broken and shed for us, which now is in heaven, and appears in the presence of his Father for us.[4] ‘…We most assuredly believe that the bread that we break is the communion of Christ's body, and the cup which we bless is the communion of his blood. [5] So that we confess, and undoubtedly believe, that the faithful, in the right use of the Lord's table, do so eat the body and drink the blood of the Lord Jesus, that he remains in them and they in him: yea, that they are so made flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones, [6] that as the Eternal Godhead has given to the flesh of Christ Jesus (which of its own condition and nature was mortal and corruptible) [7] life and immortality, so does Christ Jesus' flesh and blood eaten and drunken by us, give to us the same prerogatives. Which, albeit we confess are neither given unto us at that only time, neither yet by the proper power and virtue of the sacrament only; yet we affirm that the faithful, in the right use of the Lord's table, have such conjunction with Christ Jesus, [8] as the natural man cannot apprehend.

         

        Yea, and further we affirm, that albeit the faithful, oppressed by negligence, and manly infirmity, do not profit so much as they would in the very instant action of the supper, yet shall it after bring fruit forth, as lively seed sown in good ground. For the Holy Spirit (which can never be divided from the right institution of the Lord Jesus) will not frustrate the faithful of the fruit of that mystical action; but all this, we say, comes by true faith, which apprehends Christ Jesus, who only makes this sacrament effectual unto us. And, therefore, whosoever slanders us, as that we affirm or believe sacraments to be only naked and bare signs, do injury unto us, and speak against the manifest truth.’ (1560 Scottish Confession; excerpts, “Sacraments”.)

         

        (3. --1 Cor. 10:16; Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27. 4. --Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:11; 3:21. --5. 1 Cor. 10:16. 6. --Eph. 5:30. 7. --Matt. 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 19:30. --8. John 6:51; 6:53-58. )

         

        While ‘arrayed in ‘fine linen, clean and white.’ Rev. 19.8, I brotherly call all ye to continue steadfastly clinging to the Word, uttering the holy cry of the common Reformation: By Grace Alone; By Faith Alone, By Christ and no one else; Sola Scriptura, Soli Gloria Deo.

         

        Cordially yours,

        Rev. Enrique Ivaldi, B.A.

        ChristOur Righteousness Lutheran Congregation.

        Augustana Brotherhood.

        Argentina.



        gmw <raging.calvinist@...> wrote:
         
        [Marks of the True Church, from The Original Covenanter.]
         
        MARKS OF THE TRUE CHURCH.

        Excerpted from:
         

        THE
        ORIGINAL COVENANTER.
        VOL. III.    SEPTEMBER, 1883.    NO. 11.
        All sound divines distinguish between the visible and the invisible church; and they agree in distinguishing a true from a pure church. They also agree that on earth exists no pure or infallible church; also, that a true church may degenerate into a synagogue of Satan.

        Sound divines teach that "the visible church consists of all who profess the true religion, together with their children;" and that the invisible church comprises all who have been, are, or shall be united to Christ, and these only. They agree, moreover, that the true Christian church is to be known by certain marks, notes, or characteristics; and that these are three in number, namely, sound doctrine, a legitimate ministry, and the due administration of the sacraments. By these marks the true, visible church was recognized in the early ages of Christianity, and by all real reformers from the Romish apostasy. But in recent years the phrase, "true church," has been very generally discarded, and another—thought to be better—more charitable, has been substituted, viz., "an evangelical church." This so-called evangelical church has not hitherto been accurately defined, if, indeed, susceptible of definition. "All the evangelical churches" is language now so popular as to supersede the necessity of testing them by the old Scriptural marks. The nearest attempt to define an evangelical church is in these few words: "All that hold the Head." This is too vague, for the Romish Church is tenacious in holding the Head—a church which we believe would be excluded from the category of evangelical churches by most of those who use the popular language we have quoted.

        The first mark and test of a true church is sound doctrine: and it is true that holding the Head, Christ, is essential. For "whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father." 1 John 2.23. But yet in our time, as well as in the times of Arius and Socinus, there are many who freely use all the Scriptural names of the only Saviour, and still deny his supreme deity, just as did the older heresiarchs. Of course, all who refuse to "honor {325} the Son even as they honor the Father," must deny the doctrine of the Atonement, and to be consistent, reject all the other doctrines of grace. The erroneous views of Christ's person, offices, and work, are innumerable. Indeed, all the doctrines of supernatural revelation have been, and they continue to be, misrepresented or repudiated by professed disciples of Christ. Hence, the indispensable necessity of "forms of sound words," subordinate standards of faith, systems of doctrine by which to "try the spirits," in obedience to the divine injunction, 1 John 4.1.

        A legitimate ministry is the second mark of a true church. "God hath set some in the church." 1 Cor. 12.28; and "no man taketh this honour unto himself." Heb. 5.4. No doubt the apostolic commission, accompanied by the promise of Christ's perpetual presence, legitimates the existence of a permanent gospel ministry; but it does not involve authority for every church member to become a teacher. "Are all Apostles?" No, nor "teachers," any more than "workers of miracles." 1 Cor. 12.29. The official teachers appointed by our Lord were of two distinct classes, extraordinary and ordinary. Of the former class were apostles, prophets, and evangelists; of the latter, pastors and teachers. Eph. 4.11. The ordinary mission [commissionating, ordination] of a standing or permanent gospel ministry is through the joint action of their predecessors in office, with fasting, prayer, and imposition of hands. Acts 13.1-4. In this way only can ministers be said to be "sent forth by the Holy Ghost," and all who "climb up some other way are thieves and robbers—through covetousness making merchandise" of their deluded followers. 2 Peter 2.3. Of all such usurpers and deceivers we are expressly forewarned. 2 Tim. 4.3,4; 2 Peter 2.1.

        We admit that the Holy One of Israel is not limited by his own rules, but we are; and those regular ministers who countenance and co-operate with self-styled evangelists and revivalists, male or female, are chargeable alike with folly and criminality: with folly, in disparaging their own office; and with criminality in "strengthening the {326} hands of evil-doers." When a true church degenerates so far as to provoke the Lord to cast her off and remove her candlestick, he then uses extraordinary means, and enables his faithful children to recover their faithful guides. This he did and enabled them to do, by bringing Luther, Calvin, Knox, and others, out of apostate Rome. This extraordinary work of divine providence and grace, however, will by no means warrant to justify the irregular and extravagant pretensions of enthusiasts who claim to have had a divine [immediate] call like Saul of Tarsus. Even superior gifts will not prove a call to the work of the ministry; nor will the highest degree of intellectual culture; for many attain to this who are "the enemies of the cross of Christ." Neither will piety, of itself, fit one for the ministerial office, because a "mother in Israel" excels in godliness many or most of regular ministers. "Let your women keep silence in the churches—I suffer not a woman to teach." 1 Cor. 14.34; 1 Tim. 2.12.

        The due administration of the sacraments is the third and last note of a true church. Of course, it is requisite that these be well known, that they be not confounded with Rome's "five bastard sacraments, marriage, holy orders," etc. The only signs and seals of the New Testament, or [new dispensation of the] covenant of grace, are baptism and the Lord's Supper. These, the same in substance as circumcision and the passover of the Old Testament. In reference to the proper subjects of baptism, much ignorance and error prevail. In worldly things, common sense would say that only parties to a document have right to its seals. No one becomes a party by sealing a document. He affixes his seal because he is a party to the contract. All who are members of the visible church, and none else, are the proper subjects of baptism. But who are they? This question has been already answered, viz., all who profess the true religion, and their children. The membership of the church is not constituted by baptism, as is too generally taught and believed, not only by those falsely called Baptists, but by many others. The ignorant remark may be often heard, Such a one "was baptized and—joined the church," thus reversing the order of reason and Scripture. {327} The membership of the church is supplied and perpetuated chiefly by the birth of her own offspring, as is clear, Rom. 11.16-24. There was not a new church organized by the apostles, but the old church received new members by the accession of the Gentiles, and was thus perpetuated. In these two ways the church is still continued in the world, by birth and profession. It was because the hearers of Peter's preaching gave credible evidence of repentance, etc., that the first Gentile converts were received into the church. Acts 10.46; 15.7.

        There is a proverbial saying—"The blind are often bold enough." It has been often asserted that "circumcision was not a seal of the covenant of grace, but only a badge of national distinction," although Paul teaches the contrary in a variety of forms and in several of his epistles, especially in Romans and Galatians. He says explicitly that "the sign of circumcision was a seal of the righteousness of faith," Rom. 4.11; and calls the covenant of which it was a seal, "the gospel preached to Abraham," Gal. 3.8. Indeed we have seen the bold assertion in the writings of a Baptist of literary and theological pretensions, that, "God never had a church in the world till the time of the apostles!" He certainly did not understand the eleventh chapter of Romans, nor the testimony of the proto-martyr, Stephen, in the seventh chapter of Acts. Surely his eye had never caught these words of the thirty-eighth verse, "This is he that was in the church in the wilderness," etc., where he might have found that God had a church in the time of Moses. Oh! the blinding power of error. The exclusion of at least one-half of God's covenant children from the initiatory seal and privilege of his covenant, and so treating them as Heathens and Publicans, may render it questionable whether the other half constitute a true church.

        On the other part of this mark of a true church, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper and its due administration, still greater controversy and more heretical opinions prevail. Besides the corruption and the profanation of the ordinance by the idolatrous Romish mass, few Protestant churches exemplify its {328} due Scriptural administration. In this ordinance Christ is evidently (although symbolically) set forth "crucified." Gal. 3..1. In it Christ our passover is "sacrificed." 1 Cor. 5.7. The stewards and the guests at this feast are required to possess certain qualifications in order to its due administration. The Bible knows nothing of what is called "open" or "catholic communion." [communing with those of other denominations..] And even those who are bold enough to deny the substantial identity of circumcision and baptism, will hardly refuse that the Lord's Supper comes in the room of the Passover, seeing the latter is expressly called by the same name, "the feast, the passover." Among the many directions given by the Lord in the due observance of the passover, we notice the strictness of this one, "There shall no stranger eat thereof. A foreigner and a hired servant shall not eat thereof;" and still more explicitly—"No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof." Exod. 12:43,45,48. "Behold this is the law of the house" under the New Testament dispensation. Ezek. 43.12. Nevertheless, many or most Protestant and Presbyterian churches disregard these divine injunctions, to manifest their superior piety and exuberant charity, as though sinful mortals could be more charitable than the God of love and mercy. Only a few days ago, came into our hands the published answer of a Presbyterian pastor to the question, "May an unbaptized person be admitted to the Lord's Supper?" After "beating the air" by a profusion of irrelevant matter, he, at length with seeming hesitancy, answered in the affirmative! Then, to illustrate and strengthen his position, in selecting among the unbaptized, he fixed upon a Quaker. He could not deny the children's bread to pious Quakers. But where could he find the pious Quaker who would ask for the bread? Quaker piety is of such sublime and spiritual nature, feeding on ambrosial nutriment from the "light within" as to supersede such "carnal ordinances." Then the result would be that the Presbyterian's charity would in fact be a temptation to the Quaker to violate his conscience: and what sort of charity is that?

        The reader may see from the foregoing remarks, that the characteristics of a true church agreed upon by reforming {329} divines, are now cast aside and very generally discarded. It may also be said that our views, as above outlined, are too strict; and to make them appear so, they will be misrepresented and caricatured. If so, we will only fare as our fathers did at the hands of time-servers. They were represented as requiring a "faultless and sinless ministry." They replied—"We seek not a sinless but a faithful ministry." So we seek not a pure, but a true church—a church that may be known by sound doctrine—a legitimate ministry, and the due administration of the sacraments. No, we do not expect a pure church on earth, for he who knoweth the end from the beginning has told us (and we believe his word reliable), that tares will be found among the good seed until the harvest, which is to be reaped by the angels. Matt. 13.26,30. But there is to be another harvest besides the final one, and also an awful reaping time, when rebellious nations shall be utterly destroyed; and, in addition, a tremendous vintage, when the clusters of the vine of the earth shall be cast into the great wine-press of the wrath of God—an apostate church. Rev. 14.15-19.

        Now it was in view of this intervening harvest and vintage, together with other cognate events, trying the patience and faith of the saints, and evidently predicted, that learned and godly servants of Jesus Christ framed and fixed those landmarks of a true church. But besides those marks more general, the Scriptures contain many other more specific and distinctive characteristics of God's people, of which we notice a few. They are described as an "afflicted and poor people." Zeph. 3.12; James 2.5; Rev. 2.9; as "men wondered at," Zech. 2.8, teaching principles "hurtful to kings and provinces," Ezra 4.15, "customs not lawful to receive, neither to observe," Acts 16.21, "turning the world upside down," Acts 17.5: "a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men," 1 Cor. 4.9. These are only a sample of the traits of character by which the true church of God has been distinguished [either by God, or by her enemies] in all ages. Now where is the church of our time which answers to these Scriptural tests? The church which Christian distinguished from the "flocks of the companions" {330} as his flock, Canticles 1.7,8, he addressed in the days of his flesh thus: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12.32. Christ's little flock, "the flock of slaughter," (Zech. 11.4) is distinguished from the companions very conspicuously by two marks. Whereas the votaries of Antichrist are marked in their forehead—"or in their right hand," Rev. 13.16, Christ's flock are both marked and sealed, Ezek. 9.4; Rev. 7.3, and "upon or in their foreheads" only. The former parties "are arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls"—the "attire of an harlot." Rev. 17.4; but the latter party are arrayed in "fine linen, clean and white." Rev. 19.8.

        "The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High"—"I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them." Dan. 7.27; Rev. 20.4. Sic factum sit.




        > ATTACHMENT part 2 image/jpeg name=pment.jpg


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      • gmw
        ... wrote: Thank you for your irenic and informative response to the article I posted. You may or may not be aware, that Covenanters are
        Message 3 of 6 , Jun 14, 2004
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          --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, A Mighty Fortress
          <edftepregon@y...> wrote:

          Thank you for your irenic and informative response to the article I
          posted. You may or may not be aware, that Covenanters are "Divine
          Right Presbyterians." That is, we believe that Christ, the Head of
          the Church, has indeed instructed by His Word how the visable Church
          is to be governed, and because this is true, we are not permitted to
          alter that government without usurping Christ's authority. Perhaps
          the best brief statement regarding Church government that has ever
          been penned by mere humans is the Preface of Westminster's Form of
          Presbyterial Church Government:

          "JESUS CHRIST, upon whose shoulders the government is, whose name is
          called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father,
          The Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace
          there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon his
          kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice,
          from henceforth, even for ever; having all power given unto him in
          heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised him from the dead, and
          set him at his own right hand, far above all principalities and power,
          and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in
          this world, but also in that which is to come, and put all things
          under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the
          church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all:
          he being ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all
          things, received gifts for his church, and gave officers necessary for
          the edification of his church, and perfecting of his saints."

          Following this statement is a description of such government, gifts,
          and officers necessary for the edification of His Church and for the
          perfecting of the saints. It can be read here:
          http://www.covenanter.org/Westminster/formofpresbygov.htm

          A defense of divine right presbyterianism is found here:
          http://www3.sympatico.ca/d.d.s/divineright.html

          Thanks again, for your participation in this group!

          gmw.
        • A Mighty Fortress
          Thank you. I already have the covenanter paper (I down loaded the website in a CD). I shall read the paper posted in the Canadian site. I wonder why and how
          Message 4 of 6 , Jun 16, 2004
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            Thank you. I already have the covenanter paper (I down loaded the website in a CD). I shall read the paper posted in the Canadian site.
             
            I wonder why and how could it be that divers churches coming up of the Reformation came to have such a differences. I already am aware that following Luther's death there where many hands in the dish, and I have some proofs about Luther's writings altered, here and there. In fact the writers of the Formula of Concord betrayed Luther's doctrine settled in Bondage of Will, turning back to semi-agustinianism/semi-pelagianism.
            Later on post Luther's Lutherans abandoned the Formula as well, adopting a theology curiously similar to that of the damned Arminians.
             
            We know that we are living in perilous times and that worse days are at hand. As a Christian, I hope all true believers may be able to go on with efforts for join in the Word.
             
            May the Lord bless you.
             
            In His service,
             
            Pastor Enrique Ivaldi.

            PS. I ponder as a privilege to share in this group.



            gmw <raging.calvinist@...> wrote:
            --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, A Mighty Fortress
            <edftepregon@y...> wrote:

            Thank you for your irenic and informative response to the article I
            posted.  You may or may not be aware, that Covenanters are "Divine
            Right Presbyterians."  That is, we believe that Christ, the Head of
            the Church, has indeed instructed by His Word how the visable Church
            is to be governed, and because this is true, we are not permitted to
            alter that government without usurping Christ's authority.  Perhaps
            the best brief statement regarding Church government that has ever
            been penned by mere humans is the Preface of Westminster's Form of
            Presbyterial Church Government:

            "JESUS CHRIST, upon whose shoulders the government is, whose name is
            called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father,
            The Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace
            there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon his
            kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice,
            from henceforth, even for ever; having all power given unto him in
            heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised him from the dead, and
            set him at his own right hand, far above all principalities and power,
            and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in
            this world, but also in that which is to come, and put all things
            under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the
            church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all:
            he being ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all
            things, received gifts for his church, and gave officers necessary for
            the edification of his church, and perfecting of his saints."

            Following this statement is a description of such government, gifts,
            and officers necessary for the edification of His Church and for the
            perfecting of the saints.  It can be read here:
            http://www.covenanter.org/Westminster/formofpresbygov.htm

            A defense of divine right presbyterianism is found here:
            http://www3.sympatico.ca/d.d.s/divineright.html

            Thanks again, for your participation in this group!

            gmw.




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          • Edgar A. Ibarra Jr.
            Pastor Enrique, Hola! Quisiera saber si estuviera bien si podemos dialogar privadamente? Soy un Presbiteriano del Pacto (Covenanter)y mi deseo es propagar la
            Message 5 of 6 , Jun 17, 2004
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              Pastor Enrique,

              Hola! Quisiera saber si estuviera bien si podemos dialogar
              privadamente? Soy un Presbiteriano del Pacto (Covenanter)y mi deseo
              es propagar la verdadera fe para nuestro pueblo de los que hablan
              espanol. Ha unos breves documentos ya traducido al espanol en los
              sitios siguientes: www.ecn.ab.ca/prce y www.albanycrpc.org
              Si esta dispuesto seria un previlegio. Que nuestro Senor le bendiga!

              Su hermano,

              Edgar

              Translation:

              Hello! I would like to know if we could dialogue privately. I am
              a Covenanter and my desire is to spread the true faith among Spanish
              speakers. We have translated some documents into Spanish at (the
              aforementioned web sites). If you are willing, it would be a
              privilege. May the Lord bless you!

              Your brother,

              Edgar

              --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, A Mighty Fortress
              <edftepregon@y...> wrote:
              > Thank you. I already have the covenanter paper (I down loaded the
              website in a CD). I shall read the paper posted in the Canadian site.
              >
              > I wonder why and how could it be that divers churches coming up of
              the Reformation came to have such a differences. I already am aware
              that following Luther's death there where many hands in the dish,
              and I have some proofs about Luther's writings altered, here and
              there. In fact the writers of the Formula of Concord betrayed
              Luther's doctrine settled in Bondage of Will, turning back to semi-
              agustinianism/semi-pelagianism.
              > Later on post Luther's Lutherans abandoned the Formula as well,
              adopting a theology curiously similar to that of the damned
              Arminians.
              >
              > We know that we are living in perilous times and that worse days
              are at hand. As a Christian, I hope all true believers may be able
              to go on with efforts for join in the Word.
              >
              > May the Lord bless you.
              >
              > In His service,
              >
              > Pastor Enrique Ivaldi.
              >
              > PS. I ponder as a privilege to share in this group.
              >
              >
              > gmw <raging.calvinist@v...> wrote:
              > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, A Mighty Fortress
              > <edftepregon@y...> wrote:
              >
              > Thank you for your irenic and informative response to the article I
              > posted. You may or may not be aware, that Covenanters are "Divine
              > Right Presbyterians." That is, we believe that Christ, the Head of
              > the Church, has indeed instructed by His Word how the visable
              Church
              > is to be governed, and because this is true, we are not permitted
              to
              > alter that government without usurping Christ's authority. Perhaps
              > the best brief statement regarding Church government that has ever
              > been penned by mere humans is the Preface of Westminster's Form of
              > Presbyterial Church Government:
              >
              > "JESUS CHRIST, upon whose shoulders the government is, whose name
              is
              > called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting
              Father,
              > The Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace
              > there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon
              his
              > kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and
              justice,
              > from henceforth, even for ever; having all power given unto him in
              > heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised him from the dead,
              and
              > set him at his own right hand, far above all principalities and
              power,
              > and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in
              > this world, but also in that which is to come, and put all things
              > under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the
              > church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in
              all:
              > he being ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all
              > things, received gifts for his church, and gave officers necessary
              for
              > the edification of his church, and perfecting of his saints."
              >
              > Following this statement is a description of such government,
              gifts,
              > and officers necessary for the edification of His Church and for
              the
              > perfecting of the saints. It can be read here:
              > http://www.covenanter.org/Westminster/formofpresbygov.htm
              >
              > A defense of divine right presbyterianism is found here:
              > http://www3.sympatico.ca/d.d.s/divineright.html
              >
              > Thanks again, for your participation in this group!
              >
              > gmw.
              >
              >
              >
              > ---------------------------------
              >
              >
              > ---------------------------------
              > ALL-NEW Yahoo! Messenger - sooooo many all-new ways to express
              yourself
            • A Mighty Fortress
              Estimado Edgar: Sin duda será muy bueno iniciar contacto con usted. Más tarde visitaré sus websites. Agradezco al Señor hallar entre ustedes bravos
              Message 6 of 6 , Jun 18, 2004
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                Estimado Edgar:
                 
                Sin duda será muy bueno iniciar contacto con usted. Más tarde visitaré sus websites. Agradezco al Señor hallar entre ustedes bravos Cristianos, con el corazón abierto, como lo fueron los Reformadores. Somos de un mismo espíritu con ellos.
                 
                A la brevedad seguiré mi contacto con usted.
                 
                En Cristo,
                 
                Rev. Enrique Ivaldi, Pastor.
                 
                ***********
                 
                Dear Edgar:
                 
                'Thout doubts would be great get in touch with you. Later on I shall visit your websites. I am grateful with the Lord finding out betwist ye bold Christians, with open hearts, as the Reformers were. We're of a same spirit with them.
                 
                I will soon follow my contact with you in your own private mail.
                 
                In Christ, yours
                 
                REV Enrique Ivaldi, Pastor.

                "Edgar A. Ibarra Jr." <puritanpresbyterian@...> wrote:
                Pastor Enrique,

                  Hola! Quisiera saber si estuviera bien si podemos dialogar
                privadamente?  Soy un Presbiteriano del Pacto (Covenanter)y mi deseo
                es propagar la verdadera fe para nuestro pueblo de los que hablan
                espanol. Ha unos breves documentos ya traducido al espanol en los
                sitios siguientes:  www.ecn.ab.ca/prce   y   www.albanycrpc.org
                Si esta dispuesto seria un previlegio.  Que nuestro Senor le bendiga!

                Su hermano,

                Edgar

                Translation:

                   Hello!  I would like to know if we could dialogue privately. I am
                a Covenanter and my desire is to spread the true faith among Spanish
                speakers.  We have translated some documents into Spanish at (the
                aforementioned web sites).  If you are willing, it would be a
                privilege.  May the Lord bless you!

                Your brother,

                Edgar


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