16.1. WHAT IS THE CHURCH?
(Founded by Christ to be the continuing Instrument/Servant of God in the fulfilling of God's promise to Abraham)
FROM THE BEGINNING: GOD'S PLAN OF SALVATION
- The Creation. (Genesis 1 & 2)
- The Temptation: The Fall and the wounding of human nature. (Genesis 3) Death enters the world.
- God promises salvation and triumph over Satan and death through 'the seed of the woman'. (Genesis 3:15)
- God makes a Perpetual Covenant with Abraham, promising to make him "the father of many nations" with children numbered "as the stars of the heavens and the sands of the seashore". (Genesis 22:16-18)
- God's Covenant with Abraham was to be fulfilled through the line of Abraham's child Isaac and Isaac's descendants. (Genesis 17:15-21) In him "all the nations of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:1-3; 18:18; Psalm 71:17)
- Salvation was to come through the Saviour born of 'the woman', (Genesis 3:15) 'the Virgin' (Isaiah 7:14) of the line of King David, descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ('Israel'). (Matthew 1:1-18; 1 John 4:14)
- The Saviour (Luke 2:11) would be called, 'Emmanuel' (which means 'God with us'), 'God the Mighty' and 'Father of the world to come'. And it was said of the Saviour that, 'God Himself will come and save you.' He would be 'God Incarnate'. (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 35:4; 1 John 4:14; Habakkuk 3:18; Baruch 4:22; Colossians 2:9)
- The Saviour is the Messiah, the Son of God, of whom the Prophets speak of approximately 450 times in the Old Testament Jewish Scriptures. (Luke 2:11; 1 John 4:14; Habakkuk 3:18; Baruch 4:22; Mark 14:61,62) As the Messiah-Saviour said of Himself, "Salvation comes from the Jews." (John 4:22)
- The Messiah's identity is determined to be the Christ of The New Testament Scriptures who fulfilled all of the prophecies concerning the Messiah contained in the Old Testament Scriptures. (Matthew 5:17,18; Luke 24:44-49)
- The Messiah claimed, and proved Himself, to be the Son of God, Second Person of the Triune God, Who forsook "the glory He had with the Father before ever the world was" to come into the world as Saviour. (Isaiah 44:24; 45:5,15,17,22,24; John 8:42 & 52-58; 17:5; 1 John 4:14; See Article 20)
- The Messiah was the one through Whom, and by Whom, God was to fulfil His promise and Covenant with Abraham, "to bless him with children from all nations as the stars of the heavens and sands of the seashore." "His, is the only Name given under heaven by Whom men can be saved." (Acts 4:10-12; Luke 24:44-49)
- The Messiah, God Incarnate, (Colossians 2:9) proclaimed all power in Heaven and on earth was His (Matthew 28:18) and He established His Church (Matthew 16:18) giving it power to bind upon earth that which would be considered bound in heaven, (Matthew 16:19) and this power was to last to the end of the world. (Matthew 28:20) The Church was to be a 'Kingdom', acting in the Messiah's Name, serving its children and blessing them and teaching them, ("who hears you, hears Me" - Luke 10:16) in all the nations till the end of time. (Matthew 28:18-20) So, in and through the Messiah and His Church and its children, all the nations would be blessed, in perpetuity, until the end of the world. And this is how God is fulfilling His promise and Covenant with Abraham to bless him with children from all the nations, in number "as the stars of the heavens and the sands of the seashore...as a reward for his obedience." (Genesis 22:16-18; Apocalypse 7:9)
- The Church with which Christ established and authorised this duty was the Church of Peter and the other Apostles. It continues through all the ages faithfully carrying out its mandate. (Matthew 16:18,19; 28:19,20)
- Many people and groups have splintered off it and assumed a mandate, (Daniel 2:44; See Article 11) but the Messiah's official mandate remains with those to whom He gave it. There is only one Church in the world with this valid mandate and duty, and that is the Church which traces its line through the Popes to Peter who was the first Pope, and through Peter to the Messiah and to Mary and King David, and through David to Jacob (Israel), to Isaac and to Abraham and through Abraham to God the Father.
- The Church, is the One Church founded by Christ, the Messiah Himself, Apostolic in its structure and Universal (Catholic) in its commission to teach all the nations, bringing the blessings of God to all nations, through all the ages till the end of time. (Matthew 16:18; 28:18-20; See Article 10, Article 11 & Article 13) Only one Church fits this description, the Catholic (Universal) Church.
"The saints of the Most High God...shall possess the Kingdom forever and ever." (Daniel 7:18, 27)