re: Church of God
The discussion in the 2 Tim 3:16 thread in the Biblical studies is suffering a severe case of topic drift.
So, hopefully, this will help ameliorate the problem.
Anyway, I think more than one person has asked this question. Perhaps it is interesting enough to warrant its own thread. You said:
I must state that I've found this discussion very intense and thought-provoking (despite the diversion into the subject of prophets vs apostles- which I couldn't exactly understand the relevance of)
May I though ask a humble question? What is the Church of the living God?
From a Catholic perspective, the Church, has multiple meanings.
The Church is the Body of Christ.
This is the Body of Believers all over the world. I believe this is the definition with which you are most familiar. Or at least, the one you accept.
The Church is the Household of God.
This is the Body of Christ plus the host of heaven. We believe the Church of God extends into heaven. Or perhaps it is vice versa. The Church of God extends from heaven onto the earthly plane.
The Church is the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth.
This is what we call the Magisterium. The Teaching Church. Whose doctrines will always uphold the truth.
The Church is also the local congregation.
And, of course, the Church is also the building in which we congregate for prayer.
I always understood it to be the body of true believers through the ages, the invisible church which is present within and outside the organized church(es), as opposed to any one institution that qualifies as the pillar and foundation of truth.
Well, Jesus only made one Church. So, I believe there is only one true Church.
For we know that within each visible church, and even among those in authority there, there are some who are wolves in sheep's clothing. Some of them we may know by their fruit, but ultimately only God who examines the motivations of our heart can identify His true church.
You've mixed apples and oranges in that statement. It is a classic case of non sequitur.
The first part of your statement reads:
1. For we know that within each visible church, and even among those in authority there, there are some who are wolves in sheep's clothing.
But that has nothing to do with the second part of your statement:
2. Some of them we may know by their fruit, but ultimately only God who examines the motivations of our heart can identify His true church.
Thus giving the impression that the true Church of God will have no sinners. But Jesus said that there would be weeds in the wheat (Matt 13:24-29). I believe that means that the sinners will be mixed in with the righteous in His Church until the day of judgement.
And I believe He's also able to separate those who might follow an errenous doctrine through an honest error of judgement or lack of clear understanding, from those who stick to error for reasons of material gain, power, loyality to family or tradition rather than God, rebellion, pride or prejudice. Let me add that this last remark is not directed at anyone in particular- perhaps more at myself- for I still have a tremendous lot to learn.
Everything is possible with God.
Welcome to the discussion.