There is an intimate relation between body and soul, between the spiritual and the physical, and the Church must concern itself with helping the whole man for whom Christ died. Here it had better not follow the suggestions of secular man, nor even of those within the Church who find their answers outside Holy Scripture. To fulfill its God-given mission the Church will have to remember the basic premises set down by the Saviour of the Church.
1. The Word is the means. Although Harvey Cox asserts that it will no longer do to say with the Lutheran and Reformed confessions that the marks of the Church are the teaching of the pure Word and the administration of the sacraments (The Secular City, 1965, p. 145), this is precisely what creates and maintains the Church. Article VII of the Augsburg Confession says:
The church comes into being and is maintained in no other way than through the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments. Because the Gospel in Word and sacrament effectively creates and preserves faith, the church will be found wherever the Gospel is preached and the holy sacraments are administered according to the Gospel.
God, who sacrificed his Son for man’s salvation and decreed that man is saved by faith in his Son, graciously decided to lead man to Christ by means of his Word. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19).
This does not minimize the importance of the Christian life. Paul wrote the Christians of Corinth: “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men” (2 Cor. 3:2). Yet our Christian life in itself never converts ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more