J.I. Packer offers these brief definitions of the two marks of a church:
1.The faithful preaching of the Word of God. This means that the group in question teaches from Scripture the essentials of the Christian gospel. Denials of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the sin-bearing atonement, and justification by faith, for example, link aberrant contemporary groups with the docetic separatists, whose denials of Incarnation and Atonement (1 John 4:1-3) caused John to say, “They did not really belong to us” (1 John 2:19). 2.The right use of the sacraments. This means that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are seen and explained as setting forth the gospel so as to evoke, confirm, and strengthen faith in Christ. Superstitions that stifle faith by turning the sacraments into magic rites are intolerable. Such superstitions strike at churchly identity in a radical way, as does anything else that obstructs faith in Christ. Reception into the visible church is part of what being baptized means; confirmation of one’s place in it is part of what sharing in the Lord’s Supper means. Right use of the sacraments involves an element of church discipline whereby professions of faith are tested and public behavior is reviewed.
http://ref.ly/o/concise/253416 via the Logos Bible Android app.
© 2013, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.