“Now, anywhere you hear or see [the Word of God] preached,
believed, confessed, and acted upon, do not doubt that the true ecclesia sancta catholica, a ‘holy Christian people’ must be there, even though there are very few of them.”
I like this assertion and description of the Church by Martin Luther. You’ll note that his definition of the Church is not institutionally based. That is, it is not dependent upon some fuzzy notion of apostolic chain of command nor it is relegated to the history of any one church (like say the Orthodox or Roman Catholic). The definition rotates around the proclamation of God’s Word. Hence the Reformation principle of sola scriptura.
I also like that he comments that such a true holy Christian people is not dependent upon some large number of folks. In the United States, where bigger is better, Christians—and particularly Evangelicals—are inclined to believe that a bigger church is somehow more a church. This is nonsense, of course. I’ve said for a long time that I’d prefer to be in the midst of a small number of devoted and authentic Christ-like persons than a horde of fools.
As this new year begins and we, Riverside Baptist Church, are faced with remarkable opportunities and solemn decisions that will configure our future for another generation, let’s keep Luther’s assertion in mind. We are not an institution. We are not a building. We are not a creed. We are the ecclesia sancta catholica, the holy Christian people who are formed at the point of God’s Gospel to us proclaimed. I hope you will do your best this year to be in worship with us every Sunday, because the Word is proclaimed, believed, confessed and acted upon in that holy context.