By Amos Binney and Daniel Steele
The Church of God, in its distinctive character, is to be regarded as general or particular, visible or invisible, militant or triumphant. The general Church denotes the entire body of Christian believers in every period of time, on earth and in heaven. Eph. 3:15.
By a particular Church is meant an assembly of Christians of any particular denomination, united together for the worship of God, in accordance with their distinct views. I Cor. 12:12, 25,27.
By the visible Church is intended all those who have openly and freely professed Christianity, and have entered into covenant with God and his people accordingly. I Cor. 1:2; 16:1-19. (163. How is the Church of God to be regarded? What is the general Church? What is a particular Church? The visible? Invisible?)
By the invisible Church is understood all those who are known of Christ as belonging to him, whether they have joined the visible Church or not. II Tim. 23:19. The people of God on earth are called the Church militant, and those in heaven the Church triumphant. Eph. 3:15; Heb. 12:22-24. The true Church, both on earth and in heaven, is composed only of true Christians, those who are fully conformed to Christ. Eph. 4:12-13; 5:26-27; Heb. 12:22-24; I John 3:2-3; Rev. 19:7-8.
Those connected with the militant Church, who are merely nominal Christians, will be excluded from the Church triumphant. Matt. 13:36-43, 47-50; 22:1-14. The design of the Church is the promotion of the Christian religion in all the world, through the holy example of believers and preaching of the Gospel.
The foundation and head of the Church is Christ. Matt. 16:18; I Cor. 3:11; Eph. 1: 22; 2: 20-22; 5:23-24. His apostles were foundations in a secondary sense, Rev. 21:14; (164. What of the Church militant? Triumphant? What are the qualifications for the true Church on earth and in heaven? Of what design is this institution on earth? Who is the foundation of the Church? In what sense are the apostles and others such?) as are all the prophets; that is, every class of Christian teachers. Eph. 2:20; 4:11. These constitute the true Church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth, I Tim. 3:15; that is, the appointed means of upholding and propagating Christian truth throughout the world Matt. 28:19-20; 5:13-16; I Cor. 3:9-10; Eph. 4:11-16; Rom. 10:14-17; Rev. 22:17.