Chapter 2: The Reformers on the Church – God’s Church Organization

“And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”(Acts 2:47)  The Church consists of all those that are saved.

Ephesians 1:22-23  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,  (23)  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

This Church consists of God dwelling in us by His Holy Spirit.  The Church does not consist in unholy members.  It is not a building filled with sinners, but rather is a building that consisting of “saints”.  It consists of the “sanctified.”

1 Corinthians 1:2  Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

The Church is built on truth.

1Ti 3:15  But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

The Church is the fullness of that Holy Spirit of God and Christ.

1 Peter 2:5  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

This Church is built with living stones not dead stones.  What did the reformers understand of the Church?

Wycliffe:  “There is one only universal Church: consisting of the whole body of the predestinate…All who shall be saved in the bliss of heaven are members of Holy Church, and no more.”

Wycliffe did not believe that those who were not saved were members of God’s Holy Church.

Matthias of Janow:  “The Church is the body of Christ, the community of the elect. All Christians who possess the Spirit of Jesus the Crucified, and who are impelled by the same Spirit, and who alone have not departed from their God, are the one Church of Christ: His beautiful bride, His body.  The Body of the omnipotent and altogether indivisible Jesus Christ, the community of saints, is not divided, neither indeed can be divided.  It is Jesus Christ Himself, who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever dwells in His Church and in each most insignificant portion of it: holding together, vitalizing, sustaining, the whole and all its parts.”

john hussJohn Huss was burnt at the stake for this truth of The Church.  The name Catholic means Universal and John Huss gives his view about the one true Universal or Catholic Church.

And this is what he held–“Two righteous persons congregated together in Christ’s name constitute, with Christ as the Head, a particular holy church: and likewise three or four, and so on to the whole number of the predestinate without admixture…But the holy catholic–that is, universal–Church, is the totality of the predestinate–all the predestinate in the universe: all the predestinate, present, past, and future.

The universal Church is one, praising God from the beginning of the world to the the holy angels are a part of the holy catholic Church…. The holy Church is made up of two parts: those who have not sinned, and those who have ceased to sin.

The catholic Church is the bride of our Lord Jesus Christ–bride, I say, chaste, incorrupt, and never capable of being corrupted. Christ is the Individual, the true God and man, imparting spiritual life and motion to The Church and every one of its members, and without whose influence it could not live or feel. “

reformation martin lutherMartin Luther replied regarding Huss’s view of the Church in agreement:

“Certain of the tenets of John Huss and the Bohemians are perfectly orthodox. This much is certain.  For instance, ‘that there is only one universal Church’; and again, ‘that it is not necessary to salvation to believe the Roman church superior to all others.’ Whether Wycliffe or Huss has said it, I care not, It is the truth… There is no other Church than the assembly of those who have the Word of God and are purified by it.”


“In every nation whosoever believeth with the heart in the Lord Jesus Christ, is saved. This is The Church out of which no man can be saved. “The Church universal is diffused over the whole world wherever there is faith in Jesus Christ–in the Indies as well as in Zurich.

And as for particular churches, we have them–at Berne, at Shaffhausen, here also.  But the Popes, their cardinals, and their councils, are neither the Church universal, nor the church particular.”

Hooper, of England, who was burnt at the stake in 1555:

“‘The general assembly and Church of the Firstborn, which are written in heaven.’ I believe and confess one only catholic and universal Church: which is an holy congregation of believers, which are chosen and predestinate unto everlasting life before the foundations of the world were laid.  I believe that this Church is invisible to the eye of man, and is only to God known; and that the same Church is not set, compassed, and limited, within a certain place of bounds, but is scattered and spread abroad throughout all the world: but yet coupled together in heart, will, and spirit, by the bond of faith and charity.

I believe that this invisible Church is the field of the Lord God, wherein is neither darnel nor cockle. It is the house and dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost; and within that Church is neither Cain, Judas, neither the wicked rich glutton.

The same Church is the body of Christ wherein there is never a rotten, corrupt, or infected member.  It is the spouse of Christ, which is pure and clean, without wrinkle and without spot.  It is holy and without blame, cleansed and sanctified in the blood and by the Word of her Head and well-beloved Spouse–Jesus Christ.”

John Wesley:

“As where two or three are met together in His name, there is Christ; so where two or three believers are met together, there is a church. “Thus it is that St. Paul, writing to Philemon, mentions ‘the church which is in his house’: plainly signifying that even a Christian family may be termed a church.  Several of those whom God hath called out (so the original word properly signifies), uniting together in one congregation, formed a larger church: as the church at Jerusalem. That is, all those in Jerusalem whom God had so called.

He frequently uses the word in the plural number. So, Gal. 1:2, ‘Paul an apostle…unto the churches of Galatia’: that is, the Christian congregation dispersed throughout that country. There is one God and Father of all ‘that has the Spirit of adoption which crieth in their hearts. Abba Father’, which ‘witnesseth’ continually ‘with their spirits’ that ‘they are the children of God’ ‘who is above all’– pervading all space, filling heaven and earth; ‘and in you all’–in a peculiar manner living in you that are one body by one Spirit:  Making your souls His loved abode, The temples of indwelling God.” Here, then, is a clear unexceptionable answer to that question, What is The Church?–The catholic or universal Church is all the persons in the universe whom God hath so called out of the world as to entitle them to the preceding character: “As to be ‘one body’, united by ‘one Spirit’, having ‘one faith’, one hope, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in them all.   Certainly if these things are so, the church of Rome is not so much a part of the catholic Church.”  william miller

William Miller of the great Advent movement:

“I should oppose our being called, in an associated capacity, a church with any name.  To call any denomination the Advent Church, the Church of God, or any other name, I regard as contrary to the usage of the apostles… A church, according to the Scriptures, is a religious assembly, selected and called out of the world, by the doctrine of the Gospel, to worship the true God according to His Word.”

A.T. jonesA.T. Jones:

“Is it asked, Do you repudiate the name of Adventists? In reply, I do, when it is applied to The Church; but not when it is applied to those who compose The Church.”

Ellen G. White:

“God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. “

“From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth.”

Summary of the Statements above: 

The Church is NOT:

  • Those who Continue in Sin
  • Community of Sinners
  • A denomination
  • Does not consist of Judas or Cain
  • Lost Souls
  • Darnel or Cockle
  • They are not a building made with hands nor a great cathedral

The Church is: