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Not Yet

21 March 2012 by Neil

Q. 61. Are all they saved who hear the gospel, and live in the church?
A. All that hear the gospel, and live in the visible church, are not saved; but they only who are true members of the church invisible.

Q. 62. What is the visible church?
A. The visible church is a society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do profess the true religion, and of their children.

Q. 63. What are the special privileges of the visible church?
A. The visible church hath the privilege of being under God's special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excluding none that will come unto him.

Q. 64. What is the invisible church?
A. The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head.

Q. 65. What special benefits do the members of the invisible church enjoy by Christ?
A. The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory.

At our local church, I have responsibility for the midweek discussion and discipleship group of junior high boys. The session a couple weeks ago was lively, which is to say, the nine frightful lunatics manifested their jolly joie de vivre via avenues heretofore undreamt of.  Pandemonium and topsy-turvydom.

Lively is fine (and fun!), but it was more than lively. It was problematic, troubling, heart-rending, and it was one of the most honest times so far. They soon settled down (a little), and we got to chatting about the devotional we had just sat through. It had centred around what the wrath of a jealous God will be like. They were provoked. A couple of the guys "came out" as it were, tore off their invisibility cloaks and took a stand: they don't believe this crap. Or maybe they don't want to believe. Or both. One specific question was, “why should I believe that your bible is anything other than just a book?”

The room went wild. Some of them indignantly set upon the declarers. One started hooting about whether he even wants to go to a heaven with no Battlefield3. One started a dancing chicken routine.

One prays and thinks at hyperspeed when confronted with so many moving parts. I set upon the set-uponers, and told them that the uncloaked guys were asking exactly the right questions. I told the Battlefield3 guy that he wasn't the deepest fellow I'd ever met, but that I looked forward to defeating him in multiplayer. I made the dancing chicken sit down, and told him that we would most certainly take his Bible question seriously, if he would. I made many mistakes. I spoke truth. I offended too much. I didn't offend enough. I went home deflated. This past week, only two of the nine showed up. But next week it might be eleven.

The story isn't over. You see, we won't know to whom Ephesians 1:3-5 is speaking until we see all the redeemed before the throne of the Lamb.

Now listen: You readers are invisible to me, but please pray for these young guys, okay? And pray for a whole world full of others just like them, souls bereft of hope, dead, sitting next to you in your own church, who need the one and only Saviour to make them alive. Weep for them. Provoke them. Otherwise, what are you good for?

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