But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
St. Paul’s Anglican Church is a founding member of the Anglican Churches of America and Associates. Established in 1968, it is a loose confederation of autonomous, Trinitarian churches – with Jesus Christ as the only Divine, Common Head and Cornerstone. Operating in a framework of organized independence, member churches together exercise mutual comfort, edification and strength in order to practice, preserve and expand the Biblical Faith once delivered unto the saints. The Anglican Churches of America and Associates maintains communion with all other Christian Churches in so far as it is able, setting forward quietness, peace and love among all Christian brethren. The Anglican Churches of America and Associates seeks to fulfill the Great Commission given by Christ through the example of His Holy Apostles, of old – especially in the establishment of Christian schools to guarantee the Christian Faith for succeeding generations. This Faith, though recognized by the highest tribunals as the peculiar foundation of the manifold institutions of America, is now denied in the public schools of our land by civil authorities.
The Rt. Rev. Ronald C. Johnson (pictured) has served in the capacity of presiding Bishop since 1996. A Master of Divinity degree was received from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, Illinois) in 1980.
l. Purpose of the Church
The Church is God’s Ministry of grace. And the ministry of God’s grace to mankind is its central function. Man’s worship of the Triune God is his fitting response to the unmerited favor he has received and enjoys through Christ. The minimum defining characteristics of a true church (that is, an organized body of Christian worshippers) have historically been three in number. First, the faithful preaching or proclamation of the Word of God (II Timothy 4:2). Second, the decent and orderly administration of Christ’s sacraments (I Peter 3:21; I Corinthians 11:26). And, third, the application of Biblical discipline (St. Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1).
The Greek term ecclesia is the most common term by which the Early Church described itself. It is also the term employed by our Lord in St. Matthew 16:18 (I will build my church). A rich and valuable term, it is comprised of a prefix (meaning “out of”) and a root term (meaning “to call”). Combined, they form a word commonly translated “assembly” – which was employed in Hellenic culture to describe the coming together of citizens to discuss the affairs of the city-state. And it is so used in Acts 19:39 by the town clerk1 to describe the Ephesian Assembly: But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. This, of course, has great implications, for it tells us Christ’s Church is a separate and independent sphere of government called to rule under the command of Christ.
ll. Unity of the Church
In His High Priestly Prayer, our Lord petitioned His Father on behalf of the Church (St. John 17:21) that it would be one: That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. Careful consideration of the context requires that a firm distinction be made between institutional union and unity of faith. These words of Christ have been employed by modernist, ecumenical groups across the years as a foundation for bureaucratic formalization. The Church as described in the New Testament, however, possessed no buildings, reflected a minimum of organization and more often than not appeared to be a “movement” more so than an institution. We must be careful to maintain focus on the life and unity of faith in truth, not nominal membership. There is a very real difference between the Church in its visible and invisible forms.
lll. Outcome of the Church
What will be the final outcome of Christ’s Church? In St. Matthew 16:16, we discover St. Peter’s great confession: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus responded in verse 17 with the words: Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And then, in verse 18 we hear these profound and immortal words: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. The rock referenced by our Lord was Peter’s great confession. And upon the truth of that great confession, He indicated He would accomplish something magnificent, indeed – something his followers to this day have difficulty comprehending! The word prevail is the English translation of the Greek katischuo, which means “to be strong against.” It represents no less than sixteen Hebrew equivalents2 and its general sense denotes superiority. The image it portrays is therefore clearly a defensive structure intended to prevent intrusion and conquest by a superior and unstoppable force. Jesus is here telling His followers that He will build or construct His Church, and nothing will be able to hinder or impede it! The clear and vivid word picture He has thus presented is of His followers besieging, conquering and triumphing over the “gates of hell.” There are many references to this great truth, one of which has all but been forgotten to our generation: The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly (Romans 16:20). The term translated “bruise” is the Greek suntribo (to “crush completely,” to “break in pieces,” to “shatter”). This, it is clear to see, is much more than the pietistic victory of isolated, individual believers.
1 R. J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology, 2 vols. (Vallecito, California: Ross House Books, 1994), 2:692.
2 Colin Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979) 3:713