Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

The Foundation of an Enduring Church

“Nothing else is sought in this book but that we, who come last, desire to see the first things and wish to return to them in so far as God enables us.  We are like people who have come to a house that has been burnt down and try to find the original foundations.  This is the more difficult in that the ruins are grown over with all sorts of growths, and many think that these growths are the foundation, and say, ‘This is the foundation’ and ‘This is the way in which all must go,’ and others repeat it after them.  So that in the novelties that have grown up they think to have found the foundation, whereas they have found something quite different from, and contrary to, the true foundation.  This makes the search more difficult, for if all said, ‘the old foundation has been lost among the ruins’, then many would begin to dig and search for it and really begin a true work of building upon it, as Nehemiah and Zerubbabel did after the destruction of the temple.  It is much more difficult now to restore the spiritual ruins, so long fallen down, and get back to the former state, for which no other foundation can be laid than Jesus Christ, from whom the many have turned away and turned to other gods and made foundations of them.”
-Petr Chelćickỳ, The Net of Faith, 1440 AD

“Reader, understand what I mean; we do not dispute about whether or not there are some of the chosen ones of God, in the before mentioned churches; for this we, at all times, humbly leave to the just and gracious judgment of God, hoping there may be many thousands who are unknown to us, as they were to holy Elias; but our dispute is, in regard to what kind of Spirit, doctrine, sacraments, ordinances and life, Christ has commanded us to gather unto him an abiding church, and how we should maintain it in his ways.”
-Menno Simons, Reply to Gellius Faber, 1554 AD

These writings are hundreds of years old, yet are very pertinent to the situation Christians find themselves in today.  What about the church that I am attending?  Is it built on the true foundation that will provide a safe spiritual home for me and my children?

In their writings, Petr Chelćickỳ and Menno Simons mentioned often that no other foundation than Jesus Christ will do for the church.  But what would such a church be like?  The following excerpt, also from Menno’s Reply to Gellius Faber, gives one part of the answer.

“The second sign is the right and Scriptural use of the sacraments of Christ, namely, the baptism of those who, by faith, are born of God, sincerely repent, who bury their sins in Christ’s death, and arise with him in newness of life; who circumcise the foreskin of their hearts with the circumcision of Christ, which is done without hands; who put on Christ, and have a clear conscience, Tit. 3:5; Rom. 5:4; Col. 3:11; 1 Pet. 3:21.  Again, the dispensing of the Lord’s Holy Supper to the penitent, who are flesh of Christ’s flesh, who seek grace, reconciliation and the remission of their sins in the merits of the death and blood of the Lord, who walk with their brethren in love, peace and unity, who are led by the Spirit of the Lord, into all truth and righteousness, and who prove, by their fruits, that they are the church and people of Christ.  Where baptism is practised without the command and word of Christ, as those do who not only baptize without faith, but also without reason and consciousness; where the power and representation of baptism, namely, dying unto sin, the new life, the circumcision of the heart, etc., are not only not upheld, but also quite hated by those of mature age; and where the bread and wine are dispensed to the avaricious, pompous and impenitent; where salvation is sought in mere elements, words and ceremonies, and where a life is led contrary to all love, there is the church of antichrist; this all intelligent persons must admit.  For it is manifest that they reject Christ, the Son of God, his word and ordinance, and place in its stead their own ordinance and works, and thus establish an abomination and idolatry.”

In other words, every member must have been born again and have a living relationship with Jesus Christ before being added to the church.  The church must be maintained in this condition, and it would be a mockery to observe the Lord’s Holy Supper unless this faith and love is alive among the members.  This is the kind of church that we must seek to find.

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