|The Apostles' Creed, Part 19: "I believe in...the communion of the saints"|
|Written by David Lawrence|
|Monday, February 20 2012 00:00|
The early church recognized and confessed a great truth in the above words, a truth that is unfortunately overlooked and neglected by many Christians, to their detriment. They miss out on a great joy and an exhilarating reality by not understanding the communion of the saints. Such is particularly true with groups that insist they are the one true church and that the church has not existed in the world until restored by that group. Such a cultic view deprives adherents of so many blessings, including the blessing of realizing that we are not alone but belong to an enormous family that is so bound together in Christ that even temporal death cannot separate us.
We should define the terms. Communion is translated from the Greek word koinonia which means fellowship, joint participation, or sharing. The word saints comes from the Greek word for holy and refers in the Bible to anyone who has been made holy by the blood of Christ; that is, it refers to any true Christian. In Heb. 10:10 we read that we have been made holy by the work of our great high priest, Jesus Christ, made perfect once and for all (v. 14). Thus the idea of communion of the saints is that of a sharing with the totality of the body of Christ, with all of those who have been made holy by the finished work of the Christ.
But is our fellowship, sharing, or communion with saved people restricted to this life, to Christians now living on the earth, or does it transcend time, death, space, and all the temporal factors that separate us from the redeemed of all ages? Our answer and the basis for the belief of the early Christians in the communion of the saints come from the comments of the writer of Hebrews in chapter 12:22-24: “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
This language is in the present tense referring to what is happening now in the lives of the people of God. It is describing where they have come, where they are now, in contrast to where Israel came when they appeared before God at Mt. Sinai. In this glorious description of the church we find angels, church, names written in heaven, God, the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus and his sprinkled blood. There is no doubt that this is language of a present reality that transcends time, space, death, and physical limitations. Thus when we worship, we are not alone. Angels are present. God is with us. Christ is with us. And the spirits of righteous people who have been fully sanctified and, it would appear, have reached their own consummation of redemption in glory. Indeed there is a vast fellowship to which we come in worship, an unimaginably large fellowship, a sharing with an incalculable multitude of God’s people and with the heavenly host. What happens in worship extends far beyond what we see and hear and involves an invisible realm. Such a great truth should be of immense comfort to us.