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A Corpus Mixtum

February 24, 2011

I recently read a definition for the local church that began with these words:  “The local church is a community of regenerated believers who confess Jesus as Lord…” What strikes me about this definition is that it seems to confuse the visible church with the invisible church.  The visible church is the worshiping community as we see and experience it everyday.  The invisible church is the worshiping community as God sees it and knows the heart and true intentions of all.  To say that the local church is “a community of regenerated believers” is to be overly optimistic concerning our discerning powers and to underestimate the work of Satan.  To suggest or imply that every member of the local church actually belongs to the redeemed body of Christ and is an elect child of God is to be naive at best.

Whether it was the family of Adam and Eve, the Nation of Israel, the Twelve Apostles, or the church today, the people of God have always been what Augustine called a corpus mixtum or a mixed body.  In the midst of the people of God, the enemy has always planted his seed in an attempt to undermine the work and diminish the glory of God in the world.  Though at times she has been more pure than at others, yet she has always maintained her share of false confessions. It has always been this way, and it will be this way until Christ returns (see Matt. 13:24-30).

Yet, while we may not always be able to discern with our eyes who truly is elect of God, we can take comfort in knowing that even in the local church, Christ knows those who belong to him (2Tim. 2:19).

Yes, we should always be striving for the peace and purity of the local church. Yet we do so knowing that she will not be pure and at perfect peace until her Prince of Peace completes here purification.  It is then that she will be “without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).



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