"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Favorite Hymns - The Church's One Foundation

The Church's One Foundation was written by Samuel J. Stone. The one foundation is "Jesus Christ her Lord" in the words of the hymn. This reflects 1 Corinthians 3:11 where Paul tells us, "For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (ESV) There are many other lines in the hymn that are near quotations from Scripture.

The Reverend Stone wrote this hymn along with eleven others to help explain the Apostles Creed, which reads:

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell
The third day he rose again from the dead
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
I believe in the Holy Ghost
I believe [in the] holy catholic church; the communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body
And the life everlasting. Amen.

(Historic Creeds and Confessions. 1997 (electronic ed.) (Article 1-12). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)

With each line considered an article, the ninth article is addressed by this hymn. That article states that, "I believe in the holy catholic church; the communion of saints." Catholic here is not a reference to the Roman Catholic church, which had not formed when the Apostles' Creed was written, but the "universal" church. It is an affirmation, particularly when linked with "the communion of saints", that speaks to the church throughout time and space as being one church.

There are those who would deny this truth, and say that we should only speak of the local church, but I think these people are missing a great truth. Jesus is building His church (singular) of which each local congregation is but one part. Local churches consist of believers, false professors, and "god-fearers" (those attracted to Jesus but who have not converted). But Christ's church consist only of believers.

Believers, we are told in Revelation, from every tribe and tongue and nation. It is a sad truth that local churches, at least in the U.S., are still segregated bodies. We have white churches, black churches, and Hispanic churches. This hymn affirms that despite any division that might exist here, in Christ we are all one. May we strive to display that unity here on earth.

The local church is not unimportant. True believers gather together regularly with other believers to worship. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (ESV) If we are to be effective ministers of God in the world, we need the encouragement and aid of other believers, and they need us as well.

The version of the hymn that follows is the one typically included in hymnals. The link above to CyberHymnal contains the full version as originally written (all seven stanza's).

The Church's One Foundation

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

She is from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee.

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