Communion of the Saints

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The twenty-sixth chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith states that all believers “united to Jesus Christ … have fellowship with Him” and are “united to one another in love.” This truth, from Ephesians 2:11–22, dawned on me after I returned from a joyful time of pulpit-supply ministry in Scotland. Just a week earlier, I was worshiping in another country, but now an ocean divided us. Yet despite the distance, we were connected. I became aware that believers around the globe with their own histories were worshiping God at the same time. Our backgrounds were different, but we were connected by a love that emanated from our faith in Christ, making those relationships more precious than what I had in my immediate surroundings.

The point of the confession’s teaching on the unity of believers is that we are more than individuals within a local congregation; our membership transcends both space and time. Paul informs us that we are “no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). The “you” in this verse is plural, and our membership with the “saints” and “household of God” lifts us out of the temporal. So we can say that all believers are part of the body of Christ, individually and corporately, in the present and the past.

In contrast to Scripture, secular culture lauds the maverick and disparages the past. Many Christians are unaware they have allowed these views to permeate their thinking, and they avoid the assembly of believers and fixate on the immediate. In so doing, they lose out on the fullness of the blessings that attend the communion of the saints: blessings given by God for building, strengthening, and encouraging believers. It is to this that the confession speaks, reminding us that Christians are united in love, pointing to Paul’s teachings that believers are members in the household of God. 

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.