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The Church Is Not a Place

September 08, 2019
By Martin Luther

These are the generations of Shem.

GENESIS 11:10

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The Church Is Not a Place

This list of the fathers teaches us the basic doctrine that God has never altogether abandoned His Church, even though on some occasions it was larger and on others smaller, just as also on some occasions its teaching was purer and on others less clear. Let us sustain ourselves with this hope against the great wickedness of the world and of the opponents of the Word. Christ also gives us the comfort (Matthew 24:22) that the days of the last time will be shortened for the sake of the godly, namely, that the Church will be preserved and Antichrist will not encompass everything with error and falsehood. These grandsons of Shem were heirs of the promise concerning Christ, and God wanted them preserved and defended, in order that there might be people among whom the Church or the Word might be found. For these cannot be separated: where the Word is, there the Church is, there the Spirit is, there Christ is, and everything. . .. The fathers had a physical succession, just as later on in the Law there was a physical succession to the priesthood. But in the New Testament there is no such physical succession. Christ did not beget sons according to the flesh. Therefore the Church is not confined to a place or to persons but is only where the Word is.