November 18, 2021 Samuel Lindsay

I believe in: the Communion of Saints

I believe in: the Communion of Saints

I believe in...

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

Once again in our survey of the Apostles Creed includes a word we don't use very much: Communion. It means intimate fellowship, sharing or union.

This idea flows out of the previous line, that there is a holy universal church, and within it there is an intimate union of saints.

But who do we have sweet fellowship with? And what does it look like? Let's break it down.

Saints = Holy Ones

Firstly, a quick note on Saints. Saints are not only the virtuous believers who have gone before us, but they also include us. If we belong to Jesus, we are Saints.

Now, obviously we know that we're not always qualitatively saintly, but belonging to Jesus changes our status so that while we are still sinners, we are made holy to God. We become "holy ones" which is the meaning of the word "saint".

Confusingly, "holy ones" can also refer to angelic beings, but that is not who is in view with this part of our creed.

"...on the day [Lord Jesus] comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you" (2 Th 1:10).

Communion with God

The communion of saints is firstly with God. In our position as saints we have been set aside for God and made holy for Him. We touched on this in the last article, so suffice to say we have a special place with God as His chosen holy people. As a whole we are joined to God in a special way, so that we can even say we have been adopted by Him, and brought into His household.

But how does that come about? It comes through our union with Jesus by the Spirit. We have our fellowship union with God through Jesus Christ! And Jesus makes that clear in some of the imagery He uses, including that Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. Jesus is the head of the body that is the church. If we are not joined to Jesus, we are spiritually dead and cut-off.

"Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:4–5).

This union with Christ is powered by the Spirit, and it enables us to live the life that we have been called to! If you desire to grow spiritually, abide in Christ!

Communion with One Another

Even though the communion of the holy ones is chiefly with THE Holy One, it naturally flows horizontally to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The very fact that we call each other brother or sister is down to the fact that we have been united in a spiritual family by the power of Christ's blood. We're now blood-brothers.

We have diversity in Christ from different ages, genders, languages, ethnicities, classes, etc. But, we are all one in Christ! We are joined together by an invisible bond, and it means we have an interconnectedness that gives us each a stake in the other's life. My loss is your loss, your gain is my gain.

We, the church are a holy temple being built for the Lord, and as each brick relies on the other bricks around it in an interconnected unity to create the building, so we too rely on each other to be built up un the unity and love of Christ.

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing" (1 Th 5:11).

"Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves" (Ro 12:10).

Every time we gather as the local church we express that unifying fellowship that we share with one another and God, and it is amplified when we corporately celebrate the Lord's Supper which we sometimes call "Communion." There we use physical elements to celebrate the fellowship we collectively have with Christ through His sacrifice.

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Eph 4:4–6).

Samuel Lindsay

(Much of the inspiration for this article is owed to:

[1] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 1014.

[2] Zacharias Ursinus and G. W. Williard, The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism (Cincinnati, OH: Elm Street Printing Company, 1888), 304.)