May 26, 2022

The Universal Church

Revelation 7:9-11

There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.

—  Revelation 7:9

The Christian faith is deeply personal. At the same time, it is also deeply communal. When we say, with the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in . . . the holy catholic church,” we are declaring that the church, the body of Christ, includes all who belong to the people of God throughout history.

Let’s be clear, though, that this statement does not single out or promote a particular church within the body of all who believe in Christ. The word “catholic” here means “universal,” indicating that the church of Christ includes all of God’s people from all times in history. The breathtaking vision in Revelation captures the scope of Christ’s church gathered “from every nation, tribe, people and language.” Can you imagine a more awe-inspiring sight?

And what unites this astonishing multitude of people from every time and place? Since the early centuries of the church, the teaching of statements like the Apostles’ Creed has played a central role in uniting Christians around the true faith anchored in Scripture and inspired by the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

May the truth and witness of the universal church comfort, encourage, and challenge you to love and serve the God whom countless believers have served through the ages.

Lord, we are humbled and grateful to belong to your church, and we look forward to praising and serving you forever. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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