The church is the living body of Christ present in the world today. It is the Word of God alive amongst us. There is but one church, thechurchofJesusand His apostles. Our church has its roots in the early church. These roots can be traced back to Jesus by what we call “apostolic succession.”. In other words, from Jesus to the apostles, then to today’s’ bishops, there is an unbroken line linking modern times back to Christ 2,000 years ago. The church can be better understood from the words of the early church Fathers themselves.
St Hilary said, “The church is like a ship, outside of which it is impossible to understand the Word of God.” “Heretics think and teach false things about God and religion, then they call this the “new faith” saidSt Augustine. St Cyprian said, “He who does not have the church as his mother cannot have God for his Father.” St John of Damascus said, “He who does not believe according to the tradition of the undivided, universal church, is an unbeliever.”
“Where Christ is, there is His Church” said St Ignatius the martyr. Origen added, “the gates of hell prevail against everyone who is not in the faith of Christ, and thus outside the church. But the gates of hell will have no power against Christ’s church.”
St John Chrysostom warns, “never separate yourself from the church. For nothing is stronger than the church. Your hope is the church alone; your salvation is inside the church only.” Tertullian teaches “Christian society will never be depleted, and will particularly become strong when its appearance will seem to wane.” St Hippolytus states that even though the church will be exposed to cruel persecution, she will never cease to exist.”
St Cyprian ofCarthageteaches, “my friends you should be made aware of this fact: the bishop is in the church, and the church is in the bishop; and if anyone is not with the bishop, then he not in the church.”
St Matthew says. “… and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18)