What is the Church?
The Church is the congregation of all baptized persons united in the same true faith, the same sacrifice, and the same sacraments, under the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff and the Bishops in Communion with him. The Bible refers to the Church as the Body of Christ, as a sheepfold, as the Kingdom of God, as the Kingdom of heaven. A person becomes a member of the Church upon receiving the Baptism.
Who founded the Church?
Jesus Christ, founded the Church.
1. All History, religious and non-religious, including the Bible, clearly proves that Jesus Christ founded a Church. After teaching publicly what he required all to believe and practice, thereby announcing the main doctrines of His Church, Christ gathered a number of Disciples. From them, he chose twelve, to whom he gave special instruction and training.
The Term "a kingdom", by which Our Lord use to refer His Church, implies organized authority. And He said to the special men he had chosen, You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you (John 15:16). He did not teach the disciples for themselves alone, but to be the foundation of His Church. God came to save disciples, but all men.
2. After training the disciples and Apostles to form the organization of His Church, Christ chose Simon Peter, and made him the Chief. Simon, whose name Christ changed to Peter, was the Head of the Church. On Simon, Christ promised to build His Church, saying: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church" (Matt. 16:18). After the Resurrection He confirmed Peter's authority over the Church, saying to him: "Feed my lambs; feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17).
3. Not only did the men chosen by Christ have authority; He gave them extraoidinary powers, particularly the twelve special men, the Apostles.
"Then having summoned his twelve disciples, he gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every kind of disease and infirmity" (Matt. 10:1).
- They had power to sanctify, when Christ bade them: "Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19).
- They had power to forgive sin, when Christ said to them:
- "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them" (John 20:23).
- They had power to rule when Christ said:
- "He who hears you hears me; and he who rejects you rejects me; and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me" (Luke 10:16). And: "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven" (Matt. 18:18).
- They had power to offer sacrifice, when at the Last Supper Christ, after instituting the Eucharist, bade them:
- "Do this in remembrance of me" (1 Cor. 11:24-25).
4. Finally, He promised to remain for all time with the Church He established.
If the death of Our Lord were to do good only to a few persons then living in Judea, its merits would have been very limited. But it could do good to future generations only if there were an organization with authority to carry on His teachings and preserve them from all change. This is His Church.
Why did Jesus Christ found the Church?
Jesus Christ founded the Church to bring all men to eternal salvation.
Our Lord Jesus Christ established the Church in order to lead men to heaven by:
- Continuing His teaching and example; and
- Applying the fruits of His Sacrifice on the cross to all men until the end of the world.
Our Lord gave to the Church a three-fold office: the office of teacher, the office of priest or sanctifier, and the office of pastor or ruler. By these offices Christ intended His Church to accomplish the purpose for which He founded it.
After Pentecost Sunday the Apostles began to carry out their mission of making disciples of all nations. Through them and their successors this mission continues and will continue to the end of the world.On the first Pentecost about three thousand were received into the Church after St. Peter's sermon. They were the first members converted and baptized since the Ascension of Our Lord.