From these few verses I conclude that there is a single entity that can be called by the title “the church” (singular). This same entity is, as we see above, the body (not bodies) of which Christ is the head.
This is the prayer of Christ to God the Father for the very people who would comprise this body:
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.
We have seen
1. that there is something called The Church,
2. That this is Christ’s church, of which he is the head, and
3. That Christ prayed on the night he was betrayed that those whom the Father had given Him — not just the disciples, but those in the future who would believe by their message — would be one, as He and the Father are one.
So I have a series of what should be some simple questions about what the Church, this one conglomerate body of believers of which Christ is the Head, teaches. The Church, which we see in the Scriptures is the pillar and foundation of truth.
1. What does the Church teach about infant baptism?
2. What does the Church teach about what baptism does?
3. How many sacraments does the Church teach that there are, and what are they?
4. What does the Church teach are the “essential doctrines”?
5. What does the Church teach about what is required for salvation?
6. What does the Church teach about the role of women in the Church?
7. What does the Church teach about homosexuality?
8. What does the Church teach about the form of Church government?
9. What does the Church teach about birth control?
10. What does the Church teach about unity?
11. What does the Church teach about the necessity of church attendance?
12. What books does the Church teach are part of the Bible?
13. What does the Church teach about the place and importance of the Roman pontiff?
14. What does the Church teach regarding heaven, hell and purgatory?
15. What does the Church teach happens at the Eucharist?
I could add to the list for a long time but I have to be off to church (because thankfully, I know the answer to #11!).
Now for a quick exercise:
Part 1. Try answering these questions with the presupposition that the church is made up of various people from among Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Reformed Protestant, Evangelical, Methodist, and Charismatic, and the thousands of other distinct denominations.
Part 2. Now try answering them with the presupposition that there is one, holy, catholic and apostolic church on earth, and that this Church is the Roman Catholic Church.
Part 3. Which presupposition seemed more in keeping with Jesus’ prayer regarding his disciples and all those who would believe through their message? Which seemed more consistent with 1 Timothy 3:15?
How does one answer these questions as a Protestant – part of “the Protestant Church”? IS THERE such a thing as the “Protestant Church”? And if there is, shouldn’t there be one answer to each of these questions? Why is it okay to have differing answers among different sects of Christianity (even as to question #4!!), and yet all can be considered part of the one entity, The Church, which is supposed to be one as Christ and the Father are one?
Something to think about.