I. Westminster Confession [Westminster Confession of Faith. Free Presbyterian Publications Copyright 2003. Printed by Bell and Bain Ltd., Glasgow]
Questions 60-61 are good regarding what it means to be a Christian, and 62-65, 69 are helpful regarding the church (pp. 157-160, and 163).
Q. 60 Can they who have never heard the gospel, and so know not Jesus Christ, nor believe in him, be saved by their living according to the light of nature?
A. They who, having never heard the gospel, [Rom 10:14] know not Jesus Christ, [2 Thess 1:8-9; Eph 2:12; John 1:10-12] and believe not in him, cannot be saved, [John 8:24; Mark 16:16] be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, [1 Cor 1:20-24] or the laws of that religion which they profess; [John 4:22; Rom 9:31-32; Phil 3:4-9] neither is there salvation in any other, but in Christ alone, [Acts 4:12] who is the Saviour only of his body the church. [Eph 5:23]
Q. 61 Are all they saved who hear the gospel, and live in the church?
A. All that hear the gospel, and live in the visible church, are not saved; but they only who are true members of the church invisible. [John 12:38-40; Rom 9:6; Matt 22:14; 7:21; Rom 11:7]
Regarding what the church is...
Q. 62 What is the visible Church?
A. The visible church is a society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do profess the true religion, [1 Cor 1:2; 12:13; Rom 15:9-12; Rev 7:9; Ps 2:8; 22:27-31; 45:17; Matt 28:19-21] and of their children. [1 Cor 7:14; Acts 2:39; Rom 11:16; Gen 17:7] (To the children part of this I would argue that at a certain point in their life they must respond, by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, in repentance and faith. Until that point in time they would be a part of the visible church in that they are with their parents, and they are being brought up in the teaching and admonition of the Lord. But this is for a discussion on another day.)
Q. 63 What are the special privileges of the visible church?
A. The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; [Isa 4:5-6; 1 Tim 4:10] of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies; [Ps 115:1-2, 9; Isa 31:4-5; Zech 7:2-4, 8-9] and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, [Acts 2:39, 42] and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, [Ps 147:19-20; Rom 9:4; Eph 4:11-12; Mark 16:15-16] and excluding none that will come unto him. [John 6:37]
Q. 64 What is the invisible church?
A. The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head. [Eph 1:10, 22-23; John 10:16; 11:52]
Q. 65 What special benefits do the members of the invisible church enjoy by Christ?
A. The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory. [John 17:21; Eph 2:5-6; John 17:24]
Q. 69 What is the communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ?
A. The communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ, is their partaking of the virtue of his mediation, in their justification, [Rom 8:30] adoption, [Eph 1:5] sanctification, and whatever else, in this life, manifests their union with him. [1 Cor 1:30]
II. Westminster Confession [Westminster Confession of Faith. Free Presbyterian Publications Copyright 2003. Printed by Bell and Bain Ltd., Glasgow]
Chapter 25: Of the Church (pp. 106-108)
25.1. The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of Him that fills all in all. [Eph 1:10; 5:23; Col 1:18]III. The Glorious Body of Christ by R. B. Kuiper
25.2. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; [1 Cor 1:2; 12:12; Ps 2:8; Rev 7:9; Rom 15:9] and of their children: [1 Cor 7:14; Acts 2:39; Ezek 16:20; Rom 11:16; Gen 3:15; Gen 17:7] (again I partially disagree with this part) and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, [Matt 13:47; Isa 9:7] the house and family of God, [Eph 2:19; Eph 3:15] out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. [Acts 2:47]
25.3. Unto this catholic visible Church Christ has given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and does, by His own presence and Spirit, according to His promise, make them effectual thereunto. [1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11; Matt 28:19; Isa 59:21]
25.4. This catholic Church has been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. [Rom 11:3; Rev 12:6] And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them. [Rev 2 and 3; 1 Cor 5:6]
25.5. The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; [1 Cor 13:12; Rev 2 and 3; Matt 13:24-30] and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. [Rev 18:2; Rom 11:18] Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth to worship God according to His will. [Matt 16:18; Ps 72:17; Ps 102:28; Matt 28:19, 20]
25.6. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ; [Col 1:18; Eph 1:22] Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof. [but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God. [Matt 23:8; 2 Thess 2:3; Rev 13:6]
“Christian theology generally says that the church originated in the garden of Eden immediately after the fall of man, when God promised a Saviour and man accepted that promise in faith. On the other hand, many take it for granted that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, a little more than nineteen hundred years ago, marks the birthday of the Christian church. (pp. 21)”
"[The church] consists of many widely differing members, all aiding one another, the quality of harmony is outstanding. There is much diversity among the members of Christ’s church. Some have five talents, others but one. Some have attractive characters, others are relatively unattractive. Some are leaders, others followers. Some are rich, others poor. Some are highly educated, others unlearned. Some are strong in the faith, others weak. But each needs all the others. They complement one another. They co-operate with each other. Collectively they constitute on body. And all are bound together by the greatest of Christian virtues – love. (pp. 101)"
IV. John Calvin Insitutes Bk IV.17 [edited by John T. McNeill]
"Because they also allege that the church is not without basis called holy, it is fitting to examine in what holiness it excels lest, if we are not willing to admit a church unless it be perfect in every respect, we leave no church at all . . . the church’s holiness is not yet complete. The church is holy, then, in the sense that it is daily advancing and is not you perfect: it makes progress from day to day but has not yet reached its goal of holiness, as will be explained more fully elsewhere. (pp.1031)”
V. The Glory Of Christ John Owen Works Vol. 1 [Banner]
“His person, therefore, is the foundation of the church – the great mystery of godliness, or the religion we profess – the entire life and soul of all spiritual truth – in that all the counsels of the wisdom, grace, and goodness of God, for the redemption, vocation, sanctification, and salvation of the church, were all laid in him, and by him were all to be accomplished. (pp. 64)”
I know it's a ton of stuff...but it's good, eh?