What is the Visible / Invisible Church?

Question
What is the Visible / Invisible church?
Answer
The Visible Church is designated "visible," as it consists of everyone who professes the faith once given to the saints, along with their children. The Invisible Church are the elect, those that are actually saved; actually purchased by Christ. See WCF 25.

There are four categories of human beings within the confines of God's covenantal relationships with humanity. These can be easily understood by the following examples:

  • (1) John the Baptist: Effectually Called from the womb. He was a member of the Invisible/Visible Church.

  • (2) Jacob: Effectually Called later in life (the norm for the elect). He was a member of the Visible Church for a length of time (circumcision, corporate community, et. al.). Then he was saved and became a member of the Invisible Church too.

  • (3) Esau: Reprobate, but a member of the Visible Church. But, never a member of the Invisible Church.

  • (4) Goliath: Reprobate. An Unbeliever. Never a member of the Visible/Invisible Church.

The diagram below gives us a picture of these relationships:

visible and invisible church graphic

Related Topics:

The Old/New Testament Church
Dispensational Pre-Mills and Israel?
Pre-Mill Dispensationalism and Historical Premillennialism Problems?
The Re-Newed or New Covenant?
What Is Covenant Theology?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).