Concerning the Church we ought to think and believe that it is the house of the living God, founded upon Christ and ruled and governed by Christ. This spiritual house is God-built. The Father founded it, placing the Lord Jesus Christ as the beginning and foundation, as the Scripture saith:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” (1 Peter 2:6, Isaiah 28:16).
The Son of God built upon the foundation which the Father laid, taking to Himself the twelve Apostles and the seventy, and sending upon them the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, that they might preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit through the Apostles raised the building, and established out of all nations the new community, which was called the Church, one, holy, catholic, and apostolic; one, because it has always the same basis, the Lord Jesus Christ, one and the same faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and one and the same legislation, the evangelic, laid by Christ; holy, because all its members are sanctified by the Holy Spirit and live holy lives agreeably to the commandments of Christ; catholic, because it is constituted out of every tribe and tongue and nation and excludes no one who wishes to join it; and apostolic, because it received and holds unalterably the teaching concerning God and Christ as uttered by the twelve Apostles and their seventy assistants and co-workers.
The Apostles in different places ordained presbyters and bishops to teach the faithful the divine word and sanctify them through ceremonies and mysteries, which Christ ordained and which are celebrated in the Holy Spirit as Christ commanded them to be.
In such manner the Church is known to be the house of the living God, God-founded, from the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the house built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, our Lord Jesus Christ being the cornerstone, the chief and founder. With reference to Him the Church bears the analogy of a woman leading the souls of the faithful to regeneration and forming them after the image and likeness of God. Accordingly, the Church is defined to be the community of men in faith founded upon the New Man and His rights, and ruled by the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit according to the most perfect and most moral Gospel law, through called and chosen instruments, consecrated to the service of the Holy Spirit. In such a community a man is born, regenerated through one baptism, is changed, and formed in accordance with final and pre-eternal counsel of God, that is, after the image and likeness of God: and only through this community is any man ,saved from eternal punishment. They who are living outside of this community are traveling the way of eternal punishment, not possessing the right of life or salvation. The essential constituents of the Church are Christ and the Holy Spirit, through whom the truth is taught and the laws and commandments are applied. Faith in and obedience to the Church is the same as faith in and obedience to the one and triune God, because the voice of the Church is the same as the voice of God.