The Holy Universal Church

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Aaron, Nov 12, 2002.

  1. Aaron

    Aaron
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    It was mentioned in another thread that one could not find any universal church in the Scriptures. Thought I'd post a few Scriptures that plainly set forth all believers in all the congregations as The Church.

    Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

    Ephesians 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

    Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

    Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

    Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

    1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
     
  2. DHK

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    The word for "church" is "ekklesia," and means assembly or congregation. When one keeps that in its proper perspective, you come to the rational conclusion that it is impossible to have an unassembled assembly, otherwise defined as a universal church. In the quotations given above, Paul writes to Ephesus, Colossus, and Timothy. He is writing to local churches and a pastor of a local church. In each case the word always means assembly. And the church being addressed would consider themselves as the object of the letter. Paul, writing to Timothy, for example, tells him how he ought to behave in the house of God, the assembly, which is the pillar and ground of the church. As the church that Timothy was the pastor of, was the pillar and ground of the truth, so every Biblical church is. The word church (assembly) is used in a generic sense.
    Col.1:18--"He is the head of the body, the church" Christ is the head of every assembly, every church.
    And thus, the word is used by Jesus in Mat.16:18--in a generic sense. Christ will build his church. Every church is built on the foundation of Christ. If it is not built on Christ, it is not a Biblical church. Christ will build his assembly. In each case it always means local assembly. It never means universal assembly, universal church. It is a contradiction of terms.
    DHK
     
  3. Helen

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    Actually, DHK, this may be one case where you are both probably right. At the end of Hebrews 11, in reference to the list of OT faithful, we read, "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect."

    "Perfect" in this usage probably meaning 'complete.'

    In addition, there is a reason we pray for those far from us and whom we have never met when we hear of a prayer need. Because we truly are one Body in the Lord, with Him as our head.

    A local church is sort of like a finger -- unique and complete in itself and directed by the Head, but also part of something much larger which is all coordinated together by the Head.

    I would also bring to mind those in jail for their faith around the world. In the isolation of jail, are they then cut off from the Body of Christ? Of course not!

    I have had the opportunity to travel somewhat and there is, even when we speak different languages and are not aware at first of each other as Christians, a sense of belonging together with other Christians in other cultures. It's a remarkable and beautiful thing. It used to shock me; now it simply delights me. We truly are one in Christ.
     
  4. DHK

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    John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
    13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    All who are born again are brothers and sisters in Christ, and thus belong to the "family of God," in that sense. But I believe that the word church (ekklesia) is used only in a local sense, meaning assembly. An assembly cannot be universal or invisible.
    DHK
     
  5. Daniel David

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    Actually, ekklesia, is a called out assembly. Believers are called out from the world. Also note that only believers are part of Christ's church. Unbelievers are in most churches today.
     
  6. Aaron

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    DHK,

    There certainly are autonomous bodies of believers that can be rightly called "churches," and the Scriptures testify to this, but the Scriptures I listed plainly set forth all believers as members of His body, the church.

    You do violence to the texts to say they mean otherwise. [​IMG]
     
  7. DHK

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    What is a New Testament local church? It is an assembly of baptized believers who have voluntarily associated themselves together for the purpose of carrying out the Great Commission, and the ordinances of Christ.
    That is a basic definition. One could expand on it if necessary.
    But the important thing to recognize in the definition is that it is an assembly of baptized believers. If it is an assembly of baptized believers, a Biblical church does not have unbelievers, by virtue of its own definition.
    DHK
     
  8. DHK

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    The Bible sets forth the only true explanation of church origins. We might call this Divine Creation and Natural Reproduction. So, as with biological life, the church was created by a direct act of God, and continues to reproduce itself “after its own kind” (Gen 1:24). B. H. Carroll, that great Baptist scholar of the last century said: “Churches come from churches somewhat as horses come from horses. History cannot trace every detail of the pedigree showing how a certain drove of wild mustangs in western Texas are descendants of Spanish barbs, brought here by the discoverers 400 years ago. The fact that the mustangs are here proves the succession, since only like begets like.”

    The very first church was formed by the Lord Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, as He called out his disciples along the banks of the sea of Galilee. And, just as all mankind has directly descended from that first created pair of Adam and Eve, so all true church have descended directly from that first church established by Christ. The fact is true churches have come from true churches in an unbroken generation since their founding by the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 3:21). Furthermore, a careful study of Bible doctrine and of history will show that genuine Baptist churches are the only churches which can make a legitimate claim to be in such a direct descent. (Greg Wilson)
     
  9. Helen

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    But, DHK, in Matthew 16:18, Christ speaks of His church, and the word is singular. And he says the gates of Hades will not prevail againt IT, not 'them.'

    As many churches as I have interpreted in and my husband has spoken in, neither of us has ever seen any single one actually comprised completely of born again believers, but the church Christ Himself is building is exactly that.
     
  10. DHK

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    Acts 20:
    17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
    28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
    29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

    Paul here calls for the elders (pastors) of the church at Ephesus. He instructs them in verse 28 to feed the church of God. Which church of God? The one at Ephesus of course. That is who these men were the elders and pastors of. Look carefully at the verse: "church of God, which he purchased with his own blood." Which church? The one at Ephesus. That is who he is speaking to, and the Ephesians would have not taken it any other way. He continues to speak in local (not a universal) context saying to these pastors, warning them that after he departs grievous wolves would enter in not sparing the flock. That was a warning given to the church at Ephesus. God (Christ) gave his blood for the church at Ephesus. Is that limited atonement? Quite! Unless you believe that the word church or assembly is used in a generic sense to mean all assemblies. There is no such thing as a universal church. That is obviously not what Paul is teaching or saying here. He is speaking directly to the Ephesians, and has only them in mind. This universal concept is only of recent origin in theological history. Just as Christ died for the Ephesian church, he died for every assembly. Just as Christ is the head of the Corinthian assembly, He is the head of every Biblical assembly.
    DHK
     
  11. Frogman

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    Do all rejoice in the sufferings and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. No. There are as many worshipping the tithe and the expected blessing from tithing as there are worshipping God. There are as many teaching man has the ability within himself to 'create' disregarding the only One who ever can create (making something from nothing). No, these cannot be proof of any universal and invisible body.

    Finally, Brother, show me your universal and invisible wife and I will accept your universal and invisible church.

    Otherwise, there is no universal church, only a family of God. We cannot reconcile the church so as to say this body of Christ offered unto Himself with spot and blemish is made up of all who are saved, because not all who are saved are Baptized, and not all who are saved understand the truth of their baptism and not all who claim salvation have it because they have claimed it by a system of works they offer mixed with Grace, and must then need to continually offer a system of works, adding to the perfect work of the Firstborn of God, no not all can be said to be of the church. Though all who possess salvation shall be of the Family of God in Heaven.

    God Bless.
    Bro. Dallas
     
  12. LadyEagle

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    Excellent point, PTW! [​IMG] (Unfortunately, it is a sad point, though true. :( )
     
  13. Frogman

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    I agree with the definition of ekklesia, however, I would argue they are called out for a distinct purpose of carrying on a business, not all that is called church can be said to be carrying on that business.

    Next, what do you say about the church being the bride of Christ, if this is universal, why did he use something so particular, local and visible as a wife to visualize for us the relationship we should have with Him as His Wife? If this wife is universal, why do any care for disciplinary concerns, etc? If this wife is universal what are her qualifications, salvation alone?, then any woman is qualified to be a wife, but only a particular one is the wife of one man, if I view all women as being my universal wife simply because they are female, then I can effectively throwout any teaching on adultery, and ultimately fornication, for because my partner is a woman, she is universally and invisibly my wife.

    God Bless.
    Bro.Dallas
     
  14. Aaron

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    Frogman,

    You focus too much on the outward appearance. The Church is a glorious church without spot or wrinkle. Period.

    The Holy Spirit also testifies of each Christian, Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God, 1 John 3:9.

    God calls those things which be not as though they were, Romans 4:17.

    No universal church? I don't see how you can miss it!
     
  15. rsr

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    From DHK:

    Just how recent do you think it is?
     
  16. Aaron

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    How many wives does Christ have?
     
  17. Bible Student

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    Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
    16: But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
    17: And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

    The word church here is the same one used in all the new testament. If the word church is to be interpeted to mean univeral and invisible then if we have a problem with someone in this univeral and invisable church to whom do we take it to?
     
  18. Aaron

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    Obviously the local, visible church is in view here.

    The whole of Christianity, the universal church, is in view in the verses I began this discussion with.
     
  19. rsr

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  20. Helen

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    Good thing you are not asking that of a Mormon, eh?
    :D

    ( I hope you are not too depressed that we are agreeing on something here, Aaron... [​IMG] )
     

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