Series on the church of Christ

Part 2

THE CHURCH OF CHRIST:

Universal and Local

 

Intro.

1.  The church was divinely planned, built & revealed (Eph. 3:10-11).

2.  It has been given divine work to accomplish (Eph. 4:11-16).

3.  The organization the Lord gave His church reveals the wisdom of God & a sufficiency to do all the organized work He wants us to do.

4.  Most churches operate through local, regional & universal organizations.

  a.  Worldwide hierarchies, councils, synods, conferences, societies, schools, missions, etc.

5.  Two uses of the word "church" in the NT reveals the organization which was planned & approved by God to accomplish the work He gives the church.

 

I.  USAGE OF "CHURCH" IN THE NT.

  A.  Used & Applied Universally - Matt. 16:18; Eph. 5:25-27; 1 Cor. 15:9.

  B.  Used & Applied Locally - 1 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:2; Rom. 16:16; Col. 4:15-16.

  C.  "Church" Is Never Used Denominationally In The Bible!

    1.  Denominationalists try to use "vine & branches" of Jno. 15:1-4.  But....15:5-8.

    2.  "Baptist Church" is less than universal but more than local! - 1 Cor. 4:6.  Man's terminology, not God's! - 1 Pet. 4:11

 

II.  DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE UNIVERSAL & LOCAL CHURCH.

  A.  Universal: Worldwide in scope, composed of saints -- not congregations or churches - Heb. 12:22-23; 1 Cor. 12:27.

    1.  In universal sense, the church is (only) viewed as a spiritual relationship, not a collective, a functioning organization.

      a.  Body - Christ its head - Signifies relation to Christ (rule, authority) - Col. 1:18.

      b.  House - Family - God the Father, provisions, etc. - Eph. 2:19.

      c.  Temple - Habitation of God w/ His people - Eph. 2:20-22 (2 Cor. 6:16-18).

    2.  No functional organization of universal church in the NT:

      a.  No governing organization - Hierarchy, ecclesiastical framework.

      b.  No worship & work organization - To control worldwide activity.

      c.  No disciplinary organization - No central council or agency to enforce worldwide compliance to doctrines, morals & practice ("church law").

    3.  Organization of the universal church into collective action is unauthorized! (Col. 3:17).

  B.  Local: Composed of saints who form an organic body -- an organization.

    1.  It too describes a spiritual relationship - 1 Cor. 3:16-17.

    2.  In addition to that, it is a functional organization, a group or collective which functions together - Acts 11:22; 15:22.

 

III.  ALL OF THE COLLECTIVE WORK OF THE CHURCH IS ENACTED & ACCOMPLISHED BY MEANS OF THE LOCAL CHURCH.

  A.  Organization (local in scope) - Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28.

  B.  Worship & Work (local in scope) - Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:18-20.

  C.  Membership/Fellowship (locally controlled) - Acts 9:19, 26-28.

  D.  Discipline (locally applied) - 1 Cor. 5:4, 13; 2 Ths. 3:6.

Every collective work given the church is achieved by & through the local church (Edification, Evangelism, Benevolence.)

Each church is directly responsible to the Lord for its faithfulness in the areas of divinely-given, collective work (cf. Rev. 2-3).

 

IV.  THE CHRISTIAN'S RESPONSIBILITY TO THE LOCAL CHURCH.

  A.  To Identify With A Local Church - cf. Acts 9:26.

    1.  Worship, edification, work.

    2.  Be active in its worship & work - 1 Ths. 5:12-15.

    3.  Help maintain its unity & purity - 1 Cor. 1:10; 3:3, 16-17.

 

Conclusion

1.  We must not create &/or activate any organization larger than the local church to do the work Christ has given the local church to do! (Societies, missions, agencies, denominations, etc.)

2.  We must activate the local church to do all of its God-given work!

3.  "To the Work!"