The Nature Of The Church
• (Part One)
• Seeing the distinction between the individual, collective, and universal as shown in the Scriptures.

• Introduction
• When Peter proclaimed “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”;
• Jesus revealed that He would build His church.
• The word for “church” is the Greek ekklesia
• This word means assembly, gathering, mob, people coming together for a purpose or as a group.

• The Church
• Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Ephesians 4:4-6, 5:23-32,
Hebrews 12:1, 22-24
• Throughout the New Testament, descriptions of the church as such, the Body of Christ, the people of God, etc., maintains an important vagary (not really specific).
• Emphasis is often placed on the singularity and unity of the church:
• Christ has but one Body; its different parts function together as one.
• Yet Paul is writing to the church in Rome, and then the church in Corinth, and the church in Ephesus:
• Churches in the plural denoting more than one.
• To this end we often make distinctions between the "church
universal" and the "local church“.
• Church universal: the one Body of Christ spoken of specifically
whenever emphasis is placed on the singularity or uniqueness of the collective people of God.
• Local church: a collective of Christians in a given specific
place and time who frequently assemble with one another, spoken of specifically whenever emphasis is placed on a singular group of Christians meeting in one place (e.g. church in Rome) or multiple such groups in a larger area (e.g. churches of Galatia).
• While this distinction must be made in many places in the Bible;
• In order to make sense of what is revealed in Scripture we must remember that the Apostles never explicitly make the distinction:
• they speak of the “ekklesia” in both senses without qualification!
• The ideal: a given local church is the reflection of the members of the church universal in that time and place.
• In reality, some of the members of a given local church may not actually be part of the universal church;
• Perhaps some members of the universal church living in that area at that time do not meet with that one specific local church.
• Discussions of the relationship between individual Christians and the local church are important and, Lord willing, will be had at another time.
• Yet an often less discussed and emphasized discussion involves the relationship between the individual Christian and the church universal.
• Understanding the nature of this relationship proves even more important in our age of developed communication technology connecting people around the country and the world as never before!
• Therefore, what is the relationship between the individual Christian and the church universal?
• What is the constitution and nature of the church universal?
• What sort of relationship exists among the members of the church universal?
• What are the responsibilities of an individual Christian to the church universal?

• Conclusion (Part One)
• How do we manage our responsibilities as an individual Christian to both the church universal and to the local church?
• Our next lesson will discuss the Universal Church and our part of the relationship.
• Learning about the Church is so very important today;
• Because there is a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding concerning this subject.
• Invitation.

By Carey Scott

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