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

• Introduction
• We discussed the use of the word “church” as being the assembly of all the saints of God.
• That is spoken in the universal sense.
• Today we will look at the universal nature of the church and see its distinctiveness.
• Then later we will look at the part and purpose of individual Christians and their responsibility to the universal and local church.

• The Universal Church
• We learn about the nature of the church universal in passages like Matthew 16:18,
1 Corinthians 3:14-16, Ephesians 2:20-22, 4:4-6, 5:23-32, Hebrews 12:1, 22-24, 1 Peter 2:3-9, among others.
• The church as the Body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Ephesians 5:23-32).
• Paul frequently speaks of the people of God in terms of a body: different parts individually and together.
• When he does so, he speaks of the body as singular: there's only one of them!
• In that sense all individual Christians are part of that one body and have their function within it.
• Along with 1 Peter 4:10-11 an appreciation of the distinctiveness of each individual person and the role they can play in Christ's church!
• Throughout this description Jesus Himself is seen as the Head of the body.
• The church is described as the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:14-16, Ephesians 2:20-22,
1 Peter 2:3-8).
• Paul and Peter both speak of the church as the Temple of God: the place in which God maintains His presence;
• Just as was seen in the Old Testament of the physical temple in Jerusalem.
• It was always showing the presence of God in that Temple as the Holy Spirit worked among the children of Israel.
• Jesus is portrayed as the cornerstone of the foundation of the church.
• The Apostles and prophets, providing the revelation of Christ in binding and loosing what God had bound and loosed in Heaven, as
foundation (cf. Matthew 18:18).
• Individual Christians are described as the stones of the Temple of God.
• God is holy;
• His place must be holy;
• Therefore, God's people as His Temple are to be holy
(1 Peter 1:13-16).
• The church is the Kingdom of God in Christ (Matthew 4:17, 23, 13:1-43, Philippians 3:20-21, Colossians 1:13)
• Throughout the Gospels Jesus spoke of the coming of His Kingdom; Paul spoke of Christians as being part of that Kingdom, having been transferred into it by God.
• The Lord added to that kingdom those being saved (Acts 2:47).
• Christians as those who participate in God's rule in Christ, serve Jesus as Lord (Romans 6:14-23, etc.)
• The church is sometimes called the Israel of God (Romans 2:25-29, Galatians 6:16, Philippians 3:3, Hebrews 11:39-12:1, 22-24)
• Paul spends much time in his letter to the Romans establishing continuity between Israel as the people of God and Christians as the new Israel (thus 1 Corinthians 10:1-12).
• God fulfills the promise given to Abraham,
• Fulfills the Law of Moses in Christ;
• All who share in Abraham's faith in God are the
people of God, Israel, regardless of genealogical heritage.
• And yes, this is spiritual and not physical.
• The Hebrew author likewise envisions the Patriarchs and people in Israel's history as the heritage of God's people and that Christians are the ones now approaching the heavenly Mount Zion through Christ.
• Thus Christians are the people of God today;
• Their spiritual heritage is seen throughout the Old Testament.
• Hebrews 12:1: that spiritual heritage is still very much alive!
• We have learned many important things about the church universal in these passages!
• The church universal is the collective of the people of God,
• All those are part of the Kingdom of God in Christ;
• in one sense, all Christians from Pentecost to the final day;
• in the fullest sense, all those who are the saved people of God from the beginning until the final day.
• The church universal headed by Christ, filled by the Spirit, founded on the Apostles and prophets, made up by individual Christians:
• There is no other level of organization or authority between this and the local church in the New Testament!
• Its members are expected to serve Christ as their head, conform to His image, reflect righteousness and holiness in their lives.

• Conclusion (Part Two)
• Understanding the difference in the Universal church and the local church is very important.
• Some have a problem making the distinction.
• Others make the mistake of thinking the church is made up of congregations.
• No, the church is made up of individuals who have obeyed the Lord’s commands.
• Have you?

By Carey Scott

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