The Nature of the Local Church:The Local Church Is A Distinct Body The Local Church Is A Distinct Body Whose Works Are Authorized And Regulated Separate & Apart From Individual Christians or The Universal Church. Our Aim Is To Recognize These Biblical Distinctions So That We May Better Focus Our Study Specifically Upon The Works God Has Planned For The Local Church.
The Nature of the Local Church:The Local Church Is A Distinct Body • The Local Church & The Individual Saint • Although the church is composed of individual saints, its works are distinct from the works of individual saints. • The Local Church & The Universal Church • The works of the saints joined in one location are distinct from the universal works of all saints, in all places, for all time.
The Local Church & The Individual Saint • There Is A Difference In The Works They Are To Take On. (1 Timothy 5:16) • Individuals: To Support Family Members • Churches: To Support Widows Indeed • There Is A Difference In The Oversight & Use Of Their Resources. (Acts 4:34-5:4) • Individuals: Under Their Control • Churches: Under The Control of The Church
The Local Church & The Individual Saint • There Is A Difference In The Works of Saints Acting Together In Personal Pursuits & Saints Acting Together As A Local Church In Its Works. • Matthew 18:15-17 • An Individual Acting In Private • A Group of Individuals Acting In Cooperation • The Church Acting As A Body • Helpful Metaphor: Consider The Parts of a Chain • An Individual Saint Is Like A Single Link • A Group of Saints In Cooperation Is Like A Pile of Links • A Church Is Like A Chain Of Links That Are United
This Distinction Brings Focus To Our Study In Two Ways… • As We Study Good Works, We Always Ask: Is this work authorized for individuals, for local churches, or for both? • Some Works Are Authorized Only For Individual Participation. • Some Works Are Authorized Only For Local Church Participation. • Some Works Are Authorized For Both Individual & Congregational Participation. • As We Study Good Works, We Always Give Thanks For God’s Wisdom. • In His Wisdom, God Has Planned An Effective Delegation of Responsibilities. • In His Wisdom, God Has Provided Separation & Cooperation Where It Is Most Beneficial To His Purposes.
The Local Church & TheUniversal Church • Different In Composition • Universal: All Christians (Hebrews 12:22-23) • Local: Christians In One Area(1 Thessalonians 1:1) • Different In Number • Universal: Only One (Ephesians 4:4) • Local: Many (Galatians 1:2, Romans 16:16) • Different In Date of Establishment • Universal: Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41) • Local: Varies From Place to Place (Acts 11:19-23)
The Local Church & TheUniversal Church • Different In How Members Are Added • Universal: By The Lord (Acts 2:47) • Local: By Joining With Others (Acts 9:26) • Different In How Membership Is Maintained • Universal: By The Lord (2 Timothy 2:19) • Local: By Human Judgment (3 John 1:10) • Different In How They Are Organized • Universal: No Earthly Organization: Christ Is The Head, Individuals Are His Body (1 Corinthians 12:20) • Local: Earthly Organization: Elders, Deacons, Saints (Philippians 1:1)
Appreciating These Differences Help Us Keep Verses In Their Context • As We Study The Church, We Always Ask: Is this passage referring to the local church or the universal church? • Example: Ephesians 3:8-12, especially vs. 10 • “so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” • Thus, this verse is beautiful, but it is not a proof text for “teaching” being a work of the local church, it is a description of God’s use of the universal church to glorify Himself among the heavenly beings.
Summary • The Local Church Is A Distinct Body Whose Works Are Authorized And Regulated Separate & Apart From Individual Christians or The Universal Church. • The Good News: God Is Still “Adding” Those Who Desire To Be Saved • Acts 2:47