Some “not of us” here—also use Rev. 3:5; 22:19 (may be in the local church directory, but not in the Book of Life).
Differences Between the Universal Church and the Local Church
Various uses of the word “church”
• “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will
build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail
against it” (Matthew 16:18).
• “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head
over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of
Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23).
• “…to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all
generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:21).
The previous passages all refer
to the ONE “universal” church.
Various uses of the word “church”
• “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he
refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a
heathen and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:17).
• “So when they had appointed elders in every church, and
prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in
whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).
• “If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve
them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may
relieve those who are really widows” (1 Timothy 5:16).
These passages all refer to a local
or organized church, of which
there are MANY.
Must understand other differences
• If we don’t, we will make errors in our thinking, our
terminology, and ultimately in our practice.
• Errors in thinking and terminology eventually lead to errors in
In heaven and earth (Eph. 3:15)
Lord adds members (Acts 2:47)
Entered by baptism (1 Cor. 12:13)
All saints here (Gal. 3:27)
None but the saved (2 Tim. 2:19)
One shepherd only (Jn. 10:16)
Assembled fig. (Heb. 12:23)
Satan cannot prevail (Mt. 16:18)
Earthly, limited (Phil. 1:1)
“Join” ourselves to (Acts 9:26)
Local control (3 Jn 1:10; Ac 18:27)
Certain saints here (1 Cor. 1:2)
Some “not of us” here (1 Jn. 2:19)
Lesser shepherds (1 Pet. 5:2)
Literally assemble (1 Cor. 14:23)
Can, often does prevail (Rev. 2:5)
• The universal church is a relationship of individuals with God,
that comes FIRST—before you ever join yourself to a local
church; and that relationship exists even if a local church
refuses to receive you (Acts 9:26; 3 John 1:9-10), provided you
continue to walk in the truth.
• The local church is an additional tie, of saints with saints,
working together as a team (collectively), in order to carry out
God’s purposes. And yes, it is God’s will that you join yourself
to one of these teams.
• The bulk of our work as Christians is NOT this teamwork, not
this collective action, but what we do individually.
• Any action indicated by the universal church is obviously not
collective action; it’s what each one of us does to bring glory
– Many like to involve the local church and all its resources in
nearly every work under the sun, reasoning that this is the only
way to bring glory to God.
• It is possible to be considered a faithful member of a local
church, but NOT be a part of the universal church. Your name
may be in a church directory, but not in the Book of Life.
• The church is not the means of salvation; it is the result. You
don’t get into the church to be saved; the church is the saved
(individuals saved by the blood of Christ, who continue
faithful to the Lord).
– The church is not a vehicle you get into and ride all the way to
• The Prattmont Church of Christ is NOT the one true church,
nor is any other local church.
– The universal church does not meet on the first day of the week
to worship, is not organized with elders and deacons, does not
have a treasury, etc.
• If we collected together all the churches of Christ, or even just
those faithful to the N.T. pattern, that collection would still not
constitute the one true universal church.
– The universal church is composed of individuals, not churches.
• All that we have studied emphasizes the need to show
allegiance to Christ, first and foremost. Local churches can and
often do go astray, but YOU don’t have to.
• The word church is never used to refer to a denomination, a
group of churches joined together under some governing
body (association, convention, conference, etc.). If you are
part of a denomination, you are part of something NOT found
in the Bible.
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