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DaveW

A clear verse teaching a universal understanding of the word "church".

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I would be interested if someone could quote a verse that clearly teaches a universal understanding of the word "Church".

For it to be legitimate, the verse MUST NOT MAKE SENSE in the local setting.

The reason I say this, is that if a verse can be understood to be teaching local understanding of church, then it is not NECESSARY for it to be understood in a universal sense.

I have not found a single verse that clearly teaches a universal understanding of the word "Church".

As a result, I see no biblical justification for accepting any sort of universal understanding of the word "church"

 

 

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10 hours ago, Pastor Scott Markle said:

Hebrews 12:23

Agreed. Also Matthew 16:18.. If Matthew 16:18 only refers to a local church, then Matthew 16:18 is a failed prophecy because there are many local assemblies that the gates of hell have prevailed against.

 

Ephesians 3:21 is also one to consider, considering the local assembly at Ephesus hasn't continued "throughout all ages, world without end".

 

https://www.wayoflife.org/database/are_you_a_baptist_brider.html

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17 hours ago, Pastor Scott Markle said:

Hebrews 12:23

vs 22 tells us that this is a local church...

Hebrews 12:22-23
(22)  But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
(23)  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

This church is assembled together in the city of the living God. This is why it is referred to as a church - the localised aspect allows it.

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10 hours ago, DaveW said:

vs 22 tells us that this is a local church...

Hebrews 12:22-23
(22)  But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
(23)  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

This church is assembled together in the city of the living God. This is why it is referred to as a church - the localised aspect allows it.

Brother Dave,

1.  According to Hebrews 12:23, who all are included in "the general assembly and church of the firstborn"?
     Answer: Those of the church age whose names "are written in heaven." (Thus ALL church age believers.)

2.  According to Hebrews 12:22, is the singular sentence of Hebrews 12:22-24 to be viewed as a future tense event or as a present tense event?
     Answer: The governing verb for the entire sentence is the present tense verb "are come." (Thus it is to be viewed as a present tense event.)

3.  According to Hebrews 12:22-23, are church age believers who are yet alive on the earth to be viewed as being included in "the general assembly and church of the firstborn"?
     Answer: Yes, for the following two reasons: (1) because the sentence begins with the phrase, "YE are come unto . . .," and (2) because their names "ARE written in heaven."

4.  According to Hebrews 12:22-23, where is "the general assembly and church of the firstborn" gathered?
     Answer: It is gathered at "the city of the living God, the HEAVENLY Jerusalem." (Thus it is in the present tense gathered in heaven.)

5.  Thought question: Are church age believers who are yet alive on the earth PHYSICALLY gathered in the HEAVENLY Jerusalem?
     Answer: No.

6.  Thought question: If church age believers who are yet alive on the earth are NOT physically gathered in the heavenly Jerusalem, in what manner ARE they gathered there?
     Answer: In a SPIRITUAL manner.

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Key point: the term "Church" is talking about them gathered together. Physically or not, the term church is not used universally here but locally.

It denotes the GATHERED saints, as you point out in point 4.

 

But thanks for your explanations - comprehensive as usual.

 

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1 hour ago, DaveW said:

Key point: the term "Church" is talking about them gathered together. Physically or not, the term church is not used universally here but locally.

It denotes the GATHERED saints, as you point out in point 4.

Yet that is the VERY POINT of the debate between the local church only viewpoint and the universal spiritual church viewpoint.  The universal spiritual church viewpoint does NOT teach that the universal spiritual church is not gathered.  In fact, it teaches that the universal spiritual church IS gathered, such that ALL church age believers existing both in heaven and throughout all of the earth are gathered as a single (UNIVERSAL) church in Christ SPIRITUALLY.  On the other hand, the local church only viewpoint teaches that no such universal SPIRITUAL church can exist because the word "church" by definition REQUIRES a locally gathered group PHYSICALLY.  A recognition of a UNIVERSALLY and SPIRITUALLY gathered group of ALL church age believers, including all who are in heaven and throughout the earth, is completely unpermitted by the local church only viewpoint.  Yet as my posting above reveals and as your own phrase, "physically or not," indicates, that is JUST what Hebrews 12:22-23 teaches. Indeed, Hebrews 12:22-23 teaches a UNIVERSAL, SPIRITUAL gathering of ALL church age believers, including ALL in heaven and ALL throughout the earth, in a single "organization" called "the general assembly and church of the firstborn."  

So then, the term "church" IS used UNIVERSALLY in Hebrews 12:23 since it encompasses and includes ALL church age believers whether in heaven or anywhere throughout the whole earth.  Such is what the term "universally" means -- encompassing and including ALL of a particular group.

(By the way, I was raised on the local church only viewpoint; therefore, I am quite familiar with its explanations and arguments.  It is only in the last few years that my studies, employing my desire for precision of grammar and context, have turned me away from the local church only viewpoint.)

Edited by Pastor Scott Markle

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Brother, your position on the "universal aspect of the church" is not the normal one, as you are well aware.

As you well know, most people who use the term "universal church" use it in the Catholic sense, which usage is unbiblical.

Would I be right in assuming that you would not introduce yourself as one who holds to a "universal spiritual church definition" without then explaining further so that you are not lumped in with the false universal church people?

As far as the actual word itself goes, it does have an inherent meaning that necessarily includes the gathering together. Which is also inherent in Hebrews 12:22,23, and therfore entirely legitimate in its use of the term. But the term church is not used universally, in this passage - it relates to the gathering, if you follow my distinction.

What we have here is a universal reference to all saints gathered together as a church in one 'place'. The 'place' is even designated and named. 

Would you apply that universal understanding to any other passage? For instance Acts 2:47?

Or is it only applicable in Hebrews 12:22,23.

If you only applies it to Hebrews 12:23, then we have no issue - it includes all saints GATHERED in one place. It fits the technical understanding of a local church.....

(Actually, we have no issue anyway - I knew prior to this that you differed from me in this way, and when all is said and done I know it makes no real difference between us.)

The actual point of my original post was to get people studying the matter and not just accepting what they have been told. Whether they come to my position or not is not important to me, as long as they study it for themselves and come to their own conviction about it.

I am disappointed that others have not posted anything - aside from jordan pointing us to David Cloud.

I greatly respect David Cloud, and I have previously read his position on this, but I didn't want to discuss it with him - otherwise I would send him an email......

 

I would further point out that I would not stand in precisely a "local church only" place, as it is often described, and indeed as you have described it.

 

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42 minutes ago, Jordan Kurecki said:

You failed to address Jesus prophecy in Matthew 16 that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church. As far as I know, there are many local churches that have closed their doors and disbanded.

No, I mentioned that I was not intetested in debating David Cloud. 

I have read his post before, and if I wanted to address his arguments I would do so with him........

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4 minutes ago, DaveW said:

No, I mentioned that I was not intetested in debating David Cloud. 

I have read his post before, and if I wanted to address his arguments I would do so with him........

So really your not interested in actually discussing the problems with the local church only view.

You are not actually " Interested if someone could quote a verse that clearly teaches a universal understanding of the word "Church", because if you were, you would actually discuss Matthew 16 with me, regardless of if David Cloud also happens to use the same passage in relation to this topic. 

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19 hours ago, DaveW said:

As you well know, most people who use the term "universal church" use it in the Catholic sense, which usage is unbiblical.

Dave is correct.

Hebrews 12:22 and 23 is used by all, or most all, of the denominations, primarily the Roman Catholic and the Charismatics,  to force the interpretation that the church is a universal church. These false brethren will not recognize the local church. I am also of the persuasion that  even referring the "... general assembly and the church of the firstborn..." Hebrews 12:23 as being "a Universal Church," is not a biblical designation. To use "Universal Church" as a designation to Hebrews 12:23 is not what the writer of Hebrews is trying to convey and is a forced interpretation.

As far as I am concerned, Hebrews 12:22 and 23 is clearly talking about all of the saints gathered in heaven as a "general assembly" in heaven and not as a local congregation on the earth. The churches in the New Testament are clearly independent and local. Therefore, it depends on the context of the word "church' that determines its meaning. All of the churches in the New Testament were local congregations and independent (no denominational headquarters), of each other.

 

Edited by Alan
deleted a small phrase

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1 hour ago, Jordan Kurecki said:

So really your not interested in actually discussing the problems with the local church only view.

You are not actually " Interested if someone could quote a verse that clearly teaches a universal understanding of the word "Church", because if you were, you would actually discuss Matthew 16 with me, regardless of if David Cloud also happens to use the same passage in relation to this topic. 

Actually, I am not interested in you regurgitating someone else's teaching.

That actual intent was to get people to STUDY the issue for themselves.

I don't care if you come to the same conclusion as me or not, just so long as YOU study it.

Your first two posts pointed to David Cloud - if you are not going to study it for yourself then I am not interested, no....

 

Further to that, NO I AM NOT INTERESTED in "discussing the problems with the local church only view". As I have already stated, I do not hold to the local church only view in the same way that Brother Markle doesn't hold to the universal church view.

Each of us differ from the classical view of these things.

I am interested in discussing verses with people who wish to do the study for themselves.

Even the point of doing the basic study will tear people swiftly away from the "classical" universal church view, which has been promoted on this site from time to time.

 

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I am very much a local church person. I believe that God works through the local church throughout the New Testament. I also am not a fan of Para-Church organizations. I would prefer them to work under a local church.

With that said, Jesus said, "Upon this Rock, I will build my church". The word Church is singular, yet Peter went on to plant more than one church.

So here is my position:
1. God works through the local church during the New Testament time. The authority of the local church is clearly seen in scripture.
2. All Christians belong to the "Church", which will be raptured out at some point in the future. (Rev 4:1)

I reject the "Universal Church" idea that there is one church in the World as that goes contrary to the Local Church, however, if you only hold to a local church, then you risk getting pulled into the Baptist Bride group. If you get saved, but never join a "Local Church", then you would not be raptured as you are not part of the "Church".

Anyway, Fun topic!

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There is such a thing as the church in concept.

The common illustration used is: The car has changed the way we live."

Which individual car are we talking about? No individual car, of course.

But is it talking about a universal car then? Well, that is plainly ridiculous.

It is talking about the car as a concept.

So also is the case with your reference - no individual church, nor a universal church, but the church in concept.

And I am absolutely not a brider.

Should we avoid biblical concepts for fear of being pulled into some group or other? In fact, my purpose here is to get people to study rather than accept what they are told.

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On ‎12‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 10:06 PM, DaveW said:

Brother, your position on the "universal aspect of the church" is not the normal one, as you are well aware.

Indeed.

On ‎12‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 10:06 PM, DaveW said:

As you well know, most people who use the term "universal church" use it in the Catholic sense, which usage is unbiblical.

Absolutely, the Roman Catholic sense of "universal church" is utterly unbiblical; for that concept attempts to MANufacture on the earth, what the Lord our God has already ordained and designed in the heavenly Jerusalem.  As I understand the teaching of the New Testament, the Biblical concept of the "universal" church is such that we all as New Testament believers are gathered together SPIRITUALLY IN CHRIST, as we are seated together SPIRITUALLY in heavenly places IN CHRIST.  As such, while some of its members may exist throughout this earth, this "church's" existence (gathering) is STRICTLY and SPIRITUALLY in heaven, not on the earth.  It has NO organization structure on the earth at all whatsoever.  That which the Lord our God has ordained as His "organization" on the earth itself is the local New Testament church.

On ‎12‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 10:06 PM, DaveW said:

Would I be right in assuming that you would not introduce yourself as one who holds to a "universal spiritual church definition" without then explaining further so that you are not lumped in with the false universal church people?

Indeed.

On ‎12‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 10:06 PM, DaveW said:

As far as the actual word itself goes, it does have an inherent meaning that necessarily includes the gathering together. Which is also inherent in Hebrews 12:22,23, and therfore entirely legitimate in its use of the term. But the term church is not used universally, in this passage - it relates to the gathering, if you follow my distinction.

What we have here is a universal reference to all saints gathered together as a church in one 'place'. The 'place' is even designated and named. 

Yes, the word "church" itself communicates by definition some form of "gathering, assembling;" and I do not deny such in Hebrews 12:22-23.  I simply would recognize that Hebrews 12:22-23 teaches a "universal" membership in the "gathering" of "the general assembly and church of the first born," and thereby implies a spiritual manner of gathering, rather than a physically local manner of gathering.  Thus I am compelled to recognize that the New Testament does teach some form of "all-encompassing" (of New Testament believers) church, "gathered" through a spiritual manner in Christ in the heavenly Jerusalem.

On ‎12‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 10:06 PM, DaveW said:

Would you apply that universal understanding to any other passage? For instance Acts 2:47?

Or is it only applicable in Hebrews 12:22,23.

If you only applies it to Hebrews 12:23, then we have no issue - it includes all saints GATHERED in one place. It fits the technical understanding of a local church.....

I would see the doctrine of this "church" as being taught in other New Testament passages (such as in 1 Corinthians 12 & in Ephesians 2, etc.); however, I would be compelled to acknowledge that all of those passages also indicate or imply a "gathering" of all New Testament believers SPIRITUALLY in Christ.

On ‎12‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 10:06 PM, DaveW said:

(Actually, we have no issue anyway - I knew prior to this that you differed from me in this way, and when all is said and done I know it makes no real difference between us.)

Agreed.

On ‎12‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 10:06 PM, DaveW said:

The actual point of my original post was to get people studying the matter and not just accepting what they have been told. Whether they come to my position or not is not important to me, as long as they study it for themselves and come to their own conviction about it.

Well, as you are aware, personal study on such matters is NOT foreign to my habits; and rarely am I viewed as one who just follows the traditional line of doctrine and defense.  I thank you for the public challenge; for I believe that Fundamental Baptists desperately NEED to be more Biblically and personally studious, rather than just follow the doctrinal flow of the movement.

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Brother Markle, I very much appreciate your input, and of course I would expect that you have thoroughly examined the subject - in fact I know that to be the case from some of your comments in previous discussions.

And as always, I have learned from your comments.

I thank you. 

Interestingly, although I greatly wish to include the term "body" as exclusively local (as per 1 cor 12), my study has not brought me to the conviction that it is.

And by the way, I absolutely do not deny that the Bible speak universally of all believers, but when the Bible is clearly speaking of all believers it uses terms like "saints", "household", "citizens".

This is partly where I differ from the classic "local church only" position.

I suspect that our "difference" is one of terminology only and not substance. ?

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16 hours ago, DaveW said:

There is such a thing as the church in concept.

The common illustration used is: The car has changed the way we live."

Which individual car are we talking about? No individual car, of course.

But is it talking about a universal car then? Well, that is plainly ridiculous.

It is talking about the car as a concept.

So also is the case with your reference - no individual church, nor a universal church, but the church in concept.

And I am absolutely not a brider.

Should we avoid biblical concepts for fear of being pulled into some group or other? In fact, my purpose here is to get people to study rather than accept what they are told.

DaveW - The Biblical concept is what you have said on the top. The Church is spoken of as a "Concept" or as a Whole in many places in Scripture. However, God does not work through the "Whole", but through the local church as also clearly demonstrated in Scripture. The Baptist Bride group goes to an extreme which is almost always bad. They take the local church to the point that if you are not a member of a "Biblical Church", you are not part of the "Church". Therefore, you may end up in Heaven, but you won't be raptured.

I would disagree with the "Roman Catholic's" position of a "Universal" church. I don't think we are very far off from each other in our positions. Might just be symantics.

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I would say that the word church is a local assembly of Christians, and is a temporary, flexible small organization of some individuals within THE Church who, largely for geographical reasons, meet together for mutual encouragement and growth through the ministry of the Word of God -- at least that is the Bible's position:  Local assemblies are only as valuable as their dedication to carrying out their purpose; it also means that there is no justification for enshrining them with special buildings, special esoteric theologies (many of them which are false) -- all of which things contribute to a studied disinterest in the truth which is a hallmark of MOST denominations. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! :6_smile:

God Bless,

Daniel

Edited by (Omega)
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12 minutes ago, (Omega) said:

I would say that the word church is a local assembly of Christians, and is a temporary, flexible small organization of some individuals within THE Church who, largely for geographical reasons, meet together for mutual encouragement and growth through the ministry of the Word of God -- at least that is the Bible's position:  Local assemblies are only as valuable as their dedication to carrying out their purpose; it also means that there is no justification for enshrining them with special buildings, special esoteric theologies (many of them which are false) -- all of which things contribute to a studied disinterest in the truth which is a hallmark of MOST denominations. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! :6_smile:

God Bless,

Daniel

This not just a discussion on what people think about church - it is a bible verse examination.

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5 minutes ago, DaveW said:

This not just a discussion on what people think about church - it is a bible verse examination.

Davew,

The topic of this thread is called "A clear verse teaching a universal understanding of the word "church" I gave my explanation of what the bible says in its understanding of the word "church". I don't see how I was off topic.

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These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14,15)

The absence of definite articles in other bible translation here (for "house", "church", "pillar" and "ground" -- all of which refer to the local church) is of critical importance and has been missed by almost every major translation.  But notice that "the truth", the purpose behind having a local assembly in the first place, is indeed "definite"

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That verse is in no way teaching a universal understanding of the word "church",

I don't even know where to start with a rebuttal because it is so obvuously not universal......

As far as the previous post..... a clear VERSE....... is how it is off topic.

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48 minutes ago, DaveW said:

That verse is in no way teaching a universal understanding of the word "church",

I don't even know where to start with a rebuttal because it is so obvuously not universal......

As far as the previous post..... a clear VERSE....... is how it is off topic.

Well hello DaveW,

Many posters on this thread have ALREADY posted clear verses with regards to your topic as some of the Pastor's and others here have already done. I am FREE to make a comment on what a local church is as opposed to THE church, and I don't think you have the right to say otherwise. It almost seems as if most of your posts come off as someone who is indignant when someone disagrees with you. But I can't really tell because I can't hear your voice inflections, but your word choices appear as if you are aggravated. Anyway, I will be praying for you.

God Bless,

Daniel

Edited by (Omega)

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