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                        "THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT"

                  The Nature Of The Church (Universal)

INTRODUCTION

1. Understanding the nature of "The Church Jesus Built" begins with the
   word church itself...
   a. From the Greek word ekklesia, it means "an assembly"
   b. Which is used most frequently in the New Testament in two senses:
      1) The church universal - that company of souls redeemed by the
         blood of Christ
      2) The church local - Christians in a geographical area that work
         and worship together as a congregation of God's people

2. Our understanding of the nature of the church can also be enhanced
   by...
   a. Contrasting the church universal with the church local
   b. Noting how the New Testament carefully delineates between the two

3. Failure to observe the distinction between the church universal and
   church local...
   a. Leaves one open to erroneous concepts of the church
   b. Leads one to present a confusing picture of the church in their
      evangelistic efforts

[In this lesson and the one to follow, I would like to notice ways in
which the church universal is different from the church local.  Let's
begin by looking at...]

I. THE CHURCH 'UNIVERSAL'

   A. COMPOSED OF ALL CHRISTIANS...
      1. This is the church to which Jesus referred in Mt 16:18
      2. It is made up of all the saved, both living and dead - cf. He
         12:22-24

   B. THERE IS ONLY 'ONE' CHURCH...
      1. Remember, the universal church is called the body of Christ
         - Ep 1:22-23
      2. There is only one body (Ep 4:4); therefore, only one church!

   C. BEGAN ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST...
      1. In Jerusalem, following the death, resurrection and ascension
         of Christ - Ac 2:1-47
      2. As Peter later referred to this day, it was the beginning - cf.
         Ac 11:15

   D. ENTER ONLY BE BEING 'ADDED' BY THE LORD...
      1. One cannot join the church by their own volition
      2. Rather, they are added by the Lord Himself when saved - Ac 2:
         41,47

   E. THE LORD KEEPS THE BOOKS OF MEMBERSHIP...
      1. There is no agency on earth that keeps the registry of true
         members
      2. Enrollment is in heaven; only the Lord knows those truly His
         - He 12:23; 2Ti 2:19

   F. CONSISTS OF ALL THE SAVED...
      1. The Lord is presenting to Himself a church holy and without
         blemish - cf. Ep 5:25-27
      2. Those in the church who are sinning and refuse to repent are
         cut off, cast out, spewed out - cf. Jn 15:2,6; Ro 11:19-22;
         Re 3:16

   G. MUST BE IN THIS CHURCH TO BE SAVED...
      1. For the Lord is the Savior of the body (which is His church)
         - Ep 5:23
      2. Since the Lord adds one to His church when they are saved, one
         cannot be saved and not be in the church universal!

   H. HAS NO 'EARTHLY' ORGANIZATION...
      1. The church universal has organization - cf. Ep 2:19-22; 1 Pe
         2:5
         a. What organization exists is spiritual in nature
         b. Christ is the cornerstone, together with His apostles and
            prophets as the foundation, and
            all Christians are 'living stones'
      2. There is no earthly headquarters for the church
         a. E.g., no telephone number to call to speak with the head of
            the church
         b. For He is in heaven!

   I. CANNOT BE DIVIDED...
      1. For there is no earthly organization to divide!
      2. If division appears to exist...
         a. Some unscriptural organization of churches must have been
            created
         b. Such an organization can have division, but the Lord's
            church universal cannot!
      3. Those who would seek to divide the church through doctrine,
         conduct, etc., are simply cut off by the Lord Himself!
      -- There is and always will be, 'one body' - Ep 4:4 (we need to
         make sure we are remaining faithful to be in it!)

   J. DEATH DOESN'T AFFECT MEMBERSHIP...
      1. The church universal is made up of the saved, both living and
         dead - He 12:22-23
      2. When one dies, they are still with Christ! - Php 1:21-23; 1 Th
         5:10

CONCLUSION

1. We have seen there are at least ten things true of the church
   universal...
   a. Composed of all Christians         f. Consists of all the saved
   b. There is just one                  g. Must be in this to be saved
   c. Began on the Day of Pentecost      h. Has no earthly organization
   d. Enter only by being added by       i. Can't be divided
      the Lord                           j. Death doesn't affect
   e. The Lord keeps the books of           membership
      membership

2. Our next study shall examine what is true of the church local...

In light of what we have seen thus far, we do well to ask ourselves:
Have we been added by the Lord to His church universal...? - cf. Ac
2:36-41,47
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