February 14, 2012
The prevailing teaching on the church that Jesus build is that it is a universal, invisible church. This doctrine teaches that the body of Christ is composed of every born again person. It teaches that the church was born on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2.
Since Jesus said he would build His church it would be good to look at how He used the word church. He used the word three times in Matthew and nineteen times is Revelation. We should be able to find out what He meant by the word church.
By the way, He didn’t use the English word “church”, He used the Greek word “ecclesia.” The Greek word means an assembly. This is also one of the definitions of the English word.
In Matthew 16:18 our Lord said He would build His church. Two chapters later, in Matthew 18:15-17, He gives instructions on how to deal with problems between two Christians. In this passage we learn somethings about the church He was building. First we learn that it existed at this time or we could not tell our differences to the church if it did not exist. What more proof do we need that the “church” did not begin at Pentecost?
Secondly we learn that it was a local, visible church. You cannot tell it to a universal, invisible church and a local, invisible church cannot hear the matter and make a judgment.
The next time Jesus uses the word church is in Revelation 1:11 where it is used in plural, so again they are local, visible churches. Then in verse 20 He uses the word first speaking of the angels (messengers or pastors) of the churches and then as the candlesticks as representing the churches. Since there are seven of them it should be obvious to all that He is sending letters to real, visible, local churches.
In chapters 2 and 3 He addresses the letters to the seven churches and encourages all of the churches to listen to all of the letters. He names the location of each church proving that they are local churches. Just as a side issue you will notice that the first six churches are address by their location, but the last church is addressed by its ownership. It is called the church of the Laodiceans, instead of the church at Laodicea.
Christ’s final usage He says that He sent His angle to testify these thing in the churches. Every time Jesus spoke of a church after Matthew 16:18 He spoke of a local church or local churches. If the only church our Lord spoke of is local and visible how can we say the the “true church” is invisible and universal? The only kind of church we can ever see Christ building is local and visible.
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