Posted by: SandreS | November 15, 2009

God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 13

The Local Church?

Yet someone protests, “What about ‘the Local Church,’ there’s a basic Bible truth that you’ve forgotten!”

Is the so-called “local church” really a Bible truth? We definitely hear so much about it in Christendom. The phrase is a standard part of the “Christian” vocabulary; but is it actuality a Bible phrase or concept? From where did the concept of “the local church” come?

Let’s step back for a moment. We know that the Scriptures clearly teach that the Lord has only one Body today (Ephesians 4:4), and we also know that this one Body is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). We know that Paul addressed the saints at Corinth as “the church … which is at Corinth.” The Corinthian believers were not “the church” in and of themselves – they were but a part of the church, yet they were members of “the church” nonetheless. They were “the church of God” – that was at Corinth.

Now, Corinth was a locality, and there were members of God’s ecclesia there. In other words, “the church of God was in a locality. In fact, it was (and is today) in many localities. So the idea of “the church” in a locality is not foreign to the Scriptures; but there was not “a” church at Corinth – it was “the” church was there: the one church, the ecclesia, the Body of Christ. Now there’s a basic Bible truth – “the church, the Body of Christ”!

The church which was at Corinth was made up of every member of Christ’s Body in that locality. No member was left out, nor was any non-member included. This church was not a building, a meeting, a doctrinal system or an organization – it was just a part of Christ’s Body; members of His body that happened to be at Corinth at the time.

Before Paul came to Corinth, the church was not there. In fact, that’s why he went there: he brought “the church” with him, so to speak. He was “the church” – at least a member of it. He preached His gospel (evangel, i.e., good news), and those whom the Lord called were “joined” to the one true church by the one Spirit’s one baptism (Ephesians 4:3-6). Then when Paul left Corinth, he took the church with him, but – he also left it there.

What was true of Corinth was and is true of any given locality. Let me use myself as an example. When I moved to Windber, Pennsylvania “the church” was already here. It was here long before I ever arrived. “The church” here in Windber is made up of every member of Christ’s Body who lives here. Now, granted, not every member may walk in the truth their calling, but we are “members one of another” nonetheless (Ephesians 4:25). There was nothing to “start,” nothing to “found,” nothing to “plant” – only something to “be” (as, we are “called to be saints” – Romans 1:7). We were called to Windber to live, to stand and to walk in the truth of the one Body, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” and seeking to enjoy the fellowship and the mutual ministry of the “joints and bands” (Colossians 2:19) of God’s called-out-ones.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2000, 2009

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