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What is the difference between the local church and universal church? The following distinctions are evident in scripture. The local church consists of believers who share communion in a local church setting, is identifiable in terms of location, space and time. The Greek word ekklessia which literally means "the called out" has the communal context indicating that the local church consists of those called out from the sinful world into the light Christ. This word is first used by Christ in Matthew 16:18. However the universal church bears two contexts. First in its general sense this could refer to a collection of church congregations across the globe which worship Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and recognize the Bible as God's final instruction to His Church (Hebrews 1:1-2). The second dimension is its spiritual context, which is more finite and distinct in scope. In this context the universal church is recognized as consisting of all true believers present and past whom the Lord has redeemed to himself irrespective of color, race, region or church denomination (Colossians 3:11). Some scholars believe that the church is incomplete without the future saints whom God has foreordained to be saved so that every believer in God's contemplation is included. This context is scriptural because Jesus views his church in this way. In John 17:15 Jesus petitions the Father to preserve His present and future church. He also prayed that they be sanctified (1John 17:20). The Greek word used here for sanctify is "agios" which means to set apart or separate from profane things. The universality or locality of the church are biblical platforms by which believers experience communion in the Spirit into whom we are all baptized. (1 Corinthians 12:13). Does this include departed saints? Since the communion of saints should be active and identifiable then the context of living saints would be a legitimate presumption for defining both dimensions of church expression given the contrast that the question seeks to draw. This is because a local church cannot practically consist of departed saints though of course we shall all be united in Christ when He returns (1Thess.4:16).
A word of caution to anyone seeking the true universal church. There is a current attempt to reunite the so called "universal church". This attempt has many faces and covers a wide variety of issues. Be very careful when choosing a church. Seek good advice and pray for guidance. We alone are responsible for our choices. Not all denominations think the same. Some really do have an agenda that do'es not line up with Gods Word. Please be careful.
"Into Christ’s spiritual body who are knitted, compacted together, as a living, dynamic body in a locality, and in sum total, in the world”. This is my definition based upon key scriptures such as Acts Cp 2, Ep 4:16, 1 Cor 12, and Ps 122:3. I believe that the Catholics have literally pulled the wool over our eyes by switching the word EKKLESIA with the English word Church. The result is “woolly thinking!” For more on this topic please go to a free website www.tooth-pick.org “Did God create the Church? No He didn’t, He created the Ekklesia” Lawrence NZ
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