Read 1 Corinthians 12 and I mean verse by verse. Give an explanation of how it can apply to a universal church if you believe that chapter is talking about a universal church. Especially these five verses.
1 Corinthians 12:22-26
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
Ephesians 5:21 ¶ Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
The context going into 5:27 does not fit a universal body. I cannot submit to someone in Africa who I will never meet until glory. These verses are for here and now so what is this talking about? The local New Testament church.
Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
How does this work on a universal level? It doesn't. This only can apply to a local church.
Please help me.
Who is "email"?
I would concede that parts of I Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 5 are referring to their respective local churches; however, should we infer that every reference to "church" means local church just because a few do? Obviously not! We have to look at the context on a case by case basis.
Here's a snippet from one of our articles that show there is both a universal and local church. These paragraphs would well combat either extreme (no local OR no universal):
http://www.insearchoftruth.org/articles ... html#local
I think Matthew 16:18 would be my "silver bullet". The text clearly says that Jesus would build "His church" - singular. Now, if the Scripture only refers to local churches, that means there is only one true local church, and all the rest, the world over, are frauds. They do not belong to Jesus. The same argument could be applied to Ephesians 1:22-23: Jesus was made head over "the body", which is "the church". Which local church is the church over which he is head? Furthermore, according to Ephesians 4:4-6, there is only one body, which is the church (Colossians 1:18). So, which local church is the one ?
Does Jesus have more than one body? Answering "yes" destroys the very truth being taught by the figure, which is: People only have one head and one body. Similarly, there is one Lord and one church, and that one church serves its head, Jesus.
Incidentally, "churches" plural does appear in Scripture ("churches of Christ" - Romans 16:16), so this is not a limitation of the Greek language (in case he tries to argue that singular "church" can be interpreted as plural).
I pray this helps!
The Local and Universal Church
The Bible speaks of the church in two different ways. Although it never uses the above references, it does speak of two distinct assemblies that are well characterized by the labels, local church and universal church. Understanding the distinctions between these two assemblies is essential to understanding and finding a local church that is patterned after God's Word.
The phrase, "universal church", refers to the entire church at large, all saints - past, present, and future. It is the body of all the saved, and it is always used in a generic sense. The identity of each person is lost in the use of this phrase. It always refers to the group as whole. Jesus Christ used it when He said, "I will build My church" (Matthew16:18).
Paul illustrated the universal church through the symbol of a body, where Christ was the head, and the entire church was the body:
The Bible never speaks of the universal church being organized to do anything. While it is given a work and mission, the work is not carried out by any other organization than the distributed and autonomous local churches. It has no committees, no overseeing boards, no organization - except what is seen in the passages above. Christ is the head of the entire church, and it answers solely to Him. It is merely the group of all saints, of which one must be a member to be saved (Ephesians1:3 ; Galatians 3:26-27). It is God who places people in this body as they are converted and enter a saved relationship with Him (Acts 2:37-38; 47).Paul wrote:"And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." Ephesians 1:22,23
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling." Ephesians 4:4
"For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church, and He is the Savior of the body." Ephesians 5:23
The phrase, "local church", refers to members of the church that assemble together in a given location. Unlike the universal church, man has some control over who is a member of a local church. Churches are commanded to withdraw fellowship from those who do not follow God's Word (I Corinthians 5:1-13; II John 9-11). This occurs on the local level, not the universal. Christians may erroneously withdraw fellowship from someone who is still approved by God and a member of the universal church (III John 9-10). Moreover, members of a local church may erroneously extend fellowship to someone who is excluded by God from the universal church (I Corinthians 5:1-13). Therefore, the local church is a collection of Christians, overseen by fallible men, who work together to worship God and be pleasing to Him.
Since the universal church is made up of individuals, it is therefore not made up of local churches. Local churches and denominations are not subsets of the universal church, neither are they saved as whole. The Bible nowhere speaks of such a structure or system. But, the Bible does speak of individuals being saved as members of the universal church (please read again Ephesians 1:3; Galatians 3:26-27). The local church is simply a collection of people who are working toward this final salvation, while the universal church consists of all Christians, whose membership is controlled by God.
Who is "email"?