Just so you know, I am slowly working to write formally about this one day soon. I do not think the New Testament writers ever refer to a “universal” Church, at least not in the way many people throw the term around today. The goal of all this is the glory of God in seeing Christ exalted the way God designed before his Second Coming:
- Of course there is a universal people of God, a people made up of those who trust fully in the sufficient work of the Messiah, people from every tongue, tribe and nation from the beginning of time until now. Let’s say that is what most people mean by “Universal Church.” How many times can you honestly say that fits the context of the word “church” in the NT?
- Perhaps there is more intention behind every usage of the word “church”, as opposed to times where the NT authors may use the word “bride”, “body”, “elect”, “believers”, “saints”, etc.
- Is there any who really dispute the word “church” meant “gathering/assembly” in the first century? (I’m not arguing with mult-site guys just yet. Just answer that question)
- How many other words in any language can you think of that have two very distinct meanings, though overlapping (as well as the same part of speech), the way “church” is used in english today? (that does not mean “church” cannot do that; that would just be strange)
- Perhaps what every author meant EVERY time they wrote the word “church” in the NT was “the people of God as seen in the local assembly”.
The implications of that are ENORMOUS– world-changing, paradigm-shifting, cosmos-altering ENORMOUS.