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Scripture Reading: Acts 14:21-28

(Part 8)

God Has Spoken: A Study of Bible Authority

(What is the Local Church of Christ?)


1.  Review Part 7:  The church; Universal composed of individual Christians, not local churches (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23, 30; Acts 2:47; Rom. 12:4-5).

2.  Quotations (Srygley, Cogdell, Lemmons).


I.  THE LOCAL CHURCH, Rev. 1:11; 2:1.  (Specific, Acts 8:1)

  A.  Independent, Autonomous Congregations of Christians, Acts 11:22, 26.

    1.  Local church is a relationship & a functioning organization; acts as a unit (collective work & responsibilities:  preach, edify & relieve saints).

    2.  Local church is just that – local; Not regional, national or international:

      a.  Local organizational structure, Acts 14:23 (Phil. 1:1).

      b.  Local oversight, 1 Pet. 5:1-2 (Acts 20:17, 28).

      c.  Local treasury to fund its work, Acts 4:34-37; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 11:8 (Phil. 4:15-16).

      d.  Local church regulates its membership, Acts 9:26-28; 18:27; Rom. 16:1-2, 17-18; 1 Cor. 5:4-7.

      e.  An assembly of saints (“come together as a church,” 1 Cor. 11:18; “in the church (assembly),” 1 Cor. 14:28).




Universal Church

Local Church

Added to by the Lord, Acts 2:47

Join oneself to, Acts 9:26-28

Entered by baptism, 1 Cor. 12:13

Accepted, received, Acts 18:27

None but the saved, 2 Tim. 2:19

Some sick, some “sleep,” 1 Cor. 11:30

Satan can’t prevail against, Matt. 16:18

Satan can prevail against Acts 20:29-30

Relationship of Christ with Christians, Eph. 1:22-23

Relationship of Christians with Christians

Acts 15:22-23; Col. 4:12

No functional organization, no oversight & no treasury

Functional organization with oversight & treasury, 

Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 16:2; 1 Pet. 5:2

Distributive (individual) action, Eph. 5:24

Collective (group) action, Phil. 4:15




1.  Denominations subdivide the church into groups that are never identified in the Scriptures.

2.  The universal church is all the saved without respect to time & place.

3.  The local church is a specific group of Christians in a given location.  This group is organized & has work to do; if it is not done, that local church is no longer a church of Christ (forfeits identity & fellowship with Christ), Rev. 1:20; 2:1, 4-5.

4.  Next:  Individual action & local church action.




“In this general sense the church is not a denominational institution composed of a sisterhood of local churches ‘of the same faith and order,’ but a spiritual body composed of all Christians…”  (F. D. Srygley, New Testament Church, page 7, published by Gospel Advocate; cited in The Cogdell-Turner Discussion, p. 19)

“The position that the local congregation is not a part of the church universal is a weird and novel contention, which has never been advanced by any Bible scholar, preacher, or commentator of any note in the two thousand year history of the church so far as I know.”  (Gaston D. Cogdell, The Cogdell-Turner Discussion, 18)

--But, others dispute the “novelty” & “weirdness” of this position:

“So far as we know all brethren have always understood that the individual Christian is the unit of the ‘church universal.’  The body is Christ’s, and we are members of it.  We were unaware that any thought or taught that congregations were units of the body of Christ, in the sense that individuals are.  Congregations are nothing more nor less than groups of Christians.  Groups are not members of the church; individuals are.  We believe the scriptures are perfectly clear, and brethren in full accord on this point.”  (Reuel Lemmons, Firm Foundation, Vol. 77, No. 31, August 2, 1960; cited in The Cogdell-Turner Discussion, p. 19, emp. Turner’s)