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Outline by Gary Henry

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Introduction A. Text: Phil. 1:1,2. B. When Jesus spoke of the church He would build, He spoke of only one - Mt. 16:18. C. But sometimes in the New Testament the word church appears in the plural. 1. 2. The churches of Galatia (Gal. 1:2). The seven churches which are in Asia (Rev. 1:4).

D. Does Christ have one church or does He have several? E. There is no contradiction if we see that church is used in two senses in the New Testament: 1. 2. F. The universal sense. The local sense.

But we may understand the basic difference between the church universal and the church local and still not have an adequate understanding of exactly what a local church is supposed to be.

G. What is a local church? And more specifically, what are we as a local church?

I. A GROUP OF CHRISTIANS WHO CONGREGATE A. Church = ekklesia = assembly, gathering. 1. 2. The term is used in reference to non-religious assemblies in Ac. 19:32,39,41; etc. More to our purpose, however, the term refers to the Lords assembly of people. a. Physical Israel in the Old Testament - Ac. 7:38. b. Spiritual Israel in the New Testament - Ac. 8:1.

B. One of the primary characteristics of the local church is that it congregates or assembles - Ac. 14:27. C. The church is not the church just when assembled. 1. 2. For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it (1 Cor. 11:18). Yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue (1 Cor. 14:19). Cf. vv.28,35.

D. But the assembly is important! 1. 2. E. We tend to underestimate the importance of the assemblies of the congregation. For example, some do not congregate each time the church congregates!

When we do congregate, we sometimes betray a lack of appreciation for the assembly itself. Cf. 1 Cor. 11:17. 1. 2. 3. We may arrive late and leave early. We may appear disinterested. We may assume a passive, spectator role.

Outline by Gary Henry

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Neglect (in whatever manner) of the assembling of ourselves together is a very serious matter - Hb. 10:23-25.

II. A GROUP OF CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE A COLLECTIVE WORK TO DO A. The universal church is purely a relationship of brethren to a common Father and to one another. 1. 2. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king (1 Pt. 2:17). Cf. 1 Jn. 5:1. That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 1:3).

B. The universal church has no organization because it has no collective work to do whatever responsibilities the universal church has, these are all carried out on an individual basis. C. The local church, on the other hand, does have a God-given organization because it has God-given work to do as a collective, functional group of Christians. 1. 2. Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons (Phil. 1:1). Always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now (Phil. 1:4,5). Cf. 4:15.

D. Concerning the church in general, Paul said, To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:10,11). E. The local church is the only functional unit recognized by the Lord and it is perfectly suited to doing the work the Lord gave it to do. We need to pray, plan, and do our collective work without minimizing the importance of our individual work. Cf. Phil. 1:27.


III. A GROUP OF CHRISTIANS WHO ARE MEMBERS OF ONE ANOTHER A. So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another (Rom. 12:5). B. The local church is not merely an honorary fraternity whose members have no personal relationship to one another. C. To the contrary, it is a family one in which the spiritual welfare of each brother and sister is the concern of each of the others - Gal. 6:1,2; 1 Thess. 5:14; 1 Jn. 5:1. D. Surely it is a blessing to be a part of a relationship such as the local congregation but with the benefits we have some responsibilities - 1 Cor. 12:25-27. E. What about our level of commitment, concern, care, and involvement one with another?

Conclusion A. Just as in the marriage relationship, the common purpose and unity of a congregations members are necessary to its continued existence.

Outline by Gary Henry

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B. Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Cor. 1:10). Cf. Eph. 4:1-3; Phil. 1:27; etc. C. The local church deserves not only our clear understanding, but our appreciation and our involvement. 1. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father (1 Thess. 1:2,3). Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you (Hb. 13:17).