- The church is the universal and invisible body of Christ
- Those who are members of the universal and invisible church are the only ones who are saved
- The gates of hell will never prevail against the universal and invisible church
1. The church is the universal and invisible body of Christ. The church is not a building, it is the people of God. Only one thing determines whether a person is a member of the true church of Christ – being united to Christ’s body by faith.
Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.
Some have denied the universal and invisible church and assert that there are only local churches, such as among Landmark Baptists. This verse in Colossians shows that the body of Christ is the church. It cannot be denied that those who are members of Christ’s body are both in heaven and on the earth. If only local churches are counted the body of Christ, then this contradicts Paul the apostle’s teaching regarding the nature of the church.
2. Those who are members of the universal and invisible church are the only ones who are saved. Consequently, any visible expression of the church can never perfectly reflect the purity of the true assembly of God.
Hebrews 8:11 “AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD, ’FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM.”
Chapter eight of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34, regarding the superiority of the New Covenant that is realised by the church. All the members of the church, according to the promise of Jeremiah, will ‘know the Lord’ so that none of them will need to say to another ‘know the Lord.’
3. The gates of hell will never prevail against the universal and invisible church
Matthew 16:18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
Jesus’ words cannot be in reference to the visible local assemblies, as countless ones have ceased to be. Where is the church that was Ephesus or the church that was Laodicea? Jesus’ words can only be in reference to that body of believers who are members of His body, whether on earth or in heaven, the universal and invisible church.