The Flock and the Local Church
Preciseness in conversation is not always necessary. Yet when impreciseness results in a misunderstanding, clarification is needed.
One common misunderstanding is the idea that local churches are components of the universal church. Regrettably, this is not a biblical concept. The New Testament never uses the description “churches of the church” or “congregations of the church” when describing the local assemblies.
Christ’s church is composed of individuals whose names are registered in heaven. It is God who adds individuals to the one flock and it is only God who can remove an individual from the one flock. Jesus will confess the individual’s name before His father (Revelation 3:5, Matthew 10:32-33). And each church member is accepted or rejected by God as an individual (2 Timothy 2:19; Acts 2:47).
Christ wants us each to be a functioning and contributing member of a local church. But membership in the Mountain View church and one’s relationship to Christ are independent of one another. Local church membership is based upon what a person claims is true, but membership in God’s family (universal flock) is only known by Heaven and is based on God’s judgment. God can read the mind and every motivation and intent are known to God. The names of those who are saved and have been added to the universal flock is not revealed to us (John 3:5-8, Hebrews 12:18-24) but know by God.
Consider some of the differences found in the Scriptures between the local church and the universal flock.
Of those who are members of the local church, it may rightly be said “No man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him.”
But of the universal flock it may be said, “Jehovah searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts.”
Of the membership of the local church it may be said, “Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding to judgment, but those of some follow later.”
But of the universal flock it is said “there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account”
The Bible teaches that Christians are to assemble for worship and are to be members together within local churches. The Mountain View church seeks to follow the teachings of the Bible without amending them neither in teaching nor in practice. Because we are trying to be a church which is of Christ, we describe ourselves as the Mountain View church of Christ, but not as “a congregation of the church of Christ” because we are not part of any denomination nor of any association of churches.