Dr. Ronnie Wolfe
It is important, I think, to be reminded often that the body of Christ and the church of Christ are the same thing.
Our Catholic friends want to make the body of Christ and the church of Christ to be the same, but theirs is a universal, visible body and church, a church of which a person must be a member in order to enter the kingdom of God.
Our Protestant friends make the body of Christ to be universal but invisible. The body of Christ, according to Protestants, includes every saved person on the earth. As to the church of Christ, Protestants admit to two churches, which is, quite frankly, confusing. On the one hand the church is a local assembly of believers, but there is another invisible church which includes all believers. It then would be synonymous to the kingdom of God and the family of God.
Even some Baptists have fallen victim to the idea that there are two churches and one universal body of Christ. This is a fallacy. The word translated church in the New Testament is a word which means "assembly." An assembly is always local, because only a local group can assemble; a universal one cannot assemble.
We must know that the body and church of Christ are the same in order to understand the truth of the matter. At least three verses in the New Testament verify the fact that the body of Christ and the church of Christ are the same.
Ephesians 1:22-23 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
In regard, then, to the meaning of the body and the church, we must see that, if the body is universal, then the church is universal; and, if the church is universal, the body is universal. If, on the other hand, the church is local, the body is local; if the body if local, then the church is local.
So, both the body and the church are local, visible entities. First Baptist Church of Harrison, Ohio, is a body of Christ, and it is a church of Christ. It is visible, and it is local, as all churches of the Lord are.
Ephesians 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.