The principle of “local Church” is firmly rooted in Scripture. The nation of Israel, in Old Testament times, was a type of local Church. The people were all together when the Lord Jehovah delivered them out of the bondage of Egypt. They clung together out of necessity during 40 years of probation in the wilderness. They fought together with divine assistance to subdue their enemies and win the Promised Land. As they spread out and settled into their new homeland, God did not want the Israelites to lose their togetherness. He warned of the danger of brethren being separated from one another, how misunderstandings and disunity would lead to division and schism in the nation. Other dangers were false doctrine and idolatry, which thrive on ignorance, miscommunication, and lack of a uniform standard.
God’s solution was to choose a single place – a central gathering point – where the faithful would meet with Him, where worship and sacrifice would be accepted, and where the Law of the Lord would be upheld (Deuteronomy12:1-14).
Eventually, it became clear that Jehovah’s choice was Mt. Zion, upon which the city of Jerusalem was built (Psalm 132:13-16). When Messiah came, He brought the hope of Salvation not only to the Jews, but to all mankind – all, that is, who would trust Him. Out of the masses of humanity, Jesus Christ, for nearly two millennia, has been calling men and women to “Follow Me”. By responding to that call, Christ’s followers become part of a special community known in Greek as the “Ekklesia”.
The early Apostles of Jesus Christ, in writing the New Testament, used “ekklesia” to refer to all those who by faith are the children of God (the universal Church, e.g. Hebrews 12:22-24) as well as to a congregation of Christians in a particular city (the local Church, e.g. 1 Corinthians 1:1-3). The Bible contains repeated references to individual Churches serving metropolitan centers in the Mediterranean world. (See Acts 20:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; Titus 1:5; and especially Revelation 2:1,8,12,18 and 3:1,7,14). Ministry – or Christian service of any kind – was never meant to exist as a function unto itself. In the New Testament program, everything stems from the local Church. That’s a major reason why coming together as an assembly is so important at Living Word Church.
As you read the remainder of these pages and learn how Jesus Christ is working in the various ministries, remember that each one is an outgrowth of a healthy, Christ-centered local Church.