As you read through the New Testament, you read phrases like the following.
Acts 8:1: "the church which was at Jerusalem"
1 Corinthians 1:2: "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth"
Galatians 1:2: "unto the churches of Galatia"
1 Thessalonians 2:14: "the churches of God which in Judaea"
2 Corinthians 8:1: "the churches of Macedonia"
Revelation 1:4: "to the seven churches which are in Asia"
Colossians 4:15: "the church which is in his house"
Those all fit into what we know ekklesia, the word translated "church" in the King James Version, to mean, that is, assembly. Assemblies are in particular locations. An assembly is always local. Then you read the New Testament, and you can see that churches are local. You would have no reason to think that church is anything but an assembly in a particular location, in a town, like "at Jerusalem," "at Corinth," "in Judea," or even "in his house." Nowhere does the Bible define the church as otherwise.
David Cloud, however, says "there is more to Christ's church than the assemblies." He says that he has "examined [1 Corinthians 12:13] repeatedly, and the only thing [he] can see [t]here is a Spirit baptism and a spiritual body." His first actual argument is that Paul uses "we," including himself with the church at Corinth, so he must be part of the same body as the church at Corinth. There are a lot of arguments against 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaking of Spirit baptism, but as an argument for Spirit baptism, his "we" argument doesn't hold up.
First, I agree that Paul is including himself with the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 12:13 when he says "we." Paul was baptized into one body, just like the Corinthians were. The point of "one," however, was not one in number. "One" is being used as one in unity. 1 Corinthians 12 is about the unity of a church, using the analogy of a body. It is a common usage of Paul. He says, "one mind," "one mouth," and "one spirit," and uses those, not to say that there is only one in number, but that they are one in unity. Does anyone think that when Paul writes that a church has "one mind" that is he saying that they have one in number? Cloud calls this verbal gymnastics, but it's actually just syntax. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:16-17:
What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Here is a similar usage of "one body." A man is joined with a harlot. Are these two now numerically one body? Of course not. They are one body in unity during the time they are physically joined, yes, but not one in number. Two physically unified people are now one. And then the Lord is one Spirit. The saved person is one spirit. But they are unified into "one spirit" through salvation. They are still two in number, but one in unity. The verbal gymnastics are on the side of Cloud. They have to be, because scripture doesn't teach what he is saying. To do so, the Bible would contradict itself in numbers of different ways.
Just because 1 Corinthians 12:13 says "one body," doesn't mean that there is numerically "one body" on earth. If you are going to use that as some kind of grammatical rule, then consider 1 Timothy 3:12, my favorite example of this:
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife.
Is anyone going to think that there is only one woman in the world who is married to all of the deacons in the entire world? To be consistent with Cloud's logic, there would have to be.
Cloud is in trouble in 1 Corinthians 12:27 with "ye are the body of Christ," Paul excluding himself, especially after Cloud has himself stuck with his "we" understanding. The way that he deals with this is by saying that "body" is used in two different ways in the same chapter, so that body means two different things there. Cloud is saying that in the same chapter there is a universal, invisible body and then a local, visible body, and you know it simply by Paul's usage of pronouns: "ye" means local and then "we" means universal, according to him. Paul says "the body of Christ" -- "the body," not "a body." He doesn't write, "Ye are a body of Christ." That point seemed to be lost for Cloud. It is tell-tale. Anyway, I would wonder at what point Paul made the switch between the supposed "two meanings of body." That would be some good information to know. It's, of course not available information, because it does not exist.
The analogy of the "body" that Paul uses is local. A person uses "body" as an analogy because he wants to communicate something local. It's a body because it actually is in one place. Bodies are in one place. You don't have a foot in Kansas, an eye in New York, a hand in Oregon, and a knee in North Dakota. You've got them all in one place by the very meaning of body. If you want an idea that is non-local, you don't use body to get it. God uses body as an analogy to show the unity of a church, it's oneness. There is diversity in a body, many body parts, but a unity in that those body parts are all there together, attached, working together.
There are other issues for 1 Corinthians 12:13. "Baptism" is only water everywhere in 1 Corinthians up to 1 Corinthians 12:13. Even greater, 1 Corinthians 12:13 doesn't fulfill the model or prediction or prophecy for Spirit baptism in Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33. In every instance of the model for Spirit baptism, Jesus does the baptizing, already saved people are being baptized, and the Holy Spirit is the medium. 1 Corinthians 12:13 doesn't read that way, because it isn't Spirit baptism. 1 Corinthians 10:2 says, "And were all baptized into Moses." Is that Spirit baptism? Were all of the children of Israel placed into Moses at that moment spiritually? Even if you are looking for Spirit baptism, you don't find it in 1 Corinthians 12:13.
I understand that universal church advocates "find" a universal church in 1 Corinthians 12:13. I understand David Cloud believing that it is in there, because so many people have taught that. He, however, did not come to that position from solely reading and studying the text. He was influenced by universal church teaching to come to that position.
More to Come.