Could someone just follow the Bible and admit, "There's no universal church," or "There's nothing ecclesiastical that is universal"? I'm writing here to say that the Bible teaches something universal, but it isn't a church. Could people give in on the universal that isn't the church, and admit that it isn't a church?
Before I talk about what is universal, you will see that there are practical ramifications to eliminating the false doctrine of the universal church. Unity is required in the church. That unity is a very specific unity that is represented all over the New Testament, but stated very well in 1 Corinthians 1:10:
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Later (1 Cor 12:25), Paul writes, "That there should be no schism in the body." The body is to have no schism.
If the church is all believers, the above teaching on unity can't be and won't be practiced. It can be practiced in a church. We have it in our church. You can strive for this unity and attain it in a church. God gave a church the tools to reach biblical unity: water baptism, pastoral authority, church discipline, the Lord's Table, and the regular meeting and preaching. All of these, if followed, allow for biblical unity, which is in individual churches.
Since a "universal church" can't get the unity the Bible describes, the advocates of this false idea force it in many different places. They sacrificed the truth, the belief and practice of the Bible, for this idea. They go for unity between all believers, never get it, but in the attempt at it, they give up the truth and actual unity. Nothing is gained and all is lost.
If men would be willing just to believe the Bible and trust the Bible for what is universal, they could have the unity God calls for and protect the truth. What is universal?
THE FAMILY OF GOD
Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ, joins the family of God. Everyone who receives Jesus Christ becomes a child of God. Here are some examples:
John 1:12, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."
Romans 8:14, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
Romans 8:16, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."
Hebrews 2:10-12, "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."
1 John 3:10, "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God,, neither he that loveth not his brother."
You find this teaching all over the New Testament. The family of God is soteriological. You join it through receiving Jesus Christ. Everyone, wherever he is, is part of the family, if he believes in Jesus Christ. Everyone who is saved has this in common. Being a part of the family of God has no practical function in and of itself. All believers do have something in common, because they are all saved. Practical ramifications can result and should result between family members, which will be seen in a church and even outside of a church.
Recognize that the family of God is a universal concept, which someone joins when he is saved. God knows who is a part of His family. Outside of a church, it will be very difficult for people to know who is a part of the family of God. However, it is universal, and if you believe in the family of God, you do believe in something that is universal. This is taught in the Bible.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
The terminology "kingdom of God" is found in 69 times in the King James Version of the Bible. You will see "kingdom of Christ" in Ephesians 5:5. The kingdom of God in one sense has yet to come, but there is an aspect of the kingdom of God that is for today. Everyone who is born again is part of the kingdom of God. Luke 17:20-21 will help understand the kingdom of God now:
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Also consider Matthew 12:28: "But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you."
Many kingdom blessings can be experienced today, but many are also reserved for the consummation and the coming of Jesus. The fulfillment of the kingdom is here, yet without the consummation of the kingdom. God is King over the internal personal Kingdom which includes everyone He has recreated. God reigns in the present over those who receive Jesus as King. Jesus Christ is Lord and King over His spiritual Kingdom and His external universal rule is direct through those.
In the present, the church is used to build up the bigger entity, the kingdom. We build the kingdom through evangelism. Certainly in the short term, those who receive Jesus Christ will also join His church, because the kingdom shows up in churches. Through evangelism, the kingdom is built up. They are not the same, however.
Both family of God and kingdom of God are soteriological and universal. I understand that I belong in the family of God and the kingdom of God with people all over the world. I'm happy about that. You should be too. You should accept that the family and the kingdom are the two universal entities, and not the church.