Hi, I'm new to this thread, I've just spent the last hour browsing through the posts.
I noticed early on in the thread somebody used the verse in 1 Timothy 3:15 ("But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth",) to suggest that the church is visible. This entire chapter from Paul to Timothy more than confirms that the church itself is a visible entity and that there are ways one needs to conduct themselves in the 'house of God'.
It would be impossible for the church to be 'invisible' only.. It must be, and it is visible. Are we as individual believers not visible? When we gather together in the name of Jesus together, are we not visible? Does Jesus not say where 2 or more are gathered together in my name He is there?
But surely we can better understand what Paul is saying to Timothy here when we look at what he says to the Corinthian church in chapter 3:16.. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” – 1 Cor 3:16..
The temple of God.. Is it not within us as believers? When we gather together as believers, is this not a church? Is it not visible?
Paul also exhorts the Ephesian elders to ‘feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). More evidence that the church is visible.
1 Corinthians 6:19What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
I don't by any means doubt that the church is invisible. However, there are many members of the Body of Christ, which makes up the church today. So when many members of the church get together, wherever they are, whether it be in a house, a garage, a hall, a park or a dedicated building, that assembly or congregation of saints is also called a church.
When a group of saints gets together to worship God by studying His word, building each other up or edifying one another, does not the Bible call them a church? For example, Paul writes to the ‘church at Ephesus’, and the ‘church of Galatia’, and the ‘church at Corinth’. These are congregations made up of those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Saviour are they not?
Do not each one of us become a part of the church as we are placed into the Body of Christ by believing in Jesus Christ? Is not the Body of Christ the church?
Do we really have an idea here that we must be part of the 'orthodox church', or the 'catholic church', or the 'baptist church', or the 'pentecostal church' in order to be a part of the church? If we wish to think this way do we not confuse and divide ourselves and others? I understand that the orthodox church will say they are not divided, at least within themselves, other than a few so called so called 'minor' issues, i.e ecumenism, freemasonry etc. but the same can be said about the 'pentecostal' church, or the 'catholic' church. They will also claim they aren't divided and that they themselves are in the truth.
Let us not divide ourselves by arguing about which building is the true church.. Biblically speaking, the true church is made up of those who believe that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Saviour, and that He died on that stake to pay for our sin. Wherever these people gather is wherever you will find the church.