The short answer is, “Yes, it is.” The first time the word “church” is used in Scripture is in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus told Peter, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH” (NKJV). Peter had just confessed that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (verse 6) and this belief in Christ IS THE ROCK upon which the church is being built. Notice, Jesus said “I will build,” which means the church had not yet begun. When did it begin? Ah, we have the “birthday of the church” recorded in Acts chapter two. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down from heaven to “form all believers in Jesus Christ into the church” (verses 1-4). Since then, every time one believes on Christ for salvation they are instantly added to the universal church. We see this truth in Acts 2:47, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” So, the “universal church” includes everyone in every nation who has “believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation” (see Acts 16:31).

Now to answer you question directly, it is taught clearly in the scriptures that the “universal church” is the “body of Christ.” Ephesians 1:22-23 declares, “and He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to THE CHURCH, WHICH IS HIS BODY, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” The moment God the Father raised His Son from the dead and then later “seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly place” (verse 20), He made Christ to be the “head of the church.” Again, He is the ROCK upon which the church is built and here we learn that the church owns Christ as their Lord and they submit to Him as their Head. We also learn that the church is “the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” What does that mean? It means that the church (every “believer in Christ as Lord and Savior”) is united to Him just as a “body is united to its head.” This is a vital union that can never be broken and as we saw the believer becomes part of this “body” the moment they trust in Christ and are saved. The Lord, by the action of the Holy Spirit, “puts them into this body at that time” as we saw in Acts 2:47. The apostle Paul taught this truth in 1st Corinthians 12:12-13, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” There is a lot of confusion today about the phrase “the baptism of the Spirit,” but here we learn that it is the Spirit’s work of placing us into the body of Christ, the “universal church.” It is NOT something that happens “AFTER we are saved,” but the VERY MOMENT we trust in Christ.

Having talked about the “universal church” (which includes every believer in Christ from around the world from the Day of Pentecost until the church is taken home to glory in the Rapture), there is also the truth of the “local church.” The local church is “comprised of all believers in any given locality (city or town).” For example, when Paul was inspired to write a letter to the saints at Corinth he said, “To the church of God WHICH IS AT CORINTH.” He surely wasn’t writing to the “universal church” (though there was instruction for ALL LOCAL CHURCHES in his letter…see 7:17); he was writing to a “local church” who had special needs that had to be addressed. The local church comes together for meetings as we see in Acts 2:42, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Their fellowship together is a public testimony to the community that they are “members of the body of Christ.” They are not the “whole body of Christ” but in coming together as “one body” they are “representatives of the body of Christ.” It is sad that we see, in most communities, “many local churches.” This is a denial of the truth that we saw in 1st Corinthians 12:12-13 where the “body of Christ is ONE BODY.” The “local church” should be a “reflection of that truth.”  (DO)  (491.5)