By Mike Willis
The church which Jesus built is a perfect institution. That church is all-sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which God built it. When men begin to doubt the all sufficiency of the`church, they then begin to build human institutions to do the work which God intended the church to do. In recent years, the church as been plagued with an ever increasing number of human institutions clamoring for church support. Each of these institutions first persuades the church that it is not sufficient to do its God given work and then suggests that this human institution can accomplish the divinely commanded work more efficiently than the church can. Consequently, the churches are encouraged to make a contribution to this human institution to do the work which the church was commanded to accomplish.
None of these institutions would ever have been supported by church contributions had men had faith in the church which God designed and Jesus built. However, becoming disenchanted with the church, these brethren turned to human institutions to do the work which God gave the church to accomplish. In order to prevent further and future apostasies of the same kind, we need to restore confidence in the all-sufficiency of the church.
We need to be reminded that the church is a perfect institution. We say this in spite of the fact that it is made up of men. The church might be considered from its divine side and from its human side. When we say that the church is a perfect institution, we are obviously speaking of it from its divine side. The human side of the church will never become perfect so long as it has imperfect men in it. The imperfect human institutions are also filled with imperfect men; they have nothing better to offer. Yet, the church is perfect from its divine side. Let us consider the ways in which it is perfect.
1. The church was conceived in the mind of our perfect God. Paul wrote, “. . .to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:10-11). Notice that the church was “purposed” or planned by God Himself. The Divine Architect of the church was none other than God.
The church reflects the “wisdom” of the Divine Architect in the same way as some earthly building reflects the wisdom of its architect. As I view a bridge which spans a large river, I am impressed with the wisdom of its architect. Similarly, when I see the church functioning as the church is commanded to function, I am impressed with the wisdom of its Architect. For example, I am amazed that the gospel could be spread throughout all of the known world within fifty years of its beginning with no organization other than the local church. Indeed, the church manifests the wisdom of its Architect. The church is perfect because it had a perfect Architect.
2. The church is perfect because it has a perfect blueprint. When we read of the construction of the tabernacle and later of the temple, we are told of God giving a pattern by which these were to be built. The men were commended because they built all things according to the pattern (Ex. 25:9, 40). The Hebrew writer reminds us of God’s instructions to Moses in erecting the tabernacle; he said, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount” (Heb. 8:5).
The Hebrew writer shows that the tabernacle was the type of the church, which was the antitype. Even as the tabernacle was to be built by the pattern revealed to Moses, even so was the church to be built according to the divine pattern. The pattern for the church is God-given and, therefore, perfect.
3. The church is perfect because it had a perfect builder. None other than God in the flesh built the church. The Prince of Peace, the Wonderful Counselor, the Everlasting Father, the Mighty God, built the church. To Peter, Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.”
If an imperfect person planned a house, it would have flaws in its design. If a perfect person planned a house, it would be perfect. The church was planned by God and, therefore, has a perfect blueprint. Yet, if an imperfect builder works with a perfect blueprint, he will build an imperfect house. Or, if a perfect builder works with an imperfect blueprint, he will build a perfectly built imperfect house. Yet, we have a perfect blueprint and a perfect builder. for the church. Hence, the church is perfect, from the divine side. It is exactly what God planned to build.
4. Perfect preparations were made for the church. The church was conceived by God from eternity. Yet, preparations were made through the course of history to bring it into existence. Even as David made preparations for the building of the Temple by his son Solomon, so also God made preparations for the building of the church by His Son Jesus Christ. The prophets foretold the coming of the kingdom of God (Isa. 2:1-4; 9:6-7; Dan. 2:44; etc.) Divine preparations were made. Finally, when the time arrived for the divine kingdom to be built, the message was sent out, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1:14). God sent forth His Son to build the church “in the fulness of time” (Gal. 4:4), when all of the preparation necessary for the coming of the church had been done. Yes, perfect preparations were made for the coming of the church.
5. Perfect provisions were made to bring the church into existence. Miraculous powers were needed to bring the church into existence. God did not leave the establishment of the church in the hands of unaided men. Rather, God spared nothing in bringing the church into being. We need only to read the second chapter of Acts to be impressed with the many different miracles which transpired to bring the church into existence. Without going into all of the miracles executed by Christ, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the work of John the Baptist, or the work of the prophets, simply notice that God worked miracles in bringing the church into existence. He sent a sound from heaven like the rushing of a mighty wind, cloven tongues like as of fire which rested upon the heads of each of the apostles, and other tongues. Then, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter revealed the divine conditions for entry into the church. Yes, God gave perfect provisions for bringing the church into existence.
6. A Perfect Head was given to the church. The Scriptures explicitly teach that Jesus Christ is the Head of the church. Paul wrote, “. . .and hath put all things under his (Jesus’) feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). The head of the church is not some imperfect pontiff. Nor, is the head of the church a group of imperfect men. The Head of the church is none other than the Son of God Himself.
7. A perfect law has been given to govern the church. The law which guides the church is perfect. Jesus imparted the Holy Spirit to the Apostles to guide them in all truth in revealing His will to mankind (Jn. 14:26; 16:13). The result was a “perfect law, the law of liberty” (Jas. 1:25). The law of God which governs the church has been “once-for-all-times” delivered (Jude 3) and furnishes man completely unto every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Hence, the church is perfect because it has a perfect law.
The law of God furnishes the church completely with everything it needs to offer acceptable worship to God, to organize itself in order to accomplish its God-given work, to discharge its responsibilities in its given areas of work, etc. So long as the church walks within the confines of God’s revealed, perfect law, it will manifest to man the wisdom of God. When it departs from the law of God and walks in its own imperfect wisdom, it ceases to reflect divine wisdom and begins to reflect mere human wisdom.
8. It has a perfect mission. God has given the church a perfect mission. The work which God has given the church to accomplish is simple: the preaching of the gospel both to its own members (for edification) and to others (evangelism), and benevolence. (I will not labor to prove at this point that the work of benevolence is limited to the poor among the saints and that God has not charged the church in its congregational capacity with general benevolence responsibilities.) Humanly devised works-works not authorized in the pages of the perfect law of liberty which guides the church-distort the mission of the church.
9. It has within it the ability to perfectly carry out its mission. The perfect Architect who perfectly planned the church, created the church with the ability to carry out the works which He gave it. The work of God would be imperfect were it of such a nature that God has laid certain responsibilities upon the church and then not have given it the ability to perform those responsibilities. To illustrate the imperfection, consider what you would think of the designer and of the machine which was designed to harvest wheat but was unable to accomplish the purposes which God gave it to do. The church is perfect and is, therefore, able to accomplish its God-given works of evangelization, edification, and benevolence without the need of human institutions. The church is all-sufficient to do the work which God gave it to do.
When one begins with something that is perfect, he destroys that perfection when he adds something to it and takes something from it. The church can have its perfection destroyed by men appending things to it which God, in His wisdom, chose not to attach to it or by removing from it things which God placed upon it. My brethren, the church is perfect as it came to man from God. It is all sufficient to do the work which God designed for it to do. Let us be content with the church as it is revealed to us by God.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 7, pp. 115-117
February 15, 1979