Jesus Built His Church By The Book

by Douglas Hoff


Some people are surprised to earn that Jesus built a church.  They are surprised because they are thinking about brick and mortar.  To many people the word church is synonymous with the facility used as a place of worship.  The Bible does not say he built a structure like this.

Shortly before being crucified Jesus declared “…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  Death did not prevent him from his task.  He rose from the dead and built his church.

The word church originally meant an assembly of people who had been called for a special purpose.  Christians are called by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14).  They are the church.  People often say, “I am going to church.” It would be more accurate to say, “I am going to worship with the church.”  Paul wrote, “The churches of Asia salute you.  Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house” (1 Corinthians 16:19).  People, not church buildings, give greetings.  A group of Christians meeting in a house is not strange but seeing a church building inside a house would be odd!

The church is also called the house of God (1 Timothy 3:15).  The Bible says, “For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).  When men build a house they follow a plan.  A master builder may be able to put up a house without looking at the blueprints.  Because of his experience he can visualize how things fit together. Nevertheless, he follows a pattern for his construction.  The same is true of God. His great wisdom and understanding allowed him to lay the foundations of the earth and establish the heavens (Proverbs 3:19).

There are several examples in the Bible where God specified how a thing was to be built.  God told Noah, “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.  And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.  A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it” (Genesis 6:14-16).  Notice God wanted the ark made of gopher wood (not cedar, oak, etc.).  He also gave definite dimensions.  According to shipbuilders these dimensions would have made it nearly impossible to capsize.  If Noah had taken liberty with the measurements God would not have been pleased and the ark would not have been as seaworthy.  As it was, Noah built the ark “by the book” (Genesis 6:22).

From Mt. Sinai God gave Moses a detailed pattern to make the ark of the covenant, the tabernacle and the instruments used in it (Exodus 25:6-40).  There was even a pattern for the candlestick (Numbers 8:4).  Like Noah before him Moses built everything “by the book” (Exodus 40:16, 17).  Hundreds of years later Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem according to the pattern God had given to his father David (1 Chronicles 28:11-19).  

Not following plans can have serious consequences.  Would a home owner be pleased if he knew the builder cut a few corners, made unauthorized alterations or left things out?  I know a couple whose house in Toronto was condemned because a few small things were omitted.  When they started some remodeling, the contractor found a wall had been put up without being nailed!

When it comes to the safety of your soul, you should demand to be in the house that God built.  The church was part of God’s eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:10, 11).  This means there was a plan to build the church.  Since Jesus built his church by the book, it will stand forever (Daniel 2:44).

What are the distinctive marks of the church Jesus built?  First, it started in the right place.  Surveyors mark property boundaries to ensure your house will be built on your land.  According to Isaiah 2:2, 3 the Lord’s house would be established in Mt. Zion (Jerusalem).  The church started in Jerusalem (Acts 2). Churches established in any other place are not the Lord’s (Luke 24:47).

Second, the Lord’s house has the right fine of origin.  Daniel prophesied the kingdom of heaven would be established during the Roman Empire (Daniel 2:31-45).  The Lord’s church began on the day of Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus.  Tiberius was emperor of Rome then.  The Roman Empire fell in AD. 476.  Any church that began after this time cannot be the Lord’s church.

Third, the house of God has the proper foundation.  When buying a house it is important to make sure it has a firm foundation (2 Timothy 2:19).  Paul wrote that the household of God is “…built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:19-20).  The apostle laid the only foundation acceptable to God: “…as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11).  When men reject this foundation the house will fall (Matthew 7:26, 27).

Fourth, the church Jesus built has the right blueprint.  God’s plan calls for each stone to be “fitly framed together” (Ephesians 2:21-22). Christians are the “living stones” in the spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-8; 4:16). For a tight fit each stone has to be cut and shaped to specifications.  A person becomes part of this building when he is born again by the word of God (1 Peter 1:23-25).  By obeying the gospel the rough edges of sin are cut away and one is added to the church (Acts 2:38, 47).  Without it there is no salvation and no part in the heavenly kingdom (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21).  Are you in the church built by the word of God or the traditions of men (Mark 7:9)?


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