If you were having a home built, who would you hire to build it? It would depend on how big the home is, where the home is, the detail, and many other factors. No matter who we would hire, we would want someone who is going to build the home that we want.
Hebrews 3:4 says, “For every house is built by someone, but he who built all things is God”. In this context, the writer is making a point that the church is not something that just showed up one day out of nowhere. The church is the spiritual building of God. It was therefore built by someone. Who did God select to build it?
The point being made in Hebrews 3 is that Moses was the builder of the Israelite nation, but he was only a servant. He was hired for the job. However, the church that Jesus built is superior than every institution because Jesus wasn’t a hired servant carrying out a plan. Jesus is the planner and the builder. Moses was given a blueprint to build. Jesus took the blueprint that he drew up with the Godhead in eternity, and then built His church (Eph 3:9).
Matthew 16:18 makes it crystal clear that Jesus is the scriptural builder of His church. He built His church by hiring out His apostles and prophets to carry out the plan that He drew up (Matt 16:19, Acts 2:42). These men served as types of sub-contractors driving the nails. As they drove the nails of the church of Christ, they recorded the blueprint that Jesus gave in the New Testament (Eph 3:4).
Every church that exists is built by someone. That is an irrefutable statement. But is every church built by the scriptural builder?
Today, there are many different denominations. Where did they come from? Who built them? Jesus built one church (Eph 4:4), but there are many different churches. We must conclude that these different churches were not built by Jesus. If these churches were not built by Jesus, they cannot be the scriptural church of Christ.
Most churches are upfront with who built their institution. If someone is sincere in seeking truth, this will quickly identify whether or not they belong to an unscriptural church. Consider the following examples.
The Church of God of Cleveland says on their website that they began on August 19,1886 by Richard Green Spurling and eight other people. In 1906 “Under the leadership of [their] first General Overseer, A.J. Tomlinson, the church of God adopted a centralized form of Church government with an inclusive International General Assembly”. There are a number of churches linked to this association in Campbell County. Were they built by Christ?
The United Methodist Church website states, “The United Methodist Church was created in 1968, but Methodism dates back to 1730 when John and Charles Wesley, who sought to spread the Methodist movement, began as a student small group at Oxford University.” Can the Methodist church be the scriptural church if it was built by John and Charles Wesley? Are they the scriptural builders?
The Southern Baptist Convention website states that this group was founded by “messengers from missionary societies, churches, and other religious bodies of the Baptist denomination in various parts of the United States… for the purpose of carrying into effect the benevolent intention of our constituents by organizing a plan for eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the denomination”. There is a clear declaration of the fact that the SBC is a unique denomination built by “missionary societies, churches, and other religious bodies”. These are not scriptural builders. If this denomination is founded by unscriptural builders, can it be the scriptural church?
Some churches today wear the banner of “non-denominational”. While we can appreciate the desire to not be affiliated with a denominational body, it doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter is that any church that is not built by Christ is unscriptural. What is the difference in being a member of large denomination that was started by people many years ago, verses being a member of a single church that was started by a man a few years ago? Whether that church identifies itself with a denominational group is irrelevant. You can call the group whatever you like, if it was not built by Christ it is still not scriptural.
This article does not deny a measure of good that any man-made institution has been able to accomplish. Certainly, most have contributed nice things to humanity through hospitals, charities, etc. But that doesn’t mean they are scriptural. Good works will not make up for being in a church that wasn’t built by Jesus (Acts 4:12).
It reminds me of a friend of mine in college. He went and bought an older Chevrolet truck. The truck had a nice paint job, nice looking wheels and some massive mud tires. My friend didn’t have the money to buy the truck and so he went and took money from his student loans to pay for it. The next day after purchasing it, the engine seized and had to be swapped out. The worst part was that the mechanic told my friend that he could have identified the problem if had he just looked at the oil. My friend was so caught up in the things that looked good to him, that he never looked at what is most important.
Jesus teaches that the same is true with all man-made religious bodies. Every church that was not built by Jesus will be rooted up (Matt 15:13). My friend had to pay for that worthless truck for years because he didn’t look under the hood. How many people will pay for eternity because they never looked at who built the church they belong to?
When you ask a member of the church of Christ, who built this church they will open up their Bible and point you to Jesus. Is Jesus the scriptural builder?
Note: This series of articles dealing with the reasons to be a member of the Lord's church is highly influenced by the book "Why I am A Member Of The Church of Christ" by Leroy Brownlow.