The church which Jesus built is a perfect institution. That church is all sufficient to accomplish its work. When men begin to doubt the all sufficiency of the church, they begin to build human institutions to do the work which God intended the church to accomplish. They begin to add new days of worship and new commandments which God never intended to be added. They begin to require of its members more than God ever required of them. Thus, such churches are imperfect because they are teaching for doctrine the commandments of men. (Mt 15:7-9)
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. It is perfect because it was divinely designed, built, and paid for by precious blood. Let us consider the ways in which it is perfect:
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). Take note that the church was planned by God Himself. The Divine Architect of the church was none other than God. The church manifests the wisdom of its Architect, and remains perfect because it had a perfect Architect.
The church is perfect because it has a perfect blueprint. The tabernacle and later of the temple, God gave a divine pattern by which these were to be built. (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, says he, that you make all things according to the pattern showed to you in the mount” (Heb. 8:5).
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.
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. (Isa 9:6) This he spoke concerning Jesus. To Peter, Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” (Mt 16:18) Thus, God the Son is the perfect builder of the church.
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. The prophets foretold the coming of the kingdom of God (Isa. 2:1-4 cf; 9:6-7 f; 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 completed.
Perfect provisions, by miraculous powers were needed to bring the church into existence. God spared nothing in bringing the church into existence. Without going into all of the miracles executed by Christ and his apostles, 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.
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 fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). The head of the church is not an imperfect man, woman or child. The Head of the church is none other than the Son of God Himself.
A perfect law has been given to govern the church. 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).
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.
It has 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 (for the saints only). Humanly devised works, works not authorized by the scriptures, distort the mission of the church.
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. The church is perfect and is capable of accomplishing its God-given works of evangelism, edification, and benevolence without the need of human institutions. The church is all-sufficient to do the work which God gave it to do. (2 Pet 1:3)
Conclusion: 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. 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.
The perfect church of Christ was designed to follow the doctrine of Christ and his apostles only! When we choose to add man made doctrines, we worship God in vain. When we change the mission and purpose of the church, we are no longer a member of the body of Christ, but rather a member of a denomination. When women become preachers and teachers in the church, they are shaming the church. When we add instrumental music, we are going beyond that which was written for the church. When we suppress eldership, in lieu of a group of unqualified men, we have resisted the authority of God. The churches of Christ as divinely planned is, was, and always will be, perfect. Local churches of Christ are just as perfect only when they continue in the doctrine of Christ and his apostles.