Author: Ron Graham
What is the Church Made of?
—A called out people
One way to find out whether a church is a genuine church of Christ is to examine what it is made of. By “a genuine church of Christ” we mean a church matching the divine pattern given to churches of the first century. The Bible shows clearly what the true church is made of. It is made of people called into it by God.
This rhyme (in the blue box) was popular when I was a boy, although I suppose it would be politically incorrect to teach it to children now...
What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails, and puppy dog's tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice, and all things nice,
That's what little girls are made of.
Of course everyone knows that little boys are not made of slugs, nor are little girls made of sugar. One might find a little girl made of sugar as a decoration on a cake, but we would recognize immediately that she was not a real girl.
How can we determine whether something is the real and genuine article? One way is to examine what the article is made of. A gold sovereign made of plastic, would not be the genuine article. A bunch of flowers made of crepe paper would not be real flowers. Sometimes the non-genuine can imitate the appearance of the genuine very closely, and we can mistake the counterfeit for the genuine. But examine what the object is made of, and you will often realize your mistake.
Let's look at this matter of the church being made of people rather than of something else...
1 The church's foundation was made of people
The church was "...built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20).
Notice here that the foundation consists of the persons themselves. "Jesus Christ himself" is the chief corner stone, and in the same way the apostles and prophets themselves, not merely an attribute such as their words, are the church's foundation. Now we note that the rest of the edifice is also made of people.
2 The whole church is made of people
"...in whom the whole building being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:21)
Notice here the church is being built of "you" —which is to say the people, not merely an attribute such as your faith, but of you yourselves. Peter says, "You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house" (1Peter 2:5)
When we think of the church as made of people, we realize that the church is a visible body —we can see people! Paul says, "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body" (1Corinthians 6:15-20)
So we see that it isn't just souls of which the church is made, but people, body and soul, visible people. You cannot see all the church at once, of course, any more than you can see all the Pacific Ocean at once. That does not make it invisible. But you can see the church, the real and genuine church of God in a particular place, because it is made of people.
Note —Church of God: In the New Testament, the church of God and the church of Christ were one and the same church —two descriptions to identify Christ’s church, not the names of two denominations.
3 The Church is an Organism
The church is commonly thought of as an organisation. It's there to serve you with religion when you need it and to promote and sustain religion. People might feel they can "go to" church, even "belong to" it, but they don't feel they are the living stones of which it is made.
How do we think of clubs, businesses, financial institutions, schools, governments, community services, sporting bodies, and other organisations? We usually think of the buildings, money, systems, products, projects, information, staff, management, meetings, rules, teams, events, and suchlike. We should change this impersonal and organisational view, and think of the church as we do of family —it is made of people. We, ourselves, are the church of God.
I will leave you to ponder a question that is somewhat connected to this study: When folk see the church of God in your locality, when they see the people it is made of, do they see what they ought?