Ephesians 2:19-22 suggests that Christians are living stones being built into a spiritual temple in which God dwells. This “temple” represents the relationship the disciples of Christ share with one another and with God Himself. The structure of this temple is very simple: the apostles and prophets comprise the foundation through their inspired teaching, writing and eyewitness accounts of the resurrection. But the cornerstone of the entire structure is Jesus Christ; the author and finisher of our faith, the one whose teachings are the bedrock of our lives.
What we sometimes fail to recognize is that God is the Architect of this spiritual temple just as surely as He designed the temple Solomon built. 1 Chronicles 28 tells us that king David gave his son the detailed designs for the house of God, but verse 19 makes it clear where the designs came from: “All this,” said David, “the LORD made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, all the details of this pattern.” The design for the temple didn’t come from the mind of David. Solomon didn’t build what he thought would be good. “In the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished throughout all its parts and according to all its plans” (1 Kings 6:38).
As God works to build the spiritual temple He has designed, it is just as important for us to honor His authority as it was for David and Solomon. After all, He is the Master Architect and we are in no position to question His judgments.
A home built to the specifications of a skilled architect is a beautiful thing to behold. But some new houses are so amateurish and hideous that the construction labor seems to have reduced the value of the materials from the lumber company. When it comes to the spiritual realm, we humans are worse than amateurs; when we tinker with God’s designs, the results are atrocious.
Universal. Ephesians 2 presents one of the clearest pictures of the worldwide church and the rest of the New Testament concurs: the church Jesus built is simply all of the saved with Jesus as its head, or chief corner stone. If anyone knows of Scripture that authorizes an earthly organizational structure for the universal church, call me. I’ve never been able to find it.
Local. God’s design is that saints in a given locale work and worship together with elders to oversee and deacons to serve (Philippians 1:1). Any other structure for the local church is the work of amateur architects who are woefully underqualified.
The Master Architect has spoken. Human innovations result in grotesque distortions of His intentions. The only way to honor and glorify Him is to humbly execute His designs He has communicated through the inspired Scriptures.