One may be perplexed with the question, “Who are the church?” Perhaps a more expected question might be, “What is a church?” After all, is a church not a building? Ask most people and they would probably say a building. They may affectionately think of the picturesque stone building in a nearby village that was built by craftsmen back in the thirteenth century. It has beautiful stained glass windows depicting Jesus and His disciples. In the graveyard that surrounds it there are wonderful, ancient trees. On the other hand they may think of the dilapidated tin hut down the road that once served as a mission outreach, and now is seldom used.
No, a church is not a building of granite, flint or brick; it is an organic structure that grows, and is continually on the move, ‘being fitted together into a holy temple in the Lord.’ (Ephesians 2:21) The chief cornerstone is Jesus Christ, and the foundation on which it is built are the apostles and prophets. (v 20)
The Church of Christ is expanding, and it grows with the purpose of being a‘dwelling place of God in the Spirit.’ (v 22) The whole structure depends upon the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus Christ, who holds it together. (v 20) We know, don’t we? If a cornerstone is removed, the building will collapse. Jesus sustains and keeps His building intact.
The Church is like no other building. It is a ‘holy temple’ (v 21) built with ‘living stones’ (1 Peter 2:5) who are being joined together to be a home of ‘God in the Spirit.’ (Ephesians 2:22) It is being set apart, i.e., made holy, and it is a spiritual dwelling place, a temple in the Lord. (v 21)
Who are the building blocks? They are ‘citizens’ and ‘members’ of ‘the household of God.’ (v 19) They have all been welcomed into God’s home to live with Him, and yet at one time they were ‘strangers and foreigners’. (v 19) But now they are equated with the saints, and they are fellow citizens with them. In fact, they are saints themselves, having been received into the temple of God.
Of this ‘spiritual house’ (1 Peter 2:5) its members are ‘living stones’ who offer up acceptable ‘spiritual sacrifices’ to God through Jesus Christ. He is the ‘chief cornerstone, elect and precious’, (1 Peter 2:6) the ‘living stone’ who is rejected by men, but ‘chosen by God. (v 4)
The ultimate destiny of this organic church in Christ is for its members to live together with Him forever in the new heaven and earth. (Revelation 21)