The concept of the church is difficult for many to understand despite the clarity of Scripture. The complexity is derived from man’s misuse of the word “church.” The English word “church” has become so corrupted as to be almost indecipherable from its Biblical origins. There are thousands of different kinds of churches teaching thousands of different doctrines. Which one is right?
To better answer this question we can turn to the Old Testament. Noah and the ark is one of the most famous stories in all of the Bible. We will be asking very simple questions about the ark that children can answer. Then we will take these simple answers and make an application to the church and help us grasp concepts that men claim cannot be understood.
Third, who designed and built the ark? In Genesis 6:14, God told Noah to “make yourself an ark of gopherwood” (NKJV). God then said, “this is how you should make it.” (6:15). Noah built the ark exactly as God had specified and his obedience pleased God (6:22).
Who designed and built the church? Jesus said, “I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus then sent the apostles to Jerusalem to preach the first sermon and the church came into existence as 3,000 were immersed into Christ (Acts 2). The apostles were sent out to preach the gospel by Christ’s authority and by his specifications (Matthew 28:18). While Noah constructed the ark and the apostles labored to begin the church, God actually built them.
Fourth, what if other people had built their own arks? We do not have an example of this being done but we can surmise an answer. In Genesis 6:7, we read God lamenting that he had made man. He would “destroy” them. Then we read,”But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8). Noah and his family were found righteous so they entered the ark and were saved (1 Peter 3:20-21). If other people had been righteous, God would have allowed them into the ark. Likewise, since they were not in the ark, building their own ark would have been useless. They would have been fighting against God and would have died in the process (Acts 5:39).
Likewise, what if other people had built their own churches? The result would have been the same as the ark. The Lord added Noah and his family to the ark so they could be saved (Genesis 7:1). We are added to the church Jesus built when we are saved (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:47). If other people built their own churches (which they do on a daily basis), they would still be as lost as those outside God’s ark. Outside of Christ’s church is only darkness and condemnation. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it.” We cannot be outside the church and be saved.
Fifth, how do we identify the ark of the Lord? Noah built it exactly according to God’s specifications (Genesis 6:14-15,22). Accordingly, how do we identify the church of the Lord? The apostles built it according to God’s careful specifications. Today we identify the Lord’s church by the pattern of worship, salvation and service we find in the New Testament. The Church of our Lord exists today in the form he specified in Scripture. If we had the ark, it would also bear the exact specifications of the ark designed by God in Scripture. Nothing less should be expected from his church on earth.
What if others had built their own arks?