It is easy for us to see errors of Roman Catholicism. It teaches the present day papacy as having ascended from the primacy of Peter. The Catholic Church is an authoritarian, mystical, institutional entity, assuming to be granting salvation of Christ to it's member adherents. It is a chain religion.
It is easy for us to see errors of Baptistism. It teaches a succession of ordained pastors, according to their prescription and description, immersing professed children of God into a mystical, institutional, cooperate fellowship entity, The Baptist Church. Unlike Catholics, they teach salvation to be apart from the church. It is a chain religion.
It is not easy for some among us to see errors of churchism in "The Church of Christ." Some conceived teaching is that there is a succession through the Word of God, as "seed", to produce a built, establishmental, organizational, institutional entity of a "restored" church, into which ones are baptized, and they become "church members." The aged theory is that the early church apostatized so much that Christ quit adding "members" into it. Men later began a "movement" to "restore" once again what they conceive to be the church as an "institution," the "grand old ship of Zion." The "movement" is known as "The Restoration Movement." It is a chain concept of a mystical church.
May it be understood, however, that the ecclesia is not already built as an institution upon "Restoration principles," as is often preached. The ecclesia now continues to be built upon Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:19). Christ has never stopped building His ecclesia, nor has He needed man to restore His works. No "organization" or "institution" rests upon Him. Nothing is substituted for His ecclesia. He is our only foundation, our Saviour, our all. The ecclesia is His fullness (Eph. 1:23).
Neither "organization" nor "institution" are Bible words. No teaching other than "words... which the Holy Ghost teachest" (1 Cot. 2:13), is of God. We must, "make all things according to the pattern" (Heb. 8:5). The unperishable pattern is from heaven. It comes to us as "the apostles' doctrine" (Acts 2:42). It is given as "order," not "organization" (1 Cor. 16:1; Col. 2:5; I Cor. 11:34; Tit. 1:5, etc.). Both "pattern" and "order" are of Christ. Both "institution" and "organization" are of men. The apostles' doctrine from heaven is "sound doctrine" (1 Tim. 1:10).
The ecclesia is "every creature ...saved" (Mark 16:15, 16). It is not an institutional container, established and organized, for content of "membership." Christ builds His ecclesia (ibid), and a building, spiritual or otherwise, is not an institution. The ecclesia is of people, saints, and not an institution, nor organization, for saints to be "members" in. The ecclesia is the added (Acts 2:41, 47). They, as believers, are added to the Lord (Acts 5:19). The ecclesia is not "The Church of Christ" institute!
Some argue that there are elders in the "local church;" elders have authority; therefore, this means the "local church" is an "organization." But, does it not strike one as strange that "elder" is a Biblical word, while "organization" is not, and neither is "institution"? Christ, by His authority, ordered elders, women, young men, servants, and others to perform certain specific services. Shall we attempt to dethrone Christ by organizing them according to the ranks of men?
Most "Sunday School" babes by now know that the word "church" stands in place of the Greek word, "ecclesia" ("ec"--out; "clesia"--call). Christ's ecclesia is that which is called out of sin. But individuals who are called out of sin become "saints" (1 Cor. 1:2). Therefore, the saints are the ecclesia. Saints are no institution, belong to no institution, subject themselves to no institution, members of no institution, adherents of no institution.
Another false assumption of "restorers" is that the early church apostatized from Christ. It did so by corrupting the "organization" of the church. The church turned from a plurality of elders in each church, to one universal bishop, the pope, over all churches. No, the early ecclesia did not apostatize itself by corrupting the existing organization. Men may have left the truth by forming an organization in the first place.
The Apostle Paul gave us a deciding factor to remember when we examine any false teaching. That factor is, "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us..." (2 Thess. 2:2). So, the question is, where is the "word," just one "word," that remotely says the ecclesia is an "organization," or "institution," or "establishment," in all the New Testament? There is none! And preachers should quit preaching it!
Another argument advanced by "Restorers" is that the church was "established" as an organization on Pentecost. In an instantaneous miracle the church was "established," as a completely perfect "institution," ready for "membership." Since then, they think, the ecclesia has been filling up with "members of The Church of Christ." If one corrects the false assumption, they argue that such a questioner only makes a play upon words, because "institute", means only to "start." Such has been preached so long people have come to accept it without question. But note, a family of squirrels, for instance, had beginning. Who would argue squirrels to be a squirrel institution? Everything that had origin or beginning is not an institution, based upon assumption alone.
Jesus Christ continues to call ones "to be saints" (ibid). All saints are His one ecclesia. Each saint of the ecclesia is responsible only to Christ. Saints are the called of God, not an "institution" of the called. Lest we forget!