Let me state this idea of "The Church" versus "the church," or "Universal Church" versus "local church," another way.
Local churches -- like the one I referred to in my last post, Time Square Church -- as well as many "fellowships," denominations, parachurch groups -- are human organizations. They are institutions with their origin found in this world, based on the things of this world.
I do not argue that many were founded with the best of intentions. Many were founded by good, "Godly" folk who wanted to deliver an uncompromising message of truth. Many wanted to demonstrate a true, Christlike spirit of love. Yet and still, even Jesus states rather clearly that "the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth" (John 4:23). And Steven, a deacon in the Jerusalem Church angered the Jewish legalists of his day when he declared, "The Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:48).
Often, I get the distinct impression -- no, let me be honest -- I am absolutely certain that many of those of various denominations believe that God Himself is the author of their own particular brand of church, denomination, sect, whatever. But these institutions, these organizations, are merely "made with hands." These institutions, while they may hold to a form of godliness, while they may adhere to noble and in some cases ancient traditions, lack at their core true worship, in spirit and truth.
Of course, not every person within these traditions are deceived or arrogant enough to believe they have all the answers -- but many are. That's why the real nature and composition of "The Church" is so vital.
The real, true "Church" of which the apostles and Our Lord Himself taught, is this "Universal Church" to which I've referred. This is the true Church because it is a "spiritual" Church. It is the true Church because it is founded on truth (Matthew 16:18); it is purified by truth (John 17:17); and it worships in truth (John 4:23).
"The Church" of Scripture, "The Church" of Spirit and Truth, is not an institution or organization "made with hands." Rather, it is an organism -- a living thing! (I Corinthians 12:12-20). It is not manifest in things "made with hands" -- certainly not exclusively, anyway. In fact, many times, the true Church is manifest despite the institutional church.
How is the church composed? Well, in the structural sense, "The Church" is the Body of Christ on earth. It is a living, it's members work together to accomplish God's will as lead by the Holy Spirit, based on truth -- which is God's Word.
So, does the Local Church -- or any other "made with hands" entity have part in this? If so, how?