In our last study we touched on the Body of Christ is the Church and how by grace we are part of it. Today we are going to look at the Church as a Building. In a body all the members are complete at birth, but must be developed. Conversely the way a building grows is it must be added upon.
The Foundation of God’s Building
Every building must be built upon some foundation; To use an example from scripture, sand or stone (Matthew 7:24-27). We are not built upon religion or rituals. We are not built upon philosophies or ideologies. No, all that is but the sinking sand of the world. We are built upon the only true and sure foundation! We are built upon the Stone! We have that sure cornerstone which is Christ.
The corner stone is the first to be hewn, and last to be placed. Its corners, angles and faces are all carefully made square. It is the stone that secures the foundation in place and insures that the whole building fits together right. It was considered the most important part of the foundation. If the corner stone was right the whole foundation would be. The cornerstone sets the standard for the walls. It ensures that everything lines up right! What a cornerstone we have!
Christ is our Cornerstone,
On Him alone we build;
With His true saints alone
The courts of heaven are filled;
On His great love our hopes we place
Of present grace and joys above.
Another aspect of our foundation is the “Apostles and prophets” which were the writers of Scripture. No longer do they operate in the Church, but job was through when the foundation was laid. Paul called himself a master builder (1 Corinthians 3:10). What a sure foundation that is! I can’t think of anything more sure than the Stone or the Incarnate Word of God and the Scriptures or the Inspired Word of God. If our doctrine doesn’t line up with these then we need to fix it. If our lives don’t line up with these we need to fix them. Let us build upon the true foundation.
The Framework of God’s Building
God in his infinite wisdom has decreed that we should be his building and what is the first step in building a building before you ever even break the ground? You have to set out a plan and blueprints (Luke 14:28-30). The Great Architect of the heavens, the Grand Builder of the Earth, the Divine Designer has plotted out His Building. Heaven and Earth are called His handiwork, but the Church is called His workmanship (Ephesians 2:9). By grace He has carefully chosen each part of His building before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Unlike architects and builders of this day who use the best materials for their work, God desiring to show of the riches of His grace (Ephesians 2:7) chose the foolish and weak things (1 Corinthians 1:27).
If will submit to the will of God we will find we are in the right place and doing the right thing. We are to be fitly framed which can only happen if we yield to the Spirit, line up with Christ or cornerstone and dwell in the unity found there. We notice too that we are to be growing into a holy temple. Before we can grow together we must learn how to fellowship together. We will not be able to do either without allowing the spirit to control our lives.
The word Paul uses, fitly framed together, is a compound word. It is three words in one. To translate it literally it is the “together – binding – choice.” We are going to look at three things about these stones, namely the individual choice, character, and conformity of the stones.
The master builder will take a pile of stones and search through it until he finds the right one for the job. There is a personal and a particular choice involved. The builder individually selects each one. So it is true in the Church. There is only enough room on the narrow way for single file line. We don’t get saved corporately but individually, and that based on the choice of God and His grace!
These stones are not bricks. They are stones. They are in no way equal in size or shape. They vary one to another and some a great deal. There is no cookie cutter stone, or postage stamp stone; No one size fits all. Each stone is individual in character. The same is true in the Church. God didn’t call everyone to the same thing. We are not all preachers, we are not all singers. We all are individual in character and ought to understand that, and live up to the area in which God has called us.
The stones-man will sometimes have to get out his chisel and conform the stone to be fitly framed. He might have to smooth an edge or take off a corner. It is his masterful touch and his work that when the stones are put together that they are fitly framed together. In the Church God conforms and molds us into the person we ought to be by the Holy Spirit to accomplish his will. If it were not for this work in our lives we would never be fitly framed together and unable to live holy and for His glory.
The Focus of God’s Building
What is the reason that God is framing us together? We find in our text that it is His will that we are to be a Holy Temple and His Habitation. A Holy Temple is a separated place build to glorify God. Notice that we are not to be a ornate temple, nor a large temple. Paul focuses on that we are to be HOLY. We are to be set apart. We are to live with all godliness. If we are every going to find unity in our fellowship it will have to proceed out of holiness. Our holiness will produce unity, not vice-versa. Great revivals of the past were started by people with a dedication to holiness. Remember the Great Awaking of Wesley and Whitfield who were in the “Holy Club.” We need holiness. Churches have forsaken the power of God for programs that are more concerned about numbers that nearness. Although we grow by additions, getting folk on the roll of a church doesn’t mean that they become part of the Holy Temple which is the Church.
We are also to be a Habitation of God! This is not just the fact that He indwells every believer, it more than that alone. This expresses the thought of a permanent home where you feel at home. It is not the idea that He is just staying for awhile and doesn’t have access to the whole building, but that he owns the building and is comfortable with every part of it. It is the place where we can experience the Shekinah Glory of God and Hs abiding presence. Wouldn’t it lead to the conclusion that if He is in it that it will manifest His fruits?