THE CHURCH, GOD’S BUILDING
BY KEVIN J. CONNER
As already dealt with there are numerous types and shadows of the Church. In this chapter we take one of these types and develop it more fully; that is, the picture of the Church as God’s building, God’s habitation.
In contemplating the Church we see that Christ is the Builder, the Church is His Building and He has chosen to have others build with Him, according to His pattern. Paul said that he was called to be a wise master-builder and he warned others to take heed to the material they put into God’s building and how they build.
A. The Builder and The Builders
1. Christ is The Builder
He Himself said “Upon this Rock I WILL BUILD My Church” (Matthew 16:18). If the Lord is not building the house, then all labor is in vain by those who build it (Psalms 127:1). Men will build organizations, denominations, a sect or his own kingdom but it is not necessarily HIS CHURCH.
Christ is “the wise man” who builds His house upon the rock (Matthew 7:24-27) and it will stand the storms that beat against it. The Church is His house over which He rules as the Son of God (Hebrews 3:1-6; I Timothy 3:15; I Corinthians 3:9; Ephesians 2:21-22).
* The Church is typified in the Tabernacle of Moses.
* The Church is typified in the building of the Tabernacle of David (I Chronicles 17:5). Read also Acts 15:15-18; Amos 9:11-13.
* The Church is typified in the temple of Solomon (I Kings 8:8-13).
* Jesus Christ is both Tabernacle and Temple, and the Church is His Body (John 1:14-18; 2:18-21).
* The Church is the city whose builder and maker is God (Revelation 21-22; Hebrews 11:10-16).
The prophet Zechariah foretold the fact that Christ would be a King-Priest on the throne and he would build His house and bear the glory (Zechariah 4:9; 6:12, 13).
The first and most important question to be answered is this. “Is CHRIST building His house?” If not, all our labor is in vain.
2. Building by the Spirit
The Church is not a material but a spiritual house built of lively stones (I Peter 2:5-9).
The Church is to be built up as the habitation of God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:20-22).
Just as the Tabernacle of Moses, the Temple of Solomon was built by the revelation of the Spirit upon people; so Christ is building His Church by the power of the Spirit. The Book of Acts is the Acts of the Holy Spirit as Christ began to build His Church. It is not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, saith the Lord (Exodus 36:1-6; I Chronicles 28:11-19; Zechariah 4:6; I Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:1-4).
3. Building According to the Pattern
The Greek noun for “building” is “Oikodome” (“Oikos = a home, and dome”) = to build. The verb “Oikodomeo” is translated “build”(ed, ers, edified, eth, ing), edification, built and built up.
The Church is God’s building, God’s edifice.
As the Tabernacle of Moses and Temple of Solomon were built according to the Divine pattern, so Christ will build His Church according to the Father’s pattern given to Him.
B. The Builders–The Ministries and Believers
A study of the following Scriptures reveal that, not only is Christ THE Builder by the Spirit, but He also builds through other people, as sub-contractors. This has been typified in the Old Testament buildings and habitations of God.
1. Moses and Builders
Moses was the builder, the wise master-builder, of the Tabernacle of the Lord in the wilderness. However, with him were other builders who built according to the pattern given to him from the Lord God. All was built by the wisdom and Spirit of God (Exodus 25-40; 36:17).
2. Solomon and Builders
Solomon was the builder of the temple of the Lord. All was again built to the pattern by the wisdom and Spirit of God (I Chronicles 28-29; 11 Chronicles 1-7). He had other builders with him also.
3. Christ and Builders
Jesus Christ is the Builder of the New Testament Church. It is also being built by the wisdom and Spirit of God according to the Divine pattern. However, He has seen fit to call other builders (sub-contractors) to build with Him, under His direction and supervision.
The five-fold ascension gift ministries of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers are called to build the Church, to edify it (Ephesians 4:9- 16). Paul, the apostle, said he was a wise, skillful architect, master-builder of God’s house, and called on other builders to be careful how they built and what materials they used (I Corinthians 3:9-16).
Sub-contractors are God’s workmen, co-workers with Christ, in a spiritual building. No one can do it all, but all are inter-dependent on others ministries and abilities and talents.
The Church, God’s house, is built on the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20-22). In the foundations of the City of God, whose Builder and Maker is God, are the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21-22; Hebrews 11:10, 16).
No one ministry can do the whole work. As in the building of a material house, by subcontractors, so in the spiritual house of the Lord. Electricians, plumbers, carpenters, roofers, etc., all specialize in their own areas of building, yet all are inter-dependent on the other. So it is in the fivefold ascension-gift ministries who specialize in their God-given grace (Ephesians 2:20-22; 4:9-16; I Corinthians 12).
All believers are also involved in building according to the measure of the grace-gifts given to them by Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 3:9; Romans 12:1-8).
I Corinthians 12; Romans 12:1-8; I Peter 4:10, 11 list some of the grace-gifts that are given to the members to build the house of God.
C. The Building–The Church
The building in which Christ, His ministries and believers are involved is made up of PEOPLE–not a material building. It is a living building, made up of lively stones, the people of God (I Peter 2:5-9; Ephesians 2:20-22).
Many times people become caught up and wrapped in building a material building and forget the building up of the Church, composed of the people of God. God’s purpose is to build up A HOUSE for His habitation by the Spirit. There are two facets to building people:
In building a natural house, the first thing to do would be to gather all the material together. So in the spiritual. Evangelism, personal and public, is the gathering together of the “lively stones.” However, a heap of stones is not a building. Gathered stones, from the quarry, are but the materials. They have to be cut and shaped, hewn and measured, and then fitted together. This is beautifully illustrated in the building of Solomon’s temple and his own house (I Kings 5:17, 18; 6:7; I Peter 2:5-9).
The stones have to be prepared to fit into their place (Isaiah 51:1-2; Ephesians 2:19-22).
The Church in the Book of Acts, by evangelism, “multiplied” (Acts 6:1, 7; 9:31; 12:24 with Genesis 1; 22, 28; 22:17; Hebrews 6:14). The disciples were multiplied (Acts 7:17). Evangelism is simply gathering stones, rough, unhewn and unplaced stones. The “stonemasons” work on them. i.e., The fivefold ministries (Ephesians 4:9-16).
Multiplication is not necessarily edification! We can have a heap of stones and say “crawl in”, but that is NOT a house! Multiplication should lead to edification. BOTH are needed. One without the other is useless, but the one precedes the other. There must be assembling together, ASSEMBLING people into a spiritual building. I will BUILD My Church (Greek “oikodomeo”, which means “to build”) as you would a building. The individual stones need to be cut, to fit together corporately. The Churches were multiplied . . . edified (Acts 9:31). Thus “to be built up, to be placed, to be put in order, or to be arranged.” This is structure. Fit stones, stones finding their place (Hebrews 10:25; I Corinthians 11:17, 18, 20, 33, 34), assembling together.
D. The Materials in the Building
Paul in I Corinthians 3:9-15 (Amplified New Testament) tells us all to “take heed how we build.” This has to do with our works. In Moses’ Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple there were various materials, all of Divine order.
I. Gold — ) All imperishable, can stand the pressure,
2. Silver– ) fire, purification test.
3. Precious stones — ) Purify the spoils of war (Numbers 31:21-24).
1. Wood — )
2. Hay — ) Perishable, fire reduces all to nothing but ashes.
3. Stubble — )
The fire tests and appraises the character and worth of each person’s works (Job 23:10).
Gold–speaks of that which is Divine, of God. Silver–speaks of that which is of redemption. Precious stones–speaks of that which is formed as a gem, gifts of the Spirit (Proverbs 17:8). Works have to be tested as to our motivation. Works according to the WORD Gold. Works inspired and energized by the SPIRIT = Silver. Works motivated by the LOVE of God = Precious stones.
Only works that are according to the WORD of God, inspired by the SPIRIT of God and motivated by the LOVE of God will stand the fire tests “in that day” (11 John 8). We have to look to ourselves that we receive a full reward. Other works are reduced to ashes, and thus we are saved, so as by fire. “Remember Lot’s wife,” (Luke 17:32).
E. Things that Build or Edify
There are a number of things that edify both individually and corporately. The test is always, Does what I am saying, doing and being edify? (I Thessalonians 5:11; I Corinthians 14:26; 10:23.) Seek to excel to the edifying of the Church.
1. The Word of God, the Word of grace, builds up, as well as obedience to that Word (Acts 20:32; Matthew 7:24-27). Hearing and doing builds the house.
2. Praying in the Spirit in the most holy faith builds up (Jude 20). Unbelief, doubt and fear tear down and destroy.
3. The love of God builds up (I Corinthians 8:1).
4. The right kind of communication builds up (Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 4:29).
5. The peace and harmony of the Lord builds up (Romans 14›19; Matthew 5:3-12).
6. The endeavour to please our neighbor in love builds up (Romans 15:2).
7. The being rooted and established in the faith builds up (Colossians 2:7).
8. The five-fold ministry ascension gifts build up (Ephesians 2:20-22; 4:11, 12).
9. The members of the Body ministering to one another builds up (I Corinthians 14:26; Note “edify” in this chapter; Ephesians 4:12-16).
10. The speaking in tongues edifies oneself (I Corinthians 14:3-5).
11. The gifts of tongues and interpretation edify the Church also.
12. The gift of prophecy edifies the Church (I Corinthians 14:3-5, 12),
13. Spiritual sacrifices edify also (I Peter 2:5; Hebrews 13:15, 16).
We cannot edify others unless we ourselves are edified (I Corinthians 14:3, 5, 12, 17, 26).
Paul could use his power to edify or destroy (II Corinthians 10:8; 12:19; 13:10).
The Lord desires to build His house, to make it a glorious living edifice.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM THE CHURCH IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, AND PUBLISHED BY BT PUBLISHING, 1982, PAGES 43-46. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & ESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.