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God’s Design for the Church:  A Building — Eph. 2:19-22 

24 Jul

(Ephesians 2:19-22)  “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, {20} built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. {21} In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. {22} And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Today’s church has fallen on hard times. Of course, times are always ‘difficult’ for the people of God in one way or another:

  • In the 1st century there were persecutions and the challenges of paganism
  • In the 2nd, the church fought off perverse heresies
  • In the 3rd, institutionalism undermined personal commitment

In every age, the church has faced strenuous and often brutal opposition. Our ‘hard times’ are different. We live in an increasingly ‘post-Christian’ culture, where Christ’s ethic and world-view command less respect and less toleration. The ‘me generation’ seeks to ‘live and let live’ so anyone or anything that lives by a motto ‘die to self and live for the Lord’ is distasteful.

We’re likely facing an identity crisis in today’s church; it’s a struggle with who we are and what we should be about. It threatens to undo us! It certainly wants to neutralize us in regard to our influence in this world!

We’re even having trouble ‘among ourselves’ to determine what the word ‘church means.’ That’s why we’re spend time on subjects related to the church on Sunday mornings here at Mentor.

The greatest building enterprise in the O.T. was no doubt the construction of God’s temple by Solomon.

David had wanted to build the temple, but God said no because he was a man of  war, “But God said to me, You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.” (1 Chron. 28:3)

However. David was permitted to gather material for the building of the temple.        The temple was built of the finest and most expensive materials, with greatest care and craftsmanship:

  • Built of stone
  • Paneled with cedar
  • Overlaid with gold.
  • Was twice the size of the tabernacle.
  • Took seven and one-half years to build.
  • Located on  Mt Moriah, perhaps near the place where Abraham came to offer Isaac.
  • 30,000 Israelites were drafted to work on the temple, working in shifts of 10,000 per month.
  • There were 150,000 non-Israelites.
  • The supervisors of all these laborers numbered 3,850.
  • Counting 10,000 Israelites each month, it means 163,850 men worked continuously to construct the temple.

Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple is one of the most beautiful prayers in scripture: (2 Chronicles 6:3-42) .

At the close of the prayer he offered 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep in sacrifice to God.    God sent fire to consume the sacrifice – “Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.  And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house” (2 Chron. 7:1-2).

The temple stood until destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.

Christ has built an even greater house for God, called by the N.T. writers, “the church.” It is the most glorious and unique structure ever built for God in the history of the world. In Ephesians 2 Paul shows the progress of the sinner from his lost state to that of salvation through God’s grace.

He closes that chapter by showing that though they had been foreigners and strangers, they were now a part of God’s great building, the church (vs. 19-22). In picturesque, figurative language, the Holy Spirit called the church God’s building.

THE CHURCH IS A “HUMAN” BUILDING!

Unlike the O.T. temple, the church, God’s N.T. building is made out of people. Each Christian provides the material out of which this building is composed. In religious circles when “the church” is spoken of, most are referring to a physical structure. When someone says, “we are going to build a new church,” it’s a building.

The comment, “you have a beautiful church”, it’s the building. When people know the real Mentor church, do they think it is beautiful?

The question, “where is your church?” it’s the building.  (address) People want to get married in the church, somehow feeling it will make for a better marriage than if they got married in a corn field.  (You would be as married, the surroundings would not be as nice.) Some feel they must be in the church to pray.  (You must be in the church to pray as a child of God, but this is not a building)

In our text, Paul said the gentiles were no longer strangers and aliens, but were part of this building. Peter made a similar analogy (1 Peter 2:4-5): “As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– {5} you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

The church is a building, but a spiritual building. Each Christian is a spiritual stone in the building. They are joined or cemented together by God’s Spirit.

Paul’s picture is not that of hundreds of little organizations being grouped together to make one building. The N.T. does not describe the universal church as being made up of all the denominations of the world. It describes each congregation of Christ’s church as being complete within itself. The universal church is made up of Christians from all over the world, each serving as living stones in this spiritual structure, the church.

We must never confuse the church with a physical building. The N.T. does not have one line about a church building.

The church is commanded to assemble to worship (Heb. 10:25). This command would imply a place of assembly. It is left up to the church as to where it assembles.

According to Paul, Christians are to see themselves as God’s house, and each Christian to see himself as an important part of that house. The world will judge God’s church by Christians, not by the building or place of assembly. Let us make sure that we live as God’s building, that we live in harmony with our position as Christ’s church.

THE CHURCH IS A “LIVING” BUILDING!

A “human” building is a “living” building. Solomon’s temple was made of inanimate material. God’s building today is made up of living stones.

Paul never referred to the church as an institution. Paul saw the church as an organism, a spiritual, living building made of people. It is a living, growing, vibrant entity, not simply a group of people drawn together by common interests. This building is continually added to.

Christ is the foundation and cornerstone to hold the building together. As people are converted, they are added to the structure and it grows, but the building will never be complete.

From the beginning of the church, God adds the saved daily (Acts 2:47). The church will grow until Christ returns. Everything about the building is living:

  • God is referred to as “the living God” (Heb. 4:12) “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
  • Jesus is called the “living stone” (1 Peter 2:4).  “Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious.”
  • Christians have a “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

The way Christians travel is called the “a new and living way” (Heb. 10:20). Jesus, as the eternal Christ, our mediator, “always lives” to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25).  A Christian is not a part of an organization, but is a living stone in a living, growing, spiritual house.

THE CHURCH IS A “SPIRIT-INDWELT” BUILDING!

As houses are built to live in, so is God’s building, the church (Eph. 2:21-22). God’s dwelling place on earth is the church. He meets with and dwells among his family through the Spirit.

The church is the visible part of God on earth; God daily lives in and works through his building, the church. A house that is empty with no life within, is sad. If the church uninhabited, like any old empty house it would become worthless. But the true church is not empty, but is full of life and energy because the Spirit of God lives there.

Paganism had its temples throughout the Roman empire. Judaism had its temple in Jerusalem and its synagogues scattered throughout the Roman world where its members tried to keep the law of Moses alive.

However, the most beautiful and elaborate temple in the world, is God’s temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17):

(1 Corinthians 3:16-17)  “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? {17} If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”

Not a temple made with hands, but by God himself. Built upon the foundation taught by the apostles and prophets. Christ is the chief cornerstone.  God places each new Christian, as a living stone, in the building. Matters not where in the world these new stones are located – USA, Russia, Africa, Asia, etc. Because this is true, let us live with wisdom and holiness, obedience and faith.

CONCLUSION

The building of God is “human”, “living”, and “Spirit-indwelt.” If we do not build this building as instructed, we are cheating ourselves. (Story of the builder who took shortcuts on building a fine house only to learn the builder was giving him the house).

We have not only been commissioned to build a building – we have been commissioned “to be” a building. We are to be not just any house, but the very house of God. Those who fail to come into the house cheat themselves. Those who come into the house but fail to live an obedient life, cheat themselves. We cannot build a house for God as Solomon did. However, we can allow ourselves to become a part of God’s house by allowing God to add us to the house of living stones.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2017 in Church

 

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