Building the Church (2)

This is our second lesson on "Building the Church." In the first we dealt with what the Bible teaches about the FOUNDATION of the building. In this lesson we will consider the superstructure.

B. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT THE SUPERSTRUCTURE OF THIS BUILDING?

1. THE APOSTLE PETER AND THE SUPERSTRUCTURE

1 Pet. 2:5 - (Amp.) "(Come) and as LIVING STONES be yourselves BUILT (INTO) A SPIRITUAL HOUSE, for a holy (dedicated, consecrated) priesthood, to offer up (those) spiritual sacrifices (that are) acceptable and well-pleasing to God through Jesus Christ."

a. "LIVING STONES"

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the great foundation "LIVING STONE." Believers are also "living stones." The material for the superstructure of God's building is of the same kind as the foundation. No one figure is adequate to describe God's purposes. Therefore, the building metaphor must be related to other metaphors. It is easier to think of living members in a body than living stones in a building. So with the thought of the body in our minds we can understand the way in which we are "living stones." We have, through regeneration, received the very life (ZOE) of our great "Living Stone." This is the only kind of material permitted in the great edifice God is building on the Foundation of His precious Son.

b. "A SPIRITUAL HOUSE"

Whether we are thinking of the church universal or the church local, we must remember that God is building "a spiritual house." "The church is the antitype of the ancient temple - a building not material, but spiritual, consisting, not of dead stones, but of sanctified souls, resting on no earthly foundation, but on the Rock which is Christ."

c. "A HOLY (DEDICATED, CONSECRATED) PRIESTHOOD"

The figure changes. Believers are the material out of which the "spiritual" house is built, and they are also the "priests" who minister to God within the building which is the "Temple of God."

Never in the New Testament is an individual believer spoken of in the singular number as a priest. Probably this suggests the need of exercising our priesthood in union with our fellow-believers in the Church as a whole.

d. "TO OFFER UP SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES"

"New Testament sacrifices are ALWAYS "Spiritual", and include the sacrifices of ourselves, our gifts, and our praises" (Rom. 12:1; Phil. 4:18; Heb. 13:15,16).

2. THE APOSTLE PAUL AND THE SUPERSTRUCTURE

Eph. 2:21,22 (Amp.) — "In Him THE WHOLE STRUCTURE is joined (bound, welded) together harmoniously; and it continues to rise (grow, increase) into a Holy Temple in the Lord - a sanctuary dedicated, consecrated and sacred to the presence of the Lord. In Him — and in fellowship with oneanother - you yourselves also are being built up (into this structure) with the rest, to form a fixed abode (dwelling place) of God in (by, through) the Spirit."

JBP — "in Him each separate piece of building, PROPERLY FITTING INTO ITS NEIGHBOR, grows together into a temple consecrated to the Lord. You are all part of this building in which God Himself lives by His Spirit."

a. "THE WHOLE STRUCTURE IS JOINED TOGETHER HARMONIOUSLY"

This "represents the whole of the elaborate process by which stones are fitted together; the preparation of the surfaces including the cutting, rubbing and testing, etc."

b. "A HOLY TEMPLE IN THE LORD"

Paul and Peter speak the "same thing." They both see the church fulfilling the temple type. This is the place of God's Presence!

c. "YOU YOURSELVES ARE BEING BUILT UP (INTO THIS STRUCTURE)"

The context is dealing with the "breaking down of the middle wall" between Jew and Gentile. In Christ God has "made both one" (2:14). It is not Jews alone who make up this great Temple. You Gentiles are being built into the temple with the believing Jews.

d. "BY THE SPIRIT"

This is a "Spiritual house." God lives in His building in the Person of the Holy Spirit. The Church is God's dwelling place whether it be the Church universal or the Church local.

Col. 2:6,7 - "And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow ...."

Paul combines metaphors here to give multiple strength to the point he is making. The Christian is to FOLLOW, to be ROOTED like a tree, to be BUILT ON like a house.

The tenses of the verbs are significantly varied. Fully rendered they would be "having been rooted and BEING BUILDED UP." The one is a past act, done once and for all; the other is a continuous resulting process which is going on now and continues until He comes.

For now, we are interested in "being built on Him." This applies both to individual Christians and to the Colossian church. The will of God is growth, building up and edifying. When we think of edify we think of edifice, a building rising up story upon story. The church is to be ever building up.

1 Cor. 3:9,16 - "... You are God’s BUILDING. Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?"

While laying down general principles which are true for God's people everywhere, Paul is addressing the Corinthian assembly specifically. The local church is "God's building." Paul the apostle had "laid the foundation", and that foundation was Jesus Christ. How he laid the foundation is recorded for us in Acts.

Acts 18:4,5,8,11 (JBP) — "Every Sabbath Paul used to speak in the synagogue trying to persuade both Jews and Greeks. By the time Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia Paul was completely absorbed in preaching the message, showing the Jews as clearly as he could THAT JESUS IS CHRIST... Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, became A BELIEVER IN THE LORD, with all his household, and many of the Corinthians who heard the message BELIEVED AND WERE BAPTIZED ... S0 Paul settled down there for eighteen months and TAUGHT THEM GDD'S MESSAGE."

Returning to the epistle, we read Paul's warning in verse 10 - "I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful." The nature of the foundation demands the finest material for the superstructure.

STUDY QUESTIONS FOR LESSON #3

  1. What is the purpose of the foundation?
  2. What is the material that is used in building the church?
  3. What is the name given to this building by Peter?
  4. What other figure does Peter use to describe the church beside building and house?
  5. What is the ministry of the Christian priesthood?
  6. What are the three metaphors Paul uses in speaking of this building?
  7. In what way does the Holy Spirit relate to the building of this structure?