Except the LORD Build the House…

A recent study found that there were 195 million un-churched people in America.  This makes America one of the top 4 largest “un-churched” nations in the world. [Statistics August 22, 2015].

Each year 3,500 churches close their doors forever, while only 1,000 to 1,500 new ones are started in the same timeframe.  In the small town that I reside, with 3 churches on every corner, it’s hard to believe there’s a need for more churches.  BUT THERE IS!

While writing this blog, the church I attend has sent a missionary team to the Philippines to help build a church facility where church planters are sacrificing, serving and doing their part to spread the good news.  What we must understand in our efforts that we nor anyone else can build a church!  God is the One Who builds a church!

We are told in scriptures that “Except the LORD build the house they labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1).

Unless the LORD builds it, those who labor are laboring in vain.

There are many people who are good at building things (I’m not one), but a nice building doesn’t qualify as a great church!

We (the people) Are the Body of Christ…Not A Pile of Brick and Mortar!

I know of some churches that are thriving without “nice facilities.”  There are congregations meeting in movie theaters, warehouses, strip malls and old barns doing great work for the Lord in their communities.

On the other hand, there are countless brick buildings with large white steeples, padded pews, and stained glass windows who have plateaued, dead, and dying.  We tend to measure a church’s success by how many cars there are in the parking lot, or how many people are in the pews and how much money has been taken up on Sunday morning offerings.

A church can give all the appearances of being successful and still be a failure according to God’s standard.  On the other hand, a church may meet in someone’s basement with a handful of members who are obedient and faithful and God sees them as a success.

There always seems to be a new program, a flyer or e-mail promoting the latest and greatest “church growth method.”  And oh, how many church growth seminars I’ve attended over the years.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see my church filled to capacity in every service to the point that we have to tear walls out and build on.  With that being said, I have some good news!  God wants our churches to grow.  He wants the church down the street to grow.  God wants new churches to be built and God wants old churches to be revitalized.

We have the privilege to be a part of the process.

BUT, if any church body is going to grow, if a TRUE CHURCH is going to be built, then it will be built by God, NOT MAN!!!

There’s an area of theology that wants to understand all aspects of the church.  It’s known as ecclesiology derived from the Greek word “ekklesia”. That’s a term referring to a gathering or assembly of believers.  This involves more than attending church.  IT’S ABOUT BEING THE CHURCH! –

1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)

[27]  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Fellowship, worship, edification, and ministry are all performed by people, not builders.

As a result of their persecution, the first century Christians often met secretly in people’s homes.  And over time things have enlarged into what we see and have today.

In this week’s Blog-Text…

…we can get a glimpse of God’s building program.  Turning to 1 Peter 2:4-10 we’ll examine together how God builds a church.

VERSE 4 – GOD’S VISION FOR THE CHURCH

Come to Him [then, to that] Living Stone which men tried and threw away, but which is chosen [and] precious in God’s sight.  [AMP]

Since the beginning, God had a plan for His church.  God chose His own Son to be the Cornerstone of the Church.  In 1 Peter 1:20, Peter revealed the fact that God had this plan before the world began.

[20] He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  [21] Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.  [NIV]

In the Word of God we have several images portraying the Church:

THE CHURCH AS A BODY – Ephesians 4:15-16

THE CHURCH AS A BRIDE – Revelation 21:9

THE CHURCH AS A BUILDING – 2 Corinthians 6:16

The Image Of The Church As A Building – [verse 5]

“[Come]  and, like 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 pleasing to God through Jesus Christ.  (AMP)

How amazing is it to think that before the world began we were part of God’s master plan!!!

Any church begins with a VISION.

And this is the right way to start.

Proverbs 20:18 (NIV)

“Plans are established by seeking advice, so if you wage war, obtain guidance.”

We must remember that “Faithful people do not build the church of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ builds His church through faithful people.” [author unknown]

Not only did God have a “Vision” for His church, But He also prepared the proper foundation for His church.  His only Son laid that foundation – 1 Corinthians 3:11

[11] For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The Foundation Of God’s Church – Verse 6

Here Peter speaks of the “Chief Cornerstone”.

CORNERSTONE is defined as 1) Literally, a stone that forms the base of a corner of a building, joining two walls.  2) Metaphorically, an important quality or feature on which a particular thing depends or is based.

Jesus is both!

He is literally and metaphorically the Cornerstone of the Chruch.  The “Cheif cornerstone” is the basic, essential, and most important part of a building and it’s the foundation.

In these verses Peter references Isaiah 28:16 – “So this is what the Sovereign LORD says:  ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.”

God has laid the foundation (Christ) and the Jews rejected Him (verses 7-8).

Any church that’s ever going to be successful for God…MUST BE BUILT ON JESUS CHRIST!  Not people, Not traditions, Not man-made measures of success, Nothing other than Jesus!!!

The Motivation For God’s Church – Verse 5

The chief cornerstone is where all measurements begin.  Every other stone was laid in relation to the cornerstone.

Jesus Christ As The CAPSTONE

 

Peter says that WE, the church, are “living stones, built up into a spiritual house.”  That means that Jesus is the CORNERSTONE, and we are the building blocks.

God is building a spiritual house,  He is putting all of His children in the place where they belong.  He’s joining us with one another.  Simply stated, we are the church that God is building.

Peter also mentions that we are “a holy priesthood”. –

A priest was the one who had access to God.   We have that access!

Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

And as a part of the priesthood, we present “offerings of spiritual sacrifices” –  HOW DO WE DO THAT?

WE OFFER OURSELVES – We offer service, we offer prayers, we offer worship, we offer thanksgiving, we offer praise!

We are “priests” in the sense of being servants.

But Jesus is our Great High Priest!!!

This verse tells us as the church body, that “Spiritual sacrifices” are the motivations of God’s church!

This all may come as a surprise to many in the church today but somewhere along the way, people came to the conclusion that the church was all about them.

They leave the church on Sunday and complain because:  Someone didn’t shake their hand – The service was too dry or too long – Some say it was too shallow – Some don’t like the music because it was too old – Others didn’t like it because it was too new!

The Apostle Peter was a man who went hungry and thirsty following Jesus.  A man who left everything he knew behind to be Christ’s disciple.  He was cursed, beaten, imprisoned, persecuted, and eventually crucified for the cause of Christ Jesus.  Can you imagine what his response would be if he heard some of the self-centered garbage coming from our mouths?

Regardless of your motivation, God’s motivation for His church is that His people “as living stones offer Him spiritual sacrifices!!!”

But since the beginning, there have been those who were opposed to God’s Church.

The Opposition to God’s Church – (verses 7-8)

The Cornerstone that we’ve come to lean upon for strength is the same Stone that those who reject Him stumble and fall over.

Since the beginning, Satan has opposed the church.  And he has used many others to come against it as well!  We see this in Scripture with the Pharisees – It was seen in the Roman government – It has been seen through 2,000 years of church history – And we see it each and every day on our T.V. screens:  Islamic terrorist are beheading people just because they are Christians.

Here in America, the atheists have succeeded in taking God out of schools, courthouses, and government.  Even many churches throughout the land that bear the Christian name have rejected the TRUE Gospel – Jesus makes it quite clear in Mathew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me…”  There are numerous people who not only reject Christ, but they are opposed to God’s church.

Though there’s much opposition to face we find in these verses as a mission for those who belong to Him.

Our Mission As The Church – (Verse  9)

Along with God’s VISION for His church comes His Mission for His people.

WE ARE CHOSEN!

God chose us!!!

What a BLESSING and a PRIVILEGE it is to think that the God of all creation chose us not only to be His people but to accomplish a specific task.  God does BUILD the church but He has chosen to use us as His laborers!

HE CALLED US!

We Are Called! (V. 9)

“…from DARKNESS into LIGHT”

Psalm 40:2 (AMP)

“He drew me up out of a horrible pit [a pit of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay (froth and slime), and set my feet upon a rock, steadying my steps and establishing my goings.”

We were once dead in trespasses and sins.

JESUS called us out of that DARKNESS!

Peter says that He CALLED us into His marvelous light- He SAVED our souls – He CLEANSED our sins – He CHANGED our lives,

WE ARE THE CHURCH!!!

And when He did all this…He had a MISSION in mind for us to accomplish for Him.  And once the LORD calls us unto SALVATION, He then commissions us to work in the Kingdom for Him!!!

We Are Commissioned – (V. 9)

[9] “…that you may declare praises of Him”

Peter states that as a result of our being CALLED OUT of darkness and into the marvelous light, we should show others the way of the goodness of God.

Just before Jesus ascended He left His Apostles with some final words for His church – He didn’t say build the biggest buildings you can! – He didn’t say make sure you have the best youth program in the communities – He didn’t say to fill the seats on Sundays by any means necessary! – He didn’t say to have the most vibrant music ministry in the land! – He didn’t say make sure to preach eloquent sermons!

His final words were about the church’s MISSION:

Acts 1:8 (NIV)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

What Is Our Mission For The Church?

It is for the “living stones” to “make more living stones”.

The people of God are to GO…and “make disciples”.

When people see us they should see something different…that we are special!!

In fact, we find in this very text that we are – LIVING STONES – A CHOSEN GENERATION – A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD – A HOLY NATION – A PARTICULAR PEOPLE.

We Are God’s Church!!

The People of Purpose!!

Great things happen when God builds the House!!

____________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Dictionary:  “Cornerstone” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary; Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old and New Testament Words by W.E. Vine, Merrill Unger and William White Jr.

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Music Video:  Youtube – WE ARE THE CHURCH – Youtube – Rend Collective – Build Your Kingdom Here

Bible Translations:  New Internation Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

4 thoughts on “Except the LORD Build the House…

  1. Churches are being gutted because they traffic in a meaningless gutted gospel. They regularly don’t keep one of the commandments. They have departed from the instructions and teachings of the Almighty saying “We don’t have to do that anymore.” And since they have the form of godliness and deny its power, people who can sense the world is going off its rockers NEED MORE.

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  2. SPOT ON!!! And truly in God’s timing. Would you know I am getting ready to lead a small group on the importance, value, and true mission of the church? I am using Francis Chan’s Book and study guide, Letters to the Church. This post is the PERFECT opening springboard. Thank you, Detective! Like always, your studies are insightful, challenging, and theological sound. Keep shining HIs light on a spiritually dark world, a darkness that unfortunately has found its way into many man-made “churches.”

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