by William Nicholson, 1862
"You are God's building." 1 Corinthians 3:9
How great is the condescension of God in associating fallen men with himself — admitting them to communion, and investing them with the most exalted privileges! To have proper views of that condescension, man must feel himself lost, and perishing — and as rescued from that danger by the grace of God, and by that only. The terms employed by the Apostle in the context, emphatically imply that salvation is by grace.
I. The Apostle's Description of the Church or God:"You are God's building."
The term is figurative, and is used by the sacred writers to show that the Church has been designed, founded, built, adorned, and will be glorified by God alone. See Ephesians 2:20, 21; Colossians 2:7; Hebrews 3:3-6; 1 Peter 2:5.
1. This Building has a Proprietor. This is abundantly stated throughout the Scriptures. He is the Proprietor . . .
of the site (the world),
of the foundation (Christ),
of the materials (sinners),
of the builders (ministers),
of its privileges here, and
of its ultimate and eternal glory in Heaven.
2. This Building has an Architect. The Architect is God, who is infinite in wisdom and power. Before this building was commenced, there was intention, Acts 4:28; it is the result of design, Ephesians 1:11. All things are arranged according to the previous intention and counsel of God's mind. The site for the erection of this building is the world. God looked down from Heaven, and perceived the awful condition of man, Romans 3:10, etc., and, in his compassion, resolved to save, and to gather the saved together as a holy building reflecting his glory.
As the Divine Architect, he has formed and announced the Plan of this building; namely, that Christ should be the foundation, and believers the stones. It was announced immediately after the fall, Genesis 3:15; and successively by the Prophets, Isaiah 53, etc.
3. This Building has a good Foundation. And this foundation is Christ, Isaiah 28:16. He is called a "stone" to convey the idea of stability and durability, and a "tried stone" to indicate that it is completely adapted to answer the purposes for which it is laid. He is a "sure foundation," because no attacks of its enemies, no revolutions of time, no concussions of earth, will ever shake or destroy it. It is a rock against which the gates of Hell can never prevail.
Christ became the foundation for his people by "finishing transgression," etc., by dying in their stead. Their faith rests upon what he did sacrificially. "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ!" 1 Corinthians 3:11
4. Consider The Superstructure of this Building. It is composed of materials properly fitted, to occupy a place in the Building. "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." 1 Peter 2:5
(1.) They once had no connection with the building, Ephesians 2:2, 3; Isaiah 51:1. They were once deeply imbedded in Nature's quarry of sin, guilt, and depravity, and consequently unfit in that state for spiritual building purposes.
(2.) But by the hammer of God's word, and the energy of the Divine Spirit, they have been detached from the huge mass of rocky hearts and flinty souls. "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves!" Colossians 1:13
(3.) By the atoning blood of Christ, by regeneration, Titus 3:5; by sanctification, 1 Corinthians 6:11 — they are fitted for a position in the temple of God. "Holiness to the Lord" is the mark by which these stones or materials are known, and this badge is essential.
(4.) Workmen too are employed to build this house. This is apparent from the context. Ministers, Ephesians 4:11, Deacons, private Christians — missionaries. They preach Christ — they pray, etc. etc.
(5.) The principles by which these materials are cemented and united together, are faith and love. By faith, the soul rests upon Christ the foundation, Isaiah 28:16. By love, the materials are united to each other. They "love as brethren," and in this Building, they are "fitly framed together," and "built together," Ephesians 2:21, 22. Hence the vast importance of faith — of love — of Christian unity, "Behold how good and pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity!" It is this state of fraternal union that makes Christianity attractive that makes it resemble Heaven.
(6.) The special design of the Erection. The design is magnificent, and yet it is gracious. It is a "habitation for God;" Ephesians 2:22. What a glorious inhabitant — the Deity! "God is known in her palaces for a refuge." And it is also gracious, Isaiah 66:1. "This is my rest forever; here will I dwell" "The Lord loves the gates of Zion," etc.
(7.) The Beauty of this Building. Eloquently described in Psalm 48; Song 6:4. Compare the state of the Church by grace — with her former state of unregeneracy. See the polished stones bearing the inscription of "Holiness to the Lord." See their love — their union — their benevolence to the world. They are adorned with the righteousness of Christ, the robes of salvation, and bear the image of God. Ezekiel 16:14; Isaiah 61:10
II. The Blessedness of Being a Part of this Building.
1. It is honorable. It is the most glorious building that ever was erected. To be a part of it is honorable. This is evident from Hebrews 3:1-6. It is to be allied to the glorious Proprietor himself.
2. It is advantageous. The state of a person is decided — he is placed in the Building — he has realized the operations of Divine power, by which he has been changed, and fitted to occupy a place in the temple of God. This produces peace, contentment, joy, hope.
He has a saving interest in all the promises and in all the privileges of this house and is a participant of all its provisions, as the spiritual banqueting-house. Isaiah 25:6.
3. It is a place of safety. The Proprietor will never allow this Building to be destroyed.
He ever watches over it, and defends it, Isaiah 27:3;
his everlasting arms encompass it;
he is a wall of fire round about it;
angels minister to it;
all the attributes of God are pledged for its security.
It has withstood many storms. It has received many dreadful attacks, and yet no impression has been produced — no fissure or chasm appears in the building. Not one of its lofty towers and gilded pinnacles, has been demolished. Its foundations are Divine and immovable.
1. Are you a part of this holy Building?
2. See the importance of building upon a right foundation, and adhering to the doctrines of Christ as revealed by him.