"You are God's building." 1 Cor. 3:9
Thus the Lord calls his whole living church--"Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope, firm unto the end." Thus he calls each individual Christian--"You are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you." The whole is made up of individuals; and he dwells in the whole, because he dwells in each. No blessing can be greater! No exaltation higher. What is all the glory of the universe, but God's building? He builds his chambers in the waters--he clothes himself with light as with a garment. But all these glories are temporal. They shall fade and pass away. The building of a redeemed soul is everlasting--it can never be overthrown. If I am God's building, how glorious will be the outcome, when he brings forth the top-stone of his work, with shoutings of 'grace unto it'! Happy is it for me, that he who has laid the foundation, his hand also shall bring forth the top-stone and finish the glorious work. If I am God's building,
1. Then God has laid the FOUNDATION, and I must abide on that. It is a glorious foundation. No man can lay any other. It is Christ--an almighty and covenant Savior. There all redemption and all hope for man is established. Jesus Christ in his perfect Deity and mighty power; I can do nothing without that. If that is removed, the whole edifice falls. It can stand on nothing else. Jesus Christ in his perfect obedience for man; nothing else can meet the claims of man's condemnation and provide acceptance. Jesus Christ in his atoning death; man's curse and penalty can be removed in no other way. Jesus Christ in his ascension and triumph; all hope of glory rests upon that. If he is not risen, faith is vain. Jesus Christ in his intercession and everlasting power; all means of the Christian's perseverance and conquest arise from that. This is the foundation--the only foundation. There I must abide. I must not mingle anything with it. I must not undervalue it, or doubt it. I must not be induced to forsake it. All other foundations are false foundations, and will come to nothing. This glorious foundation abides forever. There in simple faith and confidence will I abide.
2. Then God is himself the ARCHITECT, and I must fulfill my appointed work according to his will. He has his own way of carrying on his building. He furnishes me abundant means and materials to build in it according to his way. If I build my own works of wood, hay, and stubble, the fire which tries every man's work will destroy it. If I build with Christ's work of gold, silver, and precious stones, it will stand every fire wholly uninjured. To build with my own works, to rest upon my own attainments, and follow out my own plans, is not only wasted labor, but is ruinous also. To rest upon Christ's sufficiency, and to be growing up in him, and according to his image, is a true and precious growth in grace. Faith in Jesus--love to Christ--simple following of him with joyful confidence and hope--living by faith in prayer, through his Holy Spirit--and looking for the hope of eternal life--this is God's way of building. The mind of man often rejects it. The sinful world always despises it. The sensual heart doubts its sufficiency. But thus the Great Architect has laid out his plans for me. Thus I mean to follow them out. I am satisfied that he understands the subject, and his way must be the best.
3. Then I must abide God's TIME in building, and not be discouraged. When God built the soul of man at first, it was a time of rest. Neither adversary nor evil was present. It was the work of glorious, silent, unseen power. But that glorious building was destroyed by sin, and now to restore it is a work of toil and time. Ah, how much labor has often to be spent in preparing, arranging, and adapting materials before the building makes any show. To the impatient mind and untaught eye, it seems all confusion. But the architect understands his own plan, and makes no haste. I may often be discouraged by God's ways of building. He begins sometimes so far off; cuts his timber way up in the forests of his providence; quarries his stone way down in the depths of human guilt; makes such circuitous journeys to gather all his fittings together; so long prolongs the period of completion; the building seems almost ready to fall into ruins before it is finished. Ah, he knows the way that he takes. Let me work patiently with him. Faithfully follow out each particular direction. Never stop to be informed of the connection of each particular part with the whole. Let me proceed with zeal and persevering earnestness under his guidance. The work of his own Spirit he will surely, happily, and perfectly compete. I will wait and patiently obey his commands.
4. Then he has a glorious DESIGN, and I shall be satisfied with it. He will test his work on the way. Persecutions will arise; seasons of trial will come; sorrows and distresses will gather around me; his own law and judgment will test my work. It may be a dark and stormy day; whatever is perishable will perish. It is well it should perish. I may fear that I shall perish with it. But no; I am God's building. He is able to protect his own, and he will protect it. His work within me will stand the trial. He will carry me through every proving which he has prepared. And then, when he has finished, how glorious is my end--a temple of God forever--formed for his worship--erected by his power--prepared for his presence--filled with his glory--everlasting in his kingdom--the Lamb my light--my God my glory. What happy remembrances! What heavenly possessions! What anticipations surpassing all! Well may I look forward with hope, and say I shall be satisfied with it. Satisfied! I shall rejoice forever in that which God has thus created, and give him everlasting glory.
5. Thus, with a Glorious Foundation, a Heavenly Architect, an appointed time of building, and a most exalted design, God's temple in the soul goes on. Oh let me not thwart his designs, but be a worker together with him in the whole of his glorious plans.
The Savior, whom I then shall see
With new admiring eyes,
Already has prepared for me
A mansion in the skies.
May I by faith survey with joy
This change before it come,
And say, let death this house destroy;
I have a heavenly home.