All quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible.
Exodus 25:8 “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.
There is no suggestion box in heaven! No room for our ideas, plans or schemes. The God Who created all that is has a design that works. Still He calls for human labourers to work alongside Him – just so long as they build according to the pattern He shows them. We must not deviate from that pattern which He has designed. Our thoughts, our ways, are not His thoughts or ways. This house has one purpose only - that God may dwell amongst His people.
Psalms 68:5 A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
God’s Holy habitation is the place where those born from above are given a home and a family.
Psalms 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, They labour in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
When God builds His house, He makes it of living stones – His people that He has redeemed, washed, sanctified and justified by the name of the Lord Jesus and by His Holy Spirit. Spiritual children that are a gift from the Lord. Apollos planted, Paul watered but God gave the increase. Human co-workers are also called by God to be involved in the labour and in overseeing that which God builds. God is consistently able but the people whom he calls to work alongside Him are variable. The workers can start building according to their own thought and their own way instead of seeking to build with God according to His instructions. The watchmen – overseers - elders can be tempted to oversee in their own strength and abilities or for their own ends. A recipe for sleepless nights, stress and failure.
Isaiah 56:3 Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD speak, saying, “The LORD has utterly separated me from His people”; Nor let the eunuch say, “Here I am, a dry tree.” For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, even to them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants—everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant—even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.”
What a wonderful house the Lord Jesus is building. An open house, open to everyone from all nations and every status that enters into the New Covenant that is in the blood of Jesus. A house of prayer in which there is joy unspeakable.
Isaiah 66:1 Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest (dwelling)?
The house that God wants built so He can dwell among His people is not made of stone. It is to be built with living stones, a people born from above, spiritual children that are a gift from the Lord.
Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
As the original building plans for the assembly that Jesus is building were given to the apostles nearly two thousand years ago we are in the position of having to ask for the old or original way to be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. The first assemblies were radically changed within one hundred years due to falling away from dependency on the Spirit and putting trust in the ideas of carnal men. The flesh always looks for something new and current, in line with modern trends and thinking. Fortunately we do have evidence of these first plans in the New Testament and we do have the Spirit of Truth whom God gives to those who obey Him.
Matthew 16:18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Peter is Petros in the Greek, meaning a stone. The rock here is Petras, a great stone – such as a cornerstone would be. Peter would be one of the living stones built on the chief cornerstone which is Jesus Christ the Lord, sharing the life of Jesus. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Builder and Maker of His house, but he has chosen men and women like Peter to execute the work. Even though this assembly has been attacked from the beginning, it has yet survived and will continue until it is called up to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the air.
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This is the master plan to build the assembly of the Lord Jesus Christ, His house of prayer for all nations, as delivered to His apostles, the master builders. The purpose of preaching the message of repentance and remission of sins through the name of Jesus Christ is to make disciples of Christ (men and women learning from Jesus by His Spirit) – living stones indwelt by the Spirit of God. A disciple of Jesus is someone who is personally taught by the Lord Jesus via His Spirit whom He gives to those who obey Him. They have His life within them.
Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
One house of prayer for all the nations. Those who believe the message of repentance and remission of sins through the name of Jesus the Christ, being baptized in His name for remission of sins will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and become living stones to be built into His house. And signs will follow them! This is not mere religion, it is the kingdom of God revealed.
Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the labourer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
This strategy is how the House will be built. By the workers going out to the lost with the demonstration of the kingdom of God and the authority of the name of Jesus Christ; making disciples – students of the Lord Jesus Christ. Galilee is called Galilee of the gentiles in Isaiah and the 10 cities called the Decapolis on the east side of Galilee were gentile cities. The seventy were sent by Jesus to specific cities and places where He Himself would go shortly. Jesus declared that the harvest was great, but the labourers few. The disciples were not aware of the harvest being ripe and ready to harvest. Jesus has to make it known. Those whom He tells to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers get sent out by Him! They are informed that they will be sent out as lambs among wolves. It is going to be dangerous and they will be defenceless. Saul of Tarsus was shown by the Lord Jesus what great things he must suffer for the sake of the good news. They must not take money. Money is power. Money is independence. They were to have no economic power. They must not take a knapsack. None of their own stuff. Our stuff is a statement of who we are, of our status and personality. No room for that in the work of the harvest. We must decrease and He must increase. No sandals. Having no sandals put you in the lowest class of person. They were going as humble powerless people. It was also an acknowledgement that the path being taken was Holy, like Moses being told to remove his sandals as the ground was Holy at the burning bush. Greet no one on the road. No time for diversions, wasting time on friends and acquaintances. Stick to the job in hand of working in the harvest. First say ‘peace to this house’; the seventy were there to bring peace and blessing, not arguments, criticism or disagreement. If the householder is a son of peace, your peace will rest on them. If not, then it will return to you – there will be no peace there. They were looking for men of peace to reveal the kingdom of God to. Remain in that house, eating drinking such things as they give. This was hard for Jewish kosher keeping disciples. As they were going to the homes of varied races they could be offered food or drink that would be offensive for them to share. But they were not in the house for their own benefit but to reveal the good news of the kingdom of God. By receiving the householder’s food they were empathising with him and his culture. They were not there to criticise. As this was the only food they would get they were to view this as their wages. They were not there to make money. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. They were not to go round other homes looking for a better reception or better food in that place to which Jesus had directed them and they had been received. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ This was the whole reason they were in that house, to heal the sick in the authority of the name of Jesus the King of the kingdom of God Who had sent them. This revealed the reality and accessibility of the kingdom of God. This is the Lord of the harvest instructing the labourers how to work with Him. The house is to be built with the fruit of this labour gathered in, new disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Luke 24:46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
The house is to be built through the preaching of the message of repentance and remission of sins in His name (the name of Jesus the Christ). The object being to make disciples of the Lord Jesus the Christ, living stones inhabited by His Spirit.
John 2:13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered John 3:14 (NKJV)
 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
Shared from PocketBible for Windows Store (http://www.laridian.com)
that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
The house Jesus Christ is building is a house of prayer for all the nations. One house, all nations. We men are capable of turning this wonderful house where God dwells among His people into something else when we use it for our own ends. Does zeal for the house that Jesus is building eat us up? Will we turn a blind eye to those in the house using it for their own business?
John 3:14 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
The message must be Jesus, not the House. If Christ is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself.
John 4:1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples),
Jesus Christ is the only One Who makes sinners into His disciples. But He uses those who are His disciples to make and baptise new disciples in His name. Those who chose to repent and be baptised for remission of sins were made disciples – students - followers of Jesus thereby. This is the work of the builders of the House, making living stones that the Lord adds to His House.
Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
This first church is one church. Many different native languages amongst them – not a problem. It was no accident that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem. It was guaranteed that there would be devout people from every nation under heaven present for the feast. God was building His house, His way with living stones. A house of prayer for all nations. By breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food in the intimacy of homes, spiritual families were created for the ongoing care of the new disciples. Who lives in a house? Families. What does the family do together in the house? Share meals. This is not a minor detail. Gathering house to house, sharing meals together, is a major part of the apostles teaching which facilitates the building up of one another in love. It wasn’t a short term solution just until they could have large halls and theatre style gatherings focused on performance. This is one of those things that the apostles teach the new disciples to observe. This is basic and essential to the Lord Jesus building His house, His way. On the day of Pentecost the apostles taught and the new disciples continued in the things Christ had commanded them. 1. Koinonia – sharing, community, fellowship in the entirety of life including meals. 2. Breaking of bread – around the meal table, as commanded by Jesus to do this to not forget me. 3. Prayers.
Acts 5:12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon's Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.
The life of Christ that made each stone a living stone marked a difference between the living stones and the rest of the population in Jerusalem. God was building with handpicked living stones that He alone chose. God would not build with a mixture of living stones and man-made bricks. There was no sign saying ‘come and join us’. No sign saying ‘All welcome’. Instead the message to the rest was ‘Repent and be baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’.
Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Those who laboured in the harvest worked in public in the open space that was the temple courts and in the private places that was the homes of those they reached out to. They took the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ to those in need of it. The assembly is being built.
Acts 6:1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews (Hebrew speakers) by the Hellenists (Greek speaking Jews), because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables (oversee accounts). Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
In the one church that Jesus was building in Jerusalem there were two main language groups besides many others; those who spoke Hebrew and those who only spoke Greek. As we all like to spend our time with those of the same language you could clearly see the two distinct language based groups in the assembly. Nothing wrong with seeking support and interaction with those we can best communicate with. It can be hard work interacting with brothers and sisters of a different language. Someone may have to interpret for us. Meetings together are hampered and we have to be a lot more patient as things are explained in different languages. As usual one group felt at a disadvantage compared to the other. There may have been a genuinely justifiable basis to the complaint. The solution was not to split the church up into two separate churches, one for one language, the other for the other language. Men might be tempted to do this, but God is building His one house of prayer for all nations, all languages. So the whole church as one assembly searched out seven brothers to have responsibility for the distribution to the widows of both groups. The fact that these seven all had Greek names does not seem to have been an issue! Consequently the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. Where the brothers strive to dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands the blessing.
Acts 20:17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by labouring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
Ephesus was a busy commercial seaport city. With people from many different ethnic language groups and religions. Jews, Greeks, Romans, Cyrenians, Phoenicians, Syrians, Arabs, Egyptians and more besides. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ built only one church in this city as in every other city. One church with many elders. One sign of how much men have corrupted the house of God, made it a den of thieves, is that it is now in many places considered okay in one city for there to be many ‘churches’ with each ‘church’ having effectively one elder, often called ‘the pastor’. Where wolves come into the flock they inevitably divide and scatter the flock. When elders raise themselves up and draw disciples of Jesus away after themselves they turn these disciples of Jesus Christ into disciples of themselves. They are removing living stones from the House that God is building. Paul had not made the saints in Ephesus disciples of Paul but disciples of the Lord Jesus the Christ. He had not raised himself above the flock but served them in humility, among them as a humble servant, not expecting any reward from them.
1 Corinthians 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles (ruins) the temple of God, God will destroy (ruin) him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
This assembly in Corinth at this time was divided into at least three groups. Where were the elders? What were they doing? Were they asleep? Were they the ones dividing the flock, drawing disciples after themselves, using the names of true servants of God as excuses for division? ‘I am of Peter – who is with me?’ Certainly they were responsible for the overseeing of the flock and for maintaining the unity of the Spirit there. We can build with enduring materials or temporary materials. If we work with God then he will give us enduring materials. If we work in the flesh we will be like those spoken of in Psalms 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, They labour in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman (overseer – elder) stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; The word defile or ruin also means divide. If any elder divides the body of Christ, His Temple, God will divide him. If it could happen there, it can happen anywhere.
Ephesians 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Greek sense being the foundation that the apostles and prophets had. They were not the foundation, but Christ), Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
We are brothers and sisters in Christ! We are being built together by Christ Who is building His church, His Assembly. We are each handpicked and placed in position by the Master’s hand. Living stones are carefully chosen to best fit together to give strength to the building. We are not randomly selected and positioned together. God has purpose in putting us alongside our fellow stones in our assemblies. The stone which we might reject God has chosen to be built together with us. The result is marvellous! And God will dwell with us!
2 Timothy 2:11 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
We can argue with our fellow workers about words or be diligent to present ourselves approved to God. Who are we focused on? Competing with one another as to who is the most correct or getting on with the work God has given for each of us to do?
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.
Is it a time to cease building? To leave the word of God for the traditions and practices of men? To stop preaching repentance and remission of sins in the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ? We have been given excellent tools and equipped with every skill needed for the work God has called each of us to.
Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honour than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
Have we endurance? Has zeal for our Father’s house eaten us up? We are called to be faithful in the house of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have been appointed, we share a heavenly calling. May we hang on with all we have to the hope that will motivate us in building and watching to the end.
1 Peter 2:1Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
How are we building? Some have stopped. What are we building? Some build their own version of the body of Christ. What are we building with? Some build with their own skills, their own wisdom, with their own cunning.
To discuss this or any other matter regarding the good news of Jesus Christ please email;
Colin Thompson, Gateshead, England.
Comments welcome by email to Colin@followingjesuschrist.co.uk
Other material on site at http://www.followingjesuschrist.co.uk/