“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19–22, NASB95)
There are so many Christians out there who feel as if they are outsiders; not fully accepted or embraced by the church or by God. And while some of these feelings may have good cause based upon how those in the church respond to or treat others in the church or those around the church, the truth is that all who believe are placed together into this one body by our one Lord, Jesus Christ.
I love the reality that I experience when I meet a believer that I had not previously known, finding that I instantly share a oneness that can’t otherwise be explained as we talk together about what Christ has done in us. He or she may attend a different church in a different city and maybe even sing different songs with different musical accompaniment, but beneath all of this is the certain reality that we have been knit together not by these minor distinctives but by the great reality of what God has done in us. When as before I did not know them, now I know them as brothers and sisters along with all of my other brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.
Jesus went to the cross to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and in Him we are all forgiven and given new life. In Him we are all knit together as one body—the church of which He is the head. And in every single one of us is the Spirit who binds us together in this incredibly special and unique way. Jesus Christ laid the cornerstone for this building and now it cannot be shaken. It is permanent and securely established for eternity. In doing this God chose both the prophets who came before and the apostles chosen by Christ to make this known to us as they were moved by the Spirit to make speak from God as we read in 1 Peter, “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:21, NASB95)
These men were given by God to lay the foundation from which we know who He is and what He has done. These men laid the foundation for our faith, and it is incumbent on us to study the Word of God given through them to learn both more of our God and His great love and how we are to respond in faithful worship and service before Him.
In these verses we see the intentional word “built” used repeatedly. God has a plan and He is following that plan according to His perfect will. Abraham had this understanding even as he left the home of his parents for a home where he lived in tents with and through his descendants looking forward to a permanent home promised Him by God. In Hebrews 11 we read, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:8–10, NASB95)
He knew there was to be a city with real foundations that was going to be designed and built by God. He lived with this promise and hope. We, as the church, are a part of that promise being fulfilled. We may not be a building in the sense of the new Jerusalem that is yet to come, but we are the building of God which gathers today in many different tents (churches) to worship and follow after Him with that same assurance, knit together by Spirit. The huge difference is that we live on this side of the cross. We live knowing that Christ has come and that the chief cornerstone of that building has been laid. We live having the words of the apostles and the prophets having laid the foundation on which we are being built up. And we all live with the certain hope of one day joining together with all of the saints together with our Lord for all eternity in the building set eternal in the heavens that was not build with human hands (2 Corinthians 5:1-5).
In the meantime God has chosen the Spirit to dwell in us as His body—the church. We are the Christ that the world sees. We are His physical presence in the world as cracked as we are, and even in those cracks there is great opportunity for the light of Christ to shine through. We are to walk with each other with the unified continual call from God to daily submit ourselves to Him as we build up and encourage one another—loving each other as Christ loved us and doing all to preserve the unity in which we have been brought together.
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1–3, NASB95)