‘Some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts’, Luke 21. 5.
One stone does not make a building. A pile of stones is not a building. However, once the stones are shaped, and put together in accord with an architect’s plan, a building will begin to emerge. The skill of the designer combined with the skills of the builders will determine the beauty of the end product.
As we consider any New Testament church, it is important to remind ourselves that God is the architect and the builder. He takes us, those rough stones,1 and shapes them for His glory. He builds those same stones into the church, whether considered dispensationally or locally. It is all of Him! That is the essence of our responsibility individually and collectively – to manifest His glory.2
Although the temple was a physical rather than a spiritual building, the danger in the verse above remains. The temple was meant to be the house of God, the place where He dwelt in the midst of His people. It was evident that this was no longer the case.3 As well as its architectural splendour, it was still a place that was at the centre of Jewish life. Even the disciples could be counted amongst those who admired the building and the detail of its stonework and decoration.
Have we learned the lesson? Are there local churches today that seek the reputation and following that characterized the temple in the Lord’s day? Rather than physical stones, they rejoice in men of gift amongst their number, even though all gift is God-given. They delight in the numbers that are drawn to their fellowship, whether regularly or occasionally. They may even proclaim their faithfulness to the biblical pattern. The situation is not new. Church history should remind us of the folly of such a pursuit of glory. How many assemblies of God’s people were once very large, drawing crowds to their meetings, but are now populated by a few elderly saints facing the prospect of closure. May we remind our hearts that the spiritual building, the church, is God’s. It is for His glory! How sad if, as a consequence of our pride, ‘there shall not be left one stone upon another’!4
In this magazine, we continue to provide the mix of articles that is characteristic of Precious Seed International. The series of articles on Widows, Orphans, and Strangers continues. The short series provided by David Williams entitled ‘Much ado about “nothing”’ is concluded. We are grateful to him for this meditation. The insight into a particular believer’s call to service is given a different perspective by Ian Rees. In all, it is our desire to provide that which will be ‘for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ’, Eph. 4. 12.