What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
1 Kings 5:17-18
Much of the rock chosen was probably the hard white limestone found near Jerusalem, but Solomon's builders found many other beautiful stones, boulders, and pillars from all over the known world.
Blocks of stone, granite, or marble are not hewn out of a rock mass easily. If rocks could speak, they would probably complain bitterly about the harshness of the chisel and saw. We too are required to endure hardships and setbacks. Suffering is part of the process of quarrying, sizing, polishing, and preparing us, the living stones, for our roles in God's Kingdom.
In I Peter 5:10, Peter prays, "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal gloryby Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." The hewing, chipping, sizing, and polishing are all vital parts to making each stone fit the Architect's blueprints please the Master Builder, God the Father. The church is His House, the "House of God" (I Timothy 3:15).
Even Jesus experienced "the quarry," as God perfected Him for His dual role as High Priest and King of Kings, by what He suffered:
[Jesus], in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. (Hebrews 5:7-9)
A great deal of sacrifice awaits us once we commit ourselves to the salvation process, which prepares us for our responsibilities in the Temple of God. That process is not all fun! If we do not feel the shaping going on, we will. It must! Many valuable stones lose as much as sixty percent of their initial size and mass before they are considered finished as beautiful jewels. We must sacrifice significant parts of our lives, habits, cultures, reasoning, and values to be transformed into one of God's jewels (Malachi 3:17), a gem fit for our Master, which is His will and desire for each of us (Romans 12:1-2).
Living Stones in God's House
In this parable, Jesus describes one who hears His words and does them as a man who, when building his house, digs his foundation deeply and upon rock. When a flood threatens it, the house remains intact on its secure base.
Jesus' metaphor in the parable is apt: A man's character is like a house. Every thought is like a piece of timber in that house, every habit a beam, every imagination a window, well or badly placed. They all gather into a unity, handsome or grotesque. We decide how that house is constructed.
Unless one builds his character on the rock-solid foundation of God's Word, he will surely be swept away by the flood now inundating the world. As I Corinthians 3:11 says, "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
Of the two builders in the parable, one is a thoughtful man who deliberately plans his house with an eye to the future; the other is not a bad man, but thoughtless, casually building in the easiest way. The one is earnest; the other is content with a careless and unexamined life. The latter seems to want to avoid the hard work of digging deep to ensure a strong foundation, and also takes a short-range view, never thinking what life will be like six months into the future. He trades away future good for present pleasure and ease.
The flood obviously represents the trials of life. Frequently, the trials of life descend upon us either through our own lack of character or because of events in the world around us. Is our house strong enough to withstand the onslaught of the horrendous events of the end time? Can it even withstand our own weaknesses?
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Flood Is Upon Us!
This parable contains three principles: 1) The truth is a costly thing; 2) before we enter into God's way of life, we should estimate the cost; and, 3) whatever it costs, it is worth it. Although it pleases Jesus when a person is called and responds with zeal (II Corinthians 7:11), He is far too humble and wise to pride Himself on the numbers of converted. Instead, He cares for quality rather than quantity, and He promotes truth and loathes counterfeits.
A builder who does not count the cost before laying the foundation is humiliated as a disgraceful failure, yet an unfinished life is far more tragic than a rock foundation without a building. Jesus warns, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). Thus, failure to count the cost of following Christ results in an incomplete life. "Holding fast to the word of life" is part of the solution for finishing one's life successfully (Philippians 2:16).
Martin G. Collins
Parables of Counting the Cost
1 Corinthians 3:9-10
If God places us within an office in the church—as an elder or a deacon—it must be looked upon as a blessing that is a responsibility, not a reward! It is given for God's purposes. Paul even had his office as apostle because it was given to him. It is implied that all the powers to perform it were also given. He used them to lay the foundation.
Everybody else is the same way. The important thing is that each one of us must use our gifts to build. Paul says, "Be careful how you build." The foundation that was laid is Jesus Christ. When we begin to expand on it, it consists of the apostles and the prophets as well—the things that they wrote and the examples that they set. Everybody is to build on the same foundation! God gives everybody the gifts to enable them to do so.
To some, God gives gifts to be apostles; to others, He gives gifts to be an evangelist, pastor, teacher, or whatever. They are given, though, and every time God gives an office, He gives all that is needed for the person to fulfill that office—including overcoming sin.
The Bible consistently teaches that an office is not a place from which to exercise power, but a position from which to exercise service. The authority is certainly there, since God gives it. He always gives the authority to go with the office, but having it means that the elder or deacon must also have the right perspective on how to use the office God has given him. The office is given, not earned.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace
In Ephesians 2:19-22, in the Phillips translation, the apostle Paul writes:
So you are no longer outsiders or aliens, but fellow-citizens with every other Christian [the saints, NKJV] - you belong now to the household of God. Firmly beneath you is the foundation, God's messengers and prophets, the corner-stone being Christ Jesus himself. In him each separate piece of building, properly fitting into its neighbor, grows together into a temple consecrated to the Lord. You are all part of this building in which God himself lives by his Spirit.
We stand on the Christian lives of those who have gone before us. Those who have died in the faith, the saints who await their resurrection from the dead, form the foundation on which we stand, along with Christ, the Cornerstone. If we live our lives with integrity, then we too become an integral piece of the Temple.
Paul's main intention in Ephesians 2 is to let Gentile converts know that they have equal privileges with Israelite converts. Whatever his origins, each individual forms a separate piece of the "building," and all fitted together provide a habitation for God. The building metaphor is equally appropriate for us. Each of us comes from a different social and ethnic background, education, life experience, and so on. In order for us to become part of the Temple, a place where God dwells, integrity must reside in our characters.
Continuing the metaphor, each of us is fitted into the proper place. If a building is constructed of solid pieces - no rotted or bowed wood, no rusted metal, no inferior materials of any type - and if it is erected on a solid foundation, the result is a structure with integrity. The apostle Peter also uses the building metaphor in I Peter 2:1-5:
Therefore, 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.
A building block or stone, used to construct a spiritual house or a temple, must be sound. It must itself have integrity. If the stone is weak, it will crumble or crack easily, endangering the whole building.
Building With Integrity
1 Peter 1:2
Peter comments on God's operations in this sphere of His work. The King James Study Bible has an interesting note about the intent of this verse: "This is not merely advanced knowledge of, but when connected to 'before the foundation of the world,' [Ephesians 1:4] it means God determined in eternity past to bring certain ones of His creation into a special relationship with Him and each other at specific times" (emphasis added).
Consider the construction of a large building. As a new building is erected, the workers follow blueprints made by architects, engineers, designers, and draftsmen. Every detail of what is being built—where it sits on the property, perhaps ten thousand individual dimensions, water pipes, sewer lines, specifications of the foundation, composition of the flooring, steel columns, girders, electrical lines, conduit, brackets to support pipes, roofing materials, the color and composition of paints both inside and out, etc.—is determined, designed, and drafted on the plans before the actual construction began.
In principle, is this not a human form of God knowing the end from the beginning? Does this not compare to God appointing beforehand or predetermining when, where, and who does what? If men can do this on a small scale, why cannot God do this on an immensely more massive and complex scale with His vastly superior mind? Is not God's intellect of such magnitude that He can easily do this (Romans 11:33-36)? Does He not have sufficient time to plan, prepare, and bring these things to pass (Isaiah 57:15)? Dare we even think of Him as getting tired or wandering from the purpose He established for Himself (Psalm 121:3-4)?
Even so, do not get the impression that He does not react to how we use our free moral agency. If He did not react, chapters like Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 would not be necessary, for in these chapters He definitely says, "If you do this, I will do that." They obviously depict Him reacting to our choices. He contemplates and judges what we do. However, this in no way negates the fact that the Bible reveals Him as the Prime Mover in His creation, always in control even in what we consider bad circumstances that directly affect us.
John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part One)
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