THE BUILDING OF THE CHURCH BEING THE GROWTH IN LIFE
We thank the Lord for showing us that the building is taking place now. Moreover, He has shown us the way to have the building. Ephesians 2:21 says that all the building is growing, and the next verse says that we are being built together into God’s dwelling place. Thus, growing equals being built, and being built equals growing. This indicates that the proper building of the church is the growth in life.
In Ephesians chapter four we also have the thought of growth. Verse 13 speaks of a full-grown man (Gk.), and verse 15 says that we should hold the truth in order to grow up in everything into the Head, Christ. Furthermore, verse 16 speaks of the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love. Even verse 14 has the thought of growth, for it says that we should no longer be children tossed to and fro. To be no longer children is to have the proper growth. Therefore, in Ephesians 4:13-16 the thought of growth is found in every verse. According to these verses, the building of the Body comes through the growth in life.
In 1954 I first began to minister on the building of the church. At that time, however, the light I received was neither clear nor complete. I pointed out that, although hardly any Christians today care for the building or speak about it, the New Testament emphasizes it very strongly. Therefore, we must care for the building. Using the illustration of the construction of a meeting hall, I told the saints that, like the materials in the building, they must have someone above them, below them, in front of them, behind them, and on both sides of them. I told them that they had to know who was next to them in order to be built up with them. I gave the same kind of messages in the United States. However, after 1964 I discovered the awkwardness of speaking of the building in this way. Prior to that time, both in Manila and in Taipei, I could boast that I knew who was above me, under me, and beside me. However, after coming to the United States, I found it awkward to say this, for I found it difficult to say who was beside me. I came to realize that this illustration is not accurate because it applies only to a material building, a building with lifeless materials. Once these materials are put into a building, they do not move. We, on the contrary, are living building materials and are constantly moving.
Take the example of Aquila and Priscilla. Both in Rome and in Ephesus the church met in their home. Because Aquila and Priscilla had been built in, there was no problem with them wherever they lived. This type of building is much different from a building with physical materials. We are not a material building; we are a living house, living people who move about from place to place.
THE COMPLETION OF THE BUILDING
In the entire universe God has just one dwelling place. The building of this dwelling place began, at the latest, on the day of Pentecost, and it is still going on. The process of building will be completed, not at the time of the Lord’s coming back, but at the end of the millennium.
According to the New Testament, from the time of Adam until the time of the millennium there are four ages: the age of Adam, the age of the law, the age of grace, and the age of the kingdom. The building of the church takes place during the age of grace and the age of the kingdom. It began on the day of Pentecost, the beginning of the age of grace, and it will be completed by the end of the age of the kingdom. Then the fullness of time with the New Jerusalem will come. Thus, the completion of God’s building will be in the new heaven and new earth, which will appear after the millennium. Although the New Jerusalem comes at the beginning of the millennium, its full completion, the completion of God’s building, will not be until the end of the millennium.
Although the building is going on today, the majority of Christians are not concerned about it and have no heart for it. They neither understand it nor speak of it. But God’s mercy has reached us, our eyes have been opened, and we have a heart for the building. My heart is very burdened for God’s building. My heart has been on this matter since 1954, and I have written a number of hymns about it. Today many of us have been captured by the vision of the building. We have seen that what the Lord is seeking today is the building. Without the building, there is no way for Him to come back.
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)