TWO LINES OF BUILDING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Now we come to the New Testament, which is a further record of building. In Matthew 16 Peter confessed to the Lord, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16), and the Lord responded, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church” (v. 18). If we know Christ in a living way, we will realize that we are material for the building of the church. Several times in the New Testament teachings the Lord Jesus is likened to a stone. In Matthew 21:42 the Lord Jesus, quoting from Psalm 118:22-23, indicated to the Jews that He is the cornerstone for God’s building. Christ is not only the foundation stone (Isa. 28:16) and the topstone (Zech. 4:7) but also the cornerstone. In his preaching of Christ in Acts 4:11, Peter told the Jews, “This is the stone which was considered as nothing by you, the builders, which has become the head of the corner.” This indicates that he preached Christ not only as the Savior for sinners’ salvation but also as the stone for God’s building.
In the Epistles the apostle Paul speaks much concerning the building. We may say that the teaching of the apostle Paul is a teaching of building. In 1 Corinthians 3:9 he tells us, “We are God’s fellow workers; you are…God’s building.” In the next verse he tells us that he was a wise master builder, the head of a group of workers to build the house of God. Then in verse 12 he tells us that we should build the church with gold, silver, and precious stones. In Ephesians 2:20-21 he tells us that Christ Jesus is the cornerstone “in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” In 4:12 he speaks of the perfecting of the saints unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ.
Peter in his first Epistle also teaches us concerning the building up of the church. He refers to the Lord as “a living stone, rejected by men but with God chosen and precious” (2:4). Then he goes on to say, “You yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (v. 5). This indicates that we are God’s building to serve God, contain God, and express God.
Then, in the last book of the New Testament we have two great cities. Do not forget that in addition to the New Jerusalem (21:2) there is the city which is called “Mystery, Babylon the Great” (17:5). Here in the last book of the Scriptures Babylon is mentioned again, this time as something against the New Jerusalem. These two cities are two containers. One is the container of Satan to contain Satan with all his corruption, confusion, complications, and divisions. The book of Revelation shows us how much corruption, confusion, complication, and division are contained in this mysterious Babylon, the great Babylon of mystery. That is the building of Satan with humans and among humans. In, among, and with the human race as the material, Satan is building up a mysterious city as a container to contain him and express him. On the other hand, the Lord is building a holy city, the New Jerusalem, among the human race and with the human race as the material to contain God and express God. If we read Revelation, we will see these two cities: the city of Satan and the city of God, the sinful city and the holy city, the city full of Satan’s corruption and the city full of God’s holiness, the city full of satanic darkness and the city full of God’s light, the city as an incarnation of Satan and the city as an enlarged incarnation of God. What God is doing today is, on the one hand, to build up His holy city and, on the other hand, to destroy the great Babylon of mystery. One day this great city of Babylon will be fully destroyed. After the destruction of this great, sinful, satanic city, the time will come for the New Jerusalem, the holy city, to be manifested.
Do you see the picture in all the Scriptures? It is a record of building. On the one hand, it is a positive record of the divine building, and on the other hand, it is a negative record of the satanic building, the devilish building. In all the dispensations, generations, and ages, the principle is exactly the same.
(The Central Thought of God, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)