Lesson 21 | Sabbath, 20 November 2021
“Upon the foundation that Christ Himself had laid, the apostles built the church of God. In the Scriptures the figure of the erection of a temple is frequently used to illustrate the building of the church. Zechariah refers to Christ as the Branch that should build the temple of the Lord. He speaks of the Gentiles as helping in the work: ‘They that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord;’ and Isaiah declares, ‘The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls.’ Zechariah 6:12, 15; Isaiah 60:10.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 595.
Builder of the temple
1. According to the prophecy of Zechariah, who would come one day? What would be the special mission of the Lord’s Servant, the BRANCH?
Zechariah 3:8; 6:12. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH…. 6:12And speak unto him, saying, Thusspeaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord.
“The work of Christ as man’s intercessor is presented in that beautiful prophecy of Zechariah concerning Him ‘whose name is the Branch.’ Says the prophet: ‘He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His [the Father’s] throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between Them both.’ Zechariah 6:12, 13.
“‘He shall build the temple of the Lord.’ By His sacrifice and mediation Christ is both the foundation and the builder of the church of God. The apostle Paul points to Him as ‘the chief Cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also,’ he says, ‘are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.’ Ephesians 2:20-22.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 415, 416.
2. As prophesied, what did the Lord reveal to one of His disciples? What does it mean that the gates of hell would not prevail against it?
Matthew 16:18. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
“The word ‘Peter’ signifies a loose stone. Christ did not refer to Peter as being the rock upon which He would found His church. His expression,‘this rock,’ applied to Himself as the foundation of the Christian church.” –(Signs of the Times, October 28, 1913)Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1095.
“‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ 1 Corinthians 3:11. ‘Upon this rock,’ said Jesus, ‘I will build My church.’ In the presence of God, and all the heavenly intelligences, in the presence of the unseen army of hell, Christ founded His church upon the living Rock. That Rock is Himself–His own body, for us broken and bruised. Against the church built upon this foundation, the gates of hell shall not prevail.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 413.
A solid foundation and structure
3. In addition to being the actual Builder, what would Jesus be in this holy spiritual temple? What would happen to those who believe on Him?
Isaiah 28:16. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
1 Peter 2:6. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
“Jesus continued: ‘I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ The word Peter signifies a stone–a rolling stone. Peter was not the rock upon which the church was founded. The gates of hell did prevail against him when he denied his Lord with cursing and swearing. The church was built upon One against whom the gates of hell could not prevail.
“Centuries before the Saviour’s advent Moses had pointed to the Rock of Israel’s salvation. The psalmist had sung of ‘the Rock of my strength.’ Isaiah had written, ‘Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.’ Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 62:7; Isaiah 28:16. Peter himself, writing by inspiration, applies this prophecy to Jesus. He says, ‘If ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious: unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house.’ 1 Peter 2:3-5, R.V.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 412, 413.
4. In addition to the foundation, who is a major part of this building? Being a solid structure, how does the holy temple grow?
Ephesians 2:20, 21. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.
“Christ is the uniting link in the golden chain which binds believers together in God. There must be no separating in this great testing time. The people of God are ‘fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.’ Ephesians 2:19-21. The children of God constitute one united whole in Christ, who presents His cross as the center of attraction. All who believe are one in Him.” –Selected Messages, book 3, p. 21.
Living stones in a spiritual temple
5. Who is privileged to be part of the spiritual house that the Lord is still building? What is the meaning of “lively stones”?
1 Peter 2:4, 5. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
“How amazed is heaven at the present condition of the church that could be so much to the world if every stone were in its proper place, a living stone to emit light! A stone that does not shine is worthless. That which constitutes the value of our churches is not dead, lusterless stones, but living stones, stones that catch the bright beams from the Chief Cornerstone, even the Sun of Righteousness–the bright glory in which are combined the beams of mercy and truth that have met together, of righteousness and peace that have kissed each other.” –(Letter 15, 1892)Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1116.
6. If we are part of that holy building with Jesus and the prophets, who will live in this sanctuary and in us? How many can say that this has been their experience until now?
Ephesians 2:22. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
“The Jewish temple was built of hewn stones quarried out of the mountains, and every stone was fitted for its place in the temple, hewed, polished and tested, before it was brought to Jerusalem. And when all were brought to the ground, the building went together without the sound of an ax or hammer. This building represents God’s spiritual temple, which is composed of material gathered out of every nation and tongue and people, of all grades, high and low, rich and poor, learned and ignorant. These are not dead substances, to be fitted by hammer and chisel. They are living stones quarried out from the world by the truth, and the great Master Builder, the Lord of the temple, is now hewing and polishing them and fitting them for their respective places in the spiritual temple. When completed, this temple will be perfect in all its parts, the admiration of angels and of men, for its builder and maker is God. Truly, those who are to compose this glorious building are ‘called to be saints.’” –That I May Know Him, p. 151.
The church as a pillar
7. When all of the church members have Jesus as the basis of their lives and are joined together with the prophets and apostles, how solid will the building be? When this is the case, what is the church?
1 Timothy 3:15. But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
“Adventists, seeing that the churches rejected the testimony of God’s Word, could no longer regard them as constituting the church of Christ, ‘the pillar and ground of the truth;’ and as the message, ‘Babylon is fallen,’ began to be proclaimed, they felt themselves justified in separating from their former connection.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 366.
“The oil so much needed by those who are represented as foolish virgins, is not something to be put on the outside. They need to bring the truth into the sanctuary of the soul, that it may cleanse, refine, and sanctify. It is not theory that they need; it is the sacred teachings of the Bible, which are not uncertain, disconnected doctrines, but are living truths, that involve eternal interests that center in Christ. In Him is the complete system of divine truth. The salvation of the soul, through faith in Christ, is the ground and pillar of the truth.” –Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 16.
For additional study
“The apostles built upon a sure foundation, even the Rock of Ages. To this foundation they brought the stones that they quarried from the world. Not without hindrance did the builders labor. Their work was made exceedingly difficult by the opposition of the enemies of Christ. They had to contend against the bigotry, prejudice, and hatred of those who were building upon a false foundation. Many who wrought as builders of the church could be likened to the builders of the wall in Nehemiah’s day, of whom it is written: ‘They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, everyone with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.’ Nehemiah 4:17.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 596, 597.
“God designed that the temple at Jerusalem should be a continual witness to the high destiny open to every soul. But the Jews had not understood the significance of the building they regarded with so much pride…. The courts of the temple at Jerusalem, filled with the tumult of unholy traffic, represented all too truly the temple of the heart, defiled by the presence of sensual passion and unholy thoughts. In cleansing the temple from the world’s buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin–from the earthly desires,… the selfish lusts, the evil habits that corrupt the soul…. Only Christ can cleanse the soul temple…. His presence will cleanse and sanctify the soul, so that it may be a holy temple unto the Lord, and ‘an habitation of God through the Spirit.’ Ephesians 2:22.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 191.