W Threadgold, Purley
'For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God', Heb. 3. 4
Three things must here be noted: first, a building is erected when there is a need for it. Someone needs a place to dwell in and is prepared to meet the cost of it. Second, it is essential to have a plan for the building. This necessitates an architect who will translate the instructions of the owner into drawings which can be understood by the builder. Third, the builder provides and disposes the materials in such a way that the finished structure will conform with the plans and fulfil the purpose of the owner. This is no less true of God's buildings; they are needed, designed and constructed in such a way as to fulfil perfectly the purpose for which they have been erected. We shall now consider some of these buildings.
There can be little doubt that in their primary application these words of Heb. 3. 4 have reference to the creation of the universe. Scripture constantly declares that the material universe is the work of God. That all things were created by Him and for Him the following Scriptures clearly show: 'I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded', Isa. 45. 12; 'The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land', Psalm 95. 5; 'The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handiwork', Psalm 19. 1; 'The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, Psalm 24. 1. Such Scriptures could be multiplied, and it is equally clear that this stupendous operation was carried out to a divine plan. In chapter eight of the book of the Proverbs the eternal God and His eternal Son are represented as taking counsel together 'before his works of old' concerning the design of things to be created. Nor must we overlook the opening words of Genesis 1: 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth'. Comparing this chapter with John 1, Colossians 1 and Hebrews I, we are not only left in no doubt as to the identity of the Creator, we are also reminded that the work of creation was the work of both the eternal God and His eternal Son. Surely, irrefutable evidence this of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we consider the universe as a whole or any part of it, from the snowflake with its miracle of beauty and design to man with all the wonders of the human body and mind, is it any wonder that we should agree with Paul who says that the visible things help us to understand the invisible, i.e., God's eternal power and deity.
The same orderly progression is to be found when we come to the subject of the Church. The need for it is seen in that it is the house of God, 1 Tim. 3. 15; the body of Christ, Eph. 1. 23, and the bride of Christ, Eph. 5. 22-33. That there was a carefully prepared pattern for the Church is clear from Ephesians 3. 9-11. The plans were hid in God 'from the beginning of the world' and their out-workings has a message for men, angels and principalities and powers. Some of the elements of this plan may perhaps be seen in God's dealings with Israel. But the fulness of God's counsel awaited the completion of the work of Calvary, by which Jew and Gentile were to be partakers of the salvation of God, Eph. 2. 11-22. Who is the builder by whom these plans are to be executed? The answer is to be found in Him who said: . . . 'upon this rock I will build my church', Matt. 16. 18. Peter tells us that this spiritual house is built of living stones to the end that they should 'shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light', 1 Peter 2. 9. Thus it is that He who built the house 'hath more honour than the house', Heb. 3. 3.
Further reference to building is made in Hebrews where we read concerning Abraham that 'he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God', Heb. 11. 10. The word used here for 'builder' occurs again only in Acts 19 where it is twice translated 'craftsman'. It is the word teefmites from which we get our word 'technical' or 'technician', and it signifies both designer and craftsman. Of this heavenly city God is again both the designer and builder. Another interesting feature about the terms applied to God here is that the word 'maker' in this verse is unique and means literally, 'a worker on behalf of the people'. Here God is seen as the constructor of a city which He has designed to suit exactly the needs of His people. In verse 16 where we read: 'He hath prepared for them a city', the word is the same as that translated 'built'.
We learn from Paul's second letter to Corinth, chapter 5, that we who inhabit a tent which will be folded up soon, are to inhabit a permanent house. In verse 1 of this chapter we read: 'For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens'. The need for this house is here explained in the context. but is there a design for it? Surely! You will find the blue-print in Philippians: 'For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change this body of humiliation, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things unto himself, Phil. 3. 20, 21.