Vol.VII No.VIII Pg.4
October 1970

What Did Christ Build?

Robert F. Turner

What did Christ build when He built the church? (Matt. 16: 18) The figure is that of constructing a temple (1 Cor. 3: 10-17) where lively stones (1 Pet. 2:5) are put together upon the foundation — the truth that Jesus is the Christ. (When messengers of Christ are considered the builders (1 Cor. 3:) or even the foundation (Eph. 2:20-22), the essential truth is maintained — Christ is building His church; i.e., He is bringing together people who heed His call; and as a (convened) assembly or called—out body of people they are, when considered as a whole, LIKENED UNTO A BUILDING.

What did Christ buy when he bought the church? (Acts 20:28) The figure is that of manumission; paying the price for a slave in order that he may be freed. (1 Cor. 6:20 7: 22-23 Gal. 5:1) We were slaves of sin until we obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine; a freeing that was made possible by Christs death on our behalf. (Rom. 6: 1-18) So Christ paid the price for your sins, and mine. By His death He acquired (footnote, ASV) people, one by one; saving each from his sins as that one humbly submits to His will. The figure of BUYING THE FREEDOM OF A SLAVE may have been taken from that common practice of the first century, records of which are preserved to this day. Just remember, Christ bought people who, considered collectively, are called the church.

What did Christ cleanse when He cleansed the church? (Eph. 5:25-27) He made clean those people who submit to the washing of water with the word. This figure is a common one — the removal of sins being likened to filth, washed from clothes or body. (Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21) As the application of the water with the word is obviously made to individuals, as each hears and learns the truth, and obeys it; we are again faced with the fact that Christs cleansing of the church is the remission of sins which He makes possible for people, one by one; who are called the church when considered collectively.

Now all of these things Christ is said to have done He built the church, bought the church, cleansed the church. The foundation has been firmly laid, the purchase price paid, and the cleansing blood shed. His sacrifice of Himself was once for all (Heb. 10:10), and need never be repeated. But there is a sense in which the construction work continues and lively stones continue to be placed upon that foundation. The price for freedom from sin is still amply provided for all who will avail themselves of this marvelous opportunity. The cleansing power of the blood of Christ is yours and mine for the using — in coming unto Him, and as we falter in His service. (Note 1 Jn. 1:7- 2: 1-3.)

Christ did not build, buy, and cleanse some sort of vehicle into which you come, be seated, and ride home to heaven. He will build YOU into His building, buy YOU from your slavery to sin, and cleanse YOU from your spiritual filth; and then you will be a part of that body of people who have been saved by His grace, and have thus become the church of Christ.