Although God can work through any means, His most intrinsic work is through His speaking.
He produced the old creation (the universe) in 6 days through His speaking. Now He is producing the new creation (the church) but this time through OUR speaking.
He who prophesies speaks building up… –1 Corinthians 14:3
God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light. But God doesn’t say, “Let there be church” and there is church. Christ looks to us for the practical building of His church. The building up of the church is with words—divine words outsourced to humanity, in a sense.
The church is built word by word, not brick by brick.
Having practiced architectural engineering, I am familiar with the issues between owner, architect, and contractor. There are always conflicts, suspicions, and conflicting interests between the three. Well, it turns out that God is interested in a building. And in this scenario God plays all three roles—architect, builder, and client (Heb. 11:10; Isa. 66:1).
Yet there is an interesting duality here. God is the architect and yet Paul also claims to be the architect. God is the builder and yet we are doing the building. God is the client and yet we too are the client, because what’s at hand is a mutual abode for God and man.
This building is a personal entity—you are God’s building (1 Cor. 3:9).
This building is an organic structure—all the building is growing (Eph. 2:22).
This building is spiritual in nature—you are being built up as a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:5).
As necessary and effective as redemption is, it is not God’s masterpiece. The church is. This realization certainly should uplift the value we place on our speaking because God has entrusted the building of His masterpiece to us.
Because we naturally do not value speaking the Christ whom we’ve seen and experienced that much, at least not as much as great outward happenings, God in His mercy wants to shepherd us into His feeling of things. An interesting passage to consider is 1 Kings 19:9-13. Jehovah came to Elijah not in the strong wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in a quite, gentle voice. I think given the option at the beginning of the day—mighty act of God or gentle, quiet voice- most of us would opt for mighty act of God. Certainly it sounds more impressive. We probably also think that we’d be able to convert others more easily if we could just let them witness some of these impressive acts. But it’s very possible that even if mighty acts could be attributed to God, many people still wouldn’t be saved. For certain God’s purpose would never be accomplished.
Below are a few examples:
A Rich Man’s Family
The rich man in Hades asks for someone to be raised from the dead and appear to his family so that they may believe. Abraham’s response is pretty amazing. “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.” It seems here that God has more confidence in His spoken word than in miraculous doings.
Although the children of Israel saw God’s mighty deeds for 40 years they still did not believe. They saw the 10 plagues on Egypt, the waters of the Red Sea part, the manna every morning, the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. YET they still did not believe God word. The children of Israel saw only God’s outward doings but Moses experienced God’s speaking face to face. Again, which do we value more? Exodus 33:11 says “And Jehovah would speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his companion…”
The Nations in the Great Tribulation
In the great tribulation the unbelievers on earth will see great acts of God and yet will still not repent.
What can really move people and what fulfills God’s purpose to have a built up church is a group of believers speaking in oneness with God. All believers have this privilege so why not use it? It’s been 2,000 years since the Christ broke ground. I think it’s time we all start building.
But if all prophesy and some unbeliever or unlearned person enters, he is convicted by all, he is examined by all; the secrets of his heart become manifest; and so falling on his face, he will worship God, declaring that indeed God is among you. –1 Corinthians 14:24-25