When the Lord Builds His House

By Francis Frangipane

It is possible for Christ's church to be so properly aligned with heaven that the Spirit of the Lord actually displaces the powers of darkness over our cities. To the degree that the church is so joined to God, the Lord's Presence guards the city: crime and immorality proportionally decline; revival begins to spontaneously break out. But be forewarned, only if the Lord builds His house will He then guard our cities (Psalm 127:1).

The Corporate, Citywide Church
"And the house, while it was being built, was built of stone prepared at the quarry, and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any iron tool heard in the house while it was being  built" (I Kings 6:7).

During these past years God has had His church "at the quarry," shaping the leaders, preparing their hearts to become part of the house of the Lord.  Under the hammer of the Word, many pastors and lay people have had their rock-hard religious and doctrinal opinions shattered.  God has been reducing their definition of Christianity to the biblical proportions of simplicity, purity and devotion to Christ (see 2 Cor 11:3).  At the same time, the Lord has also laid His axe to the root system of jealousy and selfish ambition (see James 3:16).

All across the world holy men and women of God are being fitted together into a living temple for the Lord. Burning in their hearts is a new vision for a united, citywide church. Together with their congregations, these servants of God are building their churches, not upon the typical American base of self-promotion and human enterprise, but upon a substructure of corporate, citywide prayer and Christian love.  With great passion and deep humility, their singular goal is to see Christ Himself formed in the church (see Gal 4:19).  In so doing, they are laying the foundation for the house of the Lord. It is a testimony to Christ's wisdom and power how graciously these "living stones" accept one another and fit together. The Scriptures tell us that when Solomon built the house of the Lord,  "there was neither hammer nor axe nor any iron tool heard in the house while it was being  built" (I Kings 6:7).

These men and women, often of very different church backgrounds, are finding themselves kneeling in one another's buildings and praying at each other's side.  Their common prayer is that the Almighty might unite them in Christ and finish the house of the Lord - that Christ Himself might heal their cities.

God will answer their prayers.  The house of the Lord is beginning to emerge upon the building site of the praying, citywide church.  The time of devastation and shaping, of being hammered and cut to size, is nearly over.  The day of power is at hand.

The Obedience Of Christ
This is not a work born out of compromise. It would be an error to assume the goal of this moving of God was unity. No, our objective is obedience. Out of obedience to God in prayer and true desire to be Christlike, a new meaning to unity has come.

Our focus is upon Christ. Paul instructed the church to take "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor 10:5).  The areas of our thought-life which are not captive to Christ, are the areas where we are losing our battle against hell. But when our vision is focused upon the Lord and becoming like Him in obedience, the conclusion of what Paul spoke shall be fulfilled: "And we are ready to punish all disobedience whenever your obedience is made complete" (2 Cor 10:6). 

It would be presumption to speculate on all that this verse means.  We know that Paul was not referring to flesh and blood; he was not warring according to the flesh (see Eph 6:12). The implication here is that when the obedience of the church is made complete there will be an unleashing of the mightiest display of spiritual power the world has ever seen.

This revelation of power was not attained in Paul's day.  The provision was there in that the prince of the world was "judged," "rendered powerless" and "disarmed" at the cross, but obviously, "all disobedience" was not punished in the first century. 

Let us ask the Lord Himself: Is there something yet to come forth through the obedient church that will bring judgment upon spiritual wickedness and disobedience, which will also deliver many cities?

When The Lord Guards The City
"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain" (Psalm 127:1).  Before we discuss this verse, it is important to explain a particular characteristic often found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Often the Old Testament writers communicated truth by repeating two views of the same thought. We see this especially in Psalms and Proverbs. An example would be: "With the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach will be satisfied; He will be satisfied with the product of his lips" (Prov 18:20). The same concept is presented twice in two ways. Another example is, "I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old" (Psalm 78:2). Truth is conveyed utilizing a poetic rhythm that is both beautiful and functional - a way to compress two corresponding thoughts into one idiom.

In this regard, when the Psalmist admonishes, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain," he is saying the same truth in two ways. The work of the Lord is a bridge connecting these two thoughts: the house He builds will stand; the city He guards will be protected. 

How can the Lord guard the city? The house of the Lord is a house of prayer; intercession brings the presence of God into the city. Let me say this another way: When the Lord builds the house, then the Lord will guard the city. The specifications of His building plans require His people to be praying, loving and investing themselves into their cities, empowered by His anointing. The house of the Lord will change our communities!

Jesus confirms this in His promise that "I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt 16:18 KJV).  He is stating that when His house is built in obedience to His Word the strongholds of evil over individuals and cities will be broken.

When there is revival in a city, what happens to the powers of darkness in the heavenly places?  Where do they go?  The answer is: they are displaced by the fullness of God's Spirit in the regional church!  Paul tells us that it is "through the church" that the manifold wisdom of God is revealed "unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places" (Eph 3:10). And what is happening in the spirit realm?  The church is blessed with "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph 1:3)!  The prevailing influence upon society in this case comes from heaven; the Lord guards the city! 

When the church is not built according to Christ's directives but remains selfish and divided, the principalities and powers have access in a greater degree to the souls of men. In such cities, spiritual wickedness guards the city.

One does not have to be very discerning to see this is true. On your next drive from the country into a city, you will notice a distinguishable cloud of oppression as you enter the city. That invisible barrier is the range of influence of the ruling spirits which weigh on the community.  The demonic power of that area is the "strong man, fully armed," who "guards his own homestead"; whose "possessions are undisturbed" (Lk 11:21).

But when the church is obedient to Christ, it will be united with other believers and unstoppable by the powers of hell.  Through the church - its prayer, love and action - the Lord will guard the city.

Whatever You Bind Will Be Bound
Let me explain the interaction between the spirit world and the thoughts and actions of men. As I see it, the spirit realm can be accessed and occupied by either angels or demons, depending upon the attitude of man upon earth.  Although the earth is the Lord's, He put all things under man's feet; that is, under man's responsibility.

When Satan tells Jesus that all the world and its glory "has been handed over to me" (Lk 4:6), he is speaking a half-truth. The world has indeed been given to the devil, not by God, but by man!

We have wrongly assumed that the devil has divine approval to attack our neighborhoods and cities. Satan has access to the domain of darkness, but he can only occupy those areas where mankind, through sin, has allowed him.

Thus, Jesus tells the church, "whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt 16:19; 18:18KJV). Notice that Jesus gave the same instruction for two seeming different situations. The context of Matthew 16:18-19 deals with the devil, while the focus of Matthew 18:15 is sin. These realms are interconnected.  The sinfulness of mankind, his evil thoughts, words and actions, is itself the very shelter of the devil over our cities! Since this is true, then righteousness in the church proportionally displaces the devil in the spirit realm, offering Satan no hiding place. He may tempt, but he cannot abide. Indeed, when the church truly draws near to God, the devil flees.

New Vision
If we work together to build the house of the Lord, our strengths will be amplified rather than diminished.  One of the pastors in my city has been used by God to picket abortion clinics and stores which sell pornography. Before the churches began to pray together, the most people he ever mustered for a protest was 120. However, because a larger number of churches united with him in prayer, over 4,000 people came to stand against abortion! Since that time, the local television and newspapers have been far more sympathetic to the cause of the unborn.

Where the churches are united, the benefit upon teens will be wonderful. Imagine how it would be if there were a citywide youth group where large numbers of Christian teens could meet and unite. Older teens could develop leadership skills and pastoral care over younger teenagers.

Without limiting their overseas missions, pastors are realizing the first mission field they need to support is local.  Ministers in churches are beginning to build together, training individuals from their congregations to go to other churches in the city where together the entire local Christian community is being built up.

Ultimately, how will the house of the Lord differ from current Christianity?  Although the Lord has visited the church with revival in the past, He will dwell in power in His house!  Healing and deliverance will be commonplace; holiness and grace will fill the atmosphere.  Where the house of the Lord is built, the protection of the Lord will be felt.

Living Testimony
Our ministry is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. When we first started praying together with other pastors and intercessors in the city, the state of Iowa was experiencing an 11 percent increase in violent crime. During this same time, however, in Cedar Rapids violent crime decreased 17 percent. FBI files confirm that Cedar Rapids became the safest city of over 100,000 people in the United States in that year.  In spite of the enemy's counterattack, Cedar Rapids remains one of the safest cities in the nation.  We continue to experience many wonderful and significant breakthroughs in our city.

To the degree that the Lord's house is established in our cities, lawlessness will proportionally decrease. The time is soon upon us when, unless we are building the Lord's house, our labors may actually be in vain.  But the Holy Spirit's encouragement to us is unwavering: When the Lord builds the house, then the Lord will guard the city!

Lord, thank You for Your dealings in my life.  Thank You for shaping my heart to fit in with other believers in my city.  O God, increase Your work in this region until Your entire church is one body, one force, one weapon in Your hand against evil!  Build and then enter Your house, Lord Jesus.  Open the door of Your house, and step onto our streets.  Guard our cities with power. In Jesus' name, amen.

Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, "The House of the Lord" available at www.arrowbookstore.com.