Tourist attractions normally lose their appeal for me after a visit or two. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt (or, in my case, hat). Except for one. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina stands a remarkable monument of the Gilded Age – the Biltmore Estate. The 8,000 acre lot with exquisite gardens along with the 178,926 sq. ft. dwelling yield new treasures of beauty, detail, and grandeur with each visit. My personal favorite happens to be the library. The ornate wood paneling, collection of 10,000 books housed on two levels, and artistic ceiling panels create an ambiance any bibliophile would appreciate. But that room represents a fraction of the detail and design poured into this estate.
And George Washington Vanderbilt II accomplished all of that without a Lowe’s or Home Depot!
Now that intrigues me. How did someone carve out such a beautiful estate in the middle of nowhere?
Think for a moment about the primary material of the structure: Indiana limestone. That is, limestone that come all the way from Indiana to North Carolina. A railway ran within three miles of Vanderbilt’s lot, so to move the material directly to the site he built out three miles of track for around $80,000. He also constructed a brick factory and woodworking shop on site. George literally built his own personal home depot.
Such an undertaking requires tremendous resources. Shaping something beautiful out of a vast wilderness demands investment and intentionality.
Ephesians 2:19-22 reminds believers that “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
God designed and is creating an incredible dwelling place out of the wilderness of lives once “dead in trespasses and sins.” He accomplishes this by supplying “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” to those united in Christ through faith.
George Washington Vanderbilt II built a railroad to supply his project. The Father constructed a conduit from “the heavenly places” to convey “every spiritual blessing.” Two words reveal the conduit: “in Christ.” In Christ every believer obtains a guiltless standing through justification. In Christ complete payment for sin is made. In Christ we access resurrection power through the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit to build lives resting securely on the foundation of God’s Word.
What intricacies does this building of God contain? The second half of Ephesians (4-6) fills out the picture for us. The spiritual blessings available to us in Christ produce unity among God’s people, distinction from the blind pagan society, ability to be filled with the Holy Spirit evidenced through the proper response within our roles, and a firm stand against the onslaught Satanically-influenced thinking.
God delights to pour out every spiritual blessing to those belonging to Him. He builds beautiful structures of holy lives shining as lights in the dark corruption of culture. And His people agree with the psalmist, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.” Why? Because we are the recipients of infinite wealth being built into a dwelling place fit for God.