THE NEW TEMPLE
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit (Eph. 2: 19-22).
What a magnificent declaration! God’s temple rebuilt but not with stone and mortar. God had His blueprint for a holy temple from the beginning, a temple of flesh and blood, built of the living stones, His people who are indwelt by His Spirit and built together to form a permanent dwelling and house of worship for His Spirit.
Peter also captured this vision in his first letter:
As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2: 4-5).
The idea is not so much that we are being fashioned together to form a building – a house or a temple – but rather a household, God’s family of sons and daughters, brought together in unity through the forgiveness of our sins that Jesus purchased for us by His own blood. God eradicated the terrible hostility between Jew and Gentile by giving His Son as a sacrifice for us. With the reason for the enmity gone, He has brought us together to become one family, with a new home, a new name and the promise of an inheritance which we share with His Son as joint heirs of God.
In the midst of a hostile environment, this new status had radical implications for believers in those times. Jesus said that the supernatural unity which He achieved by His death would be a powerful sign to the ungodly world that the Father has sent Him. In an environment of hatred and aggression which is as rife today as it was then, there would be two indisputable proofs of the reality of His coming – that His disciples love one another with the same sacrificial love He had for them, and that they be one with Him, with the Father and with one another.
A new commandment I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another (John 13: 34).
. . . That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you sent me (John 17: 21).
These are qualities beyond the ability of human beings to achieve outside of God’s power at work in them.
God had one main purpose for bringing His people together into a powerful unity – worship! Paul recognised this when he painted a word picture of God’s new temple. In contrast to the emphasis on the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, which is a pivot of one of the mainstreams of modern eschatology, Paul’s letters do not focus on the building of a literal, physical temple in Jerusalem.
He consistently used the Greek word, naos, which refers to the inner shrine or Holy of Holies, when he wrote of God’s temple in his letters to the churches. Only once did he use the alternative word, hieron, which is the Greek word used for the literal temple, when he wrote of the physical temple in Jerusalem. He emphasised the truth that God’s people are, individually and collectively, the temple of God.
Do you not know that your body is a temple (naos) of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God (1 Cor. 6: 19)?
The purpose of a temple is worship. God desires that we worship Him first of all because all else flows from who or what we worship, whether it be a false god or the true God. When we worship Him in spirit and in truth, the rest of our lives falls into place in its right perspective and with the correct priorities. When we put God in the centre of our lives, everything we are and do flows from our fellowship with Him and from the Holy Spirit’s leading.
. . . Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Rom. 8: 14).
True worship is not about singing worship songs on Sundays. True worship flows from every thought and action that is centred in and obedient to God and His Word.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10: 31).
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.
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