Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Dwelling Place of God

ODB: "The Dividing Wall" (19 April, Eph 2.11-22)

Eph 2:19-22 So then 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.

We often hear church leaders & pastors refer to the church as a holy temple. While the metaphor is right, the reference is wrong. They often mean the church that is built by bricks and mortars and stands in a particular physical location, used usually only once a week on Sunday morning. Here Paul is not referring to that building as the temple. Rather, he is referring to the temple of human flesh, indwelt by the Spirit and standing on the foundational teachings of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ being the cornerstone. The temple of God is the incarnation of the Spirit in the assembly of Christians.

As much as Christmas was the day when the Word was made flesh, so Pentecost was the day when the Spirit was made flesh. As much as the Son was "tabernacled" (the Greek word used in John 1:14) in Jesus, so now the Spirit has tabernacled in the church, the assembly of believers. Such is the glorious vision of the church as the dwelling place of God. That is why there is such a manifestation of power whenever the Christians gathers together because it is the place where the Spirit can come and dwell among us to touch all who come into the assembly with His power. It doesn't matter where the believers gather - whether in the open or in the home or in the garage--the assembly becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit and He indwells the assembly, bringing the presence & power of God into the gathering to save and heal.

Over this weekend, I was at Grace Methodist Church Alpha Weekend. We  witnessed the demonstration of this reality again - the power of the Spirit was present to minister powerfully to the people gathered. One PRC lady that I prayed for saw a vision of heaven, and many more were touched by God's love -- for "the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but power" (1 Cor. 4:20, ESV).

We can always expect the Spirit to "show up" because the assembly of believers is his dwelling place and he will come to manifest His presence and power without fail. It's such a privilege for believers to assemble as the temple of the Holy Spirit: we become the place of the manifestation of God's glory, a place where people can meet with God and be transformed by His Word & Spirit.

Father, we thank You that You have made us the temple of the Holy Spirit, the dwelling place of God. Amen.