KEY THOT: We Gentiles were once “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise” (v.11). But now, in Christ, Jews and Gentiles have become one holy temple built upon the same foundation of the NT apostles and OT prophets with Christ as the cornerstone to become the dwelling place of God. The church is not built with bricks and mortar, but with living stones of believers to become the holy temple, offering to God the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving: “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5-6).
As the holy temple of God, the church is the place where people find God and experience His presence and power through the indwelling Spirit: “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (v.22). As Jesus has promised: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them" (Matt 18:20). So whether we gather on Sunday as a congregation in the church premise or weekdays as a CG in the homes or even as a Christian fellowship in the workplaces, campuses or schools, we are the holy temple, the dwelling place of God--so long as we are gathered in Jesus’ name, even as little as two or three in number.
Whenever believers gather together, we become the temple of God, the dwelling place of the Spirit. When we invite pre-believers into our midst, we are not just inviting them to have fellowship with believers but we are inviting them to have fellowship with the Father through the indwelling Spirit. As it is written: “For through him (Christ) we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (v.18). In evangelism, we are inviting people into the very presence of God, and not just to hear the evangelist speak.
I must encourage churches to reject their human-based self-identity defined by their denominations and doctrines and to redefine their self-identity based on Scriptures as the holy temple of God, the dwelling place of the Spirit where the awesome presence of God is manifested in His power and glory. We become what we believe we are. A positive and powerful self-image based on Scriptures rather than human traditions will transform the church and the congregation.
Father, You have made the church a glorious temple, the dwelling place of God by Your Holy Spirit. Open our eyes to see the church differently so that our faith may increase concerning what You can and will do through us. Amen.