Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Christ may dwell

As I am reading through Ephesians with the Good Morning Girls, I am finding that in just a few verses, so many profound truths are revealed. I was drawn to this verse this week,
"so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." Ephesians 3:17

Ask any small child this question. "What is the church?" The answer you will most likely receive is, "It's a building." In fact, I would suppose many people would agree with that response.

Some would say that they go to church to be "closer to God" or to "feel God's presence" in their lives. Perhaps they feel that God is actually there at that building or that the structure itself has some supernatural power or holiness due to its historical significance in the world.

And they hope that this supernatural power and holiness would rub off on them.

But what if the question were, "Where does God dwell?" or "Where is His home?" I would guess that this would invoke an endless array of responses ranging from "Who cares?" to "God is everywhere."

This is such a fascinating topic and Paul addresses it in Ephesians chapter 3 as he prays for the church in Ephesus to understand these truths:

“that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” v17


that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” v19

This is such deep, rich history and it would be impossible to delve completely into the subject in this little blog post, but let’s jump back in time for a moment to somewhere around 900 BC.

King Solomon had completed the building of the Temple in Jerusalem and then “he knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven” and prayed:

“LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like you...Read Solomon's complete prayer that he offered to the Lord.

Now see the awesome response from the Almighty God!

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord's house. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (2 Chron. 7:1-3)

In verse 18 Solomon acknowledges, “that even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you”. But God promised Israel, as He promises us, that they would experience

His presence, His fullness, His glory.

Do you see it?

Under the Old Covenant, as a means to be close to His people, God dwelt in the Temple. The glory of God literally resided in this structure that Solomon built. He appeared as a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night. God promised that He would come close and be with his people, that they would have access to Him and that He would hear their prayers.

Is God still there in the Temple in Jerusalem? Well, no. In fact, the temple is no longer there at all. It was destroyed in 70AD as prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24. See what is in its place today.

So, what is the church? Where does God dwell? The answers are one and the same.

Traveling back to Ephesians 3…Paul tells us that Christ (God Himself) dwells within His people, the church. To those whom God has given the faith to believe, He has supernaturally indwelled with His Spirit.

The human heart is now the dwelling place of God.

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” v17


that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” v19

We, the church, are compared to a building, a dwelling place, a structure made of “living stones” of which Christ is the cornerstone.

“you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house(1 Peter 2:5)

I can’t help but jump back to Eph. 2: 19-22 to see the building metaphors!

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.”

So, whether you "go" to a church looks like this

or this

or this

We are the Body of Christ,

the Church,

His Holy Temple!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2: 8-9

Take "virtual tour" of the Old Testament Temple.

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