The House of God

Each building fitly framed together groweth into a temple in the Lord.” Eph. 2 v 21

What is this talking about? The Church the Body is one so is this saying that all the people in all the different churches no matter what they teach are built together into the one church which is the Church the Body?

What about born again believers who do not belong to a church,  are they part of this temple?

Some churches are made up of only baptized believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Other churches do not require you to be baptized to become a member and other churches don’t require you to be saved to become a member. There are also churches that don’t require you to be a member to participate in the communion and worship services of the church. There are many different types of churches. Does God recognize them all as Churches of God as His House?

On the day of Pentecost there were no denominations just the disciples in Jerusalem. Those who were being saved were baptized in the Holy Spirit into the Church the Body and then they were baptized in water and added to the disciples gathered in Jerusalem and formed the first Church of God in Jerusalem.
It wasn’t long before there were Churches of God in other cities. These new testament churches all had the same teaching because the apostles traveled around teaching the new disciples and planting churches. When there was a problem about what was being taught the apostles gathered back in Jerusalem and discussed it.  Acts 15 . When they came to a oneness of mind they sent people to tell the churches what they had decided.
Today we don’t have the apostles to go around the churches teaching us but we do have the inspired word of God and the Holy Spirit in dwelling in us to  teach us so let us look at God’s word and take it one step at a time.

The House of God Today

You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” (1 Peter 2:5)

Peter wrote his first epistle to encourage disciples who were living in several provinces of the Roman Empire, and through them to us now. Being part of a Jewish dispersion, as believers they were also “aliens” who were being per­secuted for their beliefs. He wrote to them:

You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God … Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn ba­bies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord … And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:23–2:5).

Being born again

He reminded them that their salvation experience had involved them being “born again” into a new life, not produced by something that could perish or expire, but by the eternal Word of God. Possessing this eternal life, they could never lose it. It was guaranteed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13) and was in God’s hands, not theirs (John 10:28,29). Just as God’s Word can­not be destroyed, neither can the life that it imparts. Therefore they were able to be certain that their salvation was permanent. At this point they also had the indwelling Holy Spirit and were members of the Body of Christ. Did this make their spiritual experience complete? Far from it ­it was just begin­ning, as he proceeded to tell them.

Growing as a disciple

He then referred to their growth through continually taking in the Word of God as disciples. They were growing up in their salvation in the same way they had originally received it, by drinking in more and more of the pure milk of the Word of God, the way a newborn child does. Putting this Word into practice involved them putting away sinful behaviour that belonged to their old nature. They could not have done that without the Holy Spirit be­ing within them. They were disciples, but where would this discipleship lead them?

Being built into God’s house

He then described how they became part of the spiritual house that God was building. They must come to Christ as their Lord—not just coming to Him once in a single occurrence, as they had done at salvation. (The form of the word “coming” in the original shows that it is repetitive.) They must come in on­going response of obedience to His claims on them. They were being built up with others as a spiritual house. They were being brought into line with Christ as the corner stone. The purpose of that house was to be a holy priesthood, to engage in priestly service as a people entirely for God. And the nature of that holy priesthood service was their offering up of sacri­fices which were spiritual in nature, not physical, which God would accept, as they were presented through Jesus Christ.

Living stones

Peter was showing them, and us, that the house of God is no longer a physi­cal place, or a structure. It is made up of people, “living stones”, stones made alive by the Word of God and ready to be built into place. Christ Him­ self is described here as a living stone, as an “alive man,” and so are we as His disciples. Christ had been rejected by the Jewish leaders when He was on the Earth. He did not fit into what they were building, and so they discarded Him the way a builder would discard a stone that was unsuitable. He Him­ self had quoted this Scripture from Psalm 118:22: “Jesus said to them, ‘Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?’” (Matthew 21:42)

But God had taken Him, that stone discarded on Earth, to be the supremely precious and uniquely chosen “stone,” and had placed Him in heaven as the very foundation stone, the “corner stone,” of that spiritual house that He was going to build. Peter further quoted Isaiah 28:16 from the Old Testament, “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.’”

These Scriptures, dating from hundreds of years before Christ, show that God had revealed His plan well in advance. He had revealed that there would be a spiritual house, with its corner stone laid in heaven, in which people would engage in spiritual service to God, based on their on­going faithfulness to Jesus Christ as Lord. It was Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven that made this great plan possible.

The New Testament Scriptures that deal with the house of God to­day refer to it in two general ways. They address it as being a place to live and also as a building structure. Let’s look at both of these concepts.

The house as a place to live

To the church of God in Corinth, Paul wrote, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” (1 Corinthians 3:16,17). He also wrote to them, “We are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord and do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you’” (2 Corin­thians 6:16,17).

Here the apostle uses the term “temple,” because a temple of God is a place where God dwells. Paul is showing the house as a place for God, not just to visit, but to stay—a “dwelling place” (habitation) for God on Earth among believers who are identified as His people. It is therefore a holy place. This necessarily requires that those people among whom God is stay­ing live holy lives and be separate from ungodly things. God lives among them in the person of the Holy Spirit, who is the person of the godhead who makes the presence of God a reality on Earth in this age. This dwelling of the Holy Spirit is in addition to His indwelling of each believer’s individ­ual body, as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 6:19. And so the temple itself is indwelt by the Spirit of God, as Paul also stated in his epistle to the Ephe­sians, “In whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21,22).

In addition, the apostle wrote to Timothy about proper conduct in the house of God, “I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). The word for “household” in this verse is the same word as “house” used elsewhere, but it is translated as “household” in some English versions to emphasize the aspect of a people living with their God. Also in this verse the house is referred to as “the church of the living God”; it is the congregation of those who have been called out by the one true God to be together for Him. As such, as this Scripture shows, it has a testi­mony on the Earth to God’s truth and to a standard of godly conduct.

We can see from these references that the house of God is where God, through His Spirit, desires to live among a people who are His own and who are living holy lives for Him.

The house as a building

The second way that the house of God is characterized in the epistles is as a structure. Unlike Old Testament times, it is not a physical structure; it is spiritual in character, made of living stones, people made alive spiritually. But the use of a building structure is a helpful metaphor for us.

As we saw earlier, Peter describes how the house is continually being built up:

Coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4,5).

It is as believers, desiring to grow up (mature) in their salvation, come to the Lord Jesus to be part of the house that God is building, and then continue to do so faithfully, that the house is built up and can function as a holy priesthood to God through Christ.

Paul spoke to the Ephesians about this same building activity:

You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19–22).

These saints in Ephesus had been brought into this position by being estab­lished on what they had been taught by the apostles and New Testament prophets, and they were being continually built together to be God’s dwell­ing place.

Thirdly, Hebrews describes the house as what God is building today:

Every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house ­­whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end” (Hebrews 3:4–6).

The house that God is building today belongs to Christ; He is not just a ser­vant in it but the Son over it, with all authority.

What is the house?

The picture that emerges from all this is not one in which all believers indi­vidually, or even the whole Body of Christ, are necessarily in the spiritual house of God today. Rather, the house of God consists of those faithful be­lievers who have come to the Lord to function as His house for this pur­pose, who are living holy lives, and who appreciate and faithfully engage unitedly in the holy priesthood service of the house, as we will explore in the following chapters.

Stones

This metaphor that Peter used of living stones is in contrast to the “dead” inanimate stones that were used in building Solomon’s temple and the oth­ers that followed it. Stones used in building work have always had a particu­lar significance in Scripture, again beginning with Jacob at Bethel. Jacob took the single stone that he had used as a pillow and set it up as a pillar, a land­mark of testimony. While it may not have indicated anything extraordinary to other people, it did testify that one person had been there for whom it had had some significance. It also showed Jacob where to return to and set­tle down after his time away.

Years later, when Joshua led the people across the Jordan into their promised land, he took twelve stones out of the river and set them up in a pile on the riverbank. These stones represented the twelve tribes of Israel. Again this was a landmark, a collective testimony to Israel’s experience in that place. It (and several others like it) was used as a memorial for future generations.

Large stones were used to build Solomon’s great temple. They were cut out from a quarry under the city of Jerusalem. They were brought to the surface and shaped before being transported to the building site and placed in the wall of the temple: “The house, while it was being built, was built of stone pre­pared at the quarry, and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any iron tool heard in the house while it was being built” (1 Kings 6:7).

In addition to building stones, Scripture also refers in various places to “precious stones,” such as were used to adorn the temple that Solomon built (2 Chronicles 3:6). These were dressed stones which were well­fitting and finished. Precious stones will also adorn the future city of Jerusalem (Revelation 21:19). The apostle Paul told the saints in the church of God in Corinth that he had laid the foundation teaching in that place, but they were each to build on it with their works of service, which would be evaluated one day. He likened those works to either gold, silver, and precious stones, or else to worthless wood, hay, and stubble, which would be burnt up in the fire (1 Corinthians 3:10–15).

The foundation teaching of Christ (“the apostles’ teaching” Acts 2:42), has been entirely laid down for us and we ourselves are intended to be the stones making up the house. It is then up to each of those who are in the house to be building it up (edifying it) by authentic spiritual service. How they do that will determine whether they “adorn” the teaching so that it is attractive to others: “Showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect” (Titus 2:10). Thus disciples themselves as living stones are intended to form the house, while their service in it can beautify it.

Christ both a stone and a rock

There is a difference between the “rock” that Christ referred to in connec­tion with the church that is His Body and the “stone” that is the foundation of the spiritual house in heaven:

Upon this rock I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18).

Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone” (1 Peter 2:6).

As in the Old Testament, so in the New Testament, different words are used for “rock” and “stone,” and they have very different meanings. A stone is moveable; a rock is not. In fact, the only time they occur together is in the expression “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (Isaiah 8:14; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8 NKJV), in which they both refer to Christ.

Christ Himself is spoken of symbolically as a stone in several places. He is the stone “cut out without hands” referred to in Daniel 2:34 that would strike and crush the image representing the four Gentile super­powers. He is also, as we have just seen, “the stone which the builders rejected” (1 Peter 2:7), re­ferring to the refusal of the Jewish leaders to accept Him. He is described as the “living stone … a choice stone, a precious corner stone” (1 Peter 2:4,6) that God has laid in heaven as the foundation of His spiritual house. The Jewish lead­ers were confounded by the fact that Jesus was God’s choice to be the heir of His kingdom, as He spoke about in the parable of the landowner and the vine­dressers (Matthew 21:33–43). They could not accept that this one was the centrepiece of what God was building. But this symbolism of Christ as a stone in His exaltation as a man in heaven is different imagery altogether from Him being referred to as the “rock.” For example, David said in 2 Samuel 22:2: “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.” He was referring to God being eternal and un­shakeable. Christ is explicitly referred to as the rock that followed the Israel­ites through the wilderness and provided water for them: “They were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). It was a symbol that reflected His deity.

The Jewish leaders were offended by the claim that Jesus was God’s Son. They considered it to be “blasphemy.” And that was the basis on which the Sanhedrin Council gave Him the death sentence (Matthew 26:63–65) and sent Him to Pilate to have it carried out.

When Peter confessed to Christ that He was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), he was confessing Christ’s eternal and un­changeable deity. And Christ responded by saying, “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (verse 18). The rock of Christ’s deity as God the Son is the basis for the church that is His Body. It is an eternal unshakeable truth, distinct from Him being placed after His res­urrection and ascension as the “chief corner stone” of God’s spiritual house. Christ’s deity did not depend on His successful lifework, but His position in heaven today does. He always has been the “rock,” but He has also become the “stone.”

But how does this spiritual house actually work? How does it func­tion as a “holy priesthood”? Who are the priests and why are priests needed for worshipping God? Finding answers to these questions is the next step in our journey.
The preceding article is taken from Keith Dorricot’s book  Are You Missing Something
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