As you’ve likely heard, “the Church” is the Body of Christ and “the church” is just a building.
The Church with capital “C” consists of every person who has ever, or will ever, place their trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation. Over the last two millennia there are billions of us who, enabled by the Holy Spirit, have come to see our sinfulness, separation from God, total helplessness, and the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. In response, we have placed our trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of our sins. We, all together, are the capital “C” Church.
The New Testament records some very important metaphors to describe this capital “C” Church, the most important of which are “the Temple” and “the Body” and “the Bride”. We will look at each of these over the next three weeks, starting with the Church as the Temple.
The temple of the Old Testament, situated atop a hill in Jerusalem, was the physical place where both the presence of God and the glory of God resided until He withdrew His presence and His glory because of the continual sin of the people of Israel.
In the Old Testament, the temple was the physical place to pursue God, to make sacrifices to God, and to connect with God.
Then in the New Testament we, the Church, are called the Temple of God. The major meanings of the Church as the Temple are very similar to the Old Testament meanings of the temple and are spelled out for us in Ephesians, 2 Corinthians, and 1 Peter.
The Church as the Temple in Ephesians 2:19-22:
We are God’s household.
We are the place where God dwells in the Person of His Holy Spirit.
We are built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.
These people were the first builders of the Church—starting from “bare ground” with maybe 120 believers and now grown into billions.
Christ Jesus Himself is the Cornerstone.
Jesus is the Creator of the Church and the Chief Stone on which it rests. He died to enable Her creation. Without Jesus we have no more than a huge collection of deluded, pitiable, and hopeless people.
In Jesus the whole building is being fitted together.
It is Jesus Who causes the Church to work—to fit together, to function, to relate, to worship, to forgive, to reset, and to serve.
In Jesus the whole building is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.
By the power and work of Jesus we are all growing and drawing closer to each other and becoming more like what Jesus envisioned when He rescued us.
In Jesus the whole building is being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
Jesus is causing us to knit, grow, and be a place of holiness where the Holy Spirit is able and pleased to dwell.
The Church as the Temple in 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1:
Since we are the temple of the living God, we must separate from all idols.
We serve the living God and not dead idols. We find life and hope in God over anything else.
Since we are the temple of the living God, He dwells in us and walks among us.
God is Immanuel, God with us. Amazingly, the God eternity lives in us and walks everywhere with us!
He is our God. We are His people.
This is a stunning, joyful truth! This is amazing love and kindness!
Because these things are true, we must separate from uncleanness and pursue perfect godliness in the fear of God.
God is a holy Being. He is so holy that angels fly around him for eternity saying the word “Holy”. We must be holy for He is holy. Praise be to God for Jesus who makes this impossible feat a reality for all who trust in Him!
God will be a Father to us.
He is the Father we wanted and needed—the very best. He is the Father Who acts for our wellbeing at every instant.
The Church as the Temple in 1 Peter 2:4-5:
We come to Jesus Who is the Living Stone, rejected by men but chosen and precious in the sight of God.
Jesus is the Living Stone and we are living stones. We are part of this metaphorical Temple but we are not inanimate stones. We are living stones who breath, love, serve, and worship in gratitude.
We are living stones who are being built up into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood.
As living stones, we are able to grow and create a beautiful spiritual house as we become a priesthood of holy people. A prophet is a person who speaks to people for God. A priest is a person who speaks to God for people. We are priests and must be incessantly interceding to God for others—lost and saved, kind and unkind, family and strangers, friends and enemies. We must incessantly intercede for anyone and everyone!
We offer up spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ which are acceptable to God.
We worship God with through the souls we lead to Christ, the service we do for Christ, the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives, and the praise of God our lips.
In the New Testament, the Church is the temple of God—a people who pursue God, make sacrifices for God, and connect with God.