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The Temple Being Built by the Spirit
Lesson 97

 

“Christ … loved the church, and gave himself for it.” He intends to present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25,27.) The word church as used in the Bible does not refer to a building in which people worship. It rather signifies those who have gathered together. The Christian church consists of those who have in response to the voice of the Holy Spirit found repentance and have experienced conversion, those who have been led by the Spirit to forsake the world and live the new life in Christ Jesus, and those who have been born again by water and the Spirit. (John 3:5.) Christ bestows His supreme regard upon His church, for its is “the church … which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28.)

The church represents God in this world. She deals with matters of the soul, moral worth, virtuous living, the higher life, the pure, noble, holy, and true. Her concerns include worship, the extension of Christ’s spiritual kingdom, and the Bible code of ethics. She teaches that man empowered by the Spirit can live in “this present evil world” as he will live in the new earth.

Isaiah described the church as a watered garden whose waters fail not. “Water” symbolizes the blessings imparted by the Holy Spirit. (Isaiah 58:11; 44:3.) Paul likened the church to the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23), the members of which are perfectly joined together in love-beautiful symbol of how the Holy Spirit unifies the activities of the church members so that they act together as one (Ephesians 4:16). The inner secret of the unity of the believers is that they all partake of “the same Spirit.” 91 Corinthians 12:1-13.)

Those born into the family of God think of their church as their spiritual home a home where all members of God’s family, old and young, rich and poor, healthy and sick, are treated as they have need in the daily ministrations. (Acts 6:1-7.) Under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit, the church will always have overflow blessings to impart to those nearby and afar off.

One of the most vibrant and meaningful symbols that the New Testament applies to the church is the temple. Who is the builder of the spiritual temple? The Holy Spirit. “Ye … are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;... in whom ye also are builded together for the habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22.

Of what material is this spiritual church built? The Apostle Peter portrays the Christian as a living stone in God’s spiritual house. (1 Peter 2:5.) To be living stones, we must be infilled with the Spirit of life. (Romans 8:2.)  Every person who is indwelt by the Spirit is a spiritual temple in a special sense. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19,20. We should not defile this body temple. Those who abuse the body by wrong habits of eating and drinking, by sensuality (Jude 19), or by excess of any kind pollute this blood-bought temple and call down the wrath of God upon their heads. God’s Spirit will not dwell in a defiled temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16,17.)

God’s spiritual temple consists of many, many living stones; some are pillars in His temple (Revelation 3:12), and some are “corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace” (Psalm 144:12). Although each person is a living temple, when all are “fitly framed together,” they compose God’s great temple, His church. (Ephesians 2:21.)

The apostles (that is, the writers of the New Testament) and the prophets (that is, the writers of the Old Testament) make up the foundation of God’s great spiritual temple, while Christ Jesus stands as the “elect,” “precious” and “chief corner stone.” (Ephesians 20-22; 1 Peter 2:6.)

The church has had a sorry, and in some cases a stained and spotted history. It has been disgraced by the inconsistencies of many of its professed members. It has been drive3n by persecution into many a wilderness exile. False teachers, false preachers, and false prophets have attacked it on all sides. Undermining from within has added to its trials. False messiahs have plagued its borders.

Yet, through it all the church has demonstrated a marvelous vitality. What secret has enabled it to survive so much tribulation and yet extend the triumphs of the cross? It is the inner strength that Christ provided for each member in the gift of the Holy Spirit. No wonder Jesus, looking across the centuries, insisted that the gates of hell would not prevail against her. (Matthew 16: 16-18.)

The church’s secret of strength consists not in its institutions, its wealth, its pulpit oratory, its well-appointed places of worship, but in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of its members. Those who compose the church when Jesus comes the second time will be those in whom He has put His Spirit and who in their lives have developed the fruits of the Spirit. Those will be but a part of the ransomed of all ages that have lived up to all the light they had. (Proverbs 4:18; 24:12.) Today, in all lands and in all communions, honest-hearted souls are responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and living up to all the light that falls upon their path. All such who have accepted Christ are a part of His church and are accepted by the Father. (2 Timothy 2:19.)

The hour for the church to receive power for her militant warfare has arrived. God’s temple is to be fully built up. The description found in Son of Solomon 6:10 will soon become a glorious reality: “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?”

However, before her triumph the church must engage the powers of darkness in a warfare that will bring the warriors of the cross to the very gates of hell. The honest-hearted in all lands and in all communions must be gathered out. The crisis of crises rushes toward us. Christ assures victory, but only through the omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit. The church must now seek that power.

 

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