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INTRODUCTION:

 

Here is another snapshot of the Church from God's photo album called Ephesians. Here is another glimpse into how God sees His Church. In the first session the photo was of a body of which Christ is the head and we are members. In this study the picture or photo is of the same Church but this time it is seen as a Temple - the Church is the Temple.

 

[1] THE TEMPLE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT .

 

To grasp this imagery we need to have some awareness of the role that the Temple had in the lives of the people of God - especially in the Old Testament setting.

 

A. THE TABERNACLE IN THE WILDERNESS

 

a. The Tabernacle - a mobile temple, if you like - was a place of worship, sacrifice, forgiveness - an elaborate structure, lavish in the materials used to construct it.

b. It contained very powerful symbolism - the articles of furniture; the two areas - holy place & holy of holies.

 

Read Hebrews 9/1-10

 

c. Most of all it was the tangible reminder that God was present among them. The cloud (or the 'shekinah') indicated God's presence. The Tabernacle was the very centre of the community life of the nation. Everything else orbited around the centrality and holiness of this structure.

 

Read Exodus 40.

 

B. THE TEMPLE OF SOLOMON

 

a.In due course, the Tabernacle - the mobile house of God - was replaced by the more permanent Temple of Solomon. But everything else remained the same. The two areas - the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies - were there as were the provisions for the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of Bread and the Lampstand.

 

b. Again, everything about the Temple reminded the people of the presence and holiness of God.

 

Read 1 Kings 8/10,11

 

[2]  THE TEMPLE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.

 

There are two primary references of significance to the Temple in New Testament. Although references are made to the physical temple in Jerusalem, the focus shifts dramatically to these two new uses of the word, 'Temple'.

 

A. THE PHYSICAL BODY OF THE LORD JESUS

 

a. John 2/18-21 - Jesus taught that His physical body was a temple - the dwelling place of God.

 

b. John 1/14 speaks of God "tabernacling" among us - the physical body of Jesus was a temple and during His time on earth He embodied the presence of God among us.

 

B. THE NEW TEMPLE CALLED THE CHURCH

 

a. Nowhere in New Testament theology is any reference made to a physical building being the Temple of God in the sense that it was used in the Old Testament.

 

b. God doesn't inhabit physical buildings - to treat a building as a "sanctuary" is Old Testament theology

 

Read Acts 7/44-50

 

c. Can you see why a church building must never be treated with awe as though God actually dwelt there? What problems can arise in a congregation if a church building is treated as a a "spiritual sanctuary"?

 

d. The People of God are now the Temple of God -

 

Read Eph.2/21,22; 1 Peter 2/4,5; 1 Cor.3/16,17

 

e. Two Greek words are used when referring to the Temple

 

Hieron = the temple in its entirety - buildings, fittings, precincts etc.

 

Naos = the inner sanctuary area - the holy of holies - the focus of God's presence

 

f.  The God Who filled the physical tabernacle & temple in the Old Testament, now indwells His people.

 

[3] THE IMPLICATIONS OF BEING THE TEMPLE OF GOD

 

a. The first emphasis that comes to mind as we think about the the Temple - whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament - is Holiness. Wherever God is, that person, place or event is holy. Holiness means being separate, distinct in its "otherness".

 

b. In the Old Testament, the Temple could only be used for divine purposes and sacred activities. Read Luke 19/45,46

 

c. As the people of God living under the New Testament, we are called to be holy because He is holy. As 'living stones', we are set apart for divine purposes.

 

d. NB: Last week we saw that we are the Body of Christ. This week we see that the Body is also the Temple of God

 

e. This snapshot emphasizes the centrality and value of HOLINESS AND WORSHIP - the highest calling of all.

 

APPLICATION:

 

a. Let the wonder of this truth grip & thrill your heart - God with us and God within us.

 

b. The God who indwelt a physical body in person of Jesus now indwells Church, His Temple

 

c. He is holy, other, different - so the Church is meant to be holy, other, different

 

Next week: Chapter 3    The Church, His Showcase

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